This past Thursday marked the 42nd anniversary of the military coup d’état in Chile that toppled the democratically elected civilian government. Whether September 13, 1973 should be a date for celebration or infamy continues to be a divisive issue for Chileans to this date. For supporters of the subsequent regime like congressman Ivan Moreira, Gen. Augusto Pinochet “saved the lives of an entire generation.” Yet detractors point to the thousands of political dissidents and activists tortured, murdered and disappeared during the twenty-seven year reign under strongman who died in 2006. One of those slain days after the coup was musician and artist Gonzalo Jara who was killed on this day in 1973.
The forty-year-old figure in the socially conscious Chilean New Song movement was kidnapped by state agents one day after the coup as and taken to a soccer stadium converted into a makeshift military prison. It is believed that intelligence chief Pedro Barrientos ordered the torture of Jara and then played Russian roulette with him. Barrios then shot Jara in the back of the head at point-blank range and ordered five soldiers to fire dozens of rounds into the body before the corpse was dumped in a Santiago street.
While Pinochet died in impunity, other military commanders have been corralled by the long of arm of the law. Barrientos died last month while serving 526 years of multiple prison terms for human rights abuses. Meanwhile the site were Jara’s bullet-ridden body was found has been transformed into a memorial with a plaque in his name as well as all “of the fallen” as a result of the military junta’s crackdown.
Below the page break is a Victor Jara concert that aired on Peruvian television some two months before his death. Aside from performing some of his music, Jara discusses his background and why he sang the type of folk songs that made him famous.
YouTube Source – chelo gonzalez
Online Sources (English) – BBC News, The New York Times, The Guardian
Online Sources (Spanish) – La Tercera