Chile: A Proper Funeral for Víctor Jara

Thirty-six years after his death, Chilean singer songwriter Víctor Jara had a proper funeral. A crowd of thousands of artists, public figures, fans and militants gathered on December 3 in Santiago [es] to pay homage to the musician, theatre director and activist who was murdered during Pinochet's military coup.

The funeral was attended also by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Jara’s widow Joan Turner. User medrparada provided a video of the Chilean community marching in celebration down avenue Santos Dumont:

Jara, a central part of the Nueva canción movement, was a supporter of Salvador Allende in the 60s and early 70s. As the investigation of his violent death in 1973 resumed in recent years, an army conscript of Pinochet was charged with the murder and Jara's body was exhumed in June for an autopsy.

While it was understood by the community that the singer was tortured, the details were confirmed by the Legal Medical Services (Servicio Médico Legal) on November [es]: he died with fractures produced by blunt objects, as well as 44 bullet wounds in different parts of his body.

The enormous funeral gave the artist a strong presence on the web, with people from around the world. As the event was transmitted online by the Víctor Jara Foundation, users created their own stream of Jara’s lyrics in Twitter, like Rodrigo (user @rtapiap) told [es]:

mi timeline esta lleno de versos de Victor Jara, en breve le pongo play a su discografía (pasando por el VJ Sinfónico)

my timeline is full of verses from Victor Jara, in a moment I will press play on his discography (including Symphonic VJ [album])

Nicole (user @HenriquezNicole) shared his devotion for the folk singer on Twitter [es] and attended to the funeral:

Mañana caminaré des[d]e Plaza Brazil hasta el Cementerio General.. no lo haría por nadie, solo por Víctor Jara!

Tomorrow I will walk from Brasil Square to the General Cemetery.. I would not do this for anyone except Víctor Jara!

The Spanish blogger from Ciberculturalia remembered Jara’s cause and its cost [es]:

(…) Víctor Jara, un hombre comprometido, solidario, defensor de la libertad que terminó pagándolo con su propia vida.

(…) Víctor Jara, a man committed to the cause, compassionate, liberty advocate that ended up paying with his own life.

Last may, blogger Roberto Castillo, on his blog Noticias secretas, responded to a columnist [es] from newspaper El Mercurio who confessed, as a literary figure, to Jara's murder. The column led Castillo to acknowledge the prevalence of the singer songwriter’s figure in the collective memory of Chile:

La figura de Víctor Jara y su obra incandescente se habían salvado hasta ahora de la corrosión amnésica o de los manejos de imagen que han caracterizado a la eterna transición chilena. El cariño del público y la constancia leal de generaciones de artistas han mantenido el brillo de sus canciones y preservado el recuerdo de la manera en que fue asesinado. El informe de la Comisión Rettig, en su caso, sólo vino a confirmar los detalles horrendos de una historia conocida: la gente no sabía que habían sido cuarenta y cuatro los disparos, pero sí sabía de sus manos quebradas a pisotones y culatazos.

Until now the figure of Víctor Jara and his radiant work managed to save themselves from the amnesiac degradation or reputation damage that has distinguised the eternal Chilean transition. The love of his audience and loyal persistency of several generations of artists have kept the shine on his songs and maintained in memory how he was murdered. The briefing of the Rettig Comission, by itself, only confirmed the terrible details of a foretold story: people did not know that the gunshots were 44, but they knew how his hands were broken by stomps and butt strokes.

On his blog Cuestiónatelo todo, José Luis shared a black and white video of Jara playing “Te recuerdo Amanda” [es], one of his most popular songs. He wrote:

Hay tantas canciones que escoger de Victor Jara que es una pena colgar sola 3. Siempre cercanas al pueblo, al campo, a la fabrica, a la madre, al dolor del explotado, a la lucha de los mas humildes. Todas ellas se basan en la vida de los obreros y los campesinos chilenos, que en el Chile que construyeron con la llegada de la Unidad al poder eran los verdaderos protagonistas del futuro… Ese futuro que los fascistas segaron en nombre del capitalismo.

There are so many songs of Victor Jara that it is a shame only to share three. [The songs were] Always close to the people, to the country field, to factories, to the mother, to the pain of the exploited, to the fight of the most humble. All songs were based on the life of workers and farmers that were the real protagonists of the future in the Chile that was built when Popular Unity [political party of Salvador Allende] reached the power… A future that was harvested by fascists in the name of capitalism.

An unparalleled influence on artists and musicians from diverse musical styles, Victor Jara directed more than 15 plays, and released 9 albums between 1966 and 1974, including Canto por travesura with a selection of traditional Chilean songs.


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