Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez
(Spanish pronunciation: ['biktor 'liðjo 'xa?a mar'tines\]; September 28, 1932 – September 15, 1973) was a Chilean teacher, theatre director, poet, singer-songwriter, political activist and member of the Communist Party of Chile. A distinguished theatre director, he devoted himself to the development of Chilean theatre, directing a broad array of works from locally produced Chilean plays, to the classics of the world stage, to the experimental work of Ann Jellicoe. Simultaneously he developed in the field of music and played a pivotal role among neo-folkloric artists who established the Nueva Canción Chilena
(New Chilean Song) movement which led to a revolution in the popular music of his country under the Salvador Allende government. Shortly after the Chilean coup of 11 September 1973, he was arrested, tortured and ultimately shot dead. His body was later thrown out into the street of a shanty town in Santiago. The contrast between the themes of his songs, on love, peace and social justice and the brutal way in which he was murdered transformed Jara into a symbol of struggle for human rights and justice worldwide.
Víctor Jara was born in the locality of Lonquén, near the city of Santiago, to poor peasants Manuel Jara and Amanda Martínez. Jara's father, Manuel, was illiterate and wanted his children to work as soon as they could rather than get an education, so by the age of 6, Jara was already working on the land. Manuel Jara was unable to extract a livelihood from the earnings as a peasant in the Ruiz-Tagle estate nor was he able to find stable work to support his large family. He took to drinking and became violent. His relationship with his wife deteriorated, and Manuel left the family when Víctor was still a child to look for work elsewhere. Amanda persevered in raising Víctor and his siblings by herself, insisting that all of them should receive a good education. Amanda, a mestiza with deep Araucanian roots in the south of Chile, was not illiterate, but rather self-taught; played the guitar, the piano and was a singer in her town, singing traditional folk songs at local functions like weddings and funerals for the locals.Jara's mother died when Jara was 15, leaving him to make his own way thereafter. He began to study to be an accountant, but soon moved into a seminary instead, studying to become a priest. After a couple of years, however, he became disillusioned with the Church and left the seminary. Subsequently he spent several years in the army before returning to his home town to pursue interests in folk music and theatre.
Jara was deeply influenced by the folklore of Chile and other Latin American countries; he was particularly influenced by artists like Violeta Parra, Atahualpa Yupanqui, and the poet Pablo Neruda. Jara began his foray into folklore in the mid-1950s when he began singing with the group Cuncumen
. He moved more decisively into music in the 1960s getting the opportunity to sing at Santiago's La Peña de Los Parra, owned by Ángel Parra. Through them Jara became greatly involved in the la Nueva Canción Chilena movement of Latin American folk music. He published his first recording in 1966 and, by 1970, had left his theatre work in favour of a career in music. His songs were drawn from a combination of traditional folk music and left-wing political activism. From this period, some of his most renowned songs are Plegaria a un Labrador
("Prayer to a Worker") and Te Recuerdo Amanda
("I Remember You Amanda"). He supported the Unidad Popular
("Popular Unity") coalition candidate Salvador Allende for the presidency of Chile, taking part in campaigning, volunteer political work, and playing free concerts.
Jara's role in Chilean society was not limited to his musical output. A supporter of the Popular Unity party, Jara publicly spoke on Salvador Allende's behalf. Allende's campaign was successful and, in 1970, he was elected president of Chile. However, the Chilean right wing, backed by the United States, and who opposed Allende's socialist politics, staged a coup through the Chilean military on September 11, 1973, in the course of which Allende died. At the moment of the coup, Jara was on the way to the Technical University (today Universidad de Santiago), where he was a teacher. That night he slept at the university along with other teachers and students, and sang to raise morale.
On the morning of September 12, Jara was taken, along with thousands of others, as a prisoner to the Chile Stadium (renamed the Estadio Víctor Jara in September 2003). His body was later discarded outside the stadium along with other civilian prisoners who had been killed by the Chilean Army.Jara's wife, Joan Jara, was allowed to come and retrieve his body from the site and was able to confirm the physical damage he had endured. After holding a funeral for her husband, Joan Jara fled the country in secret. Joan Turner Jara currently lives in Chile and runs the Víctor Jara Foundation. The Chile Stadium
, also known as the Víctor Jara Stadium, is often confused with the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium).Before his death, Jara wrote a poem about the conditions of the prisoners in the stadium, the poem was written on a paper that was hidden inside a shoe of a friend. The poem was never named, but is commonly known as "Estadio Chile".
In June 2008, Chilean judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes re-opened the investigation into Jara's death. Judge Fuentes said he would examine 40 new pieces of evidence provided by the singer's family.On May 28, 2009, José Adolfo Paredes Márquez, a 54-year-old former Army conscript, arrested the previous week in San Sebastian, Chile, was formally charged with Jara's murder.Following Paredes' arrest, on June 1, 2009, the police investigation identified the name of the officer who first shot Víctor Jara in the head. The officer played Russian roulette with Jara, by placing a single round in his revolver, spinning the cylinder, placing the muzzle against Jara's head and pulling the trigger. The officer repeated this a couple of times, until a shot fired and Víctor fell to the ground. The officer then ordered two conscripts (one of them Paredes) to finish the job, by firing into Jara's body. A judge ordered Jara's body to be exhumed in an effort to determine more information regarding his death.On December 3, 2009, a massive funeral took place in the "Galpón Víctor Jara" across from "Plaza Brasil". Jara's remains were honoured by thousands. His remains were re-buried in the same place he was buried in 1973.On December 28, 2012 a judge in Chile ordered the arrest of eight former army officers for alleged involvement in the murder of Victor Jara. He issued an international arrest warrant for one of them, Pedro Barrientos Núñez, accused of shooting Jara in the head during a torture session. Barrientos lives in Florida and US authorities have failed to comply with the warrant.On September 4, 2013, the Center for Justice and Accountability filed suit in US court against Pedro Barrientos, who currently resides in Florida, on behalf of Victor Jara's widow and children. The suit accuses Pedro Barrientos of arbitrary detention; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; extrajudicial killing; and crimes against humanity under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS); and of torture and extrajudicial judicial killing under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), in connection with the death of Víctor Jara. The complaint alleges that Barrientos is liable for Víctor Jara’s death as a direct perpetrator, as well as a commander, and an indirect collaborator to the crimes at Chile Stadium.SPECIFIC CLAIMS in ALLEGATION:
- Paragraph 23- On September 11, 1973, Chilean Army troops from the Arica Regiment of the Chilean Arma from La Serena attacked the University. Troops prohibited civilians from entering or leaving the University premises. During the afternoon of September 12, 1973, military personnel entered the University and illegally detained hundreds of professors, students, and administrators.
- Paragraph 24- Victor Jara was among those arbitrarily detained on the campus and, thereafter, was transferred to the Stadium, where he was ultimately tortured and killed.
- Paragraph 32- In the course of transporting and processing the civilian prisoners, Captain Fernando Polanco Gallardo, a comanding officer in military intelligence, recognized Victor Jara as the well-known folk singer whose popular songs addressed social inequality and who had supported President Allende's government. Captain Polanco then separated Victor Jara from the group and beat Victor Jara severely. He then transferred Victor Jara, together with some of the other civilians, to the Stadium.
- Paragraph 35-Throughout his detention in the locker room of the Stadium, Victor Jara was in the physical custody of Lieutenant Barrientos, soldiers under his command, or other members of the Chilean Army who acted in furtherance of the Chilean Army's common plan, design, and scheme to commit human rights abuses against civilians at the Stadium.
- Paragraph 43- The arbitrary detention, torture, cruel, inhuman or degreading treatment, and extrajudicial killing inflicted upon Victor Jara and other detainees at the Stadium were part of a widespread and systematic attack of the civilian population by the Chilean Army in the days following the military coup from September 11, 1973 through September 15, 1973. Lieutenant Barrientos knew or should have known about the widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population if for no other reason than because he was present for and participated in the attacks carried out against civilians at the Stadium.
Although the military dictatorship managed to burn the vast majority of master recordings of Jara's music, Joan Jara managed to sneak recordings out of Chile, which were later copied and distributed worldwide. Joan Jara later wrote an account of Víctor Jara's life and music, titled Víctor: An Unfinished Song
.Named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the fifteen foremost protest artists.On September 22, 1973, the Soviet/Russian astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh named a newly found asteroid 2644 Víctor Jara, in honor of Víctor Jara's life and artistic work.American folksinger Phil Ochs, who met and performed with Jara during a tour of South America, organized a benefit concert in his memory in New York in 1974. Titled "An Evening With Salvador Allende", the concert featured Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Ochs.For Neruda, for Chile
contains a section called "The Chilean Singer" with poems dedicated to Jara.An East German biographical movie called El Cantor
(the Singer) was made in 1978. It was directed by Jara's friend Dean Reed, who also played the part of Jara.In the late 1990s British actress Emma Thompson started to work on a screenplay, which she planned to use as the basis for a movie about Víctor Jara. Thompson, a human rights activist and fan of Jara, considered the political murder of the Chilean artist as a symbol of human rights violation in Chile. She believed a movie about Jara's life and death would make more people aware of the Chilean tragedy. The movie would feature Antonio Banderas – another fan of Víctor Jara – as Jara himself where he would sing some of his songs and Emma Thompson as Víctor Jara's British wife Joan Jara. The project has not yet been made into a film.UK poet Adrian Mitchell translated Jara and wrote the tribute 'Victor Jara' which Arlo Guthrie later set to music.The Soviet musician Alexander Gradsky created the rock opera Stadium (???????, Stadion)
in 1985, based on the events surrounding Jara's death.Portuguese folk band Brigada Víctor Jara is named after him.Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's Wrecking Ball Tour
made a stop in Chile on September 12, 2013 (Springsteen's first ever performance in the country), just days before the 40th anniversary of Jara's death. Springsteen, along with E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren, paid tribute to Jara by covering his song, "Manifiesto," which Springsteen sang in Spanish. In a short speech before the song, Springsteen said (in Spanish): "In 1988 we played for Amnesty International in Mendoza, Argentina, but Chile was in our hearts. We met many families of
Desaparecidos, which had pictures of their loved ones. It was a moment that stays with me forever. A political musician, Víctor Jara, remains a great inspiration. It’s a gift to be here and I take it with humbleness."
Songs mentioning Víctor Jara
- "Cancion Protesta" by Aterciopelados (Colombia). A tribute to protest songs. In the music video, Aterciopelados also make visual a quote from Víctor Jara, who said "The authentic revolutionary should be behind the guitar, so that the guitar becomes an instrument of struggle, so that it can also shoot like a gun."
- Ki an eimai rock (lyrics Dora Sitzani-music Manos Loizos) by Vassilis Papakonstantinou
- (Chilean brothers Rodstarz & G1 along with DJ illanoiz) Rebel Diaz's Broken Hands Play Guitars is a tribute to Víctor Jara.
- The Chilean group Inti-Illimani dedicated the songs Canto de las estrellas and "Cancion a Víctor" to Víctor Jara.
- Dutch-Swedish singer-songwriter Cornelis Vreeswijk recorded "Blues för Victor Jara" on his album Bananer - bland annat in 1980.
- In 1975, Norwegian folksinger Lillebjørn Nilsen included a tribute song entitled "Victor Jara" on his album Byen Med Det Store Hjertet. The same year the Swedish band Hoola Bandoola Band included their song Victor Jara on their album Fri information.
- Belgian singer fr: Julos Beaucarne relates the death of Víctor Jara in his song Lettre à Kissinger.
- In 1976, French singer fr: Jean-Max Brua dedicated to him a song called Jara on his album La Trêve de l’aube
- French singer Pierre Chêne also wrote a song about Jara's death entitled Qui Donc Etait Cet Homme?
- In 2004, Swiss singer fr:: Michel Bühler published Chanson pour Victor Jara, in his album Chansons têtues (EPM)
- In 1976, Arlo Guthrie included a biographical song entitled Victor Jara on his album Amigo. The words were written by Adrian Mitchell and Arlo Guthrie wrote the music.
- Former German folk duo Zupfgeigenhansel (Thomas Friz and Erich Schmeckenbecher) featured a live performance of their song Victor Jara as a last track on their 1978 LP Volkslieder III.
- The Clash sing about Jara in the song Washington Bullets on their 1980 album Sandinista!. Joe Strummer sings:
- Holly Near's Sing to me the Dream is a tribute to Víctor Jara.
- British Jazz-Dance band Working Week's debut single Venceremos (We will win) from their 1985 first album Working Nights is a tribute to Victor Jara.
- The Southwestern American band Calexico open their 2008 album Carried to Dust with the song "Victor Jara's Hands".
- Rory McLeod's title song on his album Angry Love is about Jara.
- In 1987, U2 included the track One Tree Hill on their album, The Joshua Tree where Bono sings: "And in the world a heart of darkness, a fire zone. Where poets speak their heart, then bleed for it. Jara sang, his song a weapon, in the hands of love. Though his blood still cries from the ground."
- Chuck Brodsky wrote and recorded The Hands of Victor Jara This 1996 tribute includes these words:
The blood of Victor JaraWill never wash awayIt just keeps on turningA little redder every dayAs anger turns to hatredAnd hatred turns to gunsChildren lose their fathersAnd mothers lose their sons
- Ismael Serrano, a Spanish singer included Jara's name and the name of the song Te Recuerdo Amanda in his Vine del Norte song on the album La Memoria de los Peces, released in 1998.
- Irish folk artist Christy Moore recorded the song Victor Jara on his Live at the Point album
- On Barnstormer's album Zero Tolerance (2004), Attila the Stockbroker mentions Jara in the song Death of a Salesman, written just after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. "You were there in Chile, 11 September '73. 28 years to the day - what a dreadful irony. Victor Jara singing 'midst the tortured and the dead. White House glasses clinking as Allende's comrades bled."
- Marty Willson-Piper, who plays guitar for The Church, included Song for Victor Jara on his 2009 solo album, Nightjar.
- The Argentine rock group, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, remember Víctor Jara in their hit song, Matador, with the lyrics "/Que suenan/son balas/me alcanzan/me atrapan/resiste/Víctor Jara no calla" ("What is that sound/It's bullets/They reach me/They trap me/Resist/Victor Jara is not silent")
- Heaven Shall Burn wrote and performed two songs about him and his legacy called The Weapon They Fear & The Martyrs Blood.
- Spanish ska group Ska-P dedicated a song called Juan Sin Tierra to Jara (the song was originally written by Jorge Saldaña, and previously recorded by Jara), with the chorus going:
- Tucson, AZ-based Calexico include a song called Víctor Jara's Hands on their 2008 album Carried to Dust.
- Cuban rap group Eskuadron Patriota mentions Jara in their song Decadencia. The song goes: "Como Víctor Jara diciendole a su pueblo: La libertad esta cerca"
- The Peruvian ska band Psicosis mentions Jara in their song Esto es Ska. The chorus goes "Lo dijo Víctor Jara no nos puedes callar" ("Victor Jara said it, you can't silence us").
- Soviet, Byelorussian composer Igor Lutchenok wrote a song In memory of Victor Jara with lyrics by Boris Brusnikov which was first performed in 1974 by Byelorussian singer Victor Vuyachich and later was performed by Byelorussian folk-rock group Pesniary with an arrangement by the late Vladimir Mulyavin.
- The Glasgow/Irish folk group The Wakes included a song called Víctor Jara on their album These Hands in 2008.
- The San Francisco post-rock band From Monument to Masses samples excerpts from a reading of Jara's "Estadio Chile" on the track Deafening, a song from their 2005 remix album Schools of Thought Contend.
- German singer Hannes Wader published his song Victor Jara on his album Wünsche in 2001.
- Scottish singer/songwriter Bert Jansch had written his Let Me Sing about him.
- Venezuelan singer/songwriter Alí Primera wrote his Canción para los valientes (Song to the brave) about Victor Jara. The song was included in the album of the same name in 1976.
- British musician Marek Black's 2009 CD I Am A Train features the song The Hands of Victor Jara written by Marek Black.
- Scottish Group Simple Minds released an album with the title track called Street Fighting Years dedicated to Victor Jara in 1989.
- Welsh folk singer/songwriter Dafydd Iwan wrote a song called Cân Victor Jara (Victor Jara's song) that was released on his 1979 album Bod yn rhydd (Being free).
- In 2011, London-based band Melodica, Melody and Me released a track titled Ode to Victor Jara as the B-side to their limited release vinyl single "Come Outside".
- American singer-songwriter Rod MacDonald wrote The Death Of Victor Jara in 1991, with the refrain "the hands of the poet still forever wave." The song is on his "And Then He Woke Up" CD (Gadfly Records). MacDonald met Phil Ochs on the eve of the 1973 concert, and sang for him a song he had just written about the Chilean coup. MacDonald has often introduced The Death Of Victor Jara by saying "I wish I could have played it for Phil."
- American folk icon, the singer-songwriter and performer, Jack Hardy (1947–2011), mentioned Victor Jara in I Ought to Know, a song recorded on the album Omens in 2000.
- Finnish punk rocker Pelle Miljoona mentions Victor Jara in his song Se elää.
- Turkish protest-rock band Bulutsuzluk Özlemi mentions about Jara in their song "Sili'ye Özgürlük" (Freedom To Chile) as a part of their 1990 album "Uçtu Uçtu".
- Ska-Punk band from San Francisco La Plebe mentions Victor Jara on their song "Guerra Sucia" from their album "Brazo En Brazo"
- The German Band "Freundeskreis" mentions Jara in their song "Leg dein Ohr auf die Schiene der Geschichte" ("Put your ear on the rails of history") published in 1997: "...C.I.A. - Chile ist amerikanisch, Victor Jara sang auf spanisch, seine Stimme mahnt Dich: Vergiss die Toten nicht, vergiss die Diktatur Despoten nicht, 1973..." ("...C.I.A. - Chile is American, Victor Jara sang in Spanish, his voice reminds/urges you: Don't forget the dead, don't forget the despots of dictatorship, 1973..."). After the word "spanisch" a short sample of Jara singing is inserted.
- 1959. Parecido à la Felicidad (Some kind of happiness), Alejandro Sieveking
- 1960. La Viuda de Apablaza (The Widow of Apablaza), Germán Luco Cruchaga (assistant director to Pedro de la Barra, founder of ITUCH.)
- 1960. La Mandragola, Niccolò Machiavelli
- 1961. La Madre de los Conejos (Mother rabbit), Alejandro Sieveking (assistant director to Agustín Siré)
- 1962. Ánimas de Día Claro (Daylight Spirits), Alejandro Sieveking
- 1963. Caucasian Chalk Circle, Bertold Brecht (assistant director to Atahualpa del Cioppo)
- 1963. Los Invasores (The Intruders), Egon Wolff
- 1963. Dúo (Duet), Raúl Ruiz
- 1963. Parecido à la Felicidad (Some kind of happiness), Alejandro Sieveking (version for Chilean television)
- 1965. La Remolienda, Alejandro Sieveking
- 1965. The Knack, Ann Jellicoe
- 1966. Marat/Sade, Peter Ulrich Weiss (assistant director to William Oliver.)
- 1966. La Casa Vieja (The old house), Abelardo Estorino
- 1967. La Remolienda, Alejandro Sieveking (redirects)
- 1967. La Viuda de Apablaza (The Widow of Apablaza), Germán Luco Cruchaga (as director)
- 1968. Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Joe Orton
- 1969. Viet Rock, Megan Terry
- 1969. Antigone, Sophocles
- 1972. Directed the ballet and musical homage to Pablo Neruda which coincided with the poets return to Chile after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.