SANTIAGO – A thousand guitar players and hundreds of other musicians and fans will pay homage to the assassinated Chilean singer-songwriter, Víctor Jara, who was tortured and killed on this day (16 September 1973) by the 1973 coup leaders that led Augusto Pinochet to rule the South American country for 17 years.
The “Thousand guitars for Víctor Jara” will celebrate its sixth edition next Saturday (22 September) in La Paz de Recoleta Square, in front of the main entrance to the main cemetery in the Chilean capital Santiago. This year’s festival will focus on the celebrated Chilean revolutionary artist’s fifth album Canto Libre (Free Singing) that includes famous songs such as Angelita Huenuman, La Pala.
Jara, a member of Chile’s Communist Party, who was also a theatre director, was detained on 12 September 1973 by military officers, a day after Pinochet’s coup that led to the death of the socialist president Salvador Allende. He was taken, along with thousands of other students, university professors and other dissidents to Estadio Chile – today named after the artist. Recognized by a military officer, he suffered torture – his hands were burned and later broken by several rifle butt hits – and was later riddled with 44 bullets in her body.
“We are 5,000 people in this small part of the city… how many of us in all cities and the whole country? Only here 10,000 hands cultivate and make factories work. How many humans are suffering from hunger, cold, panic, pain, moral pression, terror and craziness?” wrote Jara during his four days of languishing. His body, along with that of Littré Quiroga, the Prisons chief during Allende government, was thrown to a wasteland in the southwest of Santiago only to be later recognized by he widow Joan Jara.
Then-ruling military officers forced her to bury the body immediately in the absence of many others. “He was torn apart, his hands were broken and had many bullet wounds”, remembered her widow as written in the book “Víctor Jara, truncated sound”. Also, the Rettig Report, that shed light on the human rights violations during Pinochet’s 17-year military dictatorship (1973-1990), asserted that the author of famous songs such as “I remember you, Amanda” was “tortured by military officers and later executed by them on 15 September”.
This year’s remembrance of Jara coincides with a court verdict, sentencing nine military officer to jail for those days violent episodes.
On 3rd July, a special judge in Chile condemned eight officers: Hugo Hugo Sánchez, Raúl Jofré, Edwin Dimteri, Nelson Haase, Ernesto Bethke, Juan Jara, Hernán Chacón y Patricio Vásquez to 15 years and one day in jail for homicide charges. They were also sentenced to three years behind bars for kidnapping Jara and Quiroga.
The ninth officer, Rolando Melo, has received a 5 year jail term for covering the homicides and another 61 days on charges of covering the kidnappings.
In 2016, a tenth officer, Perdo Barrientos, fugitive in the U.S., has been officially charged with the kidnapping and homicide crimes by a court and is awaiting his extradition process.