Victor Jara! Presente!

Narodin September 17, 2012

Victor Jara Victor Jara.
Image Credit: listenrecovery

September 11 has perhaps been remembered in history for the wrong reason. Yes, it was on that day, in 2011, that the Frankstein monster unleashed by capitalism two decades earlier in the mountains of Afghanistan came back home; and yes, it was a terrifying homecoming. Perhaps more importantly, it was on this day, in 1973, that a murderous regime climbed the stairs of power after toppling Chile's democratically elected civilian government. For millions of ordinary Chileans and for the supporters of democracy worldwide, that date is a constant reminder about the fragility of freedom. It was on that day that the Allende dream ended and the Pinochet nightmare began. On September 16, 1973, a bullet strewn body was discovered on the outsides of the Chilean capital Santiago. It belonged to Victor Jara - poet, singer,theatre artist and political activist. The body was strewn with 44 bullets and bore the marks of torture. He was murdered by cronies of General Augusto Pinochet's despotic regime.

Caminando Caminando, caminando voy buscando libertad, ojalá encuentre camino para seguir caminando. Es difícil encontrar en la sombra claridad, cuando el sol que nos alumbra descolora la verdad. Cuánto tiempo estoy llegando, desde cuándo me habré ido, cuánto tiempo caminando desde cuándo caminando. Caminando, caminando, caminando, caminando.
I walk on I walk on, I walk on in search of my freedom, I hope to find the path and thus I walk on. It is hard to find clearly in the shadows For when the sun shines the truth fades. How long till I reach, since when have I been gone, How far have I walked, Since when have I been walking. I walk on, I walk on I walk on, I walk on.

Lyricist, singer: Victor Jara

Victor Jara was born into a poor peasent household on September 28,1932 near Santiago, the Chilean capital. Victor's father was a violent alcoholic who sought to see his children as cheap labour. Thus he was sent to work on a farm by the time he was 6. His mother, Amanda was self-taught labourer and was known as a singer in the village. She frequently opposed her husband's ways and saw to it that her children had a dignified upbringing and a proper education. Her death in 1947 left Victor to fend for himself. After trying a variety of jobs he soon moved to a seminary to train for priesthood. Disillusionment with the church soon followed and he left the seminary for the army. After quitting the army, Jara moved to his hometown where he was primarily involved with Chilean theater. His works ranged from local folktales to international classics. He was one of the founders of the Nueva canción (New Song) movement in Latin American music. The movement, drawing heavily on Latin America's folk traditions, sought to make music more socially committed and focused on themes such as justice, brotherhood and love. This was to be Victor Jara's signature style.

Desalambrar Yo pregunto a los presentes si no se han puesto a pensar que esta tierra es de nosotros y no del que tenga más. Yo pregunto si en la tierra nunca habrá pensado usted que si las manos son nuestras es nuestro lo que nos den. A desalambrar, a desalambrar! que la tierra es nuestra, tuya y de aquel, de Pedro, María, de Juan y José. Si molesto con mi canto a alguien que no quiera oír le aseguro que es un gringo o un dueño de este país.
Tear down the fences I ask all of you present Has it not struck you that this is our land and not that of the people who have more. I ask if on this land there are no one who thought if it is our hands that work to make then what we make must be ours. Tear down the fences! Tear down the fences! This land is ours, mine and yours Pedro's, Maria's, Juan's and José's. If you are annoyed with my song or do not want to hear it you are probably a gringo or a dueño who owns this land.

Lyricist: Daniel Viglietti
Singer: Victor Jara
gringo- White farmers who were traditionally better off in Chile
dueño- Rich landowner.

Victor Jara soon joined the Chilean Communist Party and became an active member. He married the British born Joan Turner who was working as a dance instructor in Chile. Chile at the time was undergoing radical political changes. The social inequalities that had accumulated in the country side over years of Spanish imperialist rule had reached a crisis point. Large sections of the Chilean population, particularly in the countryside, felt left out. This considerably strengthened the position of the progressive forces.In 1970, Salvador Allende was nominated as the presidential candidate of the 'Popular Unity' alliance. Victor Jara's stood firmly in support of Allende and his peaceful path to socialism. Allende got elected into power and set out on his promised programme of land reforms and nationalisation of multinational mining companies. However, the United States of America was not very keen to see a democratic progressive government with a clearly socialist agenda and felt it represented a threat to American interests. The Nixon administration feared that this would set an example for all of South America to emulate and thus started actively supporting and financing the right wing forces in Chile, including a section of its army. The Commander in Chief of the Chilean Armed Forces , General René Schneider, was murdered in 1970. He was a committed constitutionalist and had refused to support a coup attempt against Allende. These turbulent times are perhaps best expressed in Jara's own words:

Once more they want to stain
my country with the blood
of working people.
Those who talk of liberty
but whose hands are marked with guilt;
who want to separate
mothers from their children
and want to reconstruct
the cross that Christ bore.

The inevitable happened on September 11, 1973. A violent military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet ousted President Allende who chose to end his life rather than surrender. Victor Jara was on his way to the Technical University in Santiago where he worked as an academic.

Duerme, duerme negrito Duerme, duerme negrito, que tu mama está en el campo, negrito... Duerme, duerme negrito, que tu mama está en el campo, negrito... Te va a traer codornices para ti, te va a traer muchas cosas para ti, te va a traer carne de cerdo para ti, te va a traer muchas cosas para ti. Y si negro no se duerme, viene diablo blanco y ¡zas! le come la patita, ¡chacapumba, chacapumba! Duerme, duerme negrito, que tu mama está en el campo, negrito... Trabajando, trabajando duramente, trabajando sí, trabajando y no le pagan, trabajando sí, trabajando y va tosiendo, trabajando sí, trabajando y va de luto, trabajando sí, pa'l negrito chiquitito, trabajando sí, pa'l negrito chiquitito, trabajando sí, no le pagan sí, va tosiendo sí va de luto sí, duramente sí. Duerme, duerme negrito, que tu mama está en el campo, negrito...
Sleep, sleep little black one Sleep, sleep little black one Your mama is in the fields, little black one Sleep, sleep little black one Your mama is in the fields, little black one She’s going to bring quail for you, She’s going to bring many things for you, She’s going to bring pork for you, She’s going to bring many things for you. And if the little black one doesn’t go to sleep, The white devil will come and – zap! – he’ll eat your little foot! Chacapumba,chacapumba Sleep, sleep little black one Your mama is in the fields, little black one She’s working Working hard, working still Working and they don’t pay her, working still Working and she’s coughing, woking still Working and she is crying, working still Working for her sweet little one, working still Working for her sweet little one, working still Without pay still ,coughing still crying still,working hard still Sleep, sleep little black one Your mama’s in the fields, little black one

Lyricist: Atahualpa Yupanqui, based on traditional folk song.
Singer: Victor Jara
Chacapumba- imitating the sound of chewing

Victor, his colleagues and his students were trapped in the university campus. Soon they were shifted by the military to the Estadio Chile (which was renamed as the Estadio Victor Jara in 2003) which had been converted into a makeshift prison camp At the stadium ,he was recognised by the military forces. Perhaps sensing his end was near, he got hold of paper and pencil from his friend and started composing a poem. It was to be Victor Jara's last poem: El Estadio (The stadium). The poem is unfinished as Victor was taken for interrogation before he could complete it. He never returned. Jara was beaten, tortured and then murdered. His body was then dumped in the slum area near Santiago. Joan Jara was persuaded by friends to go to the morgue and claim Victor's body lest it be cremated in a common grave. She would describe what she saw there in a manuscript that was smuggled out of Chile and published as The Unfinished Song: "His eyes were open and they seemed still to look ahead with intensity and defiance, in spite of a wound on his head and terrible bruises on his cheek. His clothes were torn, trousers round his ankles, sweater rucked up under his armpits, his blue underpants hanging in tatters round his hips as though cut by a knife or bayonet…his chest riddled with holes and a gaping wound in his abdomen. His hands seemed to be hanging from his arms at a strange angle as though his wrists were broken."

El Estadio Somos cinco mil aquí. En esta pequeña parte de la ciudad. Somos cinco mil. ¿Cuántos somos en total en las ciudades y en todo el país? Somos aquí diez mil manos que siembran y hacen andar las fábricas. ¡Cuánta humanidad con hambre, frío, pánico, dolor, presión moral, terror y locura! Seis de los nuestros se perdieron en el espacio de las estrellas. Un muerto, un golpeado como jamás creí se podría golpear a un ser humano. Los otros cuatro quisieron quitarse todos los temores, uno saltando al vacío, otro golpeándose la cabeza contra el muro, pero todos con la mirada fija de la muerte. ¡Qué espanto causa el rostro del fascismo! Llevan a cabo sus planes con precisión artera sin mportarles nada. La sangre para ellos son medallas. La matanza es acto de heroísmo. ¿Es éste el mundo que creaste, Dios mío? ¿Para esto tus siete días de asombro y trabajo? En estas cuatro murallas sólo existe un número que no progresa. Que lentamente querrá la muerte. Pero de pronto me golpea la consciencia y veo esta marea sin latido y veo el pulso de las máquinas y los militares mostrando su rostro de matrona lleno de dulzura. ¿Y México, Cuba, y el mundo? ¡Qué griten esta ignominia! Somos diez mil manos que no producen. ¿Cuántos somos en toda la patria? La sangre del Compañero Presidente golpea más fuerte que bombas y metrallas. Así golpeará nuestro puño nuevamente. Canto, que mal me sales cuando tengo que cantar espanto. Espanto como el que vivo, como el que muero, espanto. De verme entre tantos y tantos momentos del infinito en que el silencio y el grito son las metas de este canto. Lo que nunca vi, lo que he sentido y lo que siento hará brotar el momento....
The Stadium There are five thousand of us here. In this small part of the city. Five thousand. How many of us are there in all In the cities and in all the country? Here we are, ten thousand hands Who plant the seeds and keep factories running. So much humanity, hungry, cold, panicked, in pain, Under moral threat, with terror in their minds! Six of us lost themselves In the space of the stars. One man dead, one man beaten worse than I ever thought a human being could be beaten The other four wanting to free themselves of all their fears. One jumped into the void. Another beat his head against the wall. But all had the look of death fixed in their eyes. What fear is provoked by the face of fascism! They carry out plans with the utmost precision, not giving a damn about anything. For them, blood is but a medal. Murder is but an act of heroism. My god, is this the world you created? Is this your seven days of wonder and labour? In these four walls, there is nothing but a number that does not move forward. That, gradually, will grow to want death. I am awakened by my conscience And I see this tide without a pulse And I see the pulse of the machines And the soldiers, showing their matronly faces, full of tenderness. And Mexico, Cuba, and the world? Let them cry out of this ignominy! We are ten thousand fewer that do not produce. How many of us are throughout our homeland? The blood of our comrade President pulses with more strength than bombs and guns And so, too, will our fist again beat. O song, how hard it is to sing you when I have to sing in fear. Fear like that in which I live, and from which I am dying, fear. Of seeing myself amidst so much, and so many endless moments In which silence and outcry are the goals of this song. What have never seen before, what I have felt and what I feel now Will make the moment break out...

Neither was he the first, nor was he to be the last to be murdered. His crime was that he gave the oprressed and tormented of Chile a voice; his voice. His murderers had hoped to silence the voice that had promised the people a more dignified existence. In doing so, they had just made Victor Jara immortal. Under the Pinochet regime, gross human rights violations became order of the day. Immediately after the coup a select team of army personnel nicknamed the Caravan of Death flew by helicopter to the various prison camps to murder political prisoners. American interference in Chilean economic policies became routine. A group of Chilean economists nicknamed the Chicago Boys (they were trained or influenced by University of Chicago professors). Chile became a testing laboratory for neo-liberal economics. With the aid of American intelligence, the dictatorships of South America (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil) chalked out a plan to eliminate what they called 'Marxist subversion'. The operation was codenamed Operation Condor and resulted in atleast 60,000 deaths. The forces that murdered Victor Jara had not understood that those who make peaceful revolutions impossible, will make violent revolutions inevitable.

La Zamba del Che Vengo cantando esta zamba con redoble libertario, mataron al guerrillero Che comandante Guevara. Selvas, pampas y montañas patria o muerte su destino. Que los derechos humanos los violan en tantas partes, en América Latina domingo, lunes y martes. Nos imponen militares para sojuzgar los pueblos, dictadores, asesinos, gorilas y generales. Explotan al campesino al minero y al obrero, cuanto dolor su destino, hambre miseria y dolor. Bolívar le dió el camino y Guevara lo siguió: liberar a nuestro pueblo del dominio explotador. A Cuba le dió la gloria de la nación liberada. Bolivia también le llora su vida sacrificada. San Ernesto de La Higuera le llaman los campesinos, selvas, pampas y montañas, patria o muerte su destino.
The Samba for Che I come singing this samba to remember the libertarian, the guerrilla who was murdered Commander Che Guevara. The forests, grasslands and mountains are markers for the country of his death. Human rights that has been violated in so many parts, of Latin America on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We are under military rule that subjugate the people dictators, murderers, guerillas and generals. They exploit the peasant the miner and the worker, To inflict pain is their goal, poverty, hunger and pain. Bolivar showed us the way Guevara and others followed: To free our people from domination and exploitation. A Cuba gave the glorious call of a liberated nation. Bolivia cries remembering his sacrificed life. Saint Ernesto of La Higuera calls upon the peasants, The forests, grasslands and mountains their destination country or death.

La Higuera: village near which Com:Che was captured.
Bolivar: Simon Bolivar, Venenzuelan independence hero.
Lyrics:Rubén Ortiz
Singer:Victor Jara

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

  • The title is a famous slogan of the Chilean progressive forces. Literally translated it means: “Victor Jara! Present!”
chile, poet, Politics, Resistance, songs of resistance, victor jara, Ideology, Portraits, World, Remembrance, Commons, Arts & Literature Share this Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International


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Here's Arlo Guthrie on jara

and Alistair Hulett (I prefer this one)

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