Remembering Chilean Folk Singer Victor Jara 45 Years After his Murder

Soldiers crushed his fingers to symbolically silence his guitar, and then shot him 44 times.They did not succeed in muting his music or his message.

Victor Jara, was, in his words, a man “who will die singing the true truths.”

Jara was murdered in Chile 45 years ago today on September 16, 1973. The 40-year-old folk singer was detained after the coup that placed dictator Augusto Pinochet in power, and, along with about five thousand university students, professors, activists and others was brought to Santiago’s Chile Stadium.

Soldiers crushed his fingers, stepping on his hands and smashing them with the butt of a gun, to symbolically silence his guitar, and then shot him 44 times.

They did not succeed in muting his music or his message.

His songs have been covered by numerous artists since his death, and he is an important influence on artists in Chile today, including Ana Tijoux and Gepe. Bruce Springsteen sang Jara’s song “Manifiesto” during a 2013 concert in Santaigo.

An estimated 3,200 people were killed and 28,000 tortured during Pinochet’s military rule, which ended in 1990. The details of Jara’s torture and death were revealed by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission created later that year by the new government of Patricio Aylwin. But it was not until July 2018 that eight former military officers were sentenced for killing Jara, to just 15 years each.

The stadium where the artist was killed was renamed Victor Jara Stadium in 2004.  

In remembrance of Victor Jara, here is his song “Manifiesto,” released after his death on the 1974 album of the same name.

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