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Víctor Jara

About Víctor Jara

Victor Jara was a Chilean singer who, alongside Violeta Parra, helped found the nueva canción movement, composing leftist folk-inspired music.

He was a strong supporter of Salvador Allende, the socialist president of Chile from 1970-1973. Jara’s song “Venceremos” which means “We Shall Overcome” was the adopted anthem of the Unidad Popular.

On September 12, 1973, the day after Pinochet’s violent military takeover, Jara was arrested during a revolt against the coup. He was taken to the National Stadium along with thousands of other Unidad Popular supporters. There, security agents broke his hands and ribs, but he still managed to write and smuggle out a song about the conditions, in the shoe of a fellow prisoner. Soon after, he was murdered by the officers; the first shot came from one who “played” Russian roulette with him. When his wife finally reclaimed the body, she found forty-four bullet wounds.

Later, Pablo Neruda, renowned poet and activist said, “Didn’t you hear what happened to Víctor Jara?…they destroyed his hands…Oh my God, that’s like killing a nightingale. And they say he kept on singing and singing, and that drove them mad.”

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Victor Jara.”

Guardiola-Rivera Óscar. Story of a Death Foretold : The Coup against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973. First U.S. ed., Bloomsbury Press, 2013.

Rector, John Lawrence. The History of Chile. Greenwood Press, 2003.