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Victor Jara, poet, singer-songwriter, and left-wing political activist was arrested at  the Technical University (today the Universidad de Santiago) shortly after the start of the military coup of 11 September 1973

Oh God, is this the world that you created,

for this your seven days of wonder and work?”

Victor Jara

 

“Sing now, if you can, you bastard!’

Chilean military officer (now known to the world as Pedro Barrientos) to Victor Jara just before the folksinger began to sing his last song: ¡Venceremos!, the hymn of Popular Unity, September 16, 1973.

 

Victor Jara, poet, singer-songwriter, and left-wing political activist was arrested at  the Technical University (today the Universidad de Santiago) shortly after the start of the military coup of 11 September 1973 and on the 12th, Captain Fernando Polanco Gallardo, a commanding officer in military intelligence at the Estadion Chile recognized Jara as the well-known folk singer who had supported President Allende’s Popular Unity government.  It was Captain Polanco who separated Jara from the group the prisoners he was held with and beat him severely before handing him over to the ‘custody’ of lieutenant Pedro Barrientos Nuñez in the infamous Estadio Chile.

 

 

The train crash-lands into the station.

But your house (this pigsty called “history”)

is no longer occupied.

This fucked-up house has been emptied a long time.

And still without rest its parade of naked ghosts,

of countless burnt witches and our sad lost holocaust dead

and all the comrades beaten in the Stadium

that day, that September day

they broke poor Victor’s hands…

(“What horror the face of fascism creates!

They carry out their plans with the precision of knives.

Nothing matters to them.”)

Now “why do we waste time hating each other”

i imagine you say,

from the pulpit of your knees

bent in prayer?

But it is years later and i am on a train

crossing these other Pyrenees

of broken bones, of age condemned

to this last firing squad, its murderous faceless cruelty

and everywhere without fail

there are still these military juntas, these crazy dictators,

(“Let Mexico, Cuba and the world

cry out against this atrocity!” Victor sings)

but “..are the rich not also deserving of God’s love”

i hear you pray, over and over

to the bones that are left

to these overpaid torturers

and now

in this dark hour

these friends we find everywhere, more

dangerous than the enemy.

 

This train called progress crash-lands into the station,

but of course, the door doesn’t open.

There is only one door but none of us

could find the key,

not Christian nor Communist,

not Jesuit nor Jew nor “Chinaman”

not you nor me, now, years later

like a book left open on a table

written in a language of the future

this indecipherable scrawl no one can understand

– by a being not yet born.

 

Now, brother Hernán, in your bishop’s palace

or in your shanty town

we have come to the door of history

and found another mirror.

i came to the door and knocked and knocked,

one furious manifesto after another!

This knock of rage! This knock

that could not even bring the dead back to life!

This inexcusable knock no one can forgive,

likewise this message we all could have left

always littered with orphans, with innocent campesinos,

and mass graves.

 

Face it, comrade priest,

our liturgy instead of a lament

for a world with its god chained

and beaten by the hour.

 

What, now, my friends, (O, all these ghosts!)

maybe it is time

to say one last mass for the dead

that could bring all the living back to life

(or light their way into the future)?

But, somewhere, it is always Chile

both then and now (“how hard it is to sing

when I must sing of horror.

Horror which I am living,

horror which I am dying...”)

and the year

like the closed door of here and now

knows nothing of democracy

(even with its terror back in a box

– temporarily),

and always a lifetime too soon

we have woken up,

this door we have knocked and knocked on,

this book on the table with its indecipherable scrawl

see, here, brother,

it is only each man’s solitary prison cell

the train has arrived at its destination

this train at the dead-end of its tracks

and despite the smoke, the sighs,

the burning crematoria,

you are alone even in the dead of night

and not a single one of the neighbours

can say

why no one now

will ever answer

the fucking door.

 

séamas carraher

 

Note:

Chile’s  Popular Unity government  backed Salvador Allende as president of Chile from his election in 1970 until the military coup and Allende’s assassination in 1973. It was made up of most of the Left wing parties: the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, the Radical Party, the Social Democrat Party, the Independent Popular Action and MAPU (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitario). They were also joined in 1971 by the Christian Left and in 1972 by the MAPU Obrero Campesino (a splinter group). The moderate Party of the Radical Left was also involved until 1972 when it joined the opposition (inside the Confederation of Democracy).

 

Image:

Mural a Víctor Jara, pintado en el galpón que lleva su nombre. Barrio Brasil, Santiago, Chile.

By Rec79 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Video:

Hymn of the Unidad Popular – ¡Venceremos!

 

Victor Jara – Chile Stadium (his last song) English translation

by Joan Jara. Read by Adrian Mitchell.

From the album Manifiesto [Canciones Póstumas]

 

Joan Jara:

Victor Jara and the story of his last poem http://www.mahmag.org/english/worldpoetry.php?itemid=380

Joan Jara:

Three chapters from Victor: An Unfinished Song

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/jaraunfinsong.html

 

Estadio Chile by Victor Jara

 

Somos cinco mil

en esta pequeña parte de la ciudad.

Somos cinco mil

¿ Cuántos seremos en total

en las ciudades y en todo el país ?

Solo aqui

diez mil manos siembran

y hacen andar las fabricas.

 

¡ Cuánta humanidad

con hambre, frio, pánico, dolor,

presión moral, terror y locura !

 

Seis de los nuestros se perdieron

en el espacio de las estrellas.

 

Un muerto, un golpeado como jamas creí

se podria golpear a un ser humano.

Los otros cuatro quisieron quitarse todos los temores

uno saltó al vacio,

otro golpeandose 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 importarles nada.

La sangre para ellos son medallas.

La matanza es acto de heroismo

¿ Es este el mundo que creaste, dios mio ?

¿Para esto tus siete dias de asombro y trabajo ?

en estas cuatro murallas solo existe un numero

que no progresa,

que lentamente querrá más muerte.

 

Pero de pronto me golpea la conciencia

y veo esta marea sin latido,

pero con el pulso de las máquinas

y los militares mostrando su rostro de matrona

llena de dulzura.

¿ Y Mexico, Cuba y el mundo ?

¡ Que griten esta ignominia !

Somos diez mil manos menos

que no producen.

 

¿Cuántos somos en toda la Patria?

La sangre del companero Presidente

golpea más fuerte que bombas y metrallas

Asi 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 tanto y tantos

momentos del infinito

en que el silencio y el grito

son las metas de este canto.

Lo que veo nunca vi,

lo que he sentido y que siento

hara brotar el momento

hará brotar el momento.

 

Ay, canto qué mal me sales

cuando tengo que cantar espanto.

Ay, canto qué mal me sales

Ay, canto qué mal me sales.

 

Chile Stadium (In the Stadium)

Translated by Joan Jara

 

There are five thousand of us

in this small part of the city.

Five thousand of us here.

I wonder how many of us altogether

in the cities, in the whole country?

 

In this place alone

are ten thousand hands which plant seeds

and make the factories run.

How much humanity

exposed to hunger, cold, panic, pain,

moral pressure, terror and madness?

 

Six of us were lost

as if among the stars of space

One dead, another beaten as I never could have believed

a human being could be beaten.

The other four wanted to end their terror.

One jumping into emptiness,

another beating his head against a wall,

but all of them with the fixed look of death.

 

What horror the face of fascism creates!

They carry out their plans with the precision of knives.

Nothing matters to them.

To them, blood equals medals,

slaughter is an act of heroism.

Oh God, is this the world that you created,

was it for this your seven days of wonder and work?

Trapped between these four walls we are just a number,

a number which cannot grow,

its longing for death gradually increasing.

 

But suddenly my conscience wakes up

and I see this tide of murder has no heartbeat,

only the pulse of machines

and the military smiling sweetly, waiting…

Let Mexico, Cuba and the world

cry out against this atrocity!

We are ten thousand hands

which produce nothing.

 

How many of us altogether in the whole country?

The blood of our President, our compañero,

will strike more powerfully than bombs and machine guns!

That is how our fist will strike again!

 

How hard it is to sing

when I must sing of horror.

Horror in which I am living,

horror in which I am dying.

Seeing myself among so much horror

and so many endless moments

silence and screams

are the end of my song.

 

What I see, I have never seen before.

What I felt and what I feel now

Will give birth to the moment.

(Victor Jara)

 

‘Lieutenant’ Barrientos:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/27/victor-jara-pedro-pablo-barrientos-nunez-killing-chile

 

Barrientos, who now lives in Florida, has been accused 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 killing under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). In June 2016 Barrientos was found liable for the 1973 torture and murder of the folk singer in Orlando, Florida.

 

It is  still hoped that he will be extradited to stand trial in Chile.

 

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