The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #8548 Message #1906847
Posted By: Peace
11-Dec-06 - 06:04 PM
Thread Name: songs of Victor Jara (1932-1973)
Subject: RE: songs of Victor Jara
Support a Worthy Cause
About half of the Victor Jara cds sold at Del Canton were purchased directly from Fundacion Victor Jara in Chile. Therefore when you choose to purchase Victor Jara cds from us, you are contributing to a worthy cause. By purchasing this cd from Del Canton, you help the foundation meet its aims of seeking to demonstrate how the rich heritage of Victor`s creations and his teaching as an artist can serve as a tool for "preserving the roots and cultural identity of Latin America and bringing the violence of extreme poverty and lack of justice to an end."
Brief Biography of Victor Jara
On September 16, 1973, Chilean political songwriter and activist Victor Jara was brutally murdered in Santiago's boxing stadium during the aftermath of the U.S.-backed September 10-11 coup d'etat which resulted in the death of the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, and the installation of a repressive military dictatorship. The US-influenced regime change frustrated the Chilean people's hope for a government that would bring their country socio-economic justice, replacing it instead with a despair that would continue for the next 17 years under the repressive leadership of Augusto Pinochet, who after the coup abolished civil liberties, dissolved congress, banned unions activities and workers' strikes, and reversed the agrarian and economic reforms of Allende's socialist government. More than twenty-two hundred people were 'disappeared' under Pinochet's authoritarian rule.
Victor Jara was born in the small town of Lonquen, Chile on September 23, 1932 to Manuel and Amanda Jara. As a child, Victor experienced first-hand what it was like to live a humble life. His father provided for his family with the wages he earned as a day laborer while his mother added to the family's income by working odd jobs. When Victor was still a young child his father, who had an alcohol problem and was an abusive husband, left home to work as a field laborer in the countryside. Conditions were rough for his mother who was left alone to raise Victor and his siblings. Notwithstanding, she managed to spend a great deal of time with her children, often playing the guitar and singing Chilean folk songs for them. Victor's mother died when he was only fifteen years old.
After spending a short time in a seminary and then in the military, Victor went on to study theater at the University of Chile, where he developed an interest in directing. After finishing school, he began his career as a director and was involved in numerous theater productions. It was during this time that Victor Jara experienced a renewed interest in traditional Chilean folk songs as well as national politics. Also during this time, he met Violeta Parra, another Nueva Cancion artist, who was the owner of a small café. In 1966, Victor Jara released his first LP, the self-titled "Victor Jara." That same year, he joined another Nueva Cancion group, Quilapayún, serving as the band's art director until 1969. In 1970, Victor ended his career as a director and turned his energy towards furthering the Chilean people's struggle for peace and justice through his songs, political activism, and support for leftist Chilean President Salvador Allende.
Allende, who belonged to the leftist coalition party, Unidad Popular, had been voted into office on a platform promising to take-over large foreign companies and monopolies, expropriate all landholdings over 80 hectares, and increase spending on social programs. His first year in office was a remarkable success - the working population saw their income increase by 50% while the real income of all Chileans rose an equally impressive 30%. But in spite of these early advances, by 1973, dissatisfaction with his presidency grew when economic conditions soured. While these difficulties were in part due to general market conditions and the side effects of his socially progressive policies, a major factor in the decline were the activities of his domestic and foreign critics. At home, the entrenched conservative elite controlled 95% of the radio stations, 90% of the newspapers, and all of the weekly magazines. The Catholic Church was adamantly opposed to his policies and the working class was divided largely as a result of the conservatives' stranglehold over public discourse. Overseas, hostile foreign interests had successfully influenced a significant reduction in both foreign investment and multilateral aid. Moreover, between 1970 and 1973, the United States Government spent $8 million pursuing a policy intentionally aimed at destabilizing the Chilean economy - a policy that had been authorized by then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (who was just recently honored by President George Bush with an appointment as the chairman of the 'Independent' 9/11 Investigative Commission, which Mr. Kissinger declined)
Internal bourgeoisie resistance and U.S.-backed sabotage eventually culminated in the September 11 coup d'etat, which ended Chile's three-year experiment with socialism and transferred political power to a four-man military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. The repression began immediately and with full force. In the ensuing crackdown, several of Allende's supporters were detained, tortured and killed, including Victor Jara. On the day of the coup, Victor was seized by military troops as he arrived at the university where he worked. He was taken to a Santiago boxing stadium where he and others were tortured. Survivors of the dragnet later said that despite the horrible conditions that Victor endured during his detainment, the folksinger was primarily concerned with the well-being of others and encouraged them to be hopeful as he played his guitar and sang his songs of resistance and struggle. During his detainment in the stadium, the troops, frustrated by Victor's determination and continued resistance, broke his hands and taunted him to play his guitar. Despite this it is said that he continued singing the Unidad Popular's anthem, 'Venceremos' (We Shall Overcome). While in the stadium, Victor also composed the verses of his last song, which he did not finish. On September 16, Victor Jara was brutally beaten and then shot to death. His body was later discovered by a resident of a slum who then contacted his wife, the ballerina Joan Jara. The scraps of paper that Victor had used to write his final composition were smuggled out by survivors. The unfinished lyrics ended with the words, "Silence and screams are the end of my song."'