Friday, September 13, 2013

Homage to Victor Jara

by Gregg Chadwick


"As every cell in Chile will tell, the cries of the tortured men. Remember Allende in the days before, before the army came. Please remember Víctor Jara, in the Santiago Stadium. Es Verdad, those Washington Bullets again."
-from Washington Bullets, The Clash - 1980

"And in the world a heart of darkness, a fire zone. Where poets speak their heart, then bleed for it. Jara sang, his song a weapon, in the hands of love. Though his blood still cries from the ground."
- from One Tree Hill, U2 - 1987



Víctor Jara
September 28, 1932 – September 16, 1973
Chilean Poet, Teacher, Theatre Director, Folk Singer, Songwriter, Political Activist
photo courtesy Victor Jara Foundation

 
In Santiago, on the 40th anniversary of the CIA backed coup in Chile, Bruce Springsteen gave homage to Chilean poet and activist Víctor Jara  by performing Jara's poignant song Manifiesto. The 1973 Chilean coup ushered the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet into power and marked the beginning of a bloody era in Chile. Thousands of people were arrested, tortured and killed by the military.

In Philip Sherwell's must read interview in The Telegraph - Joan Jara, Víctor's widow, recounts their last phone conversation on the afternoon of Sept 11, 1973:

"Victor called me to say that he couldn't get home because of the curfew, that he loved me and urged me to stay home and take care of the girls," she said. "What he didn't tell me was that he couldn't leave because the university was surrounded by tanks and under siege."

From a smuggled message, Joan Jara was informed that Víctor was among 800 students and faculty members taken from Santiago's Technical University on September 12, 1973 to Estadio Chile (Chile Stadium) where thousands were being held by the Pinochet government. 



Koen Wessing
Estadio Chile During the Coup
September 1973
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Many of those detained were tortured and killed by Pinochet's shock troops. Víctor's captors brutally beat him, smashing his hands with rifle butts and then, according to fellow prisoners, the guards mockingly suggested that Víctor play guitar for them with his battered hands. Defiantly, Víctor sang part of Venceremos (We Will Win), a song supporting deposed President Allende's Popular Unity coalition.



September 1973 - Estadio Chile (Chile Stadium)

Jose Paredes, one of Víctor's captors recently recounted in court how he and other soldiers from his regiment witnessed their superior officer Lieutenant Barrientos torture Víctor Jara and other prisoners held in the arena. Paredes then describes Víctor's death:

"After that, Lieutenant Barrientos decided to play Russian roulette, so he took out his gun, approached Víctor Jara, who was standing with his hands handcuffed behind his back, spun the cylinder, put it against the back of his neck and fired." Then Lieutenant Barrientos ordered his troops to follow up with a machine gun coup-de-grace. Víctor's bullet riddled body was dumped on a street outside Santiago. 

 A few months later in New York, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs headlined a benefit in honor of Jara's life and work.


Joan Jara managed to escape from Chile to London with their two daughters and a number of Víctor's literary and musical works, including a poem ctor wrote while imprisoned in Estadio Chile. Víctor's last untitled, unfinished work is a cry for hope amid brutality and injustice. 

Joan spent the next 10 years travelling the world bearing witness to the brutal coup in Chile, eventually moving back to Santiago in 1983. Joan established the ctor  Jara Foundation to keep her husband's memory and artistic legacy alive and she continues to fight relentlessly to gain justice for him in death. 





September 12, 2013
Bruce Springsteen Sings Jara's Manifiesto in Santiago

 On September 12, 2013 in Santiago, Chile, Springsteen introduced his version of Jara's Manifiesto with heartfelt words in Spanish:

"En 1988 tocamos para Amnistía Internacional en Mendoza, Argentina, pero Chile estaba en nuestros corazones. Conocimos a muchas familias de desaparecidos, con fotografías de sus seres queridos. Fue un momento que se queda conmigo para siempre. Si ya es un músico político, Victor Jara continúa siendo una gran inspiración. Es un regalo estar aquí y lo tomo con humildad."

Translation via Backstreets

"In 1988 we played for Amnesty International in Mendoza, Argentina, but Chile was in our hearts. We met many families of desaparecidos, which had pictures of their loved ones. It was a moment that stays with me forever. A political musician, Victor Jara, remains a great inspiration. It's a gift to be here and I take it with humbleness." 


Springsteen and the E Street Band followed up Manifiesto with We Are Alive, off of his latest album Wrecking Ball. The final track on Wrecking BallWe Are Alive, is a folk hymn that weaves together death, sacrifice, memory, and transcendence. The song opens with the sound of a record needle scratching across vinyl - a nostalgic warmth that conjures up the history of recorded music. The sounds of We Are Alive bring us from Edison's wax cylinders, to vinyl LP's, to digital tracks. The words of We Are Alive lead us through the history of the struggle for human rights in the United States. Like a folk spirit cut loose from Dicken's A Christmas Carol,  the singer of We Are Alive touches down in three stages of our country's life: the historical past of the 19th century, the recent past of 1960's Civil Rights era, and the contemporary reality of new immigrants trying to reach this land of promise.  On September 12, 2013 in Santiago, Chile - We Are Alive also connected to global injustice and Nixon era America's brutal sins abroad. Víctor Jara's life and music continue to inspire resistance and revolution. Jara's Nueva Canción (New Song) continues to be sung in Latinoamérica and across the globe.




Bruce Springteen with Nils Lofgren on Guitar Sings Víctor Jara's Manifiesto 
(September 12, 2013 - Santiago, Chile)



Víctor Jara - Manifiesto (1973)


MANIFIESTO
Víctor Jara


Yo no canto por cantar
ni por tener buena voz,
canto porque la guitarra
tiene sentido y razón.

Tiene corazón de tierra
y alas de palomita,
es como el agua bendita
santigua glorias y penas.

Aquí se encajó mi canto
como dijera Violeta
guitarra trabajadora
con olor a primavera.

Que no es guitarra de ricos
ni cosa que se parezca
mi canto es de los andamios
para alcanzar las estrellas,
que el canto tiene sentido
cuando palpita en las venas
del que morirá cantando
las verdades verdaderas,
no las lisonjas fugaces
ni las famas extranjeras
sino el canto de una lonja
hasta el fondo de la tierra.

Ahí donde llega todo
y donde todo comienza
canto que ha sido valiente
siempre será canción nueva.

I don't sing for love of singing, 
or because I have a good voice. 
I sing because my guitar 
has both feeling and reason. 
It has a heart of earth 
and the wings of a dove, 
it is like holy water, 
blessing joy and grief.
My song has found a purpose
as Violeta would say. 
Hardworking guitar, 
with a smell of spring.

My guitar is not for the rich no, 
nothing like that. 
My song is of the ladder 
we are building to reach the stars. 
For a song has meaning 
when it beats in the veins 
of a man who will die singing, 
truthfully singing his song.

My song is not for fleeting praise 
nor to gain foreign fame, 
it is for this narrow country 
to the very depths of the earth. 
There, where everything comes to rest 
and where everything begins, 
the song which has been brave 
will be forever new.

(Many thanks to Salvdor Trepat at Point Blank for lyrics and translation.)







Víctor Jara - Chile Stadium (his last song) English translation

Translated by Joan Jara. Read by Adrian Mitchell. From the album Manifiesto.

Lyrics Below:

Untitled - (Estadio Chile)
Víctor Jara


Somos cinco mil

en esta pequena parte de la ciudad.

Somos cinco mil

¿Cuantos seremos en total

en las ciudades de todo el pais?

Solo aqui, diez mil manos que sembran
y hacen andar las fabricas.
¡Cuanta humanidad
con hambre, frio, panico, dolor
presion moral, terror y locura!
…¡Y Mexico, Cuba y el mundo?
¡Que gritan esta ignomonia!
Somos diez mil manos menos
que no producen.
¿Cuanto somos en toda la Patria?
La sangre del companero Presidente
golpea mas fuerte que bombas y metrallas.
Asi golpeara nuestro puno 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 de infinito
en que el silencio y el grito
son las metas de este canto.
Lo que veo nunca vi,
lo que he sentido y lo que siento
hara brotar el momento…


There are five thousand of us here

in this small part of the city.

We are five thousand.

I wonder how many we are in all

in the cities and in the whole country?

Here 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 insanity?
Six of us were lost
as if into starry space.
One dead, another beaten as I could never have believed
a human being could be beaten.
The other four wanted to end their terror
one jumping into nothingness,
another beating his head against a wall,
but all with the fixed stare of death.
What horror the face of fascism creates!
They carry out their plans with knife-like precision.
Nothing matters to them.
To them, blood equals medals,
slaughter is an act of heroism.
Oh God, is this the world that you created,
for this your seven days of wonder and work?
Within these four walls only a number exists
which does not progress,
which slowly will wish more and more for death.
But suddenly my conscience awakes
and I see that this tide has no heartbeat,
only the pulse of machines
and the military showing their midwives’ faces
full of sweetness.
Let Mexico, Cuba and the world
cry out against this atrocity!
We are ten thousand hands
which can produce nothing.
How many of us in the whole country?
The blood of our President, our compañero,
will strike with more strength than bombs and machine guns!
So will our fist strike again!

How hard it is to sing
when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
horror which I am dying.
To see myself among so much
and so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.
What I see, I have never seen
What I have felt and what I feel



  



 More at:

Eight Charged With Víctor Jara's Murder in Chile

More on Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's Wrecking Ball Tour 






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