Arts & Entertainment

Tomb of murdered Chilean folk singer vandalized on 89th birth anniversary

Santiago, Sep 29 (EFE).- A group of unknown attackers vandalized the tomb in this capital of Victor Jara, a Chilean folk singer, cultural icon and socialist political activist who was tortured and murdered just days after a right-wing military dictatorship took power in a Sept. 11, 1973, coup.

The property crime took place Tuesday at the Santiago General Cemetery on the 89th anniversary of Jara’s birth on Sept. 28, 1932.

The Victor Jara Foundation published images of a hole in the flat headstone marker, apparently caused by its being struck repeatedly by a blunt object.

“It’s not by chance that this desecration occurred on the same day in which we celebrated the artist’s birth, and also celebrated the inauguration of an avenue in his name,” that organization said in a statement.

After a decade-long process, a section of public road in the Estacion Central sector of downtown Santiago was officially renamed on Tuesday for the singer-songwriter, who is known for emblematic songs like “Te Recuerdo Amanda” and “El Arado” that chronicle the plight of the Latin American poor and working class.

This latest act of vandalism at Jara’s tomb was the third such incident since a wave of anti-government, social justice-inspired protests rocked the country in late 2019, with the others occurring in January 2020 and March of this year.

“It’s a fanatical response to the commemoration, an act of retribution by fascist minds that increasingly are resorting to vandalism to destroy murals, mosaics and other displays of the people’s affection for Victor Jara and for those who love freedom,” the foundation said.

“We’re concerned about the violent, xenophobic attitudes of intolerance that are occurring with total impunity in our country,” it said.

Jara rose from humble, rural origins to become one of the leading figures of the Nueva Cancion Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, a genre that borrowed from the melodies of traditional Chilean music but featured lyrics with social themes that gave voice to the downtrodden.

His artistic versatility led to his becoming a theater instructor at State Technical University (now known as University of Santiago) and an actor and theater director at the University of Chile’s drama school.

Jara was the recipient of numerous theater awards and served as Chilean folk group Quilapayun’s musical director.

An admirer of Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and member of the Communist Party of Chile, the recording artist avidly supported the successful 1970 presidential candidacy of socialist Salvador Allende and composed the theme song for his Popular Unity movement.

Jara later served as a cultural ambassador under Allende, who took his own life in the Sept. 11, 1973, putsch.

In the immediate aftermath of the coup, the folk singer was rounded up by soldiers at State Technical University and tortured and killed inside Chile Stadium (renamed Victor Jara Stadium in 2004), where roughly 5,000 Allende sympathizers were being held. EFE


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