Shake The Chains – Musician From Chile / Victor Jara Of Chile

• “Musician From Chile / Victor Jara Of Chile” set to a story slideshow.

9.9 “All-time classic Folk from England”

From their album “Shake The Chains” released in September, 2017.

Shake the Chains (Nancy Kerr, Findlay Napier, Hannah Martin, Greg Russell & Tim Yates) was a touring commission that existed for just over a year, from early 2017 to 2018. Their sole album – assembled from various live performances in February 2017 – was released in September, 2017, and featured this powerful tribute to Víctor Jara, with Nancy Kerr taking lead vocals. The stunning 7 minute ode to the protest singer bookends a cover version of Adrian Mitchell & Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Victor Jara’ with the poetic piece ‘Musician From Chile’.

As I’ve witnessed first hand, it can almost instantly reduce grown adults to tears – a surefire sign of an outright classic.

The popular Chilean folk singer Víctor Jara was a member of the Communist Party, and had established himself as a bit of a South American Bob Dylan figure in the late 1960s and early 70s. A day after the American-supported Sept. 11 1973 coup that ousted the socialist president, Salvador Allende, Jara was arrested by the military at the Santiago Technical University, where he was a professor and researcher, along with hundreds of students, teachers and staff members. The detainees were bussed to Chile Stadium and held in the bleachers for days with thousands of other prisoners, in the custody of army units brought in from various parts of the country.

The military singled him out to be tortured including, reportedly, cutting off his fingers and then mocking him to play his guitar. It was later established in court that Mr. Jara was recognized by military officers, separated from the rest of the detainees and taken to the basement dressing rooms, which were being used to question prisoners. There, he was interrogated, beaten and tortured by several officers, according to the later trial. According to the autopsy report, Mr. Jara was badly beaten, shot in the head and then riddled with machine-gun fire, 44 bullets all told. The bodies of Victor and four other victims were later found dumped near a railroad track outside a cemetery.

His family, including British-born ballerina wife Joan and his daughter Amanda, has fought a long-running campaign for justice in his case and had his body exhumed in 2009 for a full autopsy. Six months later, thousands people paid their proper final respects to the folk singer, who was reburied after a three-day wake.

In July 2018, Chilean judge Miguel Vázquez sentenced eight retired military officers to 15 years in prison each for his murder, after a long-running inquiry. But another man wanted in connection with the murder remains free and is living in the United States.

Retired army lieutenant Pedro Barrientos was found liable for Victor Jara’s death in 2016 in a federal civil court in Florida, where an ex-conscript described how Barrientos would later brag and show off the pistol he used to shoot and kill the singer. Chile’s demand for his extradition, first made in 2013, hangs in limbo.

Shortly after the sentencing, in an interview near her home in the Chilean fishing village of Quintay, Amanda Jara (victor’s daughter), now 53, praised the ruling as a “blow to impunity” but criticized Chilean officials for not doing enough to pursue Barrientos, now 69.

“It has been hugely frustrating that the Chilean administrations haven’t put either the resources or the political will behind the extradition order,” she said.

Chile’s foreign ministry office said in an email to Reuters that the administration of President Sebastian Pinera, which took power in March, wanted to “act quickly” on the case.

Foreign affairs minister Roberto Ampuero said in July that he had reactivated the extradition request.

Amanda Jara said that “we would very much like to talk to our foreign minister and see what they plan to do.”

“We understand it’s a complicated case. But because of the years that have passed, we feel that the government needs to commit energy, as in lawyers and resources, in order to push this extradition order forward,” she added.

Amanda Jara said she and her family felt they had been granted a certain measure of justice by the Chilean people, who have made her father a part of the country’s collective memory.

She said the recent news surrounding her father’s case has led her to think about one of his last and most well-known songs, “Manifiesto,” in which he wrote that “a song takes on a meaning when its own heartbeat is strong, sung by a man who will die singing truthfully singing his song.”

Whose last breath do we hear?
And whose breath blows in your pipes?
Musician from Chile
Musician from Chile

Whose last breath do we hear?
And whose breath blows in your pipes?
Musician from Chile
Musician from Chile

Your pipes are blown with lips
Spittle and breath across your mouth
Breath sounding, breath taken
Breath fighting to make music to live

Whose last breath is this?
Musician from Chile
Musician from Chile

Victor Jara of Chile
He lived like a shooting star
And he fought for the people of Chile
With his songs and his guitar
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

Victor was a peasant
He worked from a few years old
He sat behind his father’s plow
And he watched the earth unfold
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

If the neighbours had a wedding
Or one of their children died
Victor’s mother would sing all night for them
With Victor by her side
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

He grew up to be a fighter
Against the people’s wrongs
He listened to their stories
And he turned them into songs
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

He sang for the copper miners
And for those who worked the land
He sang for the factory workers
And they knew he was their man
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

He campaigned for Allende
Working night and day
He sang “Take hold of your brothers hands
For the future begins today”
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

The bloody generals took Chile
They arrested Victor then
They caged him in a stadium
With five-thousand frightened men
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

Victor stood up in the stadium
His voice was clear and strong
He sang for his fellow prisoners
’til the guards cut short his song
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

They broke the bones in both his hands
They beat his lovely head
They tore him with electric shocks
After three long days of torture they shot him dead
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

Victor Jara of Chile
He lived like a shooting star
And he fought for the people of Chile
With his songs and his guitar
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong
And his hands were gentle, his hands were strong

Whose last breath do we hear?
And whose breath blows in your pipes?
Musician from Chile
Musician from Chile

Your pan pipes are trapping the wind
You breathe for others
Breath sounding, breath taken
Breath fighting to make music to live

Whose last breath is this?
Musician from Chile
Musician from Chile
Musician from Chile

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s