|35 years after the torture and murder of the renowned Chilean folk singer and composer Victor Jara, a retired army colonel has been charged with the killing, reported the Associated Press
Judge Juan Fuentes has ended an investigation and charged the retired colonel Mario Manriquez in the case, saying the colonel was “responsible” for the murder of the Chilean folk singer Victor Jara in 1973 – a murder which transformed Jara’s music into a symbol of struggle against repression across Latin America.
40-year-old Victor Jara, “the Bob Dylan of Chile”, was arrested shortly after a military coup led by general Augusto Pinochet. He was taken to a soccer stadium in Santiago, Estadio Chile (renamed the Estadio Víctor Jara in September 2003), which was used as a detention camp for 5,000 prisoners. His hands were smashed with rifle butts so that he was unable to play his guitar, and his ribs were broken. On 15 September 1973 he was shot to death.
The Chilean army troops also destroyed master tapes of Jara’s recordings and concert appearances. They managed to find and destroy almost half of his recordings, and for much of the next 17 years, Jara’s music was in effect blacklisted. Fearful fans felt compelled to hide their albums and cassettes. His recordings could not be bought in stores, and his music was rarely if ever heard on radio.
Investigation and lawsuit
In August 1999, Victor Jara’s British-born widow Joan Turner Jara filed a lawsuit against her husband’s killers, which after 26 years had still not been identified. The lawsuit was lodged with a Chilean judge, Juan Guzman, who interviewed a number of senior military figures in an effort to determine who was in command at the stadium on that day.
In 2004, the former military ruler Augusto Pinochet was asked to testify in writing in the murder case.
Judge Juan Fuentes took over the investigation in 2005. A lawyer for the Jara family, Nelson Caucoto, said he intends to appeal the decision to close the probe with no other people charged than the colonel.
Victor Jara Foundation
Sponsors of the Victor Jara Foundation include prominent contemporary performers like Bono, Peter Gabriel and the actress Emma Thompson.
|Reuters’ video: ‘Chilean singer murder case closed’ (1:19)
Latest news on Victor Jara
Google News – continously updated:
Search: ‘Victor Jara’
The Associated Press – 15 May 2008:
‘Retired Chilean officer charged in singer’s death’
BBC News – 10 December 2004:
‘Colonel charged over Jara killing’
The New York Times – 23 December 2002:
‘A Voice Stilled by a Junta Now Lives Again’
Victor Jara Foundation (in Spanish only):
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