A few days after the September 11, 1973 coup in Chile, the body of singer and guitarist Victor Jara was found riddled with 44 bullets. This fervent supporter of the overthrown President Salvador Allende was at the top of the list of people wanted by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. On Monday, seven former soldiers were definitively sentenced to prison terms for this assassination.
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Chile’s Supreme Court on Monday (28 August) upheld the prison sentences handed down to seven former soldiers for the 1973 murder of popular singer Victor Jara, the day after General Augusto Pinochet’s military coup. Aged 73 to 85 and free until this final sentence, the ex-soldiers must now serve sentences of 8 to 25 years in prison.
Victor Jara was a member of the Chilean Communist Party and a staunch supporter of President Salvador Allende, who came to power at the ballot box in 1970 and was overthrown by the CIA-backed military coup of September 11, 1973.
Victor Jara was arrested the next day and transported to the Estadio de Chile sports arena. According to the El Mostrador news site, which had access to the court file, “he was immediately recognized by the military personnel, finding himself physically and verbally attacked upon his arrival”.
The singer-songwriter and guitarist was detained, along with some 5,000 other political prisoners, in the stadium in Santiago that now bears his name, where he was interrogated and tortured. His fingers had notably been crushed.
Victor Jara had been killed on September 15, 1973 and his body, riddled with 44 bullets, had been thrown into a street in the Chilean capital. El Mostrador specifies that another body was next to it, “with 23 bullet holes”, that of Littré Quiroga, national director of prisons and militant of the Communist Party.
An icon of popular Latin American music
The exhumation of the remains of Victor Jara and three other political prisoners was ordered by the Chilean courts in 2009. The remains of the singer were then buried on December 5, 2009 during an official ceremony at the General Cemetery in Santiago, bringing together thousands of Chileans, including then-president Michelle Bachelet.
A pacifist singer whose lyrics spoke of love and social protest, Victor Jara is an icon of Latin American popular music with songs like “El derecho de vivir en paz” or “Te recuerdo Amanda”.
He inspired musicians such as U2, Bob Dylan or the Calexico group. During a concert given in 2013 in Santiago, Bruce Springsteen for his part paid tribute to him. Just like the French group Zebda, which more recently signed the project “Like a Chilean guitarist”.
Augusto Pinochet ruled Chile until 1990 and died in 2006 without ever having been convicted for crimes committed by his regime, which allegedly killed some 3,200 left-wing activists and other suspected opponents, according to human rights organisations. .