On the night of September 15, 1973, Victor Jara was picked out of a line of prisoners being led out from the Chile Stadium to the National Stadium, another detention centre, in the days following Pinochet’s coup. It was the last time he was seen alive by anyone except the military. On the morning of September 16, his bullet-ridden body appeared alongside those of six other victims just outside Santiago’s Cementerio General.
It took three decades for the Chilean justice system to identify the eight soldiers involved, and it is now requesting the extradition of one of them from the government of the United States.
It was weapons in the hands of members of Chile’s military that discharged the 44 bullets that killed Victor Jara. But the folk-singer became a legend in his homeland; and today, 40 years after the massacre, he is a major icon for musicians and their fans around the world.
Just last week, in his first concert in Chile, rocker Bruce Springsteen interrupted his usual repertoire to sing “Manifiesto”, one of Jara’s most emblematic songs. It was a tribute from one creative force to another, sealing once and for all the universal importance of the Chilean artist’s work. “If you are an activist and a musician, Victor Jara continues to be a great inspiration”, said Springsteen.