Multiple wire services are reporting this morning that Judge Miguel Vasquez has ordered the detention of eight former Chilean military officers as a step in his investigation into the assassination of folksinger Victor Jara in the brutal days immediately after Chile's September 1973 coup d'etat. According to the BBC, an international arrest order has been issued for Pedro Barrientos, at the time the lieutenant in command of the squad accused of killing Jara who currently lives in Deltona, FL. Along with Barrientos, Colonel (r.) Hugo Sanchez has also been charged with homicide. The other six are charged with complicity in the murder.
Jara's murder was a flashpoint in mobilizing international opinion against the emerging Pinochet dictatorship, already stained by the extremely violent coup which involved firefights at government ministries, the aerial bombing of the presidential palace, mass detentions involving tens of thousands of opponents, and the death of elected president Salvador Allende (widely believed at the time to have been murdered by the military). Jara was detained in Santiago on the day of the coup itself, taken to one of the concentration camps established in the city's stadiums, subjected to brutal torture, and then had his fingers and wrists broken by the soldiers interrogating him. He was then murdered by machine gun fire (shot 44 times) and his body left on the street to be discovered by passersby.
On the flip, some songs by Jara to help us remember him on this bittersweet day. It's been 39 years since they killed him, but the dream he struggled for to his last breath lives on.
And a tribute song by Inti-Illimani, among the many Chilean musicians inspired by Jara's music and message: