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The legendary Chilean singer Victor Jara was one of the leaders of the Nueva Canción (spanish for ‘New Song’) movement – a movement based around “socially committed” music; music that takes a clear stand for freedom, against poverty, against imperialism and against human rights abuses. Nueva Canción gave voice to the millions of peasants, workers and indigenous peoples of Latin America who were being crushed under the weight of US economic and political dominance.
In the aftermath of the brutal US-backed military coup of 11 September 1973, thousands of socialists and communists were taken hostage by the army and rounded up in Chile Stadium. Along with many others, Victor Jara was beaten and tortured; his hands were broken, but his resolve was not. When soldiers taunted him and told him to play something on his guitar, he played Venceremos (We Shall Triumph) — the campaign song of the 1970 election that had brought the socialist Salvador Allende to power. On 16 September — forty years ago today — Victor Jara was machine-gunned to death by soldiers in the stadium.
Across the world, Victor Jara is remembered as a hero and a martyr; an exemplary musician who put his skill and his passion entirely at the service of the struggle for a better life for humanity. In commemorating his death and celebrating his life, we should remember the principal lesson he teaches us: that culture is a weapon, one which must be wielded effectively in these times where oppression and repression are so prevalent. As Paul Robeson said, “The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery”.
This track is an instrumental hip-hop remix of a very inspiring song by Victor Jara, ‘Canto Libre’.
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