Víctor Jara

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Víctor Jara
Once more they want to stain
my country with the blood
of working people.
Those who talk of liberty
but whose hands are marked with guilt;
who want to separate
mothers from their children
and want to reconstruct
the cross that Christ bore.
- Vientos del Pueblo (1973)

Víctor Jara Martínez (September 28, 1932September 15, 1973) was a Chilean singer-songwriter, theatre director, pedagogue and political activist. He played a pivotal role in the folkloric renaissance that led to the Nueva Cancion Chilena [NCC] (New Chilean Song) movement - which created a revolution in the popular music of his country.


  • The cultural invasion is like a leafy tree which prevents us from seeing our own sun, sky and stars. Therefore in order to be able to see the sky above our heads, our task is to cut this tree off at the roots. US imperialism understands very well the magic of communication through music and persists in filling our young people with all sorts of commercial tripe. With professional expertise they have taken certain measures: first, the commercialization of the so-called ‘protest music’; second, the creation of ‘idols’ of protest music who obey the same rules and suffer from the same constraints as the other idols of the consumer music industry – they last a little while and then disappear. Meanwhile they are useful in neutralizing the innate spirit of rebellion of young people. The term ‘protest song’ is no longer valid because it is ambiguous and has been misused. I prefer the term ‘revolutionary song’.
    • In 1969 Jara commented about the distinction between the commercialised ‘protest song phenomenon’ imported into Chile and the nature of the New Chilean Song Movement (NCC).
    • Jara, Joan (1983). Victor: An Unfinished Song. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-02954-1. p. 121
  • Love of my home, my wife and my children./ Love for the earth that helps me live./ Love for education and of work./ Love of others who work for the common good./ Love of justice as the instrument that provides equilibrium for human dignity./ Love of peace in order to enjoy one's life./ Love of freedom, but not the freedom acquired at the expense of others’ freedom, but rather the freedom of all./ Love of freedom to live and exist, for the existence of my children, in my home, in my town, my city, among neighbouring people./ Love for freedom in the environment in which we are required to forge our destiny./ Love of freedom without yokes: nor ours nor foreign.
    • When asked, four days before the military coup of September 11, 1973, what the word ‘Love’ meant to him.
    • Section: Biography/Victor y el amor of http://www.fundacionvictorjara.cl/ 10/04/2007

Quotes about Jara

  • The junta broke the fingers on Victor Jara’s hands
    They said to the gentle poet “play your guitar now if you can”
    Victor started singing but they brought his body down
    You can kill that man but not his song
    When it’s sung the whole world round
    If you can sing for freedom I can too
  • Victor Jara of Chile
    Lived like a shooting star
    He fought for the people of Chile
    With his songs and his guitar
    His hands were gentle, his hands were strong
  • As long as we sing his songs,
    As long as his courage can inspire us
    to greater courage
    Victor Jara will never die.
  • Victor Jara, assassinated by the Chilean dictatorship, Benjo Cruz fallen during his participation in the guerilla war of Teoponte, Jorge Salerno, executed during the Pando takeover, are living symbols of the impossibility our imperialist enemy has at silencing the collective voice of our Latin American people. “There are musicians who are only musicians” Haydée Santamaria once said, and she added that what was true about Victor, Jorge y Benjo was that “they were musicians that loved the people”. To these group of voices belongs Victor Jara, whom I personally knew, with whom I sang; we would dialogued and discussed each others’ songs, united in the objective of finding a new humanity.
  • Please remember Victor Jara,
    In the Santiago Stadium,
    Es verdad – those Washington Bullets again.
  • When a rural Ecuadorian, in the heart of the mountains, listens on his transistor radio to the Chilean Victor Jara singing his “Plegaria a un Labrador” (A farmers prayer) he is, although he may not realize it, listening to a piece of folklore. Such songs belong to a group of sometimes ephemeral phenomena which might be called “subjective folklore”, and which have not yet been given a place among the categories made by folklore specialists.
    • Daniel Viglietti “Nueva Canción: Latin America’s song without frontiers” UNESCO Courier, April 1986, p. 10
  • And in the world, a heart of darkness, a fire zone
    Where poets speak their heart, then bleed for it
    Jara sang, his song a weapon in the hands of love
    You know his blood still cries from the ground
    It runs like a river, runs to the sea
    It runs like a river to the sea
    • U2 in “One Tree Hill” 1987
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