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Famous Like Me > Composer > J > Victor Jara

Profile of Victor Jara on Famous Like Me

Name: Victor Jara  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 28th September 1932
Place of Birth: Chillán, Chile
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Víctor Jara

Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez (September 23, 1932 – September 16, 1973) was a Chilean folk singer and activist.

Víctor Jara was born in the small town of Chillán Viejo, south of Santiago, Chile, to poor farmers Manuel Jara and Amanda Martínez. The marriage was not a happy one, and Manuel left the family when Víctor was still a child to look for work elsewhere. Amanda perservered in raising Víctor and his siblings by herself, insisting that all of them should receive a good education.

Amanda died when Víctor Jara was only 15, leaving him to make his own way thereafter. He began to study to be an accountant, but soon moved into a seminary instead, studying to become a priest. After a couple of years, however, he became disillusioned with the church and left the seminary. Subsequently he spent several years in the army before returning to his home town to pursue interests in folk music and theater.

Jara began his foray into folklore in the mid-1950s when he began singing with the group Cuncumen. He moved more decisively into music in the 1960s getting the opportunity to sing at Santiago's La Pena de Los Parra; owned by Violeta Parra. Through her Jara became greatly involved in the Nueva Canción movement of Latin American folk music. He published his first recording in 1966 and, by 1970, had left his theater work in favor of a career in music. His songs were drawn from a combination of traditional folk music and left-wing political activism. From this period, some of his most renowned songs are Plegaria a un Labrador (A Farmer's Prayer) and Te Recuerdo Amanda (I Remember You Amanda.) He supported the Unidad Popular ("Popular Unity") coalition candidate Salvador Allende for the presidency of Chile, taking part in campaigning, volunteer political work, and playing free concerts.

Allende's campaign was successful and, in 1970, he was elected president of Chile. However, the US-supported military, who opposed Allende's politics, staged a coup on September 11, 1973, in the course of which Allende died. At the moment of the coup, Jara was on the way to the Tecnich University (today Universidad de Santiago)where he was teacher. That night he slept at the university along with others teachers and students, and sang to raise morale.

On the morning of September 12, he was taken, along with thousands, as a prisoner to the Chile Stadium (now Estadio Victor Jara). A lot of them were tortured and killed there by the military forces. Víctor Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured, resulting in the breaking of bones in his hands and upper torso. Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he laid on the ground. Defiantly, he sang part of a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition. He was murdered on September 15 after further beatings were followed by being machine-gunned and left dead on a road on the outskirts of Santiago. Soon after, his body was taken to a city morgue. Before his death, he wrote a poem about the conditions of the prisoners in the stadium, the poem was written on a paper that was hidden inside a shoe of a friend. The poem was never named, but is commonly known as Estadio Chile.

Jara's wife, Joan Jara, was allowed to come and retrieve his body from the site (and was able to confirm the physical abuse he had endured). After holding a funeral for her husband, Joan Jara fled Chile in secret. Although the military regime managed to burn the vast majority of master recordings of Jara's music, Joan Jara managed to sneak recordings of Víctor Jara's music out of Chile, which were later copied and distributed worldwide. Joan Jara later wrote an account of Víctor Jara's life and music, titled Víctor: An Unfinished Song.

In September 2003, the Chile Stadium was renamed Víctor Jara Stadium.


  • Víctor: An Unfinished Song by Joan Jara (1998, Bloomsbury Press, London)


  • The Chile Stadium many times is confused with the Estadio Nacional (National Stadium).
  • Víctor's death date was confirmed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (The Rettig Report.)

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Victor Jara