Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez was a Chilean teacher, theatre director, poet, singer-songwriter, political activist and member of the Communist Party of Chile.
A distinguished theatre director, he devoted himself to the development of Chilean theatre, directing a broad array of works from locally produced Chilean plays, to the classics of the world stage, to the experimental work of Ann Jellicoe.
Simultaneously he developed in the field of music and played a pivotal role among neo-folkloric artists who established the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement which led to a revolution in the popular music of his country under the Salvador Allende government.
Shortly after the Chilean coup of September 11, 1973 and the ascension of US-backed Augusto Pinochet, he was arrested. In the hours and days that followed, Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured; the bones in his hands were broken, as were his ribs. Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he lay on the ground with broken hands. Defiantly, he sang part of “Venceremos” (We Will Win), a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition. After further beatings, he was machine-gunned on September 16, his body dumped on a road on the outskirts of Santiago and then taken to a city morgue where 44 bullets were found in his body.
The contrast between the themes of his songs, on love, peace and social justice and the brutal way in which he was murdered transformed Jara into a symbol of struggle for human rights and justice worldwide.
On December 3, 2009, a massive funeral took place in the “Galpón Víctor Jara” across from “Plaza Brazil”. Jara’s remains were honoured by thousands. His remains were re-buried in the same place he was buried in 1973. On December 28, 2012 a judge in Chile ordered the arrest of eight former army officers for alleged involvement in the murder of Victor Jara.