Iconic Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was killed during the 1973 coup d’etat against Salvador Allende, but his political and musical legacy is far from forgotten. To honor his memory, Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux released a cover of Jara’s “Luchin” to mark the 43rd anniversary of Augusto Pinochet's coup that left thousands of Socialist President Salvador Allende's supporters dead.
“A tribute to Victor Jara and the commemorative memory of our country,” wrote Tijoux on her Facebook page, heralding the release of the new track ahead of the anniversary of Allende’s historic U.S.-backed ouster. During the Sept. 11, 1973 coup, dictatorship forces targeted Jara for his political views, along with thousands of other dissidents, and tortured and murdered him in the capital city Santiago, silencing his famous voice once and for all.
In her remake of Jara’s 1972 track “Luchin,” Tijoux sets the original lyrics about a poor boy living in Santiago to a full orchestral score in place of Jara’s classic acoustic folk music. The rapper also emphasizes through repetition a key line in Jara’s powerful song: “If there are children like Luchin, who eat earth and worms; let’s open all the cages, to let them fly like birds.”
“We’re doing this tribute and homage in his memory and legacy with this new version of his classic song,” continued Tijoux. “While recognizing the pain and suffering lived in those years, we continue the constant struggle today without forgetting our past.”
Tijoux’s politics and identity have been shaped by the 1973 coup and its social, economic, and political consequences. Born to Chilean parents living in exile in France in 1977, Tijoux was influenced by Chilean artist including Victor Jara and Violeta Parra, both musicians that pioneered the Latin American folk music genre known as “Nueva Cancion,” meaning “New Song,” in Chile in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The hip hop artist often incorporates themes of Chile’s political history into her tracks, such as “Shock,” which criticizes the country’s neoliberal “shock doctrine.” Feminism is another central theme in her music, epitomized perhaps most clearly in her song “Antipatriarca.”
Jara, whose body was found with 44 bullet holes outside the sports stadium in Santiago that was used as a torture center during the dictatorship, has become one of the most prominent symbols of Chile’s U.S.-backed “dirty war” against leftist artists, intellectuals, and activists in the 1970’s and 80’s. His politically-charged music has inspired a generation of political activists and musicians.
It is estimated that anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 victims were tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared under Pinochet’s bloody campaign against opponents as part of the regional U.S.-backed Operation Condor aimed at wiping out “insurgents” and stabilizing dictatorships in South America.