The Right to Live in Peace (in song)

Mitch Hanley, Senior Producer

In looking for potential music for this program with Mercedes Doretti, we came across a rich collection of artists in both Argentina and Chile who’ve documented, in song, the dark times of Argentina’s “dirty war” and General Pinochet’s regime in Chile.

Some of the artists were exiled, as was the case for Mercedes Sosa, whose song, “Sera Posible el Sur?,” became an anthem for the people of Argentina. This song refers to the state-sponsored terrorism used in Argentina to “disappear” thousands of people and dismiss the mothers looking for their children as crazy. Here is a rough translation of the first stanza:

Will the South be possible?
will it be possible with so many stray bullets
to the heart of the village,
and so many mothers are deemed crazy
and all of the memory in a prison

"Sera Posible el Sur?" by Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa’s lullaby, “Pequena,” was used in the program and can be found on the SOF Playlist.

Victor Jara was an outspoken supporter of Salvador Allende’s populist politics and helped to get him elected president in 1970. Upon the coup of 1973 and General Augusto Pinochet’s grasp of power, Victor Jara was arrested, brought to the national stadium with thousands of others, and over three days was electrocuted, his hands broken, and finally shot to death on September 15, 1973. According to his wife, with broken hands he wrote his last poem on scraps of paper that were smuggled out of the stadium by survivors. The final words of which include:

"Silence and screams are the end of my song."

Although the Pinochet regime managed to destroy many of the master recordings of Jara’s works, here is a YouTube video of Jara performing, “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz (The Right to Live in Peace)”:

Many others have written homages to Victor Jara:

"The Hands of Victor Jara" by Chuck Brodsky

"Victor Jara’s Hands" by Calexico

"Washington Bullets" by The Clash

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