The long arm of the law may bring justice for Victor Jara

3 Jan

Victim of an assassin’s bullet, Martin Luther King, Jr. famously echoed the words of the 19th Century Abolitionist Theodore Parker when he noted “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Well, here’s another example of that long arc bending towards justice. After 39 years of investigation, Chilean authorities announced this week they had implicated eight men in the murder of singer-songwriter Victor Jara five days after the coup that overthrew elected President Salvador Allende in 1973. According to Reuters, after the case had been closed and reopened several times, four arrests were made, with others to come. One of the suspects, former Lieutenant Pedro Barrientos Núñez, now lives in Florida, in the United States, and may be extradited. (Interesting that despite his connection to the military dictatorship in Chile he still managed to get a visa to come here.) One of the other soldiers implicated in the killing, Edwin Dimter Bianchi, received training at the U.S.-funded School of the Americas, at the time located in Panama (and now in the U.S. state of Georgia).

Jara joined a list of famous artists who have been assassinated for political reasons, including Federico Garcia Lorca, and is possibly the most significant artist to be executed in my lifetime. Although thousands of people were killed under the Pinochet regime, Jara’s killing had symbolic significance throughout Latin America.

A great bibliography about him and his work, as well as his influence on other musicians around the world, can be found in his especially detailed Wikipedia entry.

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