Víctor Jara 50 years on: Barcelona to honor murdered singer with La Mercè concert

September 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the violent coup d'etat in Chile, leading to the death, persecution, and exile of many

Singer Rusó Sala performs a song that will be part of the Víctor Jara concert
Singer Rusó Sala performs a song that will be part of the Víctor Jara concert / Ariadna Comas
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

September 8, 2023 12:06 PM

September 8, 2023 12:12 PM

September 11 is a day of celebration in Catalonia for the National Day, but the date is a dark one in Chile. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the violent coup d'etat in the South American country which led to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and the death, persecution, and exile of many thousands of people. 

One of those who suffered the brutality of the Pinochet regime was Víctor Jara, the legendary Chilean folk singer and political activist. He was eventually captured, tortured, and murdered on September 16, 1973, in a sports complex that now bears his name. 

Just last week, Hernán Chacón, a former military officer in Chile, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the killing of Jara, and died by suicide before police could take him into custody to serve his sentence. 

Catalonia will honor the memory of Jara with a special concert on September 24 as part of the La Mercè celebrations, the largest public festival in the Catalan capital to mark the feast day of the patron saint of the city. 

'One Thousand Voices for Víctor Jara. Chile and Catalonia: memory and future 50 years after the coup d'etat' is the name of the concert, playing tribute to past homages to the Chilean artist titled 'One Thousand Guitars for Víctor Jara.' 

The Catalan foreign minister, Meritxell Serret, Barcelona deputy mayor for social rights and culture, Maria Eugènia Gay, a cultural representative of the Chilean government, Germán Berger, and the director of Casa Amèrica, where the press conference took place, Marta Nin, spoke at the presentation of the concert on Friday. 

Musician Rusó Sala also performed a song that will feature in the concert during the presentation.

Serret mentioned that the concert was an "homage to Víctor Jara, but also an homage to all victims of the Chilean coup d'etat of 1973." The minister explained that the event will aim to hold up the values of democracy and freedom, and that Víctor Jara was a worldwide symbol of the fight for justice and social rights

The foreign minister also explained that the concert aims to be an act of remembering, as she highlighted the importance of historical memory with concerts such as this, and the cycle of Chilean films being played at the Filmoteca in Barcelona as well. 

Maria Eugènia Gay spoke about events such as this helping us to remember the values of democracy and past violations of human rights, a "fight that is still relevant and present today."

The councilor also mentioned other cultural figures who had to flee Chile after the coup d'etat and who found refuge in Barcelona. 

Germán Berger pointed out that countries across the world should use examples such as what happened in his native country to not forget the horrors of dehumanizing other people. 

A total of 19 musicians will take part in the concert which will be held on September 24 at 10 pm in front of the Barcelona cathedral.