Chile: Seven former members of the Armed Forces face trial for the murder of Víctor Jara in 1973

Almost 40 years after the crime, Judge Miguel Vásquez, from the Santiago Court of Appeals, ordered the detention and incarceration of seven former members of the Chilean Army, accused of the 1973 murder of famed guitarist, singer, songwriter and theatre director, Víctor Jara.

Jara was one of most emblematic members of the young generation of cantores de protesta that characterized the Latin American musical stage during the sixties and early seventies. He was also a professor at the Universidad Técnica del Estado, where he and hundreds of colleagues and students were imprisoned by the military on September 12 of 1973, immediately following the coup that ended the presidency of Salvador Allende. Like many others, they were taken to a soccer stadium turned into giant center for massive detention, where Jara, once recognized by his captors, was separated and subjected to torture and mutilation for several days. On September 16th, all prisoners were evacuated from the stadium, with the exception of Jara and Littré Quiroga Carvajal, who were executed there. Jara’s body was found, along with three other victims, in the backyard of a cemetery south of Santiago, and subsequently identified by his widow, Joan Turner. The autopsy revealed 44 bullet wounds and several broken bones. Turner and the driver of the funeral vehicle were the only ones present when Jara was secretly buried, after which she escaped from Chile.

A few years ago, Edwin Dimter was identified as El Príncipe, one of the officers present at the stadium in 1973, who had been charged as the material executioner. Col. Hugo Sánchez Marmonti,  Lt. Pedro Barrientos Núñez, and soldiers Roberto Souper Onfray, Raúl Jofré González, Nelson Hasse Mazzei y Luis Bethke Wulf were also identified as accomplices.

         

Javier Vázquez-D'Elía
Javier is Coordinating Editor on Panoramas. He received a PhD in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Comparative Politics and Political Theory. His main areas of interest are the politics of social policy reform, state formation, democratic governance, and comparative methodology.

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