NIghtrider here with a recommendation to watch.
Last month was the release of ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium by Netflix. This film is about the Chilean singer Victor Jara, who was murdered on 12 September 1973 by the Chilean army right after the Chilean Coup on 11 September 1973 by Augusto Pinochet; the United States backed Pinochet’s regime under Nixon’s administration. Since then, Jara’s wife Joan seeks justice for Jara and Los Desaparecidos (the disappeared).
The film focuses first on the climate of Chile before the coup where Chileans voted in Salvador Allende as President of Chile; Allende was a democratic socialist. Victor’s wife Joan reminisces about Jara’s folk music and political activism. In the ’60s Victor made well-known folk songs Plegaria a un Labrador and Te Recuerdo Amanda. In the late 60’s he was inspired by left-wing politics and recorded powerful political songs like Preguntas por Puerto Montt, where Jara criticizes a government official that ordered his police to attack squatters in Puerto Montt; Chilean politics started to melt after that same official was assassinated and Jara was beaten by a group of right-wing thugs. Jara joined in supporting Allende’s presidential campaign in 1970. He composed his most enduring political song Venceremos. Veceremos became Allende’s theme song that successfully helps Allende win the presidency in the 1970 election.
The film progresses into 11 September 1973. Backed by the United States, Allende’s general (Augusto Pinochet) led right-wing forces and began the coup; Allende was killed as a result though official witnesses later claimed he committed suicide before the army stormed the presidential palace La Moneda. Jara informed his wife that he was on his way to Universidad Technica del Estado (now called Universidad de Santiago de Chile) when the coup began. He slept there with the students with other teachers and raised morale by singing. The next day, Pinochet’s soldiers began rounding up political dissidents and leftists. Jara, the students, and the teachers were arrested and moved to the sports complex Estadio Chile. Because it was a makeshift concentration camp, soldiers recognized Jara and took him to a separate room; he was brutally tortured (smashed hands and fingers and then mocked harshly when asked to play his guitar). Soon after that, he was shot in the head while his body was hit with 40 bullets. His body was discarded with other bodies of prisoners. Joan was contacted and recognized the body and gave Victor a quick and secret burial before fleeing Chile. No progress was made until 2008 when former Chilean military officers were put on trial for their crimes, including the murder of Victor. As with certain individuals in history, not all of the murderers faced justice.
Massacre at the Stadium showcases that people who want change can make a difference, but not without paying a high price. Victor Jara was the voice of his generation that surpasses his time to this day. In 2004 Estadio Chile was renamed Estadio Victor Jara in memory of what happened to Jara and thousands of others who were “disappeared.” He was once considered the most dangerous man in Chile because the young peoples of ’60s and ’70s listened to his lyrics and took political action to better their country. His wife Joan continues his legacy by creating the Victor Jara Foundation and continuing to find justice for her husband’s death. She also distributed Victor’s music worldwide; Victor’s music came back to Chile in 1981 even though the military destroyed most of Jara’s master tapes during the beginning of Pinochet’s regime. Jara is also honored by musicians, artists, filmmakers and many others worldwide,
ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium is a proper documentary that Netflix delivers well. Maybe we all can learn a lesson from Victor Jara’s music.