Artists have the ability to speak truth in ways much more powerful than politicians. That is what scared General Augusto Pinochet about legendary folksinger Víctor Jara, and why in the days following Pinochet’s coup forty years ago, members of the military detained, tortured, and killed Víctor, along with so many others. The coup ushered in an era of terror, suppression, and unchecked human rights abuses in the country.
It is hard to overstate Víctor’s influence. He inspired a generation of musicians including U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Joan Baez. Víctor fought for social justice with stirring songs and melodies that inspired a continent. U2’s Bono said, “Once you know his stories and his songs, you are changed.”
Three years ago, after a lengthy investigation, CJA and our pro bono co-counsel at Chadbourne & Parke filed a case on behalf of the family of Víctor Jara. And today, we have an opportunity to hold accountable one of Pinochet’s lieutenants responsible forVíctor’s torture and murder.
On June 13, we go to trial in a Florida courtroom against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez. Barrientos has been living in Florida for 20 years, and has never faced justice for his crimes.
The witness testimony that CJA attorneys collected during multiple trips to Chile shows that Barrientos is not only responsible for the torture and murder of Víctor Jara, but also helped set up and direct the mass detention center at Chile Stadium, where thousands of citizens were unlawfully arrested, and many were tortured or murdered. With this case, we hope to shed light on the events that took place at Chile Stadium that have remained shrouded in mystery for over four decades, and finally give Víctor Jara’s family a chance to confront the perpetrator of this heinous crime in court.
In the words of Víctor Jara’s widow, CJA client Joan Jara, “Víctor’s case is so important not just for us, but for all the families that are still suffering because of the brutality and the terrible crimes committed in those years.”
CJA needs to raise at least $30,000 by June 30th, the end of our fiscal year, to cover our expenses for this case and other ongoing investigations. We are 100% funded by private donations from supporters like you.
C. Dixon Osburn
P.P.S. Hear more from CJA Clients Joan and Amanda Jara from their speech at the CJA Annual Dinner in 2015.