Chilean singer Víctor Jara, assassinated during the first days of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
The Chilean Supreme Court has definitively condemned seven ex-military members of the Army as perpetrators of the qualified kidnapping and qualified homicide of the singer-songwriter Víctor Jara on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his crime of beatings and bullets in September 16. Chilean Stadium. The composer was assassinated together with Littré Quiroga, who was the director of the National Prison Service of the Government of the ousted socialist president Salvador Allende (1970-1973). Both spent their last hours of life together, in agony and isolated from the other prisoners in a dressing room.
Víctor Jara was arrested on September 12, 1973, one day after the coup led by Army General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and taken to the Chile Stadium. The singer-songwriter along with Quiroga were two of the more than 5,000 Allende supporters arrested and taken to that sports center – now called the Víctor Jara Stadium – by the military. There, according to court testimonies, his captors were particularly cruel to them and tortured them for at least three days: the singer-songwriter had 56 bone fractures and 44 bullets in his body, while Quiroga had 47 fractures and 23 bullets.
The corpses of both communist militants were thrown, together, on a vacant lot near the railway line, in the vicinity of the Metropolitan Cemetery, on September 16, 1973.
According to the ruling, which was unanimous, ex-military officers Raúl Jofré González, Edwin Dimter Bianchi, Nelson Haase Mazzei, Ernesto Bethke Wulf, Juan Jara Quintana and Hernán Chacón Soto were sentenced to 15 years and one day in prison as perpetrators of the homicides. In addition, to 10 years and one day as authors of the qualified kidnappings. Meanwhile, former officer Rolando Melo Silva was sentenced to 5 years and one day, and another 3 years and one day in jail, as an accessory after the murders and kidnappings, respectively.
As the judgment established, at the Chile Stadium “prisoners of a certain public connotation were identified by military personnel and separated from the rest, and, during the respective periods of their detention, both Víctor Jara Martínez and Littré Abraham Quiroga Carvajal were recognized by military personnel” and then “separated from the bulk of the prisoners and assigned special custody, suffering throughout their captivity, constant and violent episodes of physical and verbal aggression.”
The ruling also states that “between September 13 and 15, 1973, interrogations were carried out on detainees inside the Chile Stadium, without them obeying prior judicial and/or administrative procedures, some of which were carried out by personnel from the Second Military Prosecutor’s Office of the time, directed on some occasion by their own Prosecutor, and, among others, Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez and Littré Abraham Quiroga Carvajal were interrogated, without any record of these actions being left, nor of the alleged charges or of the formation of some process”.
In the case of Víctor Jara, the sentence states, “the attacks had as their main incentive his artistic, cultural and political activity, closely linked to the recently overthrown government.” And he adds that he was subjected to “physical torture, the most severe blows being those that he received in the region of his face and on his hands. Both victims were kicked, punched, and hit with butts with weapons.”
Meanwhile, Quiroga was accused of having been responsible for the imprisonment and mistreatment suffered by Army General Roberto Viaux, “which aggravated the punishment that was given to him by those who passed by, even encouraging the conscripts themselves to take part in said punishment. Viaux was the one who in 1969 led an attempted military uprising, in a barracks in the Tacna Regiment known as the Tacnazo.
Víctor Jara was 40 years old when he was assassinated. He was married to Joan Jara and was the father of two daughters: Amanda and Manuela.
Littré Quiroga was 33 years old. And, the day they detained him in his office, he wrote three letters: to his wife Silvia, to his mother, and to his three young children. “Little children: behave yourself and eat all the food. Study hard and help your mom. Dad won’t be able to see them maybe until when. Don’t watch so much television and behave accordingly, like good children. Chaíto and don’t forget his daddy. Congratulations, Littré Quiroga C”.
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