Update 2: Golpe de Estado, Dictadura, y Exilio

After the election of Salvadore Allende in 1970, the nueva canción movement grew and was fostered by the new socialist government. Allende’s platform of nationalizing Chile’s copper mines, advancing worker’s rights, furthering land reform, and reorganization of the national economy had united and mobilized the working class. Allende recognized the role of the wild popularity of “Venceremos” in his election, and took the stage after his election under the banner “You Can’t Have a Revolution Without Songs.” However, the world was in the middle of the Cold War and a nervous Nixon ordered economic sanctions against Chile, who was feared to become an ally of the Soviet Union despite now-declassified intelligence reports saying Chile was no threat to democracy. What the US really feared was losing its profits from Chilean copper mines, which Allende nationalized, bringing the profits back to the Chile economy. The retaliatory economic sanctions, like flooding the copper market to decrease copper prices, destroyed Chilean economy and plunged the country in turmoil. The CIA led several attempts to destabilize Allende’s government, such as organizing paid strikes to increase tensions and propaganda painting him as a Soviet dictator. These efforts culminated in the violent September 11, 1973 military coup d’etat that overthrew Allende’s government. As the Presidential Palace was surrounded and bombed, the workers inside fought back until they were captured or killed and Allende committed suicide to avoid capture. On September 12, 1973, Victor Jara was captured with thousands of others and interned in the Chile Stadium. He was violently tortured, his hands and fingers smashed and he was taunted by the guards to play the guitar. Shortly after, he was publicly executed and his bullet-riddled body was displayed for other prisoners to see, eventually discarded with the other dead civilian prisoners after the stadium massacres.

Declaring himself the head of a four man military junta, General Augusto Pinochet seized total control of the government and set about kidnapping, jailing, torturing, and executing anyone connected to Allende’s government. Thousands were executed or disappeared in only the first few months of Pinochet’s dictatorship and the human rights violations would only continue throughout the dictatorship. Pinochet abolished civil liberties, dissolved the National Congress, banned union activities and strikes, and erased all of Allende’s agrarian and economic reforms. Within the first week of the regime, Pinochet banned the trademark traditional instruments of the nueva canción movement, the charango (small 10 string instrument) and quena (traditional flute). Heavy censorship and the persecution of nueva canción artists pushed the movement underground and into exile where it rose again thanks to the efforts of groups like Quilapayún and Inti-Illimani. Quilapayún, forced into exile, fled to France in 1973 where they were prolific creators and toured raising awareness of societal issues. Their most notable work, “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” about resistance in Chile, has been translated and adapted around the world for various protests. Inti-Illimani had been touring in Europe at the time of the dictatorship, and remained in Italy where they continued to support Chilean democracy with their protest music. Inti-Illimani returned to Chile in 1988, and helped organize the plebiscite that voted Pinochet out of office.


Quilapayun (1975) – “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido”

Lyrics with translation

Inti-Illimani (1977) – Chile Resistencia (album)