Final Update: Post-Dictatorship and Thoughts

Under the dictatorship, the nueva canción movement morphed into canto nuevo and then eventually into rock music. The 1980s in Chile brought on an invasion of uncensored rock music from Argentina and Chilean rock musicians, such as Los Prisioneros and Los Tres, who deftly avoided censorship through the metaphors and figurative language in their lyrics and circulated their music on homemade cassette tapes. Nueva canción artists continued to make music in exile, and groups like Inti-Illimani and Quilapayún are still active to this day (even without all the original members). The impact of the nueva canción movement and its association with protest and political activism are still relevant to this day. The Chilean Museo de la Memoria is currently working on two projects related to Pinochet’s dictatorship: “Memorias de exilio” about Chileans forced into exile, and “Cantos Cautivos” about the music heard, sung, and composed by political prisoners during captivity.

Right off the bat, I can say that I wanted to do so much more with this project than I was able to. Many times, I got sidetracked by different musicians and the various aspects of the events leading to and during the dictatorship. I became frustrated trying to limit my research and at having to share my research time with other responsibilities. I will keep working on this project, as it is close to my heart. No matter how many times I listen to the songs from the nueva canción movement, particularly the protest music by Victor Jara and the exiled musicians Quilapayún and Inti-Illimani, they still provoke a visceral reaction. My mother, who was studying in Switzerland at the time, went to several concerts of Quilapayún, Inti-Illimani, and other exiled groups in the 70s and early 80s. Hearing “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” start to play from my laptop as she walked by brought tears to her eyes, and she told me that my uncles had friends who had been in Chile during the dictatorship. This was news to me, though I knew that part of the reason she and her siblings had studied in Switzerland was tied to the wave of dictatorships in Latin America and persecution of leftist college students. There is so much more that I want to learn and pursue in this project, not just Chile now but Bolivia as well, and I am motivated to continue researching.


  1. Sounds like a really cool project! I also spent my summer looking at different musical subcultures and traditions while interviewing musicians. How did you gather data for this? Interviews or analysis of various sources?