Victor Jara

Vientos del Pueblo

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Some of Victor Jara's very best songs can be heard on Monitor's Vientos del Pueblo, an expanded CD reissue of a posthumous collection that emerged in 1976, three years after his torture and public murder in a stadium filled with political detainees during the U.S.-supported overthrow of the socialist government headed by Chile's democratically elected president Salvador Allende. Few folksingers of any land have managed to be so outspoken in the face of encroaching oppression, and the fact that these songs made him a target for the violence that ended his life adds poignancy to words and music that resonate with the Chilean people's struggles for self-determination. "I Won't Go Back to Olive Crushing" speaks of literally working under the whip; "Tear Down the Fences" and "I'm Going to Stay Here" bravely question the occupation and ownership of Chilean lands by wealthy individuals and corporations from other countries. "Questions About Puerto Montt" describes a massacre of peasants and workers and pointedly names the individual who was responsible for it, Minister of the Interior Perez Zujovic. In "A Cochabamba Me Voy," Jara bluntly warns: "Watch out for the CIA." Other songs are sung more gently, even as the lyrics refer to topics of significant social import. A paean to Chilean Communist Party founder Luis Emilio Recabarren is hauntingly lovely. A disarmingly delicate lullaby to a little black baby describes the hardships being suffered by the infant's mother while she works in the fields for not enough money to live on. "Prayer to a Laborer," like many of Jara's songs, bears traces of his seminary training. Clearly based in part upon the 23rd Psalm, this profoundly moving hymn to revolutionary devotion paraphrases and adjusts the scripture to fit the problems faced by generations of Latin American workers: "Deliver us from the master who keeps us in misery, thy kingdom of justice and equality come...thy will be done, at last, on Earth."

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