Testimonies

Testimonies are sorted by witness.
Click on to sort by witness, to sort alphabetically by musical piece title, or to sort by publication date.


Alejandro Olate:

Candombe for José (Candombe para José)

Song by:
Roberto Ternán
« The youngest among us, aged 17 or even 16 years, did the heaviest work on Dawson Island. We had to fell trees, cut them, split them in two, cut them into wedges, and walk the several hundred meters back to the barracks carrying the logs on our shoulders. »
[Read full testimony]

Alfonso Padilla:

Cantata Santa María de Iquique

Song by:
Luis Advis
« Between March 1974 and July 1975, I had the opportunity to arrange about 200 songs and direct the production of the Cantata de Santa María de Iquique. In truth, the prison was my conservatoire. That’s where I learnt the basics of the profession of musician. »
[Read full testimony]

Alfonso Padilla Silva:

I’m Not from Here - To my Comrade, my Love (No soy de aquí - A mi compañera)

Song by:
Facundo Cabral, with lyrics modified by a political prisoner
Experience in:
« The choir of male prisoners sang a piece called “A mi compañera” (To my comrade, my love) to the music of “No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá” (I'm not from here, nor from there) by Facundo Cabral. I don’t remember who wrote the lyrics. »
[Read full testimony]


We Shall Overcome

Song by:
Attributed to Charles Albert Tindley
Experience in:
« When the concentration camp that operated for nearly five months at the Regional Stadium of Concepción was closed in early February 1974, hundreds of political prisoners were transferred to the Concepción Prison, a wing of which was turned into a concentration camp. »
[Read full testimony]


The Little Cigarette (El cigarrito)

Song by:
Víctor Jara
Experience in:
« During Christmas 1973, I was one of some 600 men and 100 women prisoners in Concepción Regional Stadium. The concentration camp officials allowed us to celebrate Christmas in the sports arena. To be precise, we were in one corner of the playing field and we used the pole vault pit as a stage. »
[Read full testimony]


The Soldier (El soldado)

Song by:
Rafael Alberti (lyrics), Ángel Parra (music)
Experience in:
« During Christmas 1973, approximately 660 men and 100 women were held as prisoners in the Concepción Regional Stadium. Concentration camp officials allowed us to celebrate Christmas on the pitch. We were in a corner of the pitch and we used the pole vault pit as a stage. »
[Read full testimony]

Amelia Negrón:

Ode to Joy (Himno a la alegría)

Song by:
original by Friedrich von Schiller (lyrics) and Ludwig van Beethoven (music). Free version in Spanish by Amado Regueiro Rodríguez, aka Orbe (lyrics) y Waldo de los Ríos (music), popularised in Chile by Miguel Ríos.
Experience in:
« Preparations for that Wednesday night became more intense. It would be a different night. We women prisoners had secretly organised ourselves, but more importantly, we had also coordinated with the male prisoners. I’m not sure whether it was our idea or whether the men had proposed it. »
[Read full testimony]


Candombe for José (Candombe para José)

Song by:
Roberto Ternán
« We were in Pavilion 1. One of us came up with the idea, I can’t remember who. There were so many of us and we spent the day inventing and creating things! »
[Read full testimony]


Words for Julia (Palabras para Julia)

Song by:
José Agustín Goytisolo (lyrics) and Paco Ibáñez (music)
Experience in:
Campamento de Prisioneros, Tres Álamos, 1975 and 1976 until Tres Álamos was closed on 28 November 1976
« There were so many of us women prisoners. Despite the circumstances we had managed to invent our own world, one with our rules, according to what we thought and wanted for ourselves, our families and all the Chilean people. One might think we were ambitious women, and yes, we certainly were. »
[Read full testimony]

Ana María Arenas:

The Clock (El reloj)

Song by:
Roberto Cantoral
« The day I was captured, after the first torture session, I asked for permission to sing a Christmas carol, the name of which I cannot remember. I did it to let one of my captive friends know that I was also at the Venda Sexy. »
[Read full testimony]

Ana María Jiménez:

The Internationale

Song by:
Eugène Pottier (lyrics) and Pierre Degeyter (music). Popularised by Quilapayún in 1970s Chile.
Experience in:
Villa Grimaldi, April 1975
« In April 1975, the triumph in Vietnam was celebrated. We heard about it through a comrade who went to the bathroom and found a piece of the week’s newspaper. It was so beautiful for us to be there, having shouted so often for Vietnam at demonstrations. »
[Read full testimony]


Zamba so as Not to Die (Zamba para no morir)

Song by:
Hamlet Lima Quintana
Experience in:
Villa Grimaldi, April 1975
« I want to recall a night at Villa Grimaldi. »
[Read full testimony]

Ángeles Álvarez Cárdenas:

Today I Sing for the Sake of Singing (Hoy canto por cantar)

Song by:
Nydia Caro and Riccardo Cerratto
Experience in:
Villa Grimaldi, 6 - 15 January 1975
« At that time many prisoners were subjected to extreme torture in the interrogations. Some managed to get through those processes alright, while others broke down. Breaking down meant "speaking” and for the members of the DINA (secret police) it meant "this jerk is singing". »
[Read full testimony]

anónimo:

Free (Libre)

Song by:
Nino Bravo
Experience in:
« While waiting in the grandstands to be interrogated for the first, second or more times, we would sing "Free" to those who were being lined up to be released. "Free" was a catharsis, a mixture of joy for those who were going and hope for those of us left behind. »
[Read full testimony]


Sinner, come to sweet Jesus (Pecador, ven al dulce Jesús)

Song by:
Unknown
Experience in:
« One time a group of male and female evangelicals came to Teja Island to preach. They were taken to the visitors’ yard. Because we prisoners had nothing else to do, we went to see them. »
[Read full testimony]


Fifth Symphony

Song by:
Ludwig van Beethoven
Experience in:
« I like all classical music, particularly Beethoven and Mozart. I listen to it all day on Radio Esperanza, on the bus I drive. The passengers like it. But listening to classical music reminds of what happened in prison and it produces a short circuit in me. »
[Read full testimony]


Luchín

Song by:
Víctor Jara
Experience in:
« They said that once you got to the prison of Teja Island, you were safe. However, once when we were in our cells, they shot several young people who were between 18 and 21 years old. When I saw their pictures I asked myself why I hadn’t been among them. »
[Read full testimony]


National Anthem of Chile

Song by:
Eusebio Lillo and Ramón Carnicer
Experience in:
« I was detained in Panguipulli on 24 September 1973, along with 17 other young people. I was a high school student. I was also working at the forestry and logging company of Huilo Huilo, which had been taken over by the working class. We were tortured for two or three days at the police station of Panguipulli. »
[Read full testimony]

Beatriz Bataszew Contreras:

Lucía

Song by:
Joan Manuel Serrat
Experience in:
Campamento de Prisioneros, Tres Álamos, December 1974 - May 1976
« Tres Álamos was a more “normal” camp, even though we never had a trial. There was a lot of music, it was sort of ritualistic. There were days when we put more enthusiasm into it, on Saturdays or Sundays after the visits, although I’m not all that sure. »
[Read full testimony]


Today I Sing for the Sake of Singing (Hoy canto por cantar)

Song by:
Nydia Caro and Riccardo Cerratto
Experience in:
« I have never been a great music listener. Nevertheless, before the coup I used to listen to Nueva Canción, especially Quilapayún and Rolando Alarcón. I also liked cumbias, to fool around. We would dance and have fun. On the other hand, and this is more due to my family, I have always liked classical music, particularly Tchaikovsky. »
[Read full testimony]


Las mañanitas

Song by:
Manuel M. Ponce
Experience in:
Campamento de Prisioneros, Tres Álamos, December 1974 - May 1976
« Normally we would sing when they locked us up in the barracks, from seven or eight at night until eight or nine in the morning. Sometimes the guards would come in but didn’t stay. It was our act. »
[Read full testimony]

Boris Chornik Aberbuch:

National Anthem of Chile

Song by:
Eusebio Lillo and Ramón Carnicer
« The Puchuncaví detention camp’s daily routine included mandatory participation in the ceremonies of raising and taking down the Chilean flag on the flagpole at the entrance to the camp. »
[Read full testimony]