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)

Author:
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. »
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Alfonso Padilla Silva:

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

Author:
Facundo Cabral, with lyrics modified by a political prisoner
« 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. »
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We Shall Overcome

Author:
Attributed to Charles Albert Tindley
« 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. »
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The Little Cigarette (El cigarrito)

Author:
Víctor Jara
« 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. »
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The Soldier (El soldado)

Author:
Rafael Alberti (lyrics), Ángel Parra (music)
« 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. »
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Woman, Girl and Friend - To my Comrade (Mujer, niña y amiga - A mi compañero)

Author:
Robustiano Figueroa Reyes, with text modified by a political prisoner.
Place & date:
« The female comrades who were prisoners replied to the chanting of the men held in the Regional Stadium with the song “To my comrade” sung to the rhythm of the Argentinean zamba “Woman, child and friend” by Robustiano Figueroa Reyes. »
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Amelia Negrón:

Ode to Joy (Himno a la alegría)

Author:
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.
Place & date:
« 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. »
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Candombe for José (Candombe para José)

Author:
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! »
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Words for Julia (Palabras para Julia)

Author:
José Agustín Goytisolo (lyrics) and Paco Ibáñez (music)
Place & date:
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. »
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Ana María Jiménez:

The Internationale

Author:
Eugène Pottier (lyrics) and Pierre Degeyter (music). Popularised by Quilapayún in 1970s Chile.
Place & date:
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. »
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Zamba so as Not to Die (Zamba para no morir)

Author:
Hamlet Lima Quintana
Place & date:
Villa Grimaldi, April 1975
« I want to recall a night at Villa Grimaldi. »
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Ángeles Álvarez Cárdenas:

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

Author:
Nydia Caro and Riccardo Cerratto
Place & date:
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". »
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anónimo:

Free (Libre)

Author:
Nino Bravo
Place & date:
« 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. »
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Sinner, come to sweet Jesus (Pecador, ven al dulce Jesús)

Author:
Unknown
Place & date:
« 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. »
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Fifth Symphony

Author:
Ludwig van Beethoven
Place & date:
« 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. »
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Luchín

Author:
Víctor Jara
Place & date:
« 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. »
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National Anthem of Chile

Author:
Eusebio Lillo and Ramón Carnicer
Place & date:
« 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. »
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Beatriz Bataszew Contreras:

Lucía

Author:
Joan Manuel Serrat
Place & date:
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. »
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Today I Sing for the Sake of Singing (Hoy canto por cantar)

Author:
Nydia Caro and Riccardo Cerratto
Place & date:
« 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. »
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Las mañanitas

Author:
Manuel M. Ponce
Place & date:
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. »
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Boris Chornik Aberbuch:

National Anthem of Chile

Author:
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. »
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Carlos Muñoz:

The Paper Boat (El barco de papel)

Author:
Julio Numhauser, popularised by the band Amerindios.
Place & date:
« One of the most important songs in the detention centres. Impossible to count how many times we sang it. Every time someone was released from a detention camp or there was credible information that a person would be sent into exile, a gigantic chorus would sing this song, in a powerful unison. »
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Coplas of El Yopo (Coplas de El Yopo)

Author:
Unknown. Traditional Venezuelan song. Popularised in Chile by Isabel and Ángel Parra
Place & date:
« A comrade whose last name was Saavedra (if I recall correctly) sung this song passionately. This song earned him the nickname of ‘El Yopo’ (also ‘chopo’), as is usual in popular culture. The tune was well-known in Chile, as sung by Ángel and Isabel Parra, who called it "Décimas del folklore venezolano" or "Coplas Venezolanas". »
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Carolina Videla:

Everything Changes (Todo cambia)

Author:
Julio Numhauser
Place & date:
« My guitar accompanied me for the entire time that I was deprived of freedom. It was like a magnet. In the afternoon we would sing and play in the courtyard. »
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Friend (Amiga)

Author:
Miguel Bosé
Place & date:
« When they arrested me I was 19 years old. I was one of the youngest political prisoners at the time in Arica. »
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Why does the afternoon cry (Por qué llora la tarde)

Author:
Antônio Marcos. Popularised in Chile by Claudio Reyes
Place & date:
« My prison term happened during the last year of the dictatorship after the No vote won. I was set free because of “lack of evidence”, after a year and a half in prison. »
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