Testimonies

The testimonies are sorted by publication date, showing the new ones first.
Click on to sort by witness, to sort alphabetically by musical piece title, or to sort by publication date.


They Say the Homeland Is - Soldier's Song

Author:
Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio
Testimony by:
Sergio Reyes Soto
Place & date:
« This song, like so many others, was not at all “captive”. The revolutionary songs we sang behind bars imbued us with a sense of freedom. Rolando Alarcón, and later Quilapayún, introduced “Dicen que la patria es” (or “Canción de soldados”) to Chile. »
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Published on: 07 September 2015


The Salamander (La salamanca)

Author:
Arturo Dávalos
Testimony by:
Luis Cifuentes Seves
Place & date:
Campamento de Prisioneros Chacabuco, January - February 1974
« A “salamanca” is a type of salamander that lives in caves in northern Argentina. By extension, it also represents the cave. In this song, the lyricist turns the “salamanca” into a place where a coven of witches gathers. »
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Published on: 01 September 2015


To Be Seventeen Again (Volver a los diecisiete)

Author:
Violeta Parra
Testimony by:
Gabriela Durand
« I was 18, and already I had been tortured on the rack several times. One day I was with some other comrade prisoners, and as sometimes happened, the guards put some music on. They used to put the radio on, playing popular tunes of the time. »
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Published on: 01 September 2015


You Can Blame Me (Échame a mí la culpa)

Author:
José Ángel Espinoza, aka Ferrusquillo
Testimony by:
Marcia Scantlebury
« Mexican songs - and this one in particular - have always moved me. When I shared a cell with Miriam Silva, a young woman who belonged to the Communist Youth, arrested by the DINA when she was handing out leaflets on the street, we killed time in an organised fashion to keep ourselves from getting depressed and overcome by anxiety due to an unknown fate. »
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Published on: 28 August 2015


Far Away (Tamo daleko)

Author:
Djordje Marinkovic. Chilean adaptation of traditional Serbian song, originally composed in 1916.
Testimony by:
Jorge Grez Leuquén
« Working as a documentary film-maker for some years, I recorded the stories of some of the prisoners during the dictatorship. It was during some of these sessions that the song 'Tamo Daleko' reappeared; it had been sung numerous times on Dawson Island. »
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Published on: 12 August 2015


Let’s Break the Morning (Rompamos la mañana)

Author:
René “Popeye” Cárdenas Eugenin
Testimony by:
María Soledad Ruiz Ovando
Place & date:
« Music was very important for us (my mother Sylvia Ovando, my sister Alejandra Ruiz and myself) while my dad, Daniel Ruiz Oyarzo, 'el Negro Ruiz', was imprisoned during the dictatorship, when Alejandra was seven and I was four. »
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Published on: 30 July 2015


May the Omelette Flip Over (Que la tortilla se vuelva)

Author:
Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio. Ppopularized by Quilapayún
Testimony by:
Claudio Melgarejo
Place & date:
« I spent a week in captivity, in November 1973. I didn’t hear many songs, but the most popular ones sung by my comrades were "Venceremos" (We shall be victorious) and “Que la tortilla se vuelva” (May the omelette flip over), also known as "The tomato song", which portrays the bosses' exploitation of the workers. »
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Published on: 13 July 2015


Free (Libre)

Author:
Nino Bravo
Testimony by:
Marianella Ubilla
« I was taken prisoner on 23 November 1973, at the University of Concepción. In the Regional Stadium of Concepción we had to sing the National Anthem every day. They’d always play military marching music. I think they did that to show that they were the bosses. »
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Published on: 13 July 2015


Coplas of El Yopo (Coplas de El Yopo)

Author:
Unknown. Traditional Venezuelan song. Popularised in Chile by Isabel and Ángel Parra
Testimony by:
Carlos Muñoz
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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Published on: 09 July 2015


The Paper Boat (El barco de papel)

Author:
Julio Numhauser, popularised by the band Amerindios.
Testimony by:
Carlos Muñoz
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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Published on: 09 July 2015