This cueca* was composed in Chacabuco between November 1973 and February 1974, and was sung by the band Los de Chacabuco, to which Víctor Canto and I belonged.
"Los de Chacabuco" was founded and directed by Ángel Parra. Its members were: Víctor Canto, Ángel Cereceda Parra (Ángel Parra), Luis Cifuentes, Marcelo Concha, Luis Corvalán Márquez, Antonio González, Manuel Ipinza, Ernesto Parra, Julio Vega and Ricardo Yocelewski.
This cueca was secretly recorded in Chacabuco by Alberto Corvalán Castillo, son of the Communist Party's secretary general Luis Corvalán, with help from Guillermo Orrego and Domingo Chávez. Alberto died in Bulgaria from permanent heart damage caused by torture suffered at the National Stadium velodrome.
The recording was made from underneath a wooden stage built by the prisoners. The cassette recorder was provided by a guard in the concentration camp. The cassette tape was taken from the camp by Ángel Parra and was initially released on vinyl in Italy between 1974 and 1975. Ángel Parra also included this cueca in his album "Pisagua + Chacabuco", published in Chile in 2003.
The lyrics may be difficult to understand since they partly refer to concentration camp folklore, but also because they mock the soldiers subtly enough for them not to notice.
(*) Cueca: a lively dance genre in 6/8 or 3/4 time, usually for voice(s) and instrumental accompaniment, and suitable for couple dancing with a predetermined choreography.
Victims remembered in this testimony:
Published on: 17 December 2014
Clandestine recording made by political prisoners in Chacabuco in 1974.
cuz I’m such a good person
that's good, said my old man,
so you get to see the area.
So I came to Chacabuco.
On the airplane, I came
like a puppet
although they didn’t serve me
a dry Martini.
A dry Martini, oh yes
not that I was about to escape
but they wouldn’t let me
climb on the tank. (1)
Climb on the tank, oh yes,
don’t know what’s going on,
they say I’m hauling with me
the entire plaza. (2)
The entire plaza, oh yes,
it shouldn’t surprise you,
let's try a bit harder
with the parcels. (3)
With the parcels, oh yes,
I’m looking my best for the mayor
at home I’ve already got
almost ten buckets. (4)
Almost ten buckets, oh yes,
who would have said it
I’ve already got perks
at the supplies store (5).
At the supplies store, oh yes,
don’t get scared of me
I’ve already made friends
with the commander.
With the commander, oh yes,
don’t you get too excited
because I'm one of the judges
on the committees. (6)
Let's get cracking, I'm getting plump,
I'm with the kitchen crew now. (7)
(1) There was a tank in the camp. On several occasions, the military placed it pointing its cannon at the prisoners while they were having lunch.
(2) The square of Chacabuco was located outside the fenced perimeter where the prisoners were kept. They would be taken there by the military to look for wood to make fire as to heat water or cook. Other useful materials and implements were also transported from the square.
(3) Not all prisoners received parcels (clothing and food) from their families, so they were highly coveted.
(4) In the camp, there were few buckets, but these were very useful so all prisoners longed to have one in their homes. Obviously, nobody could have ten buckets.
(5) The prisoners organised, with the authorisation of the military, a pulpería, that is a shop where some essential items could be sold, such as food and toiletries. This was possible because the receipt of money transfers in the camp was authorised. The military themselves made purchases in Antofagasta and transported them to the camp, thus obtaining a profit.
(6) ‘The commissions’ were legal-military teams that went to the camp to take statements from some prisoners as part of the trials brought by the dictatorship. In some cases, prisoners were removed from the camp and interrogated in other centres. Several published testimonies mention these interrogations.
(7) ‘The ranch’ was a group of prisoners who worked alongside the military in food preparation. The ranch members were supposed to have the privilege of greater access to food than the average prisoners.
You may cite material from the Cantos Cautivos platform but you must credit it by including the name of our project and its URL.
Any third-person use of original material related to testimonies aimed at publication or public dissemination requires the authorisation of the Cantos Cautivos team.