The Paper Boat (El barco de papel)

Song by:
Julio Numhauser, popularised by the band Amerindios.
Testimony by:
Carlos Muñoz
Experience in:

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. No one could possibly forget it. Especially significant at Tres Álamos, as this was the “exit” camp.

If freedom was decreed when the prisoner was at another camp, the prisoner would be transferred to this detention centre. In the version sung in the camps, the verse that goes, “se va, se va, se va y regresará” (“going away, going away, going away and will come back”) was replaced by “se va, se va, se va y no volverá” (“going away, going away, going away, never to come back”).

The musical group Caliche, based in Birmingham (England) frequently sang this song at Chile solidarity events during the 1980s.


Published on: 09 July 2015


The paper boat sets off
on the sea of hope
carrying a bunch of dreams
and children can’t reach it.

Going away, going away, going away, never to come back
going away, going away, going away, never to come back.

One passenger is a doctor
a soldier is the captain
a bourgeois is the cannon operator
and the queen is made of tar.

Going away, going away, going away, never to come back
going away, going away, going away, never to come back.

A worker climbs aboard the ship
an artist, a teacher
and also that little girl
who stayed behind on the shore.

Going away, going away, going away, and will come back
going away, going away, going away, and will come back.

Climb aboard the boat, sailor
they don’t come to fight
they are all comrades
of peace and equality.

Going away, going away, and will come back
going away, going away, towards freedom.