Free (Libre)

Music piece by:
Nino Bravo
Testimony by:
Paicavi Painemal
Experience in:

I’m from Chol Chol, part of the Coihue community. I was arrested along with 12 other people and they took us to the Second Police Station of Temuco.

I was 30 years old. It was a week before I was due to get married.

I was imprisoned for five years. I couldn’t go into exile because the politicians said that I was a mapuchito(Mapuche) The largest indigenous group in Chile. It is also found in Argentina.. They pulled the chair from under me. But because I’m Mapuche, I returned to my community.

Before getting to the prison of Temuco, they took me in a car to a place that appears to have been the Puente Viejo (Old Bridge) over the river Cautín. I could hear the train passing and the noise of the water.

The car was equipped with instruments of torture. They electrocuted me and did mock executions.

They would play songs by Nino Bravo, especially 'Libre' ('Free'). They would put them on in the background and loudly, to drown out my screams.

When I remember the torture, 'Free' immediately comes to mind. But I can barely remember the melody, because I haven’t listened to Nino Bravo songs since then.

There were prisoners who were stronger. Other prisoners were weaker. I’m made of steel and I endured. That’s why I’m here.


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Published on: 22 November 2017


He’s almost twenty and already
tired of dreaming
but behind the cement is his home
his world, his city.
He thinks the fence is only
a piece of metal
something that can never stop
his desire to fly.

Free
like the sun at dawn
I am as free as the sea
Like the bird that escaped from its cage
and can at last fly.
Like the wind that embraces my cry
and my grief
an endless path
in search of the truth
and finally, I shall know what freedom is.

Crowned by his love he strode off
singing a song
He strode so happily that he heard
the voice that called him
and lying on the ground he remained
smiling and speechless
on his chest crimson flowers
blossomed incessantly.

Free
like the sun at dawn
I am as free as the sea
Like the bird that escaped from its cage
and can at last fly.
Like the wind that embraces my cry
and my grief
an endless path
in search of the truth
and finally, I shall know what freedom is.