The Salamander (La salamanca)

Song by:
Arturo Dávalos
Testimony by:
Luis Cifuentes Seves
Experience in:
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.

This song forms part of a cassette recorded in the Chacabuco concentration camp by the band "Los de Chacabuco" between January and February 1974. Under the direction of Ernesto Parra, all ten members of the group who appear in the photograph took part. Their aim was to preserve the songs of Ángel Parra, composed while he was a prisoner in the camp, along with songs by other artists. The cassette was safeguarded and digitalised in 2015.


Published on: 01 September 2015

Clandestine recording made by political prisoners in Chacabuco in 1974.


With the devil on his haunches the demon arrived
filling the moonlit night with the smell of sulfur.
He dismounted from his horse and the dance began,
his tail marking the beat.

A beau of the island sang his love
to a lady toad dressed in blue.
like charcoal they danced, wearing the flower
that returns the light to the blind.

CHORUS
Oh tunnel where dawn dies on leaving
Salamander of my native hill.
And in the moonlit night you may well hear
The demon and the devils sing.

Riding her broom, an old witch crossed
the indigo skies
an owl on her shoulder and a great trident
as she shoots at the Southern Cross.

A bearded armadillo played the fiddle
and a skunk with a tenor voice
tore through the silence with an Indian song
that the demon had taught him to sing.