Balderrama

Author:
Manuel José Castilla (lyrics) and Gustavo Leguizamón (music). Popularised by Mercedes Sosa
Testimony by:
Eduardo Ojeda

We arrived at Camp Compingin on Dawson Island on the afternoon of 11 September. We knew that we had been arrested that morning, and we knew nothing else yet. The next day, another group of prisoners arrived.They told us that Salvador Allende had died. We paid tribute to him around a bonfire. It was deeply meaningful.

We were taken for forced labour to build Río Chico, the other detention camp on Dawson Island. José sang “Balderrama” over and over again. It has the verse “where will we end up if Balderrama is shut down”. This was the truth, because none of us knew where we would end up.


Published on: 16 October 2015


Along the banks of the canal
when morning breaks
the night comes out singing
from Balderrama.

Inside, everything quakes
the drum beating the baguala*
excitement blazes
as sparks fly from the guitar.

Lonely, bright morning star
sprout of dawn
where will we end up
if Balderrama is put out.

If you start singing
a coachman will keep you company
and in every glass of wine
the morning star shimmers.

Daybreak zamba**
Balderrama's lullaby,
it sings at midnight
it weeps at dawn.