The Americas

Chile remembers singer Victor Jara 40 years after murder

People hold the portrait of Chilean singer Victor Jara, during his funeral in Santiago on December 5, 2009.

People hold the portrait of Chilean singer Victor Jara, during his funeral in Santiago on December 5, 2009.  (AFP/File)

Chileans Monday marked the 40-year anniversary of the murder of singer Victor Jara, who was tortured and shot to death after the coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power.

"Our commitment is to demand truth and justice so that this sort of situation never happens again," Gloria Koning, director of the Victor Jara Foundation, told AFP.

The Chilean justice system has been investigating Jara's death since 2009.

Jara was arrested on September 12, 1973, one day after the military coup that deposed socialist president Salvador Allende.

He was tortured at Santiago's Chile Stadium, which now bears his name, and then shot 44 times on September 16, 1973. His body was found in a vacant lot.

Jara subsequently became an icon for the hundreds of artists who suffered human rights violations under Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990.

Former officers Hugo Sanchez Marmonti and Pedro Barrientos Nunez, who lives in the US, have been accused as perpetrators of the crime and six others as accomplices.

Chile requested the extradition of Barrientos Nunez from the United States in January, while the singer's family filed a lawsuit against him in a federal district court in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 4.

"Pedro Barrientos needs to face justice in Chile, considering that for 40 years people across the world have demanded that the death of Victor Jara be cleared up," Koning said.

On Sunday, tribute was paid to Jara at the Metropolitan Cemetery, where construction of a memorial was inaugurated.

Since August, Jara's songs have been revived in performances, and a theatrical production was made in his honor. Jara was also a successful theater director.

Jara's best hits include the songs "Te recuerdo Amanda," "El cigarrito" and "El manifiesto."

Pinochet's regime is blamed for more than 3,000 deaths and 38,000 cases of people being arrested and tortured as the regime cracked down on anything that smacked of leftist dissent.