Víctor Jara’s Murderer Found, to Face US Court

September 6, 2013
Víctor Jara, courtesy of Wikipedia

Víctor Jara, courtesy of Wikipedia

In the first days of Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup, Chilean Army officer Pedro Pablo Barrientos tortured and killed popular folk singer Víctor Jara.  Jara, a respected artist who had joined the Communist Party, was arrested the day after the coup with hundreds of other students and professors at Santiago Technical University.  Although Jara’s widow and two children fled the country, she remained determined to seek justice.  Finally, after a lengthy process of coaxing witnesses to reveal what they know, opening and reopening the case, collecting new forensic evidence and tracking Barrientos down to the United States, Jara’s family is finally bringing Barrientos to court.  This is just the latest in a series of “cathartic, emotionally charged events leading up to the 40th anniversary of the coup.”

 The legal action against Mr. Barrientos seeks damages for torture; extrajudicial killing; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; crimes against humanity; and arbitrary detention. The plaintiffs are requesting trial by jury. The ultimate goal, Ms. Jara said, was not monetary compensation, but to use the only available legal tool in the United States to hold Mr. Barrientos accountable. Mr. Barrientos could not be reached for comment.

“There’s no money that can cure the damage that has been suffered,” she said in a recent interview. “I’ve had two lives: one before and one after 1973.”        

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