Written by the legendary Chilean folk singer Víctor Jara, the 1971 song, “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz,” or “The Right to Live in Peace,” was originally dedicated to Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh, as the United States waged war in Vietnam. By 1973, Chile, too, would be at war; following a military coup that overthrew socialist president Salvador Allende, General Augusto Pinochet would assume power until 1990. By Pinochet’s orders, Jara was held prisoner in a football stadium, where along with thousands of other civilians, he was tortured and murdered by soldiers.
In the wake of Jara’s death, “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz” has since served as a chilling memento for the Chilean people. And it’s emerged anew during recent demonstrations that have swept the entire country: more than one million people marched in Santiago last Friday, in protest of rising economic inequality under Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. A video shared on Twitter shows thousands of protesters, some playing guitars, singing Jara’s mighty verses in unison. “It is the universal song,” they sing, “A chain that will succeed/The right to live in peace.”
— Gabi Palma🔻 (@GabiPalma__) October 26, 2019
After dispersing tens of thousands of army troops across its capital city alone — a move that evoked visceral memories of Pinochet’s bloody regime — Piñera offered a compromise in the form of a financial reform package, which would increase pensions, raise the minimum wage and subsidize utilities. He then fired Minister of the Interior Andrés Chadwick, as well as Economy Minister Juan Andres Fontaine, and pledged to replace the members of his cabinet. Yet as of Monday, the military and national police remain patrolling the streets; more than 1,000 civilians have been injured, 470 have been shot and at least 19 have died since the protests began October 14th. According to The Guardian, hospitals are scrambling to treat the wounded, citing a lack of medical supplies.
“Get the soldiers off the streets,” rock musician Fernando Milagros pleaded in a recent compilation video that features dozens of other Chilean artists voicing dissent against Piñera. Yet from the video was born another idea: what if they all banded together, quite literally, and recorded a song in solidarity with the people of Chile?
More than 30 Chilean artists gathered to rewrite and record their own vibrant rendition of Jara’s protest anthem, which was released on Sunday night. Featuring vocals from a broad range of artists — including synth-pop queen Francisca Valenzuela, indie rapper Pedropiedra, avant-folklorist Gepe and trap singer Gianluca — the slow-burning fight song reflects the diverse tapestry of sounds that comprise Chilean music. Andean panflutes, charangos, electric guitars and hip-hop elements are seamlessly blended together to birth the sound of a bold new Chile. “The right to live without fear in our country,” they sing in the updated verses, “in conscience and unity with all humanity.”
“We as artists repudiate the actions of the government by militarizing the streets, killing and torturing our people,” reads a collective statement issued by the artists. “We raise this song as a genuine attempt to generate profound and structural changes in our society.”
See the full list of artists below:
Kanela (Noche de Brujas)
Lalo Ibeas (Chancho en Piedra)
Roberto Márquez (Illapu)
Fran Straube (Rubio)
Vocal production: Christopher Manhey
Recording, programming, editions: Pablo Stipicic
Violins, Tiple: Nano Stern
Acoustic guitar: Pablo Jara
Charango, Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar: Eduardo Iensen
Bass, Synthesizer, Metallophone: Valentín Trujillo
Quena, Sax: Pedro Villagra
Percussions: Danilo Donoso
Programming, Editions: Vicente Sanfuentes
Accordion: Juan Angel
Electric guitar solos: Ángel Parra
Percussions: Moral Distraída