Archive for Chile

Faiz-Neruda: Great contemporary poets, friends and humanists

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by Umer

Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) and Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1910-1984)—contemporary poets, friends and outstanding humanists—have left lasting impression on the world of literature. Their works won global recognition—Neruda was honoured with Nobel Prize for literature in 1971 and Faiz won Lenin Peace Prize in 1962. Both Neruda and Faiz, like many others, notably Nazim Hikmet and Mahmoud Darwish, were essentially humanists, anti-colonialists and anti-imperialists. Their great struggle and works were interwoven—these were inseparable. Their work complimented their struggle and vice versa.

The life and work of Neruda has amazing similarities with that of Faiz.

Pable Neruda (1904-1973)

Pable Neruda (1904-1973)

[i]Neruda (real name Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto), was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried Doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls’ secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily La Mañana, among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia –his first publication– and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal Selva Austral under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

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Remembering September 11 and President Allende

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by Umer

Thirty-five years ago today, on September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende died while resisting a U.S. backed military coup in Chile against the democratically elected government headed by him. Salvador’s sacrifice is an emotive lesson of how a Marxist leader should face the military dictatorship. He sacrificed his life but stood by his principles and the people of Chile. He will be remembered as a great fighter, an honourable martyr, and a militant defender of the rights of the people and democracy.

In order to honour the memory of President Allende, I am posting his last address to the nation (or must I say to the people of the world). His speech was broad-casted on radio in the midst of a bloody fight that took place around noon on September 11th at the Presidential Palace between the U.S. backed Military Generals, supported by tanks and air forces, on one side and a handful of President’s security guards and cabinet ministers, led by their Marxist President and the ideals of justice, on the other.

We must remember Allende and his last message to the world.


My friends,

Surely this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes.

My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath: soldiers of Chile, titular commanders in chief, Admiral Merino, who has designated himself Commander of the Navy, and Mr. Mendoza, the despicable general who only yesterday pledged his fidelity and loyalty to the Government, and who also has appointed himself Chief of the Carabineros [paramilitary police].

Given these facts, the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign! Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seeds which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever.

They have force and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested by neither crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.

Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the Armed Forces broke their tradition, the tradition taught by General Schneider and reaffirmed by Commander Araya, victims of the same social sector who today are hoping, with foreign assistance, to re-conquer the power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.

I address you, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesina who believed in us, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals who continued working against the sedition that was supported by professional associations, classist associations that also defended the advantages of capitalist society. I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours — in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to act. They were committed. History will judge them.

Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to his country.

The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.

Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again and free men will walk through them to construct a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.

Justice for Victor Jara

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , , on June 17, 2008 by Umer

It would have strained credulity to imagine during the orgy of terror unleashed by the US-backed coup on the other 9/11, in 1973. But 35 years after Richard Nixon gave the green light to the Chilean military to drown Salvador Allende’s elected socialist government in blood, the net is finally closing on the man who personally machine-gunned to death one of the outstanding political songwriters of the 20th century.

This week, Judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes agreed to re-open the investigation into the murder of Victor Jara, Chile’s most famous musician, killed by an army officer in the Estadio Chile stadium in Santiago, where he had been interned, beaten and tortured with 5,000 other “subversives” in the wake of General Pinochet’s fascist takeover.

Last month, Fuentes closed the Jara case after finding a retired army colonel, Mario Manriquez, guilty of the murder as commanding officer at the stadium after the 1973 coup, while accepting that Manriquez had not pulled the trigger.

Within days, a concert was held in the same stadium where Jara was killed, now renamed Estadio Victor Jara, to protest at what is widely regarded as a military cover-up of those guilty of the atrocity. Among those taking part were the radical folk group Inti Illimani, who played with Jara, and the singer’s widow, English-born choreographer Joan Turner Jara, who appealed to witnesses to come forward with information about the killer. Now the judge has reversed his earlier decision and agreed to look at 40 pieces of new evidence provided by the family and lawyers.

Jara famously had both his hands broken with soldiers’ rifle butts so he could never play guitar again. “Sing now, if you can, you bastard,” an officer spat at him. Despite four days of beatings, torture and food and sleep deprivation, Jara managed to sing a verse of the revolutionary anthem Venceremos to his fellow prisoners before being dragged away to be shot. His body, riddled with 44 bullets, was dumped in the street.

The military junta prohibited any public reference to the leftwing singer and his records were banned. But the same night, a TV technician risked his life by playing Jara’s La Plegaria a un Labrador – a reworking of the Lord’s Prayer, but addressed to a worker – over the soundtrack of a Hollywood film.

Former political prisoners say Jara’s murder was carried out by a notoriously brutal officer nicknamed “El Principe” (The Prince) and the pressure is now on the military to reveal his identity – just as hundreds of former army and security officials are finally being prosecuted for crimes previously protected by the Pinochet regime’s amnesty of the late 1970s.

More than 3,100 people were found by an official Chilean commission in the 1990s to have been killed by the Pinochet dictatorship in the aftermath of the 1973 coup, while tens of thousands were imprisoned and tortured – including Chile’s current president, Michelle Bachelet.

But it is Jara – a writer of songs of great passion and poignancy, combining street language, traditional Andean music and the western pop idioms of the time – who has come to symbolise them all. His brutal martyrdom was foreshadowed in one of his most beautiful songs, Manifiesto: “A song has meaning when it beats in the veins of a man who will die singing, truthfully singing his song”. And like that of Che Guevara, it has come to haunt both those who ordered it – and those who carried it out.

Courtesy: The Guardian