Today it is forty years since the coup in Chile. While it isn’t primarily a ‘cultural’ memory, it was nevertheless important for me and many others. We might not have known all that much about Chilean music before the day Allende and countless others died, but we soon learned.
What was so lucky in such dreadful times was the fact that many of the big names in Chilean music were abroad on September 11th. That way they survived, and they were well suited to carry on the fight with the help of their songs.
Whether groups like Quilapayún and Inti-Illimani would have toured Sweden had there been no coup I don’t know. But the way things were they came, and we saw them, and we shared in what they had to offer.
Many other people also came. First it was the more public figures. (I remember when Peruvian peasant leader Hugo Blanco came to my small home town, staying with the friends of a friend.)
By Christmas 1973 those friends were hosts to many political leaders, both Chilean and from other parts of Latin America, who had already sought refuge in Chile, and who had been forced to leave yet another country to be safe.
And then there were people like Víctor Jara who died in Santiago. They have not been forgotten.