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Democracy Now! - 40 Years After Chile Coup Family of Slain Singer Victor Jara Sues Alleged Killer in U.S. Court September 9, 2013

Democracy Now! - 40 Years After Chile Coup Family of Slain Singer Victor Jara Sues Alleged Killer in U.S. Court September 9, 2013

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40 Years After Chile Coup, Family of Slain Singer Victor Jara Sues Alleged Killer in U.S. Court
40 Years After Chile Coup, Family of Slain Singer Victor Jara Sues Alleged Killer in U.S. Court

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40 Years After Chile Coup, Family of Slain Singer Victor Jara SuesAlleged Killer in U.S. CourtMonday, September 9, 2013
 _____________________________________________________________________ This week marks the 40th anniversary of what’s known as the other 9/11: September 11, 1973, when a U.S.-backed military coup ousted Chile’s democratically elected president Salvador Allende and ushered in a 17-year repressive dictatorship led byGeneral Augusto Pinochet. We’re joined by Joan Jara, the widow of Chilean singer Víctor Jara, who has just filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. court against the former militaryofficer who allegedly killed Jara 40 years ago. Jara’s accused killer, Pedro Barrientos,has lived in the United States for roughly two decades and is now a U.S. citizen.Jara’s family is suing him under federal laws that allow U.S. courts to hear abouthuman rights abuses committed abroad. Last year, Chilean prosecutors chargedBarrientos and another officer with Jara’s murder, naming six others as accomplices.We also speak with Almudena Bernabeu, an attorney with Center for Justice andAccountability, who helped file the Jara family’s lawsuit last week. "I saw literallyhundreds of bodies that were piled up in what was actually the parking place of themorgue," Joan Jara says of finding her husband’s body 40 years ago. "I recognizedhim. I saw what had happened to him. I saw the bullet wounds. I saw the state of his body. I consider myself one of the lucky ones in the sense that I had to face in thatmoment what had happened to Victor. I could [later] give my testimony with all theforce of what I felt in that moment — and not the horror, which is much worse, of never knowing what happened to your loved one. That happened to so many families,so many women who have spent these 40 years looking for their loved ones who weremade to disappear." _____________________________________________________________________ 
 
 
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AMY GOODMAN:
Today we look at another September 11th. It was 40 years agothis week, September 11, 1973, that General Augusto Pinochet ousted Chile’sdemocratically elected president, Salvador Allende, in a U.S.-backed military coup.The coup began a 17-year repressive dictatorship during which more than 3,000Chileans were killed. Pinochet’s rise to power was backed by then-President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state and national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.In 1970, the CIA’s deputy director of plans wrote in a secret memo, quote, "It is firmand continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. ... It is imperative thatthese actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [that’s theU.S. government] and American hand be well hidden," unquote. That same year,President Nixon ordered the CIA to, quote, "make the economy scream" in Chile to,quote, "prevent Allende from coming to power or [to] unseat him."After the 1973 coup, General Pinochet remained a close U.S. ally. He was defeated in1988 referendum and left office in 1990. In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London ontorture and genocide charges on a warrant issued by a Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón.British authorities later released Pinochet after doctors ruled him physically andmentally unfit to stand trial.Last week, Chile’s judges issued a long-awaited apology to the relatives of loved oneswho went missing or were executed during the Pinochet dictatorship. This is JudgeDaniel Urrutia.
JUDGE DANIEL URRUTIA:
[translated] We consider it appropriate and necessary.We understand, for some citizens, obviously, it’s too late, but nothing will ever be toolate to react to what may happen in the future.
AMY GOODMAN:
The relatives of some victims have rejected the belated apologyand called for further investigations into deaths and disappearances during thedictatorship. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said the country’s courts had failed touphold the constitution and basic rights.
PRESIDENT SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA:
[translated] The judiciary did not rise up totheir obligations or challenges, and could have done much more, because, byconstitutional mandate, it’s their duty to protect the rights of the people, to protecttheir lives—for example, reconsidering the appeals, which they had previouslymassively rejected as unconstitutional.
AMY GOODMAN:
Meanwhile, on Sunday thousands of Chileans took to the streetsof Santiago to mark the 40th anniversary of the military coup and remember thethousands who disappeared during the brutal regime that followed. This is the president of the Families of Executed Politicians group, Alicia Lira.
ALICIA LIRA:
[translated] Forty years since the civil military coup, the issue of human rights, the violations during the dictatorship are still current. This denial of  justice, there are more than 1,300 processes open for 40 years, for 40 years continuingthe search for those who were arrested, who disappeared, who were executed withoutthe remains handed back. Why don’t they say the truth? Why don’t they break their  pact of silence?
 
 
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AMY GOODMAN:
Just last week, the wife and two daughters of the legendaryChilean folk singer Víctor Jara filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. court against the former military officer they say killed Jara almost exactly 40 years ago. Víctor Jara was shotto death in the midst of the 1973 U.S.-backed coup. First his hands were smashed sohe could no longer play the guitar, it is believed. Jara’s accused killer, PedroBarrientos, has lived in the United States for roughly two decades and is now a U.S.citizen. Jara’s family is suing him under federal laws that allow U.S. courts to hear about human rights abuses committed abroad. Last year, Chilean prosecutors chargedBarrientos and another officer with Jara’s murder, naming six others as accomplices.Well, today we’ll spend the hour with the loved ones of those who were killed under Pinochet, and the attorneys who have helped them seek justice. First we’re joined byJoan Jara. She is the widow of Chilean singer Víctor Jara. She is the author of 
 AnUnfinished Song: The Life of Victor Jara
, first published in 1984.We welcome you back to
 Democracy Now!
 
JOAN JARA:
Thank you. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN:
It’s great to have you with us and in studio here in New York, asvictims and those who have worked for justice in Chile gather for this 40thanniversary of the September 11th coup.
JOAN JARA:
Indeed.
AMY GOODMAN:
Talk about the lawsuit you have just filed.
JOAN JARA:
Well, this lawsuit, which is for the central justice and accountability, isa civil lawsuit, but the—our aim is not to receive pecuniary, because this doesn’t helpat all. It’s to reinforce the extradition petition, which was approved by the ChileanSupreme Court and is now in United States territory. It’s somehow to support that andto appeal to public opinion here in the United States. We know we have—there aremany people here. In repeated visits here, I have met so many friends who havecondemned the coup on the 11th of September, 1973. And I appeal to all the peoplewho listen to Víctor’s songs, who realize—and for all the victims of Pinochet, for their support and appeal to their—your own government to remit a reply positively tothis extradition request.
AMY GOODMAN:
After break, we’ll also be joined by your lawyer to talk moreabout the lawsuit. But describe what happened on September 11, 1973. Where wereyou? Where was Víctor?
JOAN JARA:
Yeah, well, we were both at home with our two daughters. There wassomehow a coup in the air. We had been fearing that there might be a military coup.And on that morning, together, Víctor and I listened to Allende’s last speech andheard all the radios, the—who supported Salvador Allende, falling off the air as, one by one, being replaced by military marches.Víctor was due to go to the technical university, his place of work, where Allende wasdue to speak to announce a plebiscite at 11:00, and Víctor was to sing there, as he did.

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