"Venceremos" by Gabriel San Román and T. M. Scruggs - Read Online
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When the socialist politician Salvador Allende dramatically won Chile’s presidential election in 1970, a powerful cultural movement accompanied him to power as folk singers emerged at the forefront proving that music could help forge the birth of a new society. “Venceremos” charts the development of such a cultural phenomenon from the years before Allende’s victorious campaign to the brutal U.S.-backed military coup on September 11, 1973, which ousted his presidency and imposed the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. The bloody repression that followed would claim the life of Víctor Jara, a key singer-songwriter, but could never put to rest the lasting power of his songs nor the movement he personified.

Published: PM Press an imprint of Independent Publishers Group on
ISBN: 9781604869835
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"Venceremos" - Gabriel San Román

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PM Press Pamphlet Series No. 0012

Venceremos: Víctor Jara and the New Chilean Song Movement

Gabriel San Román

ISBN: 978-1-60486-957-6

Copyright © 2014

This edition copyright PM Press

All rights reserved

Layout by Jonathan Rowland

Cover illustration by Carla Zarate Suarez

PM Press

PO Box 23912

Oakland, CA 94623


Printed in Oakland, CA, on recycled paper with soy ink.





The Balcony and the Bard

The Rural Roots of Nueva Canción

Nueva Ola and the Reemergence of Folk

Eduardo Frei’s Revolution in Liberty

Violeta Parra’s Revolution in Song

Reformism’s Failure and the Strengthening of the Left

The NCCh Strengthens Alongside the Left

On the Campaign Trail

Venceremos: Singing for Allende

The Election Results and Inauguration

Neither Fish nor Fowl

Popular Unity’s First Year: Successes

Songs of Hope

A Year of Challenges and Crisis

Crisis and the New Song

Events Leading to the Coup

September 11, 1973




Author Biographies

To my father Alfonso, my mother Graciela, and my brother Javier and sister Yvette. To my nephew crew: Alex, Adrian, and Marcos. And for Irene, my love.


THE POWER AND RESILIENCY OF ARTISTS COMMITTED TO PROFOUND SOCIAL change resounds over time and across natural and human-created borders. This pamphlet is a testament to how the musical expressions of that commitment can bridge decades and span a hemisphere. Gabriel San Román begins by describing how his encounter in North America with Chilean music created several decades previous, in particular that of singer-songwriter Víctor Jara, led to his engagement with this musical culture that now offers this welcome recounting of music’s fundamental role in Chile throughout the 1960s and into the ’70s. The upwelling of organization and confidence in the ability to transform one’s world by the long dispossessed continually grew within Chile during this time-frame. By all accounts it was a tumultuous period when people could feel Chile’s social pulse quicken, a feeling that the genie could not be so easily returned back into its bottle, that both the majority population and the ruling elite were aroused into action and some kind of alteration of the nation’s assemblage had to occur: past socioeconomic and political arrangements felt like a holding pattern, an airplane awaiting orders either to climb to new elevations or abort the journey altogether. The answer was confirmed in newspapers around the world on September 12, 1973, in the smiling faces of now-deceased U.S. president Richard Nixon and living