Family of slain Chilean folk singer Victor Jara file suit against his accused torturer and killer, with help from CJA

Huge human rights news from Latin America today: the Center for Justice & Accountability and the family of Victor Jara are suing the man indicted by Chilean prosecutors for torturing and killing Jara in 1973. Pedro Barrientos is accused of firing the shot that killed the Chilean folk singer and activist, but Barrientos currently resides in Florida.

Through the lawsuit, Jara's family hope to prove his culpability in a federal courtroom in Jacksonville, Florida, with rarely-used US laws addressing human rights violations committed outside of the country.

Víctor Jara was a popular Chilean folk singer, song writer, university professor and political activist who advocated for social and economic equality in Chile. He also was active in the social and political movements that helped democratically elect Salvador Allende. Because of this activism, he was imprisoned, tortured and executed during the early days of the September 11, 1973 military coup which ousted President Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet as Commander in Chief.

It is an honor to announce that today, the Center for Justice & Accountability, along with pro bono counsel Chadbourne & Parke LLP, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members of Victor Jara – his widow, Joan Jara, and their two daughters, Manuela and Amanda. The suit was filed against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez ("Barrientos"), a current resident of Deltona, Florida and a former officer in the Chilean Army under Pinochet. The complaint alleges that Barrientos personally tortured and executed Victor Jara during the mass detention of thousands of intellectuals, political leaders and perceived political supporters of the Allende government at the Chile Stadium.

The story goes that Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured by government thugs, who crushed his ribs, and the bones in his hands. Other political prisoners held in the stadium testified that the torturers ordered Jara to play guitar for them while he lay on the ground, with broken hands and a crushed body. He sang verses of the song "Venceremos" (We Will Triumph), a popular resistance song which became the de facto national anthem leading up to the Chilean coup d'etat.

A Washington Post item on the story is here.

An overview of the case is here.

And donate to support the CJA's work here.

There are some great archival materials on Jara here.