ON PINOCHET’S CAPTURE (song by Mitchel Cohen & Victor Jara)

Song by Mitchel Cohen and Victor Jara
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ON PINOCHET’S CAPTURE

Words & Music by MITCHEL COHEN

I awoke one day it was early September
A prisoner in my own land
For fighting against the war that my country
Was waging against Vietnam
How sad I remember it came over the news
Jangling the bars to my cell
That Chile had fallen, the great eagle’s talons
Had gauged out its insides, 10,000 slaughtered
And Chile, O Chile fell to the fascists
Socialist Chile fell.

I leaped from my bunk to the bars like a madman
Desperate to bend them escape
Riverhead prison had hold of my body
But my heart Santiago did take
As Pinochet swept through the gray streets at dawn
And murdered all who’d protest
“I protest. I protest, you bastards let me out”
I screamed and a guard sneered: “You’re next.”


And the corpses piled high
In the weeks that followed
Rats feasted on bodies
That lined every block
Allende had stood strong defending his people
Pistol in hand, so cowardly shot.

And who to hoe the ungrown rice
The painted murals, bulletproof dreams?
Kissinger crashes the gates of Eden
CIA toasts the success of his schemes.

Chile, O Chile
They’re murdering your soul
If only the muse had whispered to Allende
“Arm yourselves, Arise.”

My four months ended I flew like a dragon
Out of that prison as dynamite’s wings
Blasted ITT’s Park Avenue office
For Chile, serve notice, prove freedom still rings.

Chile, O Chile
They’re murdering your soul
If only the muse had whispered to Allende
Arm yourselves, Arise.

“We are 5,000 this noon,” Victor Jara sang
In the Estadio Naçional
They smacked his guitar till it was in ruins
No resistance songs they’d allow!
Yet vibrant and powerful verse sprung from his throat
His hands beat the rhythmic sounds;
On Pinochet’s orders the evil sword flashed
And Victor’s hands fell to the ground,
His severed hands fell to the ground.

“Sing now, Victor Jara,” wrists shattered and torn,
“Sing now, we have chopped off your hands!”
An icy wind rattled the stadium’s bones
Shivering through every land.

Song, I can’t sing you when I sing out of fear
When I am dying of fright
Eternal silence screams out from my heart,
Fascism’s sirens the night.

Victor stared at his hands in the dirt,
Fingers like snakes, once wandered in Joan’s hair,
Palms, now dead, that so often stroked her face,
Those bleeding stumps where his hands once did hang
“Don’t let them defeat you,” her voice sliced through his pain
And Victor opened his heart and he sang!

His song for the people, for Chile, for love
For freedom he sang out the words
Drives Pinochet’s darkness out of the decades
While Victor’s songs those new blossoms, are heard

So sing, Victor Jara,
The rice has matured
And the words bubble out of your tomb
Now a million are marching
On Pinochet’s jail
All humming Victor’s last tune!

Sing, Victor Jara,
Your song’s on every lip
The workers are rising again!
Rise up! Rise up! Throw the fascists aside,
Nothing to lose but your chains –
And a world to regain, to win.

One Hand, one heart
Chile, O Chile
We’ve learned our lessons well
Today the torturer stands trial for his crimes
And Pinochet’s sentenced to hell,
Let Pinochet rot in his hell.

I awoke one day it was early September
A prisoner in my own land
For fighting against the war that my country
Was waging against Vietnam
How sad I remember it came over the news
Jangling the bars to my cell
That Chile had fallen, the great eagle’s talons
Had gauged out its insides, 10,000 slaughtered
When Chile, O Chile fell to the fascists
When Socialist Chile fell.

- Words & Music by Mitchel Cohen,
September 1973, revised

WINDS OF THE PEOPLE

by VICTOR JARA
(Translated into English)

Once more they want to stain
My country with workers’ blood
Those who talk of liberty
And those hands are blackened
Those who wish to separate
The mother from her sons
And want to reconstruct
The cross which Christ carried.

They want to hide their infamy
Their legacy from the centuries
But the color of murderers
Cannot be wiped from their faces
Already thousands and thousands
Have sacrificed their blood
And its generous streams
Have multiplied the loaves.

Now I want to live
Beside my son and my brother
Going to construct the springtime
On which we all work every day.
You can’t scare me with your threats
You masters of misery.

The star of hope
Continues to be ours.

- Words & Music by Victor Jara

One Response

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  • Tom Weiss says:

    Good song. Are you performing it in public (e.g. open mics)? Do you know the inside story as to how Allende died? I’ve heard coflicting versions.

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