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Joan Jara

Joan Jara is a dancer, choreographer, and political activist.  She is the widow of Chilean folk singer and theater director Victor Jara, who was detained at the Santiago Technical University in the days following the military coup and taken to the Chile Stadium where he was tortured and murdered on September 16, 1973.  Today, the Chile Stadium has been renamed the Victor Jara Stadium.  Following her husband’s murder, Jara fled Chile with her daughters and lived in exile in England (her native country) until returning definitively in 1985.  In 2009 the Chilean Senate awarded her Chilean nationality by grace in recognition for her contribution to the struggle for democracy. 

In 1983 Jara founded the Victor Jara Foundation that is dedicated to Victor’s artistic legacy and the effort to recover collective memory so that new generations of Chileans can access and enjoy the artistic, social, and political work that he contributed to his country.  The Foundation views artistic endeavors as liberating and empowering, and the creation of culture as a vehicle for writing the Chilean people’s history and defining the future, a future that embraces democratic values, respect for human rights and ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity.  The Foundation is committed to a vision of artistic and cultural endeavors as having the capacity to transform and inspire the future.

Thanks to Jara’s tireless efforts seeking justice for her husband’s murder, in December 2012 eight retired army officers were charged with Victor’s murder.  A judge ordered the arrest of seven of those individuals in Chile.  The eighth, Pedro Barrientos resides in the United States and Interpol Santiago issued a warrant for his arrest.  Joan Jara called on the U.S. government to extradite Barrientos.

In 1983 Jara published Victor: An Unfinished Song.  In 1999 she received a Dance Award from the Municipality of Santiago, and in 2000 was recognized by the University of Chile for her professional contributions as a professor of dance and theater.  In 2004 the Santiago Municipal Theater honored her on International Dance Day.


Return to Tribute to Justice: Remembering 40 years September 9th 2013.