Soprano Ayleen Jovita Romero performed “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz,” or “The Right to Live in Peace,” a song that has become a national song of protest in Chile over the past decades.
For the past several weeks, mass protests against inequality and the rising cost of living in Chile have crippled the country. Following days of violent demonstrations that resulted in the death of 19 people and damages accounting to an estimated $300 million, the government declared a state of emergency on October 18.
According to Buzzfeed News, on October 19, the general in charge of security for Santiago imposed a curfew on the capital city and outlying areas, to be enforced from 10 pm until 7 am.
It was during this time of curfew, on October 21, that Romero sang.
“We are demonstrating in a peaceful manner during this curfew, all of the neighbors here are supporting the cause, singing and playing their beautiful instrument[s],” the Buzzfeed report quoted what Romero wrote on Instagram.
“I invite other artists to do the same in their homes, the people appreciate it and it does them well ?? It’s necessary.”
Another video of the performance, taken by Ernesto Pinto and shared by the Facebook group El Canto Nuevo de Chile, in particular, shows the city’s overwhelming reaction to Romero’s song.
The clip was reposted to Twitter on Wednesday, where it has been viewed more than 4 million times.
The song “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz” is said to have a special significance in Chile. It was written by the famous folk singer and political activist Victor Jara in 1971 in protest of the Vietnam War.
The song took on new meaning in 1973 when the country’s president, Salvador Allende, was overthrown, killed, and replaced with a military government led by Augusto Pinochet.
Along with thousands of other civilians, Jara was arrested one day after the coup and imprisoned in the country’s national stadium in Santiago. The sports arena would become a de facto prison and torture camp during the first two months of Pinochet’s brutal reign, housing an estimated 20,000 people, the Buzzfeed report read.
Since the singer was a well-known Allende supporter, he was publicly tortured in front of other prisoners as an example. According to detainees who survived, soldiers crushed his hands with the butt of their guns and tauntingly asked him to play his guitar. Three days after his disappearance, his body was found riddled with 44 bullets in a cemetery.
“El Derecho de Vivir en Paz” has been adopted by the current demonstrators as the song of their political movement.
On October 25, more than 1.2 million people took to the streets in Santiago to protest the government. During the demonstration, thousands of musicians and protesters performed Jara’s song.
The videos of the moment are pretty unbelievable.
rika Ortega Sanoja (@ErikaOSanoja) October 26, 2019
According to Buzzfeed, 30 of Chile’s most famous musicians have also recorded a version of the song, with new lyrics referencing the current protests: “Dignidad y educacin / Que no haya desigualdad.” (“Dignity and education / So that there is no inequality.”)