Chilean Ex-Soldier Arrested in US for Victor Jara's Murder



by NOUMAN RASOOL

Chilean Ex-Soldier Arrested in US for Victor Jara's Murder
© Marcelo Hernandez/GettyImages

In a significant development, former Chilean soldier Pedro Pablo Barrientos was apprehended in Deltona, Florida, for his alleged role in the torture and execution of renowned folk singer Victor Jara five decades ago. Jara's murder took place amidst the tumultuous backdrop of Chile's dictatorship era.

Barrientos, who had sought refuge in the U.S. since 1989, is currently under the custody of U.S. immigration authorities. An extradition to Chile, where he has been on the wanted list since 2013, looms over him. John Condon, an agent from the U.S.

Department of Homeland Security, commented, "Barrientos will now face the serious allegations in Chile, which claim his participation in the inhumane treatment and extrajudicial killings of Chilean citizens."

Barrientos's Citizenship Revoked

Highlighting Barrientos's deceit, a court revoked his American citizenship this past July.

The decision was grounded on revelations that he concealed crucial details about his military tenure. Furthermore, in a landmark 2016 verdict in Florida, he was found culpable in Jara’s torture and death. The judgment stemmed from a civil lawsuit instituted by the late singer's kin, which resulted in a $28 million award in their favor.

Victor Jara, 40, was apprehended on September 12, 1973, following the infamous CIA-supported coup that deposed Salvador Allende and paved the way for Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Tragically, Jara's corpse surfaced days after, marred with 44 bullet wounds.

Jara, with about 5,000 other detainees, was confined in a sports facility, subjected to intense scrutiny, and ultimately executed. A crucial testimony in the 2016 trial recalled a conversation where a young lieutenant Barrientos, then 24, confessed to fatally shooting Jara.

Jara, a jewel in Chile's musical tapestry, inspired a multitude of global artists, from U2 and Bruce Springsteen to Bob Dylan. His songs, echoing love, peace, and social defiance, immortalized him in Latin American musical folklore.

Hits such as "The Right to Live in Peace" and "I remember Amanda" remain emblematic of his legacy. This arrest of Barrientos closely follows a verdict by Chile’s Supreme Court that meted out prison sentences, spanning up to 25 years, to seven ex-military personnel for their role in the abduction and assassination of Jara.