The Legacy of the Nueva Canción: An Interview with Patricio Manns

Image result for patricio manns ramona wadiPatricio Manns, Chilean poet, author, singer and songwriter is one of the few whose work is a testimony to history. Despite current trends and contemporary politics, which contribute a difference to ideology and culture, Manns remains committed to the universality of the Nueva Canción, and continues to be a revolutionary voice, recognizing the necessity of it and promoting the movement through his numerous works.

More than three decades ago, in September 1973, the world witnessed the horrors unleashed in Chile following the military coup of right wing military dictatorship Augusto Pinochet. But prior to the coup in Chile, there was a movement that elevated music to a higher consciousness. The Nueva Canción was the revolutionary song of Chile and other Latin American countries, and its strength lay in its loyalty to the people and delivery of its political message and social change.

In adhering to the social message within the music – fighting injustice, oppression and dictatorships, several artists of Nueva Canción suffered when their home countries were flagellated by right-wing regimes. For instance, Victor Jara was tortured and brutally murdered in the Estadio Chile.

The Pinochet regime was so concerned with the powerful message of the Nueva Canción that it strived to ban the genre of music, together with traditional musical instruments associated with the revolutionary style of songs. Other prominent singers and groups, such as Inti Illimani, Quilapayun and Patricio Manns were exiled.

Today, Nueva Canción artists are of a lesser number. Patricio Manns, Chilean poet, author, singer and songwriter is one of the few whose work is a testimony to history. Despite current trends and contemporary politics, which contribute a difference to ideology and culture, Manns remains committed to the universality of the Nueva Canción, and continues to be a revolutionary voice, recognizing the necessity of it and promoting the movement through his numerous works.

Patricio Manns’ song, De Pascua Lama, has been chosen to represent Chile in the Festival de Vina del Mar 2011. The Pascua Lama mining project, located in the Andes south of Atacama, has been the source of controversy ever since Barrick Gold obtained permission to mine for gold in the area, which straddles the Chilean – Argentinean border. Despite numerous protests and petitions, both the Chilean and the Argentinean governments approved of the project, which has left many families pondering the situation of their livelihood.

On its website, Barrick Gold claims that the Pascua Lama project is subject to more than 400 conditions that strive to ensure the protection of the glaciers and the environment. The project is described as one that will create thousands of jobs for Chileans in the area over the projected 25-year span of the mine. Barrick Gold has stated that it will not be mining the gold partially lying under the glaciers, after outrage from environmentalists at the proposal of shifting the ice from the glaciers to the Guanaco glacier, which lies on the Chilean – Argentinean border.

However, many Chileans have expressed doubt over these statements. The Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza Glaciers, which are located in Pascua Lama, are described as a vital source of water for farmers in the area, which suffers from rain shortages and relies on water from the glaciers. According to Chilean environmentalist group Sustainable Chile, the Toro 1 and Toro 2 glaciers have already suffered damage from mine exploration. Read more.

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