By the time poet Gonzalo Millán wrote “Poema 48” of La Ciudad in 1979, Chilean folk singer Victor Jara had long been silenced. His voiced raised to sing “Venceremos,” the anthem of President Salvador Allende’s Unidad Popular coalition, one final time at Estadio Chile before being ruthlessly gunned down by military forces in the days following the September 11, 1973 coup.
Millán’s words reversed the course of the winds of history and the onset of General August Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship in Chile, including Jara’s murder. They revived the Chilean Revolution, its democracy, poetry and music, leaving it untouched by a trauma that remains an open wound 43 years later. Every September 11 since 1973, generations of idealists are asked to remember and to say “never again.” But trauma also summons the inevitably painful question of what might have been.