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Singing in Solidarity: The Latin American Protest Song Movement and the Vietnam War

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Protest in the Vietnam War Era

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements ((PSHSM))

Abstract

During the “long” 1960s, music played a significant but underappreciated role in promoting political radicalism and connecting far-flung social movements. This chapter examines a set of compositions and cover songs created by Latin American musicians between 1967 and 1973 in reaction to the Vietnam War. These songs belonged to a broader “playlist of protest,” a transnational repertoire of music composed during the 1960s to grow support for revolutionary politics across the Third World by fostering a shared language and sound of dissent. The project was rooted in Third-Worldism and transnational solidarity, ideas that were crucially shaped in 1967 during a protest music conference held in Cuba and attended by musicians from all six continents. This chapter shows that Third-World radicals used music during the “protest decade” to transcend geographical/cultural differences, creating a common music industry to fight against imperialist modes of cultural production.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Acknowledgments: This chapter has benefitted from the invaluable contributions of my professors, colleagues, and friends at Stony Brook University in the Department of History and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Due to limited space, I can only single out a few individuals by name. First, I want to thank Alexander Sedlmaier, the editor of this volume, for giving me the opportunity to take part in this important scholarly project. Second, I thank my advisor, Professor Eric Zolov, for his continuous lessons and dedicated and ever-insightful feedback that has greatly enhanced my work. Third, I must acknowledge Professors Lori Flores, Brooke Larson, and Ben Tausig for their thorough and thoughtful advice. Additionally, I owe a deep debt to my colleague and friend Spencer Austin, who has served as a generous editor and helped me to overcome the complex challenges of writing in my second language. Finally, I want to thank my friends Ximena López Carrillo and Lance Boos for their insightful comments and critiques that have helped me to refine the arguments presented in this chapter.

  2. 2.

    Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007), xv.

  3. 3.

    Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 3, 5.

  4. 4.

    Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America and the Cold War (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2004); Gilbert Joseph and Daniela Spenser (eds.), In from the Cold: Latin America’s New Encounter with the Cold War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008); Hal Brands, Latin America’s Cold War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010); Tanya Harmer, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011); Tanya Harmer and Alfredo Riquelme (eds.), Chile y la Guerra Fría global (Santiago: RIL, 2014).

  5. 5.

    Eric Zolov, “Introduction: Latin America in the Global Sixties,” The Americas 70,3 (2014), 354.

  6. 6.

    In recent years many scholars have published works that can be considered part of this Global Sixties historiographical angle. See especially Quinn Slobodian, Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012); Valeria Manzano, The Age of Youth in Argentina, Culture, Politics, and Sexuality from Perón to Videla (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Patrick Iber, Neither Peace Nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015); Alberto Martín Álvarez and Eduardo Rey Tristán (eds.), Revolutionary Violence and the New Left (New York: Routledge, 2016); Vania Markarian, Uruguay ’68: Student Activism from Global Counterculture to Molotov Cocktails (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016); Patrick Barr-Melej, Psychedelic Chile: Youth, Counterculture and Politics on the Road to Socialism and Dictatorship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017); Chen Jian et al. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties: Between Protest and Nation-Building (New York: Routledge, 2018).

  7. 7.

    Prashad, Darker Nations, xv.

  8. 8.

    Juan Pablo Gónzalez and Claudio Rolle, Historia Social de la Música Popular en Chile, 1890–1950 (Santiago: Ediciones UC, 2004); Juan Pablo Gónzalez, Claudio Rolle, and Oscar Ohlsen, Historia Social de la Música Popular en Chile, 1950–1970 (Santiago: Ediciones UC, 2009). The idea of the legacy that consolidated the “long” twentieth century has been extensively discussed by historians and sociologists, see in particular Giovanni Arriaghi, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times (New York: Verso, 2009).

  9. 9.

    Jan Fairley, “‘There Is No Revolution Without Song’: ‘New Song’ in Latin America,” in Music and Protest in 1968, ed. Beate Kutschke and Barley Norton (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 119–136; Ashley Black, “Canto Libre: Folk Music and Solidarity in the Americas, 1967–1974,” in The Art of Solidarity: Visual and Performative Politics in Cold War Latin America, ed. Jessica Stites Mor and Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018), 117–145.

  10. 10.

    Jeremy Suri, Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Détente (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 3.

  11. 11.

    The Bandung Conference was a gathering of postcolonial African and Asian countries that sought to create a league to fight against any possible threat to their newfound independence and to provide a counterbalance to the hegemonic power of “First World” and even “Second World” states.

  12. 12.

    Anne G. Mahler, From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism, and Transnational Solidarity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), 70.

  13. 13.

    “Nuestro Pueblo ha sentido como suyo todos y cada uno de los problemas de los demás pueblos. Nuestro Pueblo […] los recibió con los brazos abiertos y los despide con los brazos cerrados. Como símbolo de un lazo que no se romperá más y como símbolo de sus sentimientos fraternales y solidarios hacia los pueblos que luchan por los cuales está dispuesto a dar también su sangre. ¡Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!” Noticiero ICAIC Latinoamericano, “Conferencia tricontinental en la Habana” (Havana: ICAIC, 17 January 1966), https://www.ina.fr/video/VDD13020604/conferencia-tricontinental-en-la-habana-conference-tricontinentale-a-la-havane-video.html. Translation by the author.

  14. 14.

    See Eric Zolov, “La Tricontinental y el Mensaje del Che Guevara. Encrucijadas de Una Nueva Izquierda,” Palimpsesto 6,9 (2016): 1–13; Robert Young, “Disseminating the Tricontinental,” in The Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties, ed. Chen Jian et al., 517–547.

  15. 15.

    Ernesto Guevara, “‘Crear dos, tres… Muchos Vietnam’: Mensaje a los Pueblos del Mundo a Través de la Tricontinental” (16 April 1967), https://www.marxists.org/espanol/guevara/04_67.htm.

  16. 16.

    For the Tricontinental Conference, see Zolov, “La Tricontinental y el Mensaje del Che Guevara”; Mahler, From the Tricontinental to the Global South, 71–84; Antoni Kapcia, “Revolutionary Soulmates? Cuba’s Slow Discovery of Vietnam” in this volume.

  17. 17.

    Noticiero ICAIC Latinoamericano, “Festival de la Canción Protesta” (Havana: ICAIC, 7 August 1967), https://www.ina.fr/video/VDD13021120/festival-de-la-cancion-protesta-festival-de-la-chanson-contestataire-video.html; Canción Protesta 1 (1968), 39.

  18. 18.

    José Ossorio, “Encuentro de la Canción Protesta,” Casa de las Américas 45 (1967), 140–141.

  19. 19.

    Ibid., 140.

  20. 20.

    This table was created by the author and its contents were extracted from José Ossorio, “Encuentro de la Canción Protesta,” Casa de las Américas 45 (Havana: Casa de las Américas, 1967), 144; VV.AA., Encuentro de la Canción Protesta, Casa de las Américas, 1968; Cancion Protesta 1 (1968).

  21. 21.

    Ewan MacColl, “The Ballad of Hồ Chí Minh,” track 1, side B, vinyl 1 in VV.AA., Canción Protesta, Casa de las Américas, 1968, vinyl.

  22. 22.

    Yinghong Cheng, “Sino-Cuban Relations during the Early Years of the Castro Regime, 1959–1966,” Journal of Cold War Studies 9,3 (2007), 104.

  23. 23.

    Fidel Castro, “Discurso pronunciado en la Conmemoración del IX Aniversario del Asalto al Palacio Presidencial” (Havana: Universidad de la Habana, 13 March 1966), www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/1966/esp/f130366e.html.

  24. 24.

    José Ossorio, “El Encuentro de la Canción Protesta,” 141.

  25. 25.

    “[El Encuentro de la Canción Protesta] nos ha permitido [músicos y estudiosos] conocernos, intercambiar experiencias y comprender el alcance de nuestra labor, así como el importante papel que cumplimos en la lucha por la liberación de los pueblos contra el imperialismo norteamericano y el colonialismo. […] Los trabajadores de la canción protesta deben tener conciencia de que la canción, por su particular naturaleza, posee una enorme fuerza de comunicación con las masas, en tanto que rompe las barreras que, como el analfabetismo, dificultan el diálogo del artista con el pueblo de cual forma parte. En consecuencia, la canción debe ser un arma al servicio de los de lo pueblos, no un producto de consumo utilizado por el capitalismo para enajenarlos. […] La tarea de los trabajadores de la canción de protesta debe desarrollarse a partir de una toma de posición definida junto a su pueblo frente a los problemas de la sociedad en que vive.” Ibid., 143–144.

  26. 26.

    “Voice of Fidel Castro,” in VV.AA., Cancion Protesta: Protest Song of Latin America, Paredon, 1970, vinyl. A longer excerpt was published in Jorge Ossorio, “Encuentro de la Canción Protesta,” 139.

  27. 27.

    Ibid., 144; Casa de las Américas, Síntesis de Actividades de la Casa de las Américas, 1959–1971 (Havana: Casa de las Américas, 1972), 6; internal document from Casa de las Américas extracted from Cuban Culture and Cultural Relations, 1959–, part 1: “Casa y Cultura” (Leiden: Brill, 2017), http://primarysources.brillonline.com/browse/cuban-culture-and-cultural-relations.

  28. 28.

    VV.AA., Canción Protesta, Casa de las Américas, 1968, vinyl; VV.AA., Canción Protesta 世界のプロテスト・ソ, URC, 1969, vinyl; VV.AA., Canción Protesta: Protest Song of Latin America, Paredon, 1970, vinyl.

  29. 29.

    The Festival des Politischen Liedes was founded in East Germany in 1970 and was held for twenty years. This event brought together a varied group of musicians from all around the world and its concerts were recorded in albums, with the exception of the final one.

  30. 30.

    José Ossorio, “Encuentro de la Canción Protesta,” 144.

  31. 31.

    Anny Rivera, Transformaciones de la Industrial Musical en Chile (Santiago: CENECA, 1984), 15, 23–27; Jorge Rojas and Gonzalo Rojas, “Auditores, Lectores, Televidentes y Espectadores: Chile Mediatizado, 1973–1990,” in Historia de la Vida Privada en Chile, ed. Rafael Sagredo and Cristián Gazmuri, vol. 3 (Santiago: Taurus, 2007), 390.

  32. 32.

    Natália Schmiedecke, “La influencia de DICAP en la Nueva Canción Chilena,” in Palimpsestos sonoros: Reflexiones sobre la Nueva Canción Chilena, ed. Eileen Karmy and Martín Farías (Santiago: CEIBO, 2014), 207.

  33. 33.

    Quilapayún, X Viet-Nam, Jota-Jota, 1968, vinyl.

  34. 34.

    See the “Memoria Chilena” online service of the National Library of Chile, http://www.memoriachilena.gob.cl/602/w3-article-96426.html.

  35. 35.

    Eduardo Carrasco, Quilapayun: La Revolución y las Estrellas (Santiago: Las Ediciones del Ornitorrinco, 1988), 131.

  36. 36.

    Antonio Larrea, 33 1/3 RPM: La Historia Gráfica de 99 Carátulas, 1968–1973 (Santiago: Nunatak, 2008), 18.

  37. 37.

    Quilapayún, X Viet-Nam, Jota-Jota, 1968, vinyl. Images extracted from https://www.discogs.com/es/Quilapay%C3%BAn-Por-Viet-Nam/release/3454708.

  38. 38.

    Alvaro Ramírez and Claudio Sipiaín, Por Viet-Nam (Santiago: Universidad de Chile, 1969), http://www.cinetecavirtual.cl/fichapelicula.php?cod=12.

  39. 39.

    VV.AA., Vietnam Canta a Cuba—Cuba Canta a Vietnam, EGREM, 1969, vinyl.

  40. 40.

    VV.AA., Vietnam Canta a Cuba—Cuba Canta a Vietnam, EGREM, 1969, vinyl.

  41. 41.

    The New Left in Latin America consisted of new generational left-wing movements that counted on the use of force as a primary tool to succeed in revolutionary projects. See Van Gosse, Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left (New York: Verso, 1993); Eric Zolov, “Expanding Our Conceptual Horizons: The Shift from an Old to a New Left in Latin America,” A Contracorriente 5,2 (2008): 47–73.

  42. 42.

    For a general overview of 1971 in Chile, see Chile 1971: El primer año de gobierno de la Unidad Popular, ed. Pedro Milos (Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Alberto Hurtado, 2013). For the women’s march, see Margaret Power, La Mujer de Derecha: el poder femenino y la lucha contra Salvador Allende, 1964–1973 (Santiago: Centro de Estudios Barros Arana, 2008), 151–192.

  43. 43.

    Harmer, Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War, 107–109.

  44. 44.

    On Pérez Zujovic’s assassination see Albert Michaels, “The Alliance for Progress and Chile’s ‘Revolution in Liberty,’ 1964–1970,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 18 (1976), 89; Marcelo Bonnassiolle, “Violencia Política y Conflictividad Durante el Gobierno de la Unidad Popular: El caso de la Vanguardia Organizada del Pueblo (VOP), 1970–1971,” Diálogos Revista Electrónica de Historia 16 (2015), 125–164; Victor Jara, side A, track 5 of Pongo en Tus Manos Abiertas, Jota-Jota, 1969, vinyl. Biographical information on Jara can be found in Joan Jara, Victor Jara, un canto truncado (Barcelona: Argos Vergara, 1983), 31–58.

  45. 45.

    Víctor Jara, El Derecho de Vivir en Paz, DICAP, 1971, vinyl.

  46. 46.

    Fabio Salas, La Primavera Terrestre: Cartografías del Rock Chileno y la Nueva Canción Chilena (Santiago: Cuarto Propio, 2003), 95–96.

  47. 47.

    Megan Terry, Viet Rock and Other Plays (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967).

  48. 48.

    Dino Pancini and Reiner Canales, “Eduardo Gatti: Cantando lo Imperceptible” [Interview with Eduardo Gatti], in Los Necios: Conversaciones con Cantautores Hispanoamericanos, Dino Pancini and Reiner Canales (Santiago: LOM, 1999), 204–205.

  49. 49.

    Alí Primera, De Una Vez: Lieder Der Dritten Welt, Für Eine Einzige Welt, Pläne, 1972, vinyl.

  50. 50.

    Hazel Marsh, Hugo Chávez, Alí Primera and Venezuela: The Politics of Music in Latin America (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

  51. 51.

    “[F]oribundo militante, el nato cantor de barricadas, puteando sin piedad a la burguesía.” Matías Hermosilla interview with Silvio Rodríguez, “Recuerdos Buenos, Intensos Recuerdos,” published on Silvio Rodríguez’s blog Segunda Cita, https://segundacita.blogspot.com/2020/02/recuerdos-intensos-buenos-recuerdos_18.html.

  52. 52.

    The cuatro is a stringed instrument, similar to the ukulele, traditionally used in Venezuelan folk music.

  53. 53.

    There is a growing body of literature that addresses the gender dynamics of Third-World struggles. See especially, Sandra Taylor, Vietnamese Women at War: Fighting for Hồ Chí Minh and the Revolution (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1999); Michelle Chase, Revolution within the Revolution: Women and Gender Politics in Cuba, 1952–1962 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015); Kumari Jayawardena, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (New York: Verso, 2016); Lorraine Bayard de Volo, Women and the Cuban Insurrection: How Gender Shaped Castro’s Victory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

  54. 54.

    “Los investigdores, creadores e intérpretes musical debemos […] resistir a la penetración imperialista, desenmascarar y denunciar todo organismo que, bajo cualquier pantalla sirva a ésta, y a las tácticas diversionistas que se valen de seudorrevolucionarios, y rechazar la enajenación incorporándonos, con nuestra acción y nuestra obra, al combate de nuestros pueblos por su independencia integral, que da muestras de originalidad revolucionaria en la continua creatividad práctica y teórica marxista basada en la lucha de clases […]. Esta participación en el movimiento de liberación tendrá más eficacia cuando más profundamente interprete el sentir del pueblo, por los valores auténticos de nuestra obra y por una rigurosa calidad artística.” VV.AA., Declaración Final del Encuentro de Música Latinoamericana, 1972, folder 212, Archive of Casa de Las Américas, Havana, Cuba.

  55. 55.

    The three declarations were published in a special December 1972 issue of Boletín de Música Casa de las Américas (Casa de las Américas: Havana, 1972), 8 (Puerto Rico), 11 (Chile), and 14–15 (Vietnam), Archive of the Music Department of Casa de las Américas, Havana, Cuba.

  56. 56.

    Salvador Allende, Discurso ante los Estudiantes de la Universidad de Guadalajara (Guadalajara: 2 December 1972), https://youtu.be/K1dUBDWoyes.

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Hermosilla, M. (2022). Singing in Solidarity: The Latin American Protest Song Movement and the Vietnam War. In: Sedlmaier, A. (eds) Protest in the Vietnam War Era. Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-81050-4_14

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