Daniel Viglietti, the troubadour who illuminated a thousand battles. By Carlos Aznárez

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By: Carlos Aznárez / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn / October 30, 2017

There are still a lot of fences to tear down(1), and we still have an overwhelming need to find those “tropics” that help us contain our joys and grieves (2), but Daniel Viglietti decided to go and leave us a little bit orphaned from his great ballads.

An heir of the best libertarian traditions of Uruguay, Viglietti began to sing his “Songs for the new man” precisely one year after Che Guevara was murdered in Bolivia, as the streets of Montevideo were filled with police bullets that killed a student whose name became an emblem: Líber Arce. These events foreshadowed the following right-wing regime of Jorge Pacheco Areco and then Bordaberry, who would inaugurate the dictatorship. Then, Daniel created poems that were disseminated by word of mouth, like urgent messages, which shone like stars in the sky of the Tupamaro revolution. The road of revolutionaries “has already been traced”, Viglietti sang, “Che showed us”, and in the grassroots of those turbulent years, “El Chueco” Maciel defended life with arms in Cantegril and taught us it was no longer time to turn the other cheek.

Daniel accompanied with his poetry the worldview that others had set forth, and encouraged us to move faster to make it a reality. On the streets an epic story was unfolding, an unequal struggle against power, and that was more than contagious. Raúl Sendic (Sr.) was an example of how to do politics, and Viglietti translated those lessons and weaved them into the strings of his guitar. “Under a flaming sun”(3) homaged the struggle of an Agronomy student called Jorge Salerno, who fell after the Tupamaros took over the city of Pando, along with Jorge Zabalza and Alfredo Cultelli. Three brave guerrillas who were willing to do what needed to be done in order to change the world.

After that, night fell on Uruguay and while Tupamaros were buried in cells, those who managed to survive took the road to exile. Daniel also fled, still defending his ideas and keeping his head high despite the adversity. In those difficult days, he became more involved in the internationalist movement, and his songs accompanied the battles of the people of Latin America, like “Throughout Chile” (“Por Todo Chile”) and “Sandino’s Hat” (“El sombrero de Sandino”), which homaged Sandinista Nicaragua. The list became much longer, with homages to socialist Cuba, the guerrillas of Colombia, the zapatistas in Mexico, Bolivarian Venezuela, and every corner of the earth where people stood up against oppression.

Just a few days ago, we were able to see him shine like in his youth, as he sang on a stage in Bolivia’s Vallegrande, on the 50th anniversary of the death of Che Guevara. He shared the virtues of dignity and commitment with Evo Morales and Bolivian guerrillas Urbano and Pombo. A cheerful crowd accompanied him in song. Thousands of peasants waving native flags already knew the lyrics to your song, Daniel, when you sang “land is your’s it’s ours, it’s theirs”.

You left like you came, Daniel, with your guitar as your shield and your brave songs in your heart. Soon, surely, you’ll sing with Violeta Parra, Alfredo Zitarrosa and El Sabalero, while Benedetti reads poems announcing the victories to come.

 

  1. Reference to Daniel Viglietti’s song “A desalambrar” (“Unfence the land”)
  2. Reference to Viglietti’s song “Trópicos”
  3. Reference to the song “La llamarada”
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