“For those of us who stand for peace, equality and against fascism, this is a very important day. The CIA-backed coup in 1973 was one of the great crimes of the 20th century.”
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello took the mic at La Moneda presidential palace in Chile on Monday, where he attended the government’s official memorial event for the 50th anniversary of the coup led by Augusto Pinochet.
“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the CIA-backed coup which overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende government in Chile, ushering in decades of violent dictatorship and the murder, torture and disappearance of thousands,” Morello wrote in his Instagram account.
“I come here at the invitation of the president, whom I understand is a great fan of rock and roll,” said Morello on Monday, referring to Gabriel Boric. The musician took a selfie with the left-wing president, “who was in the pit at Rage Against the Machine’s Battle of Santiago!” he wrote on Instagram, remembering the band’s 2010 concert in Chile.
Morello also met and took photos with Argentine activist Estela de Carlotto (president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo) and Victor Jara’s widow, British dancer Joan Turner.
“Joan has never stopped seeking justice,” Morello wrote.
Morello arrived in the country over the weekend. He visited the Museum of Memory and the National Stadium, the location of the concentration camp where popular musician Victor Jara was held captive, tortured and killed. At the stadium, Morello played several songs, including Jara’s Manifiesto, with local musician Nano Stern.
Formed in the early 1990s, Rage Against the Machine has always featured explicitly leftist political lyrics. They often reference political struggles in Latin America, such as in their song People of the Sun, from their 1996 album Evil Empire.
In 2020, the band announced a series of shows on their Instagram account posting a photo of the social uprising that was taking place in Chile at the time. Morello used the same picture in his own account with the caption “Chile is not messing around. USA next?”.
The tour had to be rescheduled to 2022 due to the pandemic. In July of that year, frontman Zach de la Rocha injured his leg on stage, resulting in the cancellation of all remaining shows for 2022 and 2023.
“The spirit of Victor Jara lives in every note of music I have ever played. In his memory, in memory of all the missing people, the disappeared and the tortured, I’m here to express my solidarity with the people of Chile,” said Morello today at La Moneda.
Two weeks ago, the Chilean Supreme Court confirmed the convictions of seven former soldiers for the kidnapping, torture and murder of Victor Jara, sentencing them to 25 years in prison.
One of the defendants, Hernán Chacón, died by suicide the day after the ruling, when police arrived at his home to take him into custody. Two others, Raúl Jofré González and Nelson Haase Mazzei went on the run and remain at large, according to the Chilean Police Investigations Department.