Pedro Pablo Barrientos, a past Chilean military man implicated in the torment and subsequent killing of the renowned folk artist Victor Jara during Chile’s dictatorial regime five decades ago, has been arrested in Florida, as confirmed by authorities this Tuesday.
Barrientos was taken into custody last Thursday in Deltona, Florida, and is now awaiting potential extradition proceedings to Chile. The Chilean government has been pursuing him since 2013.
John Condon, an agent from the US Department of Homeland Security, announced in an official statement that Barrientos “will face the allegations presented against him in Chile pertaining to his alleged participation in torture and the unlawful killing of Chilean citizens.”
Having resided in the United States since the late 1980s, Barrientos’ US citizenship was annulled in July after a court found he concealed details about his military background.
Moreover, in 2016, a court in Florida held him responsible for the torture and subsequent killing of Jara, resulting in a civil lawsuit. The singer’s family was subsequently awarded $28 million in damages.
Victor Jara, aged 40 at the time of his death, was detained just one day after the CIA-supported coup on September 11, 1973, which toppled Salvador Allende’s regime and established Augusto Pinochet as the country’s dictator. A few days post his arrest, Jara’s body was discovered bearing the marks of 44 bullet wounds. Reports suggest that he, along with approximately 5,000 political detainees, was held captive in a sports arena where he faced grueling interrogations, endured torture, and was ultimately executed.
A witness during the 2016 Florida court proceedings claimed to have overheard Lieutenant Barrientos, then 24 years old, confessing to killing Jara.
Jara celebrated as one of Chile’s most adored folk musicians, has posthumously transformed into a symbol for countless artists who underwent human rights abuses under Pinochet’s regime. His legacy has also influenced global artists like U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan.
Jara, through his pacifist songs that embodied themes of affection and social activism, became a pillar of Latin American music. Tracks like “The Right to Live in Peace” and “I Remember Amanda” solidified his iconic status.
The arrest of Barrientos is significant, especially following the recent verdict by Chile’s Supreme Court that sentenced seven ex-military officials to imprisonment, with sentences ranging up to 25 years for their involvement in the abduction and murder of Jara.