Police in Florida arrest a former Chilean military officer accused of murdering folk singer Victor Jara

BARRIO – Law enforcement officials in Florida have arrested a former Chilean military officer accused of torturing and murdering the famed Chilean folk singer and political activist Victor Jara in the wake of the violent 1973 military coup in Chile.

According to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agents arrested Pedro Paulo Barrientos Nunez in Deltona on October 5th.

The arrest follows a 2016 civil legal decision that found Barrientos liable for Jara’s torture and killing and his U.S. citizenship was revoked in July following a complaint filed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation. The court found Barrientos willfully concealed material facts related to his military service in his immigration applications, prompting an investigation by Homeland Security.

“Barrientos’s arrest is a testament to the strong law enforcement alliances forged over years of service with our state, local, and federal partners,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge John Condon. “Barrientos will now have to answer the charges he’s faced with in Chile for his involvement in torture and extrajudicial killing of Chilean citizens.”

Jara, who has been described as the Bob Dylan of Chile, was a member of Chile’s communist party and was arrested in the days after a right-wing military coup ousted the democratically elected President Salvador Allende.

As part of the coup, a military junta, led by Augusto Pinochet assumed control of Chile, dissolving the nation’s legislature, and suspended Chile’s constitution. The military junta also launched a program to quell political dissent, arresting thousands of suspected communists and socialists and “disappearing” or killing at least 3,000 civilians.

One of those civilians was Víctor Jara, who had served as Cultural Minister for Allende. Jara, along with thousands of other Chileans, was imprisoned inside Estadio Chile in Santiago, where he was tortured and later killed, his body being displayed outside of the stadium before being dumped into a mass grave.

In July 2015, eight former Chilean military officers were charged in connection with Jara’s murder, and in August 2023, a Chilean court confirmed a ruling convicting seven former soldiers, who are now all in their 70s and 80s and face lengthy prison sentences.

Following his arrest, Barrientos is currently in ICE custody and awaiting extradition to Chile.

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