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El  Sueno Existe : The Dream Lives. Victor Jara Festival In Machynlleth

Here in the Welsh town of Machynlleth, we are planning our 3 day summer festival inspired by Chile’s visionary left wing singer/songwriter and theatre director Victor Jara.

Victor’s horrific death at the hands of Pinochet’s thugs in September 1973 is described by author Naomi Klein as “the embodiment of the furious determination to silence a culture.”

Our festival grew from a small musical event organised in Machynlleth  many years ago  as a fundraiser for the Victor Jara Foundation in Chile. Far from being a nostalgic gaze at what might have been in Chile, the festival and associated events have developed into a celebration of the re-emergence of democratic socialism in Latin America and an exploration of what we might learn from these movements.

The Reyes family singing in Machynlleth“There is no revolution without song” is a common slogan from the time of Allende’s Chile and the festival endeavours to bring politics, music, dance , drama and poetry together as diverse expressions of a vibrant and participatory socialist vision.

Such expressions are of tremendous importance today as a counter to the rampant privatisation and dismantling of public services by a government intent on peddling the lie that austerity is the only game in town.

Naomi Klein in her excellent book The Shock Doctrine presents a compelling account of what she describes as “disaster capitalism” through  exploitation and repression in various countries up to the present day and with roots in the torture state of Pinochet’s Chile.

Our festival of a few hundred people has attracted the support of Unite The Union and, given that the unions are providing the principal counter to the Tories ‘’savage capitalism’ , we are proud of this association.

As an incomer to Wales , I was unaware of the degree of solidarity shown to Chile during the dark days of the Pinochet dictatorship. As the festival developed , it attracted the support of many Welsh thinkers and artists including the great Welsh troubadour Dafydd Iwan  who regularly participates and is the author of the beautiful and profound song ‘Can Victor Jara.’

We have chosen various themes for the festivals over the years. In 2013 we chose the theme “Chile 40 Years On”, as it was the 40th anniversary of the military coup.

This year we are going to focus on Colombia and Eco-Socialism. We have a host of speakers on these topics as well as an array of Colombian musicians and dancers. Visit www.elsuenoexiste.com for more information.

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