Sunday, June 22, 2014

Voice of the Populace: Inti-Illimani and Mañana quizás and Q'apac Chunchu



My wife would not be ashamed to admit it, but she's pretty left of center. I am too, for that manner. In her case, it is a product of her education and her upbringing. Her parents were liberals and adherents of Catholic social teaching, and whereas my liberal leanings are more based on what I always felt was right, hers is the smarter, more informed kind of liberalism. As a result, she taught me about things that I paid scant attention to. One of those things she taught me about was the Chilean popular movement and the election of a socialist, Salvador Allende, as president of Chile in 1970. By 1973, after he had embarked on policies including nationalization of industries and a heavy increase in social spending by the government, the military embarked on a coup d'etat some say was supported by the United States, although official documents say otherwise. After the armed forces trapped him in the presidential palace, Allende was forced to resign, and died under mysterious circumstances officially ruled a suicide. General Augusto Pinochet took over governance of the country as the leader of a military junta, which ruled the country until 1990. Many friends of a leftist bent I have known have also taken an interest in the political events in Chile, and it was from one of them that I think I got a tape (yes, I'm that old) of Inti-Illimani. I listened to it a few times but I was young and more into rock music. It was only while looking up Inti-Illimani for this post that I discovered their contribution to the popular movement in Chile. Formed in 1967 by university students, Inti-Illimani gained popularity in Chile due to their song Venceremos (We shall overcome) which became the anthem of the populist movement. This led to their exile - Allende's government was overthrown while they were on tour in Europe and, fearing for their safety, they stayed in exile in Italy until 1988, leading them to joke that their exile was the longest tour for any band ever. While in exile, they began to combine their Latin musical heritage with elements of European baroque and popular music, and by doing so helped create some of the first "world" music. Their music was banned in Chile, though distributed underground, and in 1988 they were allowed to return to their country. They participated actively in the campaign that ousted Pinochet from power in a democratic election, and continue their political activism to this day. However, in 2001 the band split over musical and political differences, and there are now two bands. The first retained the name of Inti-Illimani, and the second became Inti-Histórico. These two songs, Mañana quizás and Q'apac Chunchu, are on Inti-Illimani's 2002 album Lugares Comunes, and the video appears to be taken from a DVD of their live performances. The small guitar is, I believe, a charango and they mix the quiet sounds of the stringed instruments with flutes that almost sound martial, as if the quiet Chile countryside is broken by the strains of marching military units.