The new song movement of Latin America saw its beginnings in Cuba's revolutionary nueva trova movement in the early 1960s as artists began to reflect the ideology of anti-imperialism. As life in Cuba changed, events in South America lead to the birth of nueva canción in Chile and Argentina, where musicians sang about the injustice and oppression in their homeland as well as the plight of the exploited indigenous populations. By the 1970s, many saw this music as a platform for protest, and the musicians would suffer the consequences of rising up against the imposed dictatorial regimes.
In Chile, the movement began in the 1960s with artists such as Victor Jara and Violeta Parra, who began to draw attention to the plight of the indigenous populations of their country. The same occurred in Argentina, with pioneers such as Atahualpa Yupanqui and Mercedes Sosa blending ancient Andean musical traditions with socially conscious lyrics. Nueva Canción in many ways reflected the solidarity between Latin Americans from various countries, and offered cries for peace and social justice on a worldwide humanitarian level. Also, nueva canción echoed the anti-American sentiment resulting from the Vietnam War, and the genre became a suitable platform for expressing anti-imperialist views.
Chilean groups such as Inti-Illimani and Quilapayún furthered the voice of the oppressed indigenous groups by highlighting Andean music as the vehicle for their songs, and by the torrid events of the early '70s and the self-imposed dictatorship of Agusto Pinochet, these artists and their music were banned. Forced into exile, many groups left Chile to continue their musical (and political) work. However, some artists, such as Victor Jara, were killed, alerting the international community to the horrors of the Pinochet regime.
Unfortunately, the restoration of democracy would wait nearly two decades, but the music of the region gave hope to those who believed in a peaceful, democratic Chile as well as civil rights for all indigenous peoples throughout the South American continent. Rebeca Mauleon