Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa dies

The English translation of this song, written by Violeta Parra, sung by Mercedes Sosa, is:

Mercedes Sosa – Thanks to life (Violeta Parra)

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two beams of light, that when opened,
Can perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the sky above, her starry backdrop,
And from within the multitude
The one that I love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me an ear that, in all of its width
Records— night and day—crickets and canaries,
Hammers and turbines and bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare:
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and the light shining.
The route of the soul from which comes love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me the ability to walk with my tired feet.
With them I have traversed cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your patio.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me a heart, that causes my frame to shudder,
When I see the fruit of the human brain,
When I see good so far from bad,
When I see within the clarity of your eyes…

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing.
With them I distinguish happiness and pain—
The two materials from which my songs are formed,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Award-Winning Singer Mercedes Sosa Dies at 74

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, October 4, 2009; 7:54 AM

Mercedes Sosa, an Argentine singer who emerged as a electrifying voice of conscience throughout Latin America for songs that championed social justice in the face of government repression, died today at a medical clinic in Buenos Aires. She was 74 and had liver, kidney and heart ailments.

With a rich contralto voice, Ms. Sosa was foremost a compelling singer whose career spanned five decades. She performed with entertainers as varied as rock star Sting, the Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés and folk singer Joan Baez, who said she was so moved by Ms. Sosa’s “tremendous charisma” and emotive firepower that she once dropped to her knees and kissed Ms. Sosa’s feet.

Ms. Sosa’s towering artistry, which led to several Latin Grammy Awards, belied her physical dimensions. Short, round, dark-skinned and often dressed in peasant clothing, Ms. Sosa was affectionately nicknamed “La Negra” (the Black One) as an homage to her indigenous ancestry.

It was a term of endearment that followed her throughout the Spanish-speaking world, said ethnomusicologist Jonathan Ritter, who has written about Ms. Sosa. “It’s hard to overestimate her popularity and importance as a standard-bearer of folk music and political engagement through folk music,” he said.

Ms. Sosa once declared that “artists are not political leaders. The only power they have is to draw people into the theater.” While not defining herself as a political activist, Ms. Sosa asserted herself in the “nueva canción” musical movement of the 1960s and 1970s that blended traditional folk rhythms with politically charged lyrics about the poor and disenfranchised.

This “new song” movement, formed by singers, poets and songwriters with Marxist leanings, cast light on the struggle against government brutality and the plight of the downtrodden throughout the hemisphere. Ritter said, much of the nueva canción songs favored by Ms. Sosa “drew upon the rich heritage of Latin American poetry and literature to score their political messages.” This, he said, gave it a far-more enduring fascination than protest songs in the United States during that period, whose “blunt, direct lyrics were part of their political efficacy, but also limited their long term poetic appeal.”

Here are the lyrics of “We’re Still Singing,” which she sang accompanied by the large Andean drum called the bombo: “I was killed a thousand times. I disappeared a thousand times, and here I am, risen from the dead. . . . Here I am, out of the ruins the dictatorship left behind. We’re still singing.” Ms. Sosa came under official harassment and intimidation by the right-wing, nationalist junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. The government was responsible for the deaths and disappearances of an estimated 30,000 real and perceived leftists, and Ms. Sosa transformed her sold-out concerts into rallies against the abuses of power.

Her songs were banned from Argentine radio and television, and she courted arrest by singing anthems of agrarian reform such as “When They Have the Land” at one performance in the university city of La Plata. Many in attendance were arrested by security forces, and Ms. Sosa was publicly humiliated by an officer who walked onstage and conducted a body search.

This is a video of Mercedes Sosa, singing Cuando tenga la tierra, “When They Have the Land”, in Managua, Nicaragua, 1983.

See also here.

Jail ruling for ‘dirty war’ pilot: here.

Repressors Bernardo Jorge Olivera Rovere and Jose Menendez were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Oral Federal Tribunal 5 of Buenos Aires for the crimes committed during the Argentine dictatorship. Olivera Rovere was a deputy commander of I Corpsunder the command of Guillermo Suarez Mason. Three other officers were acquitted: here.

Uruguay’s Supreme Court overturned a law on Monday that amnestied military personnel accused of murders, disappearances and other human rights violations during the country’s US-backed dictatorship from 1973 to 1985: here.

Uruguay’s last dictator Gregorio Alvarez has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for 37 murders committed during the nation’s 1973-85 military regime: here.

Workers Party of Brazil: The different strategies of the Latin American left: here.

On January 15, 1985, Brazil’s electoral college voted to install Tancredo Neves as president, bringing to a formal end 21 years of military dictatorship during which thousands of opponents of the regime were “disappeared,” tortured, and killed: here.

The right wing in Argentina is making threats as former military officers face trial for their role in the 1970s dictatorship, reports Joel Richards: here.

Fathers of the Plaza de Mayo – the “Rearguard”: here.

7 thoughts on “Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa dies

  1. Former dictator gets put on trial

    Argentina: The country’s last dictator, five former generals and two top former police officials have gone on trial over kidnappings and murders in the notorious Campo de Mayo torture camp.

    Reynaldo Bignone faces charges connected to cases of torture, human rights violations and illegal break-ins from 1976 to 1978. He served as military president from 1982-3, the final year of the dictatorship.

    In 2003 Argentina’s courts and congress overturned an amnesty granted by Mr Bignone to members of the junta. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has promised the relatives of its estimated 30,000 victims that justice will be done.


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  4. Pingback: Argentine dictatorship’s secrets discoveries | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Chilean musician Violeta Parra | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Chilean trade unionist Ernesto Leal Jimenez dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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