Chilenos and Chicanos sing together, united in spirit

Various speakers and musicians performed and spoke on Feb. 20 about Chilean and Chicano culture in America, specifically California in Parker Chapel. The lecture and performance was part of the Lennox Alvarez series, titled “No nos moveran: We Shall Not Be Moved: Solidarity Between Chicanos and Chileans in California.”

The lecture opened with historian Antonia Castaneda, who offered reflections on the relations between Chileans and Chicanos and the struggles both groups faced throughout history.

“This doesn’t start in the Chicano movement, it doesn’t start in the Chilean movement,” Castaneda said. “It starts with the struggles of every minority and every people throughout history.”

Castaneda went on to offer a historical context of the struggles of both groups, from the Chilean struggle for democracy to the Chicano assimilation into U.S. culture. Following these reflections, the night opened up to stories and songs by Agustin Lira, Patricia Wells, and Lichi Fuentes and supporting members. They took turns telling stories of their experiences in the face of adversity, and showing the importance of song in their respective cultures, and the struggles they overcame.

In one story about his time surrounding the strikes and protests regarding issues of fair wages and rights, Lira made note of the intensity and weight of the situation and what it meant to the people there.

“Everyone was on the picket line, from abuelos to ninos,” Lira said.  “I had seen people fight for their lives before but never for their rights.”

These protests and strikes came as patience grew thin with the treatment that migrant workers were receiving, simply for being minorities.

“We had become tired of being mistreated, treated as second class citizens,” Lira said. “It was time that we did something about it all.”

One song explored the importance of remembering of both troubles and good times, an idea stressed throughout the lecture.

“This [song] is about a political prisoner writing and talking to his son and wife,” Fuentes said. “In it he stresses that he is not gone, although he is away. He urges them to never forget the history, what happened in Chile, to live on and let it be known.”

Various other themes were explored throughout the songs including those of solidarity, peace and love. In one song, Lichi urged the crowd to sing along, something that represented the idea of unity and letting the world know your message.

The song, titled “Tu Cantar,” written by Eduardo Yanez, included this powerful chorus: “Your song will be carried by the wind/We will all hear it someday.”

To the artists, the music represents more than just self expression. It is a chance to convey the ideas and dreams of their people and to craft something that represents the struggles and obstacles they overcame.

“There is no trick to setting words to music,” Fuentes said. “Once you realize the word is the music and the people are the song,” Fuentes said.