Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Asynchronous Blog Post on Bolaño, Lihn, and Massacre at the Stadium

Asynchronous Blog Post


1. Watch the Netflix documentary Massacre at The Stadium  (Bent Jorgen Perlmutt, 2019).

2. Read Roberto Bolaño’s short story “Meeting with Enrique Lihn” and the poem “Six Solitudes” by Enrique Lihn.

3. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is 11/22 before the class. 200-words minimum.


According to the documentary, why singer-songwriter Victor Jara was considered an enemy of Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing military regime? Why do you think Bolaño brings a distorted Jara into his story? How this ghostly figure fits into Bolaño’s nightmarish narrative?


In “Meeting with Enrique Lihn” Roberto Bolaño says that Chile and its capital Santiago “once resemble hell, a resemblance that, in some subterranean layer of the real city and the imaginary city, will forever remain” (191). Explain this quote by bringing examples from the documentary Massacre at the Stadium.


After reading these two sections from “Six Solitudes” by Enrique Lihn discuss how Bolaño builds the dream atmosphere of his short story using Lihn’s poetic style and imagery.

Six Solitudes


The unending loneliness from which others drink
at happy hour
is not my cup, but my grave. I bring it to my lips
and flail within it till I slip from sight
into its morbid waves.
Loneliness for me is not a caged bird but a monster,
as if I were living with an insane asylum.

Everyone’s waiting for war but me.
The housewife is waiting for war
with the invading rats.
Kids are waiting for the future,
for the war ahead.
Men walk the warpath
with banners and slogans.
All but me, who am waiting for what?
Waiting for poetry.
Waiting for nothing.


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about the documentary or the literary sources do you want to bring into the discussion?

21 thoughts on “Asynchronous Blog Post on Bolaño, Lihn, and Massacre at the Stadium”

  1. In the documentary “Massacre at the Stadium”, we are told that Victor Jara was an enemy to the state as well as Augusto Pinochet’s murderous regime because of his influence over the people of Chile. Before Jara was even politically motivated he was so beloved by the people for his music about love and life. His music was about living through poverty and still finding the beautiful things in life, like his wife Joan. When Victor started to acknowledge the youth as the future and felt the need to voice their concerns in his music, he became a public enemy to the anti-Marxist members of the Chilean military-charged coup. Victor’s voice was too heard, not only in Chile, but around the world. This not only frightened Chilean anti-Marxists but also America who was deeply embedded in a anti-communist agenda around the world. In Roberto Bolaño’s short story “Meeting with Enrique Lihn”, Victor is used as a symbol for what was stolen from Chile. It is not a coincidence that the conversation Bolaño is having is with a hit man because that is exactly what the soldiers who murdered Jara were. Instead of lashing out on the outrage of being made fun of like the hit man shows to be thinking, he becomes so immersed in the man that Bolaño is describing to him. This chance encounter is used to show that if these men weren’t political dogs and instead used conversations and learning to see what kind of man Victor was that they would have never been convinced by the murderous regime to kill such a peaceful, and loving man. A man that was not only loved by his countrymen, but also everyone around the world who took the time to hear him sing about beautiful, and simple things.

    1. Patriots all over the world, such as Chile’s Victor Jara, are murdered by corrupt capitalists because of the passion and love they have for their country. Politicians such as Jara become an enemy of the state because of preaching communist ideologies rather than capitalistic ones. Because of the love he had for his country, Jara wanted to empower the youth so that they could spearhead the country in the future. However, anti-Marxist members killed a patriotic man who was loved all over the country.

  2. According to the documentary, Victor Jara was seen as a threat to Augusto Pinochet’s regime because the ethos of his music was tethered to left-wing politics. His music reflected the political turmoil of 1960’s Chile and Jara was a highly visible supporter of Salvador Allende, a democratically-elected socialist directly at odds with the goals of Pinochet’s U.S.-backed regime. Jara was devoted to working-class causes and his performances were frequently and highly politicized.

    Bolaño’s decision to include a ghostly version of Jara was apt. Jara was not merely executed by the regime, but tortured to death. The gruesome circumstances of his murder were compounded by the lack of accountability and justice for his execution to make mourning the loss of Jara all the more complicated. Furthermore, the spirit of Jara’s legacy continues to haunt Chile and its people–both abstractly and concretely–as his martyrdom is revelatory of a nation still reeling, decades later, from neo-colonialist, facisct forces hijacking a righteous political movement and forever altering the trajectory of Chilean politics and life. Bolaño’s decision to include Jara as a ghost, in an alternate-universe version of Santiago, was saddening. It suggests the futility in wondering, what could have been, had the coup of 1973 never occurred, and if the thousands executed had survived. What would have happened to art, culture, and to the people of Chile had U.S. forces never intervened and propped up Pinochet? This sense of futility is further explored in the documentary Massacre at the Stadium, wherein, in my opinion, it is demonstrated that it is ultimately pointless to seek justice when those truly responsible will abdicate any speck of judicious accountability onto those who simply followed orders. Viva Allende.

    1. Victor Jara was tortured and executed in cold blood because of his beliefs and also because he posed a significant threat to Pinochet’s US-backed regime. Chile still feels the stinging pain of the massive execution of progressive leaders up to this day. Jara’s execution serves as a stern lesson to all Chileans today of the danger of turning against your very own.

  3. Victor Jara was an enemy of the Chilean government simply because he spoke freely in a country where freedom of speech was not allowed. While being watched and observed by a country that had decided to trade freedom for security. Jumping at ideas instead of improving lives. Essentially, the Chilean government named him an enemy because he undermined their power by spreading his words and message. He gave the people hope that things could be better and that translated dissatisfaction with the current state of things. Typically a bad thing to have for a dictatorship reliant on a fear of change to stay in control. To America, he was a possible communist threat. It was a period of time where there was a real fear for any ideology that wasn’t democracy, especially in areas near America that could pose a real threat to its borders. Cuba was a good example, the diplomatic issues with it last far into the future, and only in the past decade has there been any change. It could be said that Jara came at a bad time in history. But I’d argue that it was precisely because it was a troubled time that Jara sought to spread his message of a better world. That it was his intention to stir things up and change the world. And he was heard loud and clear.

    1. I liked how you mentioned that “it could be said that Jara came at a bad time in history.” I think the sentiment that stayed with the Chilean peoples was that of melancholy. I also feel who Jara represented through voicing the individual, the peoples struggles in the country of Chile, made Jara’s death one of a martyr. In his time alive, he became the call to action for his people, and in his death, he still brings a sense of hope and strength to the folks that are under oppressive regimes. He touched people who may not have been politically inclined or educated, and he also reached a stance of educator at a college. I think Jara was where he needed to be, and that his life would have been a tragic one no matter what time he died, as he was in a position to awaken power in people.

      1. I would even go as far as to say that his origin of growing up in poverty and living through times of hard laboring work since a young age is very relatable to the public of Chile. And the fact that through all his hardship, he still had the optimism, the ability to sing on love, and life filed with goodness, was what made his more mainstream listeners interested in following his more political message when he started to sing about it.

    2. According to the documentary, Victor Jara was an enemy to the government of Chile because he choose to speak freely in a country where it wasn’t allowed. Chile had no freedom of speech and Victor obviously did not care or put much mind to it. This made the government of Chile angry and they were now showing Victor Jara how powerful they really were. He was giving people hope that things could eventually be better and that we’d live in a better world than the one that we were living in. He was spreading democracy feels in a world where everything was unfair with a whole lot of diplomatic issues. Victor Jara probably was trying to spread positivity at a bad time but because of him and his spread of change needed it is that things changed today. He was one of the many that took initiative in change.

  4. Victor Jara was the voice of a new Chile that was tossing away the power of the right-wing regime.Once Allende was elected, Jara’s songs became “the soundtrack” of that piece of history, and with his music’s influence, Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing felt threatened. Once they killed Allende, Pinochet’s military targeted all those who were a source of the impending chaos in Chile, and one of their targets became Victor Jara. Being a singer of these communist songs and praise of Allende, they beat him down, tortured, and taunted him, then killed him.

    Bolaño likely brings in a distorted Jara to bring the singer back to life just for him in that exact moment. He does this to tell a bit more of Jara’s story to a man who has no clue, even though he is pretending to be him. Bolaño’s story is one of sadness, but ironically, in a location where the only people walking around are dead and forgotten, so having him talking to a dead man about his life just brings a more ominous touch to the already nightmarish story. The entire story is just a facade according to Bolaño, and is one that serves as inertia to spark nostalgia of these figures.

  5. According to the documentary, Massacre at the Stadium, Victor Jara was considered an enemy of Augusto Pinochet’s regime for various reasons. One of the reasons was the fact that Jara helped Salvador Allende become elected as Chile’s first Marxist president. Many including Pinochet and the American government saw Marxism in Chile as a threat. Jara was also an enemey because he was a political activist and singer in addition to being considered the voice of Chile’s working class. Giving the working class a voice and changing societal order would definitely threaten the military regime that Pinochet was creating. I think Bolaño has a distorted Jara in “Meeting with Enrique Lihn” because he didn’t know him personally. Jara and activists like him that have died for their causes are usually portrayed as martyrs afterwards. While Jara’s murder was not justified, the person he was and the person that he is depicted as are definitely different to some extent. The Jara that Bolaño meets is a mixture of his own impressions, the way Jara is portrayed, and who he actually was. By having a distorted Jara, Bolaño helps emphasize how the world he is describing works. The people he meets, are not only dead but they are also shadows of themselve

  6. The singer was seemed as a threat to the government through his music he was encouraging others to create a different type of world in which people go against its current government. It revolutionary which made people in power scare for what the common people can come up with this new ideas being brought to be.

  7. In the documentary Massacre at the Stadium, it is the story of the murder of singer Victor Jara but also the story of the many injustices that took place in Santiago, Chile during the early 70’s and mistreatment of the working class in the 60’s. In “Meeting with Enrique Lihn” Roberto Bolaño says that Chile and its capital Santiago “once resemble hell, a resemblance that, in some subterranean layer of the real city and the imaginary city, will forever remain” (191). Some examples from the documentary that can consider Santiago hell include the mistreatment of the working class and how severe poverty was in Santiago. Another example is the bombing of the Moneda Palace that killed the only president that was for the working class people. Not only did the military kill President Salvador Allende but killed and tortured many citizens including singer Victor Jara. Victor Jara’s death wasn’t just gunshots but brutally beating him to the point his hands were hanging from his wrists. When his wife went to go see his dead body at the morgue, she claims to have seen many students and working class people young and old brutally beaten and dead. She says she even saw a child as young as 12 or 13. Augusto Pinochet declared power after Allende was killed in the bombing of the Moneda Palace and he had far right wing policies that were against the working class citizens. The torture and murders of the citizens by the military seemed to have been a warning to follow orders and not be a socialist, not to have any policitical ideas that are different than Augusto Pinochet’s.

  8. Bringing Jara into the piece adds to this feeling of an ending as the author starts to mention, giving this sense of it was good while it lasted. To continue, there’s a part that someone mentions how only the dead are the ones who are walking outside. This to me signify that do to all the issues happening as I mentioned in my previous post, the poets were coming to an end. In a sense they were starting to be put in silence and they are just another story or someone that people can once learn about and remember. Moreover, it is those people who now walk are what keeps there memory and mission alive. Waking for the dead to fight against issues that have not been able to be unsolved.

  9. According to the documentary “Massacre at the Stadium” Victor Jara was considered an enemy of Augusto Pinochet’s right winged military regime because he used his music to address the poverty, injustice and economic unfairness that plagued his nation. Having been described as a cross between Bob Dylan and Martin Luther King Jr, it was easy to see why he was such an influential figure in Chile. His death was a tragedy and was turned into a powerful symbol of Chiles struggle, thus making him a martyr. In Robert Bolanos’s “a meeting with Enrique Lihn, Victor Jara was seen as a mixture of his dream and the distorted singer. This may also be an influence from the way Jara was brutally murdered. Someone that would blend well with the narrative presented that he was having, as he stated ‘shit, Jara, it’s me Bolano, and it would have been clear as day that he wasn’t Jara, but he played the game”. He fits into this nightmarish vision as he was created to suit both Bolano and Jara, molded in an image of how he views the world. It is also to be noted that the people around him are also dead and simply stuck in a time long gone.

  10. In the documentary “Massacre at the Stadium”, it showed how Jara was considered an enemy to Augusto Pinochet’s military. This started all because of what Jara had sang in his music about poverty and what the people needed so he attacked the anti- Marxist of the Chilean nation which caused many people to listen. He was loved for not only his music, but what he talked about. He was willing to stand up for the people of Chile with what he believed in through music and had the power to do so because everyone listened and loved him. Even after his death people still play his music because of what it represented and how he stood up for what is right and used his voice as a platform. This caused his death where he was beat down and used as an example for trying to oppose the government of Chile. Bolano brings back this distorted Jara because he still lives through him even though he never met him, he knew what he was portraying when he was alive. It also mentions how the only people around them are walking around dead and forgotten so he tries to show reminiscence of these figures.

  11. Bolaño’s expansion of Lihn’s atmosphere in his own work communicates the shared sense of a foggy future that the two Chilean writers capture with their surreal diction and odd choices. Lihn is blunt, but confusing. “Six Solitudes” feels confessional and convoluted, which Bolaño borrows and uses when assembling his narrative for his short story. The imagery in both pieces is descriptive and relatable. They each describe an other worldly realm, but don’t completely fly off to fantasy. Bolaño’s choice of referencing Jara in the hellish city is a weird one, but needed for grounding the alternate nightmare with real life. A 1950’s gangster, someone who existed long before Jara released his first album, is understandably unfamiliar with the iconic singer, yet its his intrigue by even the idea of Jara and this unknown man’s life that is even more understandable given Bolaño’s setting. This ghostly realm of Santiago and its surreal rules forces aren’t so foreign to deny the impact and allure of such a star like Jara. Bolaño and Lihn are dystopian, but Bolaño still pays his respect for Jara saying “a world which seemed too wide even for Jara, a world in which even the great Jara was an ant whose death on a shining step would not have mattered at all to anyone.” The irony of Jara’s death here is bold way of writing like Lihn to address the real city that still exist in hell.

  12. Victor Jara was a Chilean folk singer and political activist that focused on topics such as poverty and injustice. He found a way to provide hope for his people through something they all loved, his music. in one of his songs he writes “My guitar is not for the rich. no, nothing like that. My song is of the ladder, we are building to reach the stars.” Talk of the singer spread through the community of Chile and around the world when he became what Chileans wanted their society to stand for. This became a problem for some because his ideals went against those of anti- Marist beliefs which made him an enemy of Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing military regime.Bolaño brings a distorted Jara into his story because he plays a major role in it. Victor was tortured relentlessly and killed by the regime on the order of Augusto Pinochet. Bolaño feels as though it is imperative to understand the details surrounding Jara’s murder. Although Chile suffered a great loss that they still mourn today, evidence surrounding the case was substantial at most therefore no one was convicted. Which also adds emphasis on how bad the situation in Chile was and for how long it lasted.

  13. OPTION THREE: After reading these two sections from “Six Solitudes” by Enrique Lihn discuss how Bolaño builds the dream atmosphere of his short story using Lihn’s poetic style and imagery.
    Enrique Lihn’s macabre, deep descriptions of loneliness from Six Solitudes are mirrored in Robert Bolaño’s dream, described as “a horror movie leavened with large doses of black humor.(p195)” a nod to the style and tone of both his work and Enrique Lihn. Lihn also uses metaphor in a deeply descriptive manner, leveraging alliteration and parallelism in his poetry to strengthen his metaphors. Likewise, Bolaño learns to emphasize the descriptive nature of his writing in a nod to Lihn in order to build the “dream atmosphere” in “Meeting Enrique Lihn.”
    Six Solitudes describes an “unending loneliness” as Lihn’s “grave” a tomb, similar to the hellscape Bolaño dreams of – Lihn at the back of a bar, alone but for passing fans demanding advice and judging the things he does to survive (take a pill 3 times a day.) “Loneliness for me is not a caged bird but a monster, as if I were living with an insane asylum.” The metaphor Lihn constructs brings the feeling of loneliness to life as a creature that is not tame and trapped but rather an uncontrollable force that is difficult for him to subdue.
    Similarly Bolaño feels the pressures of the dark environment Lihn is trapped in, an all consuming fog within a dream using additional descriptive terms to express his discomfort in the dream “my arm was enveloped by the darkness of the booth, and I grasped Lihn’s hand, a slightly cold hand… the hand of a sad person” (p 194.) Eventually Bolaño comes to think “Something’s not right here,” feeling “An enormous heaviness was coming over [him]” (p 195.) He creates a stern, confusing, dangerous yet friendly environment in his dream that reflects and is parallel to what he knows and connects to Lihn about – their shared experiences with government oppressors and the inner turmoil of the poets life. Bolaño finds “The sidewalks were gray and uneven” and consistently comments on his disappointments with Lihn’s end state – commenting on the dark dreary dystopia he finds Lihn in, the state of his bare apartment and lack of glory after being such an important figurehead for him in his time of need. Lihn also uses Parallellism at different times to both contrast emotions and emphasize the depth of the emptiness and despair he feels – repeating that different types of people are “waiting for war” the housewives at home with the “invading rats”; children with their innocence hoping for a future where Lihn’s parallel contrast only serves to emphasize a hopelessness as war is inevitable. The men don’t wait – they “walk the warpath” – actively waiting and walking towards death. Lihn is not a soldier, not on the battlefield but behind his pen and paper – lonely as he waits for death.

  14. In the documentary “Massacre at the Stadium” we are introduced to the political Chilean folk singer Victor Jara. The people of chile really riled behind Victor Jara because his music spoke to the struggles that was going on with the working-class people. They used his music as a battle cry to fight for change and his backing for President Salvador Allende made him a threat to Augusto Pinochet and his regime. Since he was seen as the voice of the people Pinochet had to make sure he silenced him. In Roberto Bolaño’s short story “Meeting with Enrique Lihn”, Victor can be seen as a symbol of what chile lost all those years ago. A parallel you can see in Bolano’s writing is that in the story he is speaking to a hitman and Vitor Jara was taken out by hit men.

  15. When Roberto Bolano meets Enrique lihn, he claims that Chile and its capital “resembled like hell a kind of resemblance that in some subterranean layer of the real imaginary city will remain forever” .this quote can be explained in further details from the massacre at the stadium which is one of the new documentaries from the Netflix which portrays an account for the historic injustice, thus shaping in the most essential aspects. This documentary relates with the quote from Roberto Belano which showed that Chile and its capital resembled like a hell. At first, this can be portrayed by a songwriter for Chile who had been tortured and also murdered by the soldiers who were loyal to Augusto Pinochet who was a dictator. Within the investigative mode, perlmutt finds out the soldier who is believed to have killed Jara (Perlmutt, np). Again we can also see Salvador who had been a Chilean president who had been democratically elected and therefore was alleged to have committed suicide. This is claimed to have ended the rule of the first Marxists elected president of democracy that is liberal in the world.

  16. Vítor Jara was more than a singer-songwriter but rather a symbol of the people during a monumental revolution. His songs were the anthem for the People’s revolution, supporting newly elected President Salvador Allende. President Allende was the first Marxist president to be elected in a completely free election in 1970 in Chile. As this was the height of the cold war and the red scare was running ramped in other countries, the United States began to back Augusto Pinochet’s military regime who eventually would successfully stage a coup and overthrow Allende’s presidency, leading Chile into a 20+ year military dictatorship. Jara was just as much an enemy to the state as Allende because of the unwavering support Jara showed for the movement. He’d pose a major threat to Pinochet’s regime because the people supported him, trusted him, and looked for him for guidance. He was their voice in the revolution: he’d listen to their stories and give the people a voice when they had none, especially the working class and those in extreme poverty. At the end of the day, Victor Jara was the people champion and ran the risk of speaking out again with Pinochet’s new right-wing regime, and so he was an enemy and had to be dealt with accordingly.

    Bolaño in his short story, Meeting with Enrique Lihn, explains a nightmare he once had which involved the meeting of Enrique Lihn, a Chilean poet. He paints an almost life-like portrait of the surroundings, and people involved, however, the reader begins to understand the nightmare when Baloño steps outside. He is greeted by a “hitman” who he named Jara. Bolaño introduces a ghostly and dark Jara as is fitting to how his Victor’s life ended. Jara wasn’t just murdered but tortured during a violent coup. The circumstances of his death were only spoken about recently, almost 40 years after his untimely end, and even then it’s felt that justice wasn’t truly served. Victor Jara was the voice of the Chilean people, but, had he not been murdered in the Chile Stadium all those years ago what would have become of him under Pinochet’s rule. Bolaño I think explores this idea by calling Jara a “hitman”, however, I think it’s more projection on the author’s part than on Jara as a person. He died with his people, and those he sought to have a voice for. Victor Jara’s legacy lives on with the Chilean people and those around the world who remember him, what he stood for, and the impact he’s had decades later.

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