Mercedes Sosa was on the black list

Mercedes Sosaby Charlie Crooijmans

In Buenos Aires there has been a major discovery of secret documents dating back to the years of military rule in Argentina. ‘The files contain the transcripts of all meetings held by the military junta, which ruled the country from 1976 to 1983, said Defence Minister Agustin Rossi. The documents also name famous artists and intellectuals who were blacklisted. Folk singer Mercedes Sosa, writer Julio Cortazar, tango musician Osvaldo Pugliese and actress Norma Aleandro are among many banned or subjected to censorship for opposing the government’ (BBC News). The documentary Mercedes Sosa, the Voice of Latin America of Rodrigo H. Vila is about to premiere in Europe.

The film depicts the life of Mercedes Sosa (1935-2009).  The immensely popular folksinger from Argentina had a career that spanned four decades. She sold millions of records and gave thousands of concerts all over the world. In the movie we hear her voice guiding us through her life as an artist, her successes, failures, love stories and suffering. Artists like Cuba’s Pablo Milanés and Brazil’s Chico Buarque, along David Byrne are the talking heads.

Sosa is the daughter of a sugarcane worker in the northern province of Tucumán. She started to sing songs about the life of the poor and she was politically left orientated and was part of the nueva canción movement, including Víctor Jara and Violeta Parra.

Argentina’s military dictatorship, which human rights groups say killed some 30,000 people, didn’t care for her message. The government harassed her and banned her from the nation’s airwaves, prompting her to abandon the country for Europe in 1979, according to a obituary by NPR in 2009. (NPR)

“I had to leave because the military was following me too closely,” Sosa says in the documentary. “I don’t know why. I’ve never killed anyone.” She returned to the country three years later, shortly before the military left power, where her fans welcomed her. She remained in Argentina until she died in 2009. (Huffington Post)

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