After the powerful earthquake that struck Chile in the early hours of 27 February, Argentineans looked for ways to help their neighbour and express their solidarity. Argentine artists led by Leon Gieco and Red Solidaria organized a festival of solidarity which they called ‘Argentina embraces Chile’ seeking to both generate an emotional rapprochement with the Chilean people and to collect food and equipment needed for the earthquake victims. The event, organized in just 3 days, was attended by more than 70,000 people. Ricardo Darin, who starred in the Oscar-winning film The Secret in Their Eyes, gave the keynote address in which he explained the importance of the non-perishable food that thousands of fans had brought to the concert in Buenos Aires. The actor thanked the public for ‘having joined together to give our Chilean brothers a big hug from here.’
Under a hail of applause, Leon Gieco took to the stage with another Oscar winner, Gustavo Santaolalla, and performed their classic songs ‘Pensar en Nada’ and ‘Mañanas Campestres’. Other performers included Gustavo Cerati, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and Pedro Aznar. The latter paid tribute to Chile with two songs by the poet and artist Violeta Parra, who helped to revive Chilean folk music with the ‘New Song’ style, and the singer-songwriter Victor Jara, who was murdered by the military following the Chilean coup of 1973.
The director of Red Solidaria, Juan Carr, said that they had originally expected the festival to attract ‘between 1-2,000 people and take place in the Chilean Embassy in Buenos Aires. But the initial response was so good and the event was so important that we had to move sites.’
‘The aim was to tell Chileans that they are not alone and that the Argentineans are with them,’ Carr continued, while emphasizing that ‘Argentineans are very sensitive and understand what happened’.
The head of Red Solidaria Argentina, Manuel Lozano, is currently in Chile’s capital Santiago and will travel to the earthquake-damaged Maule region with a first load of donations. ‘Chile is still shaken by the aftershocks and a lot of people are experiencing moments of anxiety. About 500,000 families remain homeless, cold and hungry, and still have to rebuild everything,’ Lozano explained.
The donations – over 35 tons of products – were loaded onto three trucks, each weighing 12 tons, and Red Solidaria will continue to receive donations for another 15 days.
Carr’s final words to the crowd gathered at the concert were: ‘With what you donated today, 180 school children have food for two and half years and 12,000 Chileans in the area have shelter for a whole year. When society is organized, no one can stop us!’