May 10, 2007

Desaparecidos




"They Dance Alone"
(Gueca Solo)
(Sting,* 1987; from "Nothing Like the Sun")

Why are these women here, dancing on their own?
Why is there this sadness in their eyes?
Why are the soldiers here, their faces fixed like stone?
I can't see what it is that they despise.

They're dancing with the missing.
They're dancing with the dead.
They dance with the invisible ones.
Their anguish is unsaid.
They're dancing with their fathers.
They're dancing with their sons.
They're dancing with their husbands.
They dance alone; they dance alone.

It's the only form of protest they're allowed.
I've seen their silent faces scream so loud.
If they were to speak these words, they'd go missing too.
Another woman on a torture table, what else can they do?

They're dancing with the missing.
They're dancing with the dead.
They dance with the invisible ones.
Their anguish is unsaid.
They're dancing with their fathers.
They're dancing with their sons.
They're dancing with their husbands.
They dance alone; they dance alone.

One day we'll dance on their graves;
One day we'll sing our freedom.
One day we'll laugh in our joy;
And we'll dance.

One day we'll dance on their graves;
One day we'll sing our freedom.
One day we'll laugh in our joy;
And we'll dance.

Ellas danzan con los desaparecidos;
Ellas danzan con los muertos;
Ellas danzan con amores invisibles;
Ellas danzan con silenciosa angustia;
Danzan con sus padres;
Danzan con sus hijos;
Danzan con sus esposos;
Ellas danzan solas; danzan solas.

Hey Mr. Pinochet, you've sown a bitter crop.
It's foreign money that supports you;
One day the money's going to stop.
No wages for your torturers;
No budget for your guns.
Can you think of your own mother,
dancin' with her invisible son?

They're dancing with the missing.
They're dancing with the dead.
They dance with the invisible ones.
Their anguish is unsaid.
They're dancing with their fathers.
They're dancing with their sons.
They're dancing with their husbands.
They dance alone; they dance alone.

This is one of those songs that don't chart or don't become hits but nonetheless stir up in you rage, passion, compassion, empathy, and anger--all at the same time.

Sting wrote this in 1987 but he might as well have written this last week when Edith Burgos, tragically, brought to the country's attention to those who are involuntarily disappeared.

When Sting wrote and performed this in 1987, people had been disappearing long before that in many dictatorships around the world--Pinochet's Chile and Marcos's Philippines among them; now, in 2007, in this country, people are disappearing again and Jay Jay Burgos is just the most recent and perhaps the "most famous" in recent memory because he carries Joe Burgos's name. Yet, there are so many nameless and faceless desaparecidos.

To those who have made Jay Jay and many like him (like SherlynCadapan and Karen Empeno) disappear, "can you think of your own mother, dancin' with her invisible son?"

To Edith Burgos and the mothers of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and many others who have been made to disappear, I have no words at my disposal to give you comfort save those that I now lift up in prayer to God who is merciful and just.


---------------------------
*Sting wrote this after he saw a brief news story about women dancing in the streets of Chile torn apart by the Pinochet regime. The women were dancing in the streets with pictures of their husbands, fathers, brothers or sons pinned to their clothes or they were holding the pictures and dancing with them.

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