Alejandro Mujica-Olea

Alejandro Mujica-Olea

Alejandro Mujica-Olea

Alejandro Raul Mujica-Olea   

Alejandro Rual Mujica-Olea, was born in Santiago, Chile on August 8, 1947.  In Chile Alejandro became, secretary of Aldermen for the City of Maipú, political advisor and public employee of the Ministry of Public Works. He came to Canada as a political refugee in 1975, and became a Canadian citizen in Alberta in 1980.  He now lives in New Westminster, BC.  

He started writing at the age of twelve for a Catholic newspaper. On seeing the injustices that the working class suffered, he began protesting the conditions of the poor.  He was not aware then that he was forming his political ideas at this young age. In 1973, after the death of President Salvador Allende Gossens, and the assassination of thousands of people, military rule was established in his country.  Alejandro was arrested, tortured, imprisoned and sentenced to eight years in jail.  He spent two years behind bars.  In a search of the jail, carried out by the special secret police, his writings were ordered to be burned, and as a result of this Alejandro and many other political prisoners lost a piece of themselves. With the help of the Red Cross, The Catholic Church, Amnesty International, and the Government of Canada, one hundred political prisoners were brought to Canada, and Alejandro became a political refugee in Edmonton.  Life was very difficult for him and his family.  He is now divorced.  He subsequently developed a fatal type of cancer.  Today he keeps himself alive, thanks to treatment, vitamins and a vegetarian diet.  

Alejandro has completed five books of poetry, two of which have been translated into English.  His poetry has been published in Nightline, Unicorns Be, Sigla, La Voz, Entrelineas, Voyage Prensa Latina, Horizontes and The New Orphic Review and has also been read over the radio of the University of Victoria and the University of Washington as well as the Co-op Radio in Vancouver. Alejandro’s poetry has received several awards in the United States and Canada. He co founder of “The World Poetry Series at the Vancouver Public Library and World Poetry Café a Radio Show on Co-op Radio 102.7 FM,” a multicultural venue, with more than 300 participating poets of all ethnic backgrounds. Poets read in their own native language and in English. Project Cultural South Vancouver, gave a Silver Medallion, “Gonzalo Cantón Santelices award” and “The Poet of the Year 2003.  


Selected Poem:    

Gratitude  (English translation below)
En agradecimiento a los voluntarios de
Amnistfa Internacional.  

Yo en un rinc6n,
al borde del sepulcro, sufriendo,
con un miedo terrible
a la bestia sin alma.  

 Haber nacido para vivir,
no para morir del impacto del plomo ardiente,
tengo que tener valor
y volver a la vida.  

No me arrepiento de mi lucha
de mis ideales,
de mis dos anos de prisi6n.
No, yo no me arrepiento.  

Amnistia Internacional,
tu poderosa vela de amor,
con tu calor derrites las cadenas
de los presos politicos.  

Tu vela
en un golpe de luz
que habre las puertas de hierro
y nos da la libertad.   

Voluntarios de Amnistia Internacional,
con tu carta de justicia,
salvaste nuestras vidas.
Con este poem a, gracias yo te doy.  

Translated by Ariadne Sawyer   

In appreciation of the volunteers of Amnesty International  

I am in a corner,
at the edge of the tomb,
suffering with a terrible fear
of the beast without a soul.  

I was born to live,
not to die from the impact of burning lead.
I must have courage
And return to live.   

I do not regret the fight
of my ideals,
of my two years of prison.
No, I do not regret.­   

Amnesty International,
Your powerful candle of love,
with your heat, you melt the chains
of the political prisoners.   

Your candle,
In a powerful burst of light
opens the iron doors
and gives us our liberty.   

Volunteers of Amnesty International,
with your letter of justice,
you saved our lives.
With this poem, I give you thanks.

2 thoughts on “Alejandro Mujica-Olea

  1. Sara

    Hi thanks so much for this beautiful translation. I met Mr. Mujica-Olea last summer at a celebration for Che Guevara. One of his translated poems about his deceased cat was read, which brought me to tears. I subsequently spoke with him and told him how deeply his poem had touched me. I didn’t actually remember to ask for a copy of that poem, and I constantly wish I had. Does anyone know of some way I could get a copy?


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