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Jaime Augusto Shelley / Luis Felipe Lomelí / Jessica Piney Carlos Villacorta / Sam Quinones / Shannon Mims Rebecca Campbell / Óscar de Pablo / Gilberto Bustos

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n the spirit of the development of social protest movements and political conflicts, Hiedra Magazine takes this opportunity to reflect on the history and current circumstances surrounding the relationship between protest and music. While songs of protest flourished as a space for artistic response to political violence, war, and repression in the 60s and 70s, for many today, protest music has become a source of nostalgia—a means of cultural protest not suitable for addressing contemporary challenges and conflicts. In spite of this, there still are socially and politically engaged musicians and artists whose artistic endeavors continue to craft new aesthetics in creative and innovative ways in order to respond to the realities with which they are faced, both locally and globally.

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he cover art by Shannon Mims portrays the harmonious, natural space from which a three-party alliance between the artist, his or her art, and the audience is established. Our dossier section features poetry by Jaime Augusto Shelley del Castillo, whose poetic melody flows as musical notes on a staff. The short fiction of Luis Felipe Lomelí asks us to imagine the material, the transitory, and the intellectual implications of today’s musical production, while John Holmes McDowell’s article discusses the presence of artistic protest movements in Mexico’s Guerrero state before the disappearance of forty-three students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Normal

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ebido a la emergencia de movimientos de protesta social y conflictos políticos, Hiedra Magazine aprovecha la oportunidad para reflexionar sobre la historia y el estado actual de la relación entre la protesta y la música. Si bien es cierto que la década de los 60 y 70 le ofreció un espacio protagónico a la música de protesta que le permitió manifestarse en contra de la violencia, las guerras y la represión, también es cierto que en la actualidad la canción de protesta se ha transformado en un recurso de la nostalgia—un medio cultural con aires contestatarios que ya no se percibe apto para los desafíos y conflictos sociales contemporáneos. No obstante, existen músicos y artistas social y políticamente comprometidos cuyos senderos artísticos continúan forjando de manera creativa e innovadora nuevas estéticas capaces de responder a las realidades con las cuales se enfrentan, tanto en un ámbito local como global.

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a portada de este número, creada por la artista Shannon Mims, explora el espacio natural y armónico desde el cual se establece la alianza tripartita entre el creador, su arte y la audiencia. El dossier destaca el quehacer poético de Jaime Augusto Shelley del Castillo, cuya melodía poética fluye como notas musicales en un pentagrama. La narrativa de Luis Felipe Lomelí nos insta a que imaginemos las implicaciones materiales, transitorias e intelectuales presentes en la producción musical de hoy en día, mientras que el artículo de John Holmes McDowell discute la 1


School on Spetember 26, 2014. Travis Sebastián’s piece of poetic prose offers a rhythmic meditation on the complex dialogue between music, identity, and nationalism. Jessica Piney’s scholarly article analyzes the “trans-atlantic sound” of Cuba’s contemporary hiphop group Orishas and their critical response to dominant discourses that attempt to define Cuba from abroad. An interview with Sam Quinones presents a thought-provoking discussion on the origins and current circumstances surrounding the corrido tradition in Mexico, and explores musical movements in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Gilberto Bustos’ visual art series provides a critical vision of the political barriers, which both inspire and impede the creation and continuity of songs of protest.

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n this, the fifth issue of Hiedra, we invite our readers to consider the role and possibilities for protest music in a world in which threats and violence are harder than ever to identify, in which protest songs can be bought and sold as commercial products, in which economic desperation and inequality make non-commercial art forms an almost impossible livelihood.

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inally, we hope that this issue of Hiedra leaves our readers with more curiosity than resolution regarding the future relationship between social protest and music.

presencia de movimientos artísticos de protesta en el estado mexicano de Guerrero antes de la desaparición de cuarenta y tres estudiantes de la Escuela Normal Raúl Isidro Burgos. La obra en prosa poética de Travis Sebastián ofrece una rítmica meditación sobre el complejo diálogo entre la música, la identidad y el nacionalismo. El artículo académico de Jessica Piney analiza el “sonido transatlántico” del grupo cubano de hiphop Orishas y sus respuestas críticas a los discursos dominantes que desde el exterior pretenden definir a Cuba. La entrevista a Sam Quinones presenta un recuento sobre los orígenes y las circunstancias actuales del corrido en México y analiza a fondo los nuevos movimientos de música mexicana en la frontera con los Estados Unidos. El arte visual de Gilberto Bustos proyecta una visión crítica sobre las barreras políticas que pueden llegar a inspirar o impedir la creación y continuidad de la música de protesta.

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n este quinto número de Hiedra invitamos a nuestros lectores a que reflexionen sobre el papel que juega la música de protesta en un mundo en el que el peligro y la violencia son cada vez más difíciles de identificar, un mundo en el que la música de protesta se puede comprar y vender como cualquier otra mercancía, un mundo en el que las dificultades económicas y la desigualdad hacen de manifestaciones artísticas no comerciales un medio insostenible de sustento económico.

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inalmente, esperamos que este número de Hiedra deje más interrogantes que respuestas en torno a lo que el futuro le depara a la relación entre la música y la expresión del descontento social.

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Editores - Editors Mark Fitzsimmons / Cristóbal Garza/ Guillermo López Prieto Consejo editorial - Editorial board José Antonio Galloso /Gustavo Arango / Anke Birkemaier / Eric Carbajal / Shane Greene / Gaëlle Le Calvez / Alejandro Mejías-López / José Ragas /Christian Zegarra Agradecimientos - Acknowledgments Michael Cassady / Kim Geeslin / Lylian Martínez Alfio Saitta / Leticia Zapata / La Casa Latino Cultural Center / Latino Studies / IU School of GLobal & International Studies

ISSN: 2328 3653 Hiedra Magazine print version, published in the city of Bloomington, IN, USA. Hiedra Magazine © 2015, is a not-for-profit publication. The images and text in this issue have been published respecting the rights of the owner indicating each source. Please contact revistahiedra@gmail.com with any questions or concerns. www.hiedramagazine.com

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INDEX

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Dossier Música y poesía Jaime Augusto Shelley > 6 Arte Visual Gilberto Bustos > 12 Narrativa Luis Felipe Lomelí Okibo y la música transfinita > 15 Boss of Bosses > 26 Poesía Óscar de Pablo > 32 Visual Art Rebecca Campbell > 36 Poetry Carlos Villacorta > 43 Satellite City and Other Poems Article Jessica Piney > 48 “Cubans Heard: Orishas’ urban, afro-cuban, trans-atlantic sound” Interview Sam Quinones > 58 Article John Holmes Mcdowell > 66 “Before Ayotzinapa: corridos of social protest in guerrero” Poesía Travis Sebastián > 78 La bandera sagrada Cover artist shannon mims > 80

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Poesía

música

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J

aime Augusto Shelley del Castillo nació en la Ciudad de México, D.F., en 1937. Cursó estudios en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México y de Antropología en la Universidad Veracruzana (1957-1961). Perteneció al grupo de poetas de La espiga amotinada, con los que publicó por primera vez en un volumen colectivo (1960). Fue becario del Centro Mexicano de Escritores (1961-1962) y miembro del Sistema Nacional de Creadores Artísticos (1993-1996 y 19972000). Es profesor de poesía en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México y en la Escuela de Escritores de la Sociedad General de Escritores de México. Su obra recibió un homenaje en el marco del Festival Ramón López Velarde, (2003). Obtuvo el Premio de Poesía Enriqueta Ochoa, (2005) y el Premio Internacional de Poesía 2010, Zacatecas, Zac.

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ntre otras actividades, trabajó como coordinador de ediciones de La jornada (2000-2003), subdirector de teatro del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (1987-1988), jefe del Depto. de publicaciones y medios de Petróleos Mexicanos (1979-1981), director general de Difusión Cultural y Extensión Universitaria, Universidad Veracruzana (19741975), inspector de cinematografía en la Secretaría de Gobernación, México (1962-1967), asesor literario del 6


Fondo de Cultura Económica (1965-1966), coordinador de eventos literarios de la Casa del Lago de la UNAM (19641965), y coordinador del Departamento de Artes Plásticas del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, México (1963-1964).

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a sido jurado en distintos premios nacionales e internacionales. Fue fundador de los diarios de circulación nacional, Unomásuno y La jornada, director y/o editor de diversas revistas, entre las que destacan La Palabra y el Hombre y Otro Cine. Y además de haber publicado artículos en diversos periódicos, cuenta entre sus publicaciones también con ensayos críticos de temas variados, cuento y teatro, pero su obra principal es la poesía. Los poemas que aquí se publican son parte del poemario Canción para un hombre solo (México: La Mosca Muerta, 2001).

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PASACALLE

(empezar, de nuevo) Reseca de la hora pasajera y su ruido de presagios, lejos del amor que se sabe sustancia, la ciudad arroja sus despojos de poder inalterable. Los niños se transforman, con sus juegos; hacen cuentas, reclamando unas monedas, deseosos ya de convertirse en polvo. Si esas vidas se hacen ácido y circulan por las calles y un puño se alza para amedrentar a un pájaro que por descuido anda cerca, amanecer del frío para aquellos que apenas. Odio sin sombra ni cobijo. Hombredumbre tan sólo, creciendo, sin destino.

Subvertir la sinrazón no puede ser delito.

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TOCCATA Y FUGA

(lamento de un pequeño-burgués a punto de divorciarse) Sospecho que la luna de miel ha terminado. Aquel besarnos porque sí, a deshoras ... Ya no me amas y la normalidad ha vuelto a ocupar su puesto. Las idas al salón de belleza y ese contínuo hablar de dinero me convencen de que, en realidad, no te conozco. Ayer, en la papelería, ví a esa joven sencilla y amable -siempre me sonríe al entregar el pedido-. Sus manos, pequeñas y finas; sus ojos, fuego de pasión contenida y su voz, que es dulce, recatada, tiene un timbre seguramente de soprano. No ha de llegar a los diez y nueve años y ya es una mujer. Como lo fuiste tú, cuando te conocí... Solíamos ir a la plaza de armas, cogidos de la mano, ¿te acuerdas? P.D. Hablé con Álamos, como me lo pediste. Es un pendejo mentiroso. Ahora veo claro. nota.- Esta misiva se origina en Córdoba, Ver., o similares. El agente viajero, que es el emisor, carece de conciencia (política o de cualquier otra especie) y sólo sufre sentirse cornudo o estar de nuevo enamorado y no saber qué hacer. Es la segunda parte de una historia que ya empieza a aburrir. 9


LIRA

(para apadrinar la vida) Día metálico que se cae de asfixia en el espejo de la pesadumbre que se hincha de presagios. Uno, como los demás, se mueve en parsimonia, mirando a un lado y al otro -manivela sin finevitando el atraco, soslayando la usura. De súbito, un pedazo de cielo cae. Se debate ya en pañal de sueño. Su tiempo ha llegado. Se llama mañana y aprende a nadar en el pantano. Se llama Alan y lo abrazo. Él me mira, sonríe, sigue su paso. Cambió el día, el año.

La vida no entiende de presagios.

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LARGO, SOSTENUTO

(allí está la música) Allí está, la música. Entre el oprobio y la miseria. Allí está la música, la danza de tu inteligencia, en tiempos de loca mansedumbre y avaricia. Pone a las ideas frenéticas por salir. La candente armonía, allí, aplastada por el ruido del dinero y el cajón del negociante en saliva. Salta obstáculos como bolsillos rotos, parálisis inciertas, sofoco por temblor. Ha de cantar. Quiere que le escribas unas líneas porque no ha de morir ni ha de callar, en tiempos como estos, de loca mansedumbre y avaricia sin par.

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Gilberto Bustos

EL PRIMER ARTE 80 CM X 120 CM ÓLEO SOBRE LIENZO 2015

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VOCES SILENCIADAS 100 CM X 70 CM ÓLEO SOBRE LIENZO 2015

EUTERPE 100 CM X 80 CM ÓLEO SOBRE LIENZO 2015

efeefeffefefefef

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LAUDERO 50 CM X 70 CM ÓLEO SOBRE LIENZO 2015

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Luis Felipe Lomelí

Etzatlán - 1975

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ísico, biotecnólogo y doctor en Estudios Culturales. Sus últimos libros son El alivio de los ahogados, Indio borrado y la novela Okigbo vs. las transnacionales y otras historias de protesta (La Pereza, 2015). Fue mencionado por el Hay Festival como uno de los 20 escritores jóvenes más destacados de México y ha sido considerado el autor del cuento más corto en lengua hispana: El emigrante —¿Olvida usted algo? —¡Ojalá! 15


Okigbo y la música transfinita

Estaba un día Okigbo abonando sus plantitas de chícharos (Pisum sativum), cuando escuchó el sonido de una “ranchera” proveniente de casa de sus vecinos salvadoreños1. Estaba orgulloso de su huerto agroecológico. Luego de encontrarlo casi totalmente destruido a su regreso de Chandigarh, lo invadió la tristeza. Pero después se convenció de que era una excelente oportunidad para extender sus conocimientos de genética.

Quería entender a cabalidad todos los conceptos para, primero, contraatacar el taimado artículo de hacía casi diez años del Dr. Whitehead, Sobre los peligros del maíz transgénico, (que, como todos sabemos, era tanto un artilugio para defender a los productores de leche como una táctica para que Mondiablo se consolidara con el monopolio mundial de semillas) y, después, entablar una estrategia efectiva para luchar contra la mencionada corporación y las transnacionales farmacéuticas que, desde hacía años, habían empezado a mandar a los “países megadiversos” escuadrones de antropólogos, genetistas y bienintencionados muchachos de ONGs, con el fin de piratear el genoma de plantas con propiedades medicinales, insecticidas o productivas2. Ése era el objetivo del Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé: no tanto luchar contra las posibles propiedades malignas y ecocidas de las semillas transgénicas, sino defender nuestra herencia natural como un patrimonio de todos los seres humanos y garantizar que el conocimiento de los pueblos ancestrales siguiera perteneciendo a los pueblos (y no a las corporaciones)3. De modo que Okigbo se dio a la tarea de estudiar todo lo referente a la genética –genotipo, fenotipo, loci, ADN recombinante—y las sutiles diferencias de sus conceptos–mutante, organismo genéticamente modificado, transgénico—. Leyó la “biblia” de los biotecnólogos, editada por Oxford, y guardó, en la medida de lo posible, la compostura al leer sobre quimeras (como ésa del ratón con una oreja humana en la espalda). Pero, como para entender bien las cosas hay que empezar por lo primero, el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé decidió repetir los famosos experimentos de Mendel4. 16


Y ahí estaba, mirando la proporción estadística de sus variedades de chícharos, cuando empezó a sonar una ranchera desde casa de sus vecinos. Quedó embelesado. El movimiento de las hojas coincidía con el bamboleo del acordeón, como si el viento de Iowa fuera el que hiciera la música. Más aún, luego de varios minutos de contemplación, Okigbo vio lo inefable: “pareciera que todas las notas y todos los acordes”, escribió en su bitácora de campo, “estuvieran escritos previamente en las plantas: las bolitas de las lechugas, ordenadas simétricamente, llevan el ritmo—con el contrapunto de las berenjenas—; la pauta quebrada de los jitomates dibuja la armonía y, las plantas de chícharos, con sus flores y sus vainas, detallan la melodía contra el pentagrama del cielo”. El Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé se había dejado llevar por la cadencia de la música entre los tallos y las hojas, presa de un asombro del que sólo podía ser sacado por uno mayor.

Y así fue.

Su sobrino Lincoln apareció, con el ukulele a la espalda, entre los armónicos del acordeón y el viento. Okigbo se levantó rápidamente. Trastabilló. Se sostuvo con la guía de la higuera, y habrá tenido que lidiar también con el susto que le causa siempre a una persona mayor de cincuenta años saber que se va a ir de bruces, que tal vez se romperá el fémur y ésa será la mítica “primera caída” que se cuenta en todos los asilos, pero se recompuso justo a tiempo para dar un abrazo a su sobrino5. Lincoln le dijo que tenía poco tiempo, que traía el algoritmo para craquear a los buscadores de internet y había que explicarle detalladamente cómo activarlo. Pero el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé ya estaba en otra parte, en la música. De modo que después de cenar (Okigbo había guardado en el congelador un pedacito de carne de soya para su sobrino), le pidió que entonara en su ukulele varias melodías. Y fueron tantas que, antes de que Okigbo recordara lo del algoritmo, apareció a la puerta, vestida de payaso, la muchacha de ojos de papel volando.

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“Vuelvo en unos días”, dijo Lincoln.

—¿A dónde van?—preguntó sonriente el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé. —Este, pues, ejem, nosotros… —Vamos a ir a hacer paso tirolés en las Rocallosas—dijo ella. A Okigbo le pareció extraño que la muchacha portara un par de zapatotes, peluca verde y bombachos de colores, pero supuso que se cambiaría antes de partir y, también, que a Lincoln le haría bien el contacto con la naturaleza: le daría tiempo para pensar serena y maduramente lo que quería hacer de su vida. Los despidió a la puerta sin abrazarlos –para no incomodar a su sobrino—y los vio partir entre el vibrar del acordeón que seguía sonando desde la casa de sus vecinos salvadoreños. En los meses que siguieron (porque Lincoln tardó meses y no días en volver) el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé impartió los seminarios Gödel, Escher, Bach sin matemáticas y La idea del payaso en Rabelais, Bajtin y la democracia electoral. Sin duda, memorables. Pero tampoco cabe duda de que el trabajo más importante de este periodo justo anterior al 9/11 fueron sus Contribuciones a la

fundación de una teoría de la música transfinita6.

A partir de una minuciosa revisión de la historia, Okigbo fue encontrando las diferentes pistas que habrían de conformar sus Contribuciones. En primer lugar contrapuso las tradiciones musicales que se transmiten de forma auditiva—o, por símil, la “tradición oral” de la música—versus las tradiciones musicales que constan de un respaldo escrito—por ejemplo, en el sistema occidental, los signos sobre el pentagrama—. Aquí se encontró con el problema de que no había forma de comparar ambos conjuntos contando sus elementos, debido a la vastedad de ambas tradiciones y a la imposibilidad de encontrar en el tiempo todas las melodías compuestas (“¿qué notas tenía la canción desolada que compuso, justo antes de hundirse, uno de los violinistas del Titanic? ¿Y la canción que entonaba una abuela maorí para arrullar a sus nietos hace 300 años? ¿Qué notas tienen 18


las canciones de los ermitas, de los náufragos, de los presos, del niño que juega solo encerrado en su cuarto y no lo escucha nadie porque su madre está en una empacadora?”). Pero si bien no se podían comparar los conjuntos, sí era posible “emparejar” sus elementos a la manera de G. Cantor. Una vez realizado esto, denominando “melodías naturales” al conjunto de la tradición musical oral y “melodías racionales” al conjunto de la tradición musical escrita, se preguntó sobre el sonido de las primeras a través del tiempo. Escribió en su diario:

“Dicen los músicos celtas que muchas de sus melodías los acompañan desde hace cientos o miles de años, que las aprenden los jóvenes de los viejos. Pero es de esperarse que cada uno de ellos, sin faltar a la tradición, le haya añadido o quitado algo a la melodía, que le haya dado su toque personal. ¿Cómo se escucharía, una de estas melodías que oímos hoy, interpretada por cantores de hace cien años? ¿De hace quinientos? ¿Cómo se escucharían las canciones de Lincoln tocadas por otro?7”

A partir de allí llega a la conclusión de que, al carecer las melodías naturales de un referente fijo como las melodías racionales, y ya sea por la creatividad de los intérpretes para quitar o poner, o por sus propias limitaciones biológicas (no todas las personas alcanzan los mismos tonos, por ejemplo), las melodías naturales se pierden en el tiempo en una multiplicidad de variaciones y es imposible saber cómo sonaba una “misma melodía” hace más de doscientos años. Es decir, antes del fonógrafo. Consta en su diario que Okigbo pensó inicialmente que ahí se centraría la principal diferencia entre ambos conjuntos. Pero su sorpresa fue mayúscula al constatar que los instrumentos musicales habían cambiado tanto con el tiempo, que un violín de ahora no suena como un violín medieval, ni una guitarra de hoy como una guitarra del Califato de Córdoba. “De modo que”, escribió, “de las melodías racionales sólo tenemos el esqueleto—las notas—pero no la vida—ni los timbres de los instrumentos ni la destreza de los intérpretes—: es imposible saber cómo se escuchaban las composiciones de Francesco Landini, o incluso las de Haydn”. 19


En segundo lugar, para su estudio de la música, el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé definió cada instrumento musical como un conjunto que contenía todas las posibilidades del mismo. Le fascinaba la idea de cómo ciertos instrumentos, del gong a la flauta transversa, se habían popularizado. Y, especialmente, el acordeón le parecía un ejemplo único: creado en la época industrial, en unas cuantas fábricas en Austria y Alemania, en menos de un siglo logró conquistar el gusto de los músicos alrededor del mundo, de los tangueros de Argentina y los vallenateros de Colombia hasta los cantantes de la ex-República Soviética Socialista de Tuva, pasando por el country y la ranchera. Su inventor, Don Cirilo Demian, había vaticinado su éxito al decir que “[el acordeón] permitía a un hombre ser una orquesta”. Sin embargo a Okigbo le intrigaba por qué otros instrumentos que prometían lo mismo, como el órgano Hammond y, posteriormente, el Yamaha (y que incluso daban la posibilidad de grabar y reproducir secuencias musicales además de muchísimos ritmos y timbres diferentes), no habían sido capaces de tal grado de popularización. El problema no era ni de costo ni tecnológico pues, cuando un instrumento empata con el sentimiento de una persona, no importa que tenga que atravesar mares y ríos, desiertos y montañas, el instrumento llega y ahí van las caravanas llevando el arpa carísima hasta Paraguay, las lanchas llevando un acordeón irreparable hasta el interior de la selva amazónica8. Okigbo estaba a punto de terminar su estrategia para luchar en contra de los escuadrones de piratas de las compañías de semillas y las transnacionales farmacéuticas. Y, también, a punto de ir a reportar a la policía a su sobrino como “desaparecido”. Pero, por un lado, sabía que tenía que tener paciencia ante sus desapariciones y, por otro, cuando salió al huerto a ponerle un poco de composta a sus chícharos (hecha con los residuos orgánicos de su cocina, por supuesto), escuchó otra ranchera proveniente de casa de sus vecinos. Mejor dicho, era la misma melodía pero cantada por otro artista y la interpretación era tan distinta que parecía otra. Escribió en su bitácora de campo: “El acordeón tiene mayor cardinalidad que el teclado Yamaha.” 20


Eso: el acordeón permitía al músico, como al vocalista celta, darle su toque personal a la melodía, echarle sentimiento; mientras que el órgano electrónico, por más fuerte o suave que se tocaran las teclas, siempre producía los mismos sonidos. “Todo instrumento tiene posibilidades que se antojan infinitas, sin embargo hay algunos que permiten al músico ampliar dicho infinito: éste es su grado de cardinalidad”. El Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé se quedó un rato más mirando su huerto, observando que el viento de Iowa movía las hojas al son del acordeón. Entonces entendió que la música lo llenaba todo y todo producía música, era la cadencia de los cardúmenes y el revoloteo de las aves, era las caídas de agua y las bolitas de heno en los cables de teléfono. Era también la genética: el genotipo era las notas sobre el pentagrama y el fenotipo era la interpretación de cada orquesta. Una y otra eran espejos de la orquesta de la vida.

Sonrió.

De puro gusto horneó un pastel de zanahoria y, en agradecimiento, fue a regalárselos a sus vecinos salvadoreños (quienes no entendieron a cuento de qué venía el gesto pero igual lo aceptaron)9. Okigbo había terminado sus Contribuciones a la fundación de una teoría de la música transfinita y se dedicó a redactar la versión final de su estrategia titulada Bioseguridad: al resguardo de nuestro patrimonio natural. En ésta afirma, entre otras cosas, que “al igual que la música popular de nuestros ancestros, de nuestros primeros padres, la herencia genética con la que cuenta nuestro mundo hoy día nos pertenece a todos y no a alguien en particular: es imperioso consolidar un marco legal que impida su privatización”. Okigbo mandó por correo electrónico su estrategia a todas las organizaciones ambientalistas y de derechos humanos que conocía. Miró las noticias en internet y se encontró con que su propuesta sobre Derecho del consumidor había sido aprobada con algunas modificaciones y, también, que ciertos monjes tailandeses que antes se amarraran a los árboles ahora eran los millonarios socios de una cadena de supermercados alemanes. 21


Suspiró. Se levantó del escritorio. Y justo estaba por irse a dormir cuando escuchó el estrépito de una motocicleta.

Era Lincoln.

Okigbo salió feliz a recibir a su sobrino, según consta en su diario10. Para su sorpresa, primero, Lincoln estaba vestido de payaso y venía en una moto de dudosa procedencia y, segundo, su sobrino no se había ido a hacer paso tirolés a las Rocallosas sino que se había unido a las Black Clown Panthers for Freedom: un grupo ludista que decía robarle a los ricos, como Robin Hood o Jesús Malverde, para repartirlo entre los pobres. Okigbo trató de explicarle a su sobrino que, luego de dilapidar la herencia de su tía Rosemary, no le parecía muy sensata su decisión. Pero Lincoln le dijo que no tenía tiempo para charlar porque tenía que ir a un “operativo” y sólo venía rápidamente a explicarle el algoritmo de los buscadores. El Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé suspiró por segunda vez. Miró el contorno de los árboles como notas musicales, las nubes, las señales de tránsito, los autos estacionados (donde estaría el que, según dijeron sus vecinos salvadoreños cuando los entrevistamos, no era de nadie del barrio y se estuvo estacionando muy seguido frente a la casa de Okigbo desde el regreso de Lincoln)11.

Okigbo abrazó a su sobrino y entraron a la casa.

Mientras le mostraba su huerto, afuera, en el tanque de la motocicleta, se podía leer en letra garigoleada: He walks in Panther,

like the night.

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N o t a s : 1La bitácora de campo del Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé dice “a Mexican regional music song”. Sin embargo, dado los instrumentos que se describen así como los tipos de música mexicana que se habían popularizado en El Salvador y entre sus colonos en los EE.UU. al principio de este nuevo milenio, me atrevo a afirmar que era una “ranchera”. En particular, un “corrido”. Y, tristemente, hay muchas posibilidades de que fuera un “narcocorrido”. N. del Traductor. 2El término “países megadiversos”, consistente en los 17 países con mayor biodiversidad en el planeta, alcanzó estatus legal hasta un año después de estos sucesos, en la reunión de febrero de 2002 en Cancún, México. No obstante, y a pesar de que los escuadrones de piratas no sólo estuvieran saqueando la herencia genética de estos países sino de todos, hemos decidido agruparlos en estos por dos razones: 1) los países megadiversos, salvo EE.UU. y Australia, han sido el principal objetivo de las compañías y 2) cualquier otro término—“Tercer Mundo”, “Países subdesarrollados”, “Países del sur”, etcétera—presenta tanto un sesgo ideológico despreciativo como una distorsión ontológica de nuestro entorno. N. del Editor. 3Es menester aclarar que el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé no soslayaba el peligro de los transgénicos sino que, por un lado, y como se verá en el capítulo posterior La estructura trágica de las revoluciones científicas, la humanidad sólo reacciona a los males futuros cuando se han vuelto presentes y, por otro, atacar sólo el comercio de los transgénicos era distraer, como había hecho el Dr. Whitehead, y olvidar lo esencial: la naturaleza como patrimonio común. N. del E. 4Como es sabido, el monje católico Gregorio Mendel llevó a cabo una serie de experimentos con chícharos (Pisum sativum) de distintas variedades que le permitieron enunciar sus famosas leyes de transmisión de “caracteres” o genes. Dividió a estos últimos en dominantes y recesivos y, asimismo, dio la versión inicial del concepto de genotipo—lo que hoy llamaríamos “genoma”—y fenotipo—lo que se expresa del genoma, lo que “se ve”. N. del E.

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5Es difícil compartir esta descripción del Dr. Van Dyke pues, a mi juicio, Okigbo no mostraba tales preocupaciones de senectud y, más bien, la afirmación proceda de la forma en que Søren siempre miró al Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé: como un padre. N. del T. 6El Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé siempre tuvo la humildad de no alardear nunca de sus conocimientos de matemáticas —o de cualquier otra área del conocimiento humano— pero el hecho de que pudiera explicar a Gödel sin ecuaciones, o que tuviera el arrojo de parafrasear a G. Cantor en su teoría de la música, da cuenta del avanzado nivel de comprensión que tenía de la ciencia de AlJuarismi. En otra ocasión declaró: “las matemáticas son una gran herramienta, lástima que jamás podrán explicarnos ni el amor ni las lágrimas”. N. del E. 7Como es de esperarse, hubo diversas críticas a las Contribuciones del Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé, principalmente por parte de las academias que, como siempre, se creen superiores a cualquier manifestación popular. Entre ellas, llama la atención de un tal L. Kroneker, quien afirmara que la división inicial estaba errada pues las “melodías naturales” debían de ser aquellas que fuera posible “tararear”, mientras que las “melodías racionales” debían de ser las que no son posibles de tararear. Por nuestra parte, tenemos la sospecha de que este supuesto profesor de Julliard era, ni más ni menos, que el señor de las camisas de mancuernillas: el Dr. Whitehead. N. del. E. 8Cierto es que el órgano electrónico revolucionó la forma de hacer música en las décadas de los 70s y 80s—seguidos por otros instrumentos electrónicos—pero nunca ha logrado consolidarse en el gusto de los, elitistamente llamados, músicos “populares”. N. del E. 9Cuando los entrevistamos, dijeron: “se nos hizo muy raro que hubiera un gringo amable, por eso a partir de entonces nos pusimos a espiarlo un poquito”. N. del E.

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10Y esto muestra, también, que a quien el Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé veía como su hijo era a Lincoln, su sobrino, y no a Søren Van Dyke, nuestro editor, aunque él así lo hubiera querido desde que iniciara su tesis doctoral con Okigbo. Además, tampoco es seguro de que Søren, como él mismo dice, haya sido su estudiante preferido. N. del T. 11La estrategia del Dr. Richardson ‘Ndajeé sobre bioseguridad rindió, como el acordeón, frutos de forma inusitadamente rápida: primero, fue referida en la mencionada reunión de Cancún de países megadiversos y, un año después y retomada de forma contundente, en el Protocolo de Cartagena sobre Bioseguridad. Por su parte, sus

Contribuciones a la fundación de una teoría de la música transfinita enardecieron a los mercenarios del copyright y a los representantes de las compañías disqueras; el escándalo estalló en el juicio por violación de derechos de autor contra Nápster, pero varios operadores de BitTorrents siguen enarbolándola en su defensa, y citan: “intentar ser dueño de la música es como intentar ser dueño de la vida”. N. del E.

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Boss of Bosses Luis felipe Lomelí Translated by Daryl Spurlock

E l padre es el padre, the boss. Kelly finishes watching the video in YouTube but she refuses to believe that the images are real.

She sips her tea. Anybody can upload whatever bullshit, anybody that has a computer can manipulate a video, she thinks. Still, she does not want to replay it, she does not want to review it frame by frame to identify the phony parts and convince herself for good that it is a fake. The picture is blurry. But the reggaeton that accompanies it sticks to her like glue: pero no fue mala fe, hice lo que tenía que hacer. And Kelly had better do what she has to do and that does not include calling Hermosillo to ask what has happened—there it is eight o’clock at night, her cellphone shows three missed calls from “unknown number,” but her mother calls her all the time— but instead it means putting on her raincoat and pedaling to the embassy. Before leaving the apartment she takes a couple of Glorias de Linares candies because the sugar always lifts her spirits. That is

the bad part of living outside of the Americas, the lack of sweets, of chili pepper. But the good part of working as head of cybersecurity in the Mexican embassy is that gifts are always arriving and, as is already known, except when they are for her or for His Excellency, the food shipments are for whoever sees them first. An unwritten rule. The Glorias were for the kid from Monterrey who works in the business office but, whatever, they arrived on his day off and the rest of them divided them up among themselves.

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Down the stairs. Ni hao from one side and ni hao from the other. The Glorias are great. Why wasn’t there this type of candy in Sonora, she thinks. She thinks about her childhood and candies bought in Tucson and in Yuma.

And Santa Claus will know that we’ll be in Tucson? Of course he will, mi amor, he knows all about it. The highway of saguaros going north, listening to “Pacas de a kilo” until they were sick of it because that was her father’s obsession. Little Kelly does not understand why they left in the middle of Christmas dinner to visit Uncle Edgardo in Arizona. And if Santa doesn’t find us and he takes the gifts with him? She had asked for the Barbie convertible, the pink one, the coolest one.

She takes her bicycle and goes out onto the wide streets of Beijing, dressed up in their Sunday best with Olympics banners, adorned with the colors that appear when winter is over: first is yellow. And the warm breezes that caress her neck from time to time underneath her ponytail make her forget the cold. The embassy lies a few blocks away and Kelly thinks that if it were not for that infernal heat in Hermosillo, she would ride her bicycle there, too: it is the best thing for someone who spends the whole day in front of a computer. Just because, she arrived in China after working in the systems section at the Center for Research and National Security. It had to be good for something, her degree in engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the computer that her dad bought her that Christmas when Santa Claus left no gift for at her Uncle Edgardo’s house and the girl bawled like a stuck pig all through the mall: she had been good all year, why didn’t she have any presents, it was all her parents’ fault. And after rounds and rounds without finding the pink Barbie convertible, little Kelly stopped in front of the window of an electronics store and said that she wanted one of those: a Commodore 128. Then her father said yes, mi amor, whatever you want, because in the end, that’s what the business was for, for giving the kids everything they needed. So they went in and Kelly was the one who asked for it because she was the one who spoke English. When they were leaving, the father looked happier than the girl. And why not: when he was nine years old he was already working in the fields, his firstborn at six years old already had a computer. El padre es el padre, the boss.

Kelly pedals and she cannot get the reggaeton out of her head—

no fue mala fe, yo sólo los cociné—, much less the image of her father.

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Surely it was a trick. Even one of her uncles could have posted it. And if it wasn’t? And if it was her father in the video? She thinks. The Olympics banners sway in the Beijing air, with the wind that brings sand from the Gobi when it intensifies, sand from a desert that she does not want to know because she fears that it will remind her of her own. “And if it is, who gives a fuck!” yells Kelly and she stops her bicycle. No Chinese even notices her and they just go around her with a turn of the steering wheel or foot, as if she did not exist. Kelly takes a breath. She unwraps her second Gloria de Linares and bites off a piece. For some reason you’ve stopped being a part of your family, she says to herself. For some reason you left to study in California and then you began working in National Security, to not have anything to do with them, to not be like them, so that they didn’t even get close to you.

She comes running into the kitchen. Little Kelly was on the verge of finishing a program that greeted you when you turned on the computer when her mother had the fantastic idea of going down to say hello to her uncles and then, since you’re already up, since it was the maid’s day off, to take her uncles some chicharrones so that the beer wasn’t so heavy for them. She comes into the kitchen with her two braids bouncing on her shoulders and opens a drawer: ammunition. One drawer: her father’s 9 mm. Another one: four grenades surrounded by gringo tin cans. She yells: Mom! I can’t find the chicharrones!

That: if it is her father, she does not give a fuck. Or at least she tries to convince herself. There is a reason that she is far away. There is a reason she is alone. There is a reason that she has managed to be respected high and low: nobody messes with a hacker because a hacker will mess you up, even more so if they work in National Security. And it was really because of that, and not because she had learned a little Mandarin Chinese in California, that her superior decided to send her to Beijing at the first opportunity. It was already known that Kelly was a whizz at hunting down criminals on the internet, but it was also rumored that she had planted the evidence in the computer of the last guy in the office that had been prosecuted for criminal association with the Gulf Cartel. Everyone had seen that the guy flirted with her, that he teased her. And everyone also saw the day Kelly got angry and told the guy he could go fuck himself. After that there were three peaceful months in which Kelly almost seemed to flirt with the guy. The day that the people 28


from the Federal Agency of Investigation arrived, Kelly was the last one in the jerk’s cubicle. Those who saw her there say that the guy turned pale and that Kelly had a huge smile on her face. That is how to gain respect. That is why the superior had no doubts about sending her to China when they talked about Foreign Relations, requesting that the person stationed in Beijing would also know about cybersecurity. (A month later they smashed up the guy in jail, some say over a ramen noodle soup, others say for not respecting the boss). She pedals. She bites off another piece of the Gloria. She remembers her father with the guitar singing “Pacas de a kilo” on the front porch: it’s my story, mi amor. And the kid, quiet, stewing in her anger: I’m not like you. The shame afterward in high school when it came to talking about ancestry: what does your dad do? Because sure, Kelly stood out among the white girls for having some Seri blood, and here in China she is a giant. It is just that in Beijing she does not care if they recognize her, she is just another foreigner, a giant foreigner. And her job consists of maintaining the Great Fire Wall so that all the embassy’s electronic correspondence comes and goes without problems, of creating her own walls so that Chinese espionage does not have access to the systems. And everyone knows that in the embassy: if anyone messes with her, bye bye emails, bye bye freedom to be able to say whatever without the Communists knowing. Me gusta burlar las redes que tienden los federales, Kelly sings in her mind, but the voice she hears is her father’s. El padre es el padre, the boss. And that is why the beat of reggaeton hits her like a gust of wind, and the accordion of Los Tigres lets loose: chinga tu madre si eres contra, chi-chinga tu madre para ti y para tu escolta. Kelly closes her eyes. She goes flying off of the bicycle. Come on, mi amor, don’t be like that. No. All of your cousins will be there. I can’t. Look, it’s his birthday and he wants you to come. No. Mi amor, don’t be ungrateful, I already sent you the ticket. I can’t: I have exams. Mi amor, you know more has been sacrificed for you than for any of your brothers or sisters. Well you can stop sacrificing yourself! Never, mi amor—the father’s voice, calm, hurt: he had picked up the other receiver— I sacrificed myself for you until I was dead: do really well in your exams, I’m proud to have you studying in el Gabacho. A policeman helps her up. Xiexie. The right arm of Kelly’s raincoat and the palm of her left hand are scraped up. It was a slight fall, 29


she looks and does not even find what it was that the bicycle tire had hit. Nor does she find what she had left of the Gloria, it will have fallen far away, lost in the trash and the wads of spit on the street. She gets back on her bicycle and again thanks the policeman who stays there looking at her, as if puzzled by the contact. They are only children, thinks Kelly, it is a country of only children: her family is different. She pedals. That day, the day of the call, she could not study. To distract herself for a bit she started navigating around unusual internet sites and she found the homepages of some anti-Castro groups from Miami. There were copies of .txt files, warnings, graffiti like those that the gangs of boys in Hermosillo use to communicate with each other. The challenge lasted long enough to entertain her in the following days, tracking, identifying the patterns of the posts and their responses, deciphering the codes. After a week she had not only identified the IP addresses of the three most active computers, but also the possible physical addresses from which they connected and a preliminary list of members of a terrorist cell. For pure pleasure she posted a couple of contradictory messages to drive the Cuban exiles crazy and she went out to walk happily along the Santa Barbara beach: now she knew what she wanted to do when she finished her degree. (In the next two months four militants from the anti-Castro cell showed up shot, presumably by other militants of the anti-Castro cell).

Ni hao, she greets the embassy guard. Her left hand burns. Pero no fue mala fe, hice lo que tenía que hacer. She takes a deep breath

to try to forget the reggaeton of her father’s rival gang, to try to forget the video’s images and to regain her composure. Because the types of graffiti on the internet had been changing, had been on and off of Usenet, of .txt pages, of “friend groups” and now they proliferate on video pages: there where the blurry image of her father was showing, riddled by the rhythms of reggaeton. Kelly asks the secretary for the key to the medicine cabinet. The people in the embassy look at her strangely, in a way that is not the same as every other day: as if they all already knew what was happening or as if she were hiding something.

As she walks toward the medicine cabinet she hears the crickets chirping, the whispers, the muffled snickering. Her phone rings: “unknown number.” She does not answer. She goes into the bathroom and washes her hands. When she leaves she sits in a chair to doctor her

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hand, she watches as the cultural attaché passes by in the hall and, instead of greeting her, he turns and pretends not to see. But before that she notices how he had started laughing. Kelly holds her breath before applying the Merthiolate. It burns. She remembers when she fell off of the horse in the ranch: her father sat her on his lap to treat her and he told her that if she held her breath it would hurt less, then he took her to ride with him on the same pinto so that a fear of animals did not take hold of her. You don’t have to be afraid of anything, mi amor. The Merthiolate burns because the wound is not deep but it is wide. She closes her eyes. She does not want to let herself shed even one tear, especially because all around her the whispers and snickers continue. She fans her hand to make it dry faster.

She exhales.

And if it was her father in the video? If it was not manipulated? She opens her eyes. The kid from Monterrey, the one from the business office, is at her side, smiling, with a sad face. He offers her a brown sugar coyota wrapped in a napkin.

“For the shock.”

Kelly takes it with her good hand and looks at the kid first with uncertainty and then with anger. “They arrived really early. I told them not to, but you know how they are: I could only save you one.” Kelly does not realize that she is sheading a tear. Of pure rage. Of raging pain. That pain that one feels and that keeps one from realizing one’s eyes have become watery, that they have swollen and become bloodshot, and the tear falls like a new stream on dry land. It will fill it with cracks. Now she does not have to ask herself who sent her the coyotas or whether the video of her father was real. Now she knows that she has to do what she has to do, what she has always done. El padre es el padre, the boss.

“Those cabrones are gonna fucking get it.”

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Ó

scar de Pablo (Cuernavaca, 1979) es autor de los libros de poesía Los endemoniados (2004), Sonata para manos sucias (2005), Debiste haber contado otras historias (2006), El baile de las condiciones (2011), Dioses del México antiguo: coreografía cívica (en colaboración con el artista plástico Demián Flores, 2013), Sobre la luz. Poesía militante (2014) y De la materia en forma de sonido (2015), así como de la novela El hábito de la noche (2011). Ha publicado poemas y ensayos en diversas revistas, incluyendo su trabajo La Rojería:

diccionario biográfico de la izquierda socialista mexicana del siglo XX, publicado por entregas en la revista Memoria a lo largo de 2010. En 2014

también tuvo una columna quincenal en la revista electrónica Vice-México. Ha obtenido los premios de poesía “Elías Nandino”, (2004), “Jaime Reyes” (2005) y “Francisco Cervantes” (2006), así como el premio de guión cinematográfico “Alejandro Galindo” por Soldados de Guadalupe, escrito en colaboración con Marcos Villaseñor. También ha obtenido las becas de la Fundación para las Letras Mexicanas (2003 y 2004) y el programa Jóvenes Creadores del FONCA (2006 y 2009). 32


Concretamente

Esta palabra quiere decir algo. ¿Pero puede querer una palabra, querer algo? La palabra concreto, por ejemplo, no quiere ser precisamente triste. ¿Qué quiere, qué alega, por qué insiste? ¿Qué consigna levanta, qué plantea? ¿qué cosecha, qué planta? Concretamente, la palabra planta quiere concretamente algo distinto, decir algo distinto, cuando se le apellida “de concreto”. Agarro este apellido y con todo y sonido se lo meto: El poeta De Pablo, la señora de Pérez, la planta de concreto. Como todas las otras, la palabra concreto nos revela en su entorno su secreto: La planta de concreto Concretos Supermix, con planta y con concreto, doble albur, pertenece el Consorcio Cementero del Sur. Concreta como el pan, se ubica en la provincia San Román, región de Puno. ¿Qué puede querer uno? Aunque toda materia es algo puro, es algo duro y pasa: Los muros de esta casa, concretamente: ¿cómo se fraguaron y qué quiere decir? ¿Puede querer decir una palabra? Concreta como el pan de cada día, ¿qué quiere la palabra plusvalía? Hace un tiempo que había, un martes, me parece, concretamente un martes del año 2013, había un hombre concreto: Eloy Yurca. Hoy su recuerdo surca muy fugazmente la hemerografía. El ayer era el hoy, y Eloy tenía, tenía concretamente, que sepamos, una esposa y tres hijos. Que sepamos. Y también tenía amos, era obrero: los amos del Consorcio Cementero del Sur. Su planta de concreto, doble albur, aquel martes caía sobre un hombre llamado Eloy Yurca, cuyo apellido surca todavía por el mar proceloso de la red. Hay palabras con hambre y palabras con sed. Por el mar proceloso de la red (¿y qué querrá decir eso de “proceloso”?), concretamente hasta lo doloroso, con toda ligereza, le aplastó la cabeza un camión cementero. ¿Qué tanto quiere la palabra obrero? ¿Qué te grita, a quién reta?¿Sabe de dónde vienes, pregunta a dónde vas? La verdad es pesada y es dura y es concreta. La verdad es concreta. Pero el concreto más.

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CANCIÓN SIN GANSOS

Blanca como un cuchillo en el pan negro, blanca como un cuchillo, la cuidadora de gansos heredó, en vez de gansos, un léxico semítico para entonar apenas cancioncitas tontas y dulces como gansos; pero no supo hacerlo, la pobrecita muchacha, la cuidadora de gansos. Y en lugar de canciones plácidas como gansos, la cuidadora de gansos armó con ese blando diccionario heredado, dulce como un cuchillo sin apenas saberlo, una sangrienta saga siderúrgica, plural como tonante retahíla de pasos, como un tambor de estaño desbordando la acera, o una ensordecedora cabalgata de multitud y dientes: pobrecita, blanca como un cuchillo en el pan negro, la cuidadora de gansos. Al oír el estruendo de pasos, los soldados acudieron corriendo a la muchacha, la cuidadora de gansos y al ver que no había gansos la tomaron por un imperio hostil. Aspiraba a dormirse como una almohada blanca, la cuidadora de gansos, blanca como un cuchillo desnudo en el pan negro, pero la confundieron los sensibles oídos militares con una renegrida división de obuses. Y entraron en su cuerpo diminuto como en la capital de un imperio enemigo: Bruja. Bruja y puta judía, negra como un cuchillo que untara en el pan negro una lengua de nata. Le rompieron los pómulos, las calles. Bruja. Negra puta judía. Derrumbaron sus viejas sinagogas y sus pobres caderas, sus rodillas de leche diminuta, de cuidadora de gansos, negra negra, y desgarraron pechos y pendones. De su cuerpo menudo de mujer, no quedó piedra viva sobre piedra.

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Como no tenía gansos, la cuidadora de gansos no pudo esparcir plumas. Concentraron en ella el vuelo de las piedras y ella no tuvo plumas, piedra piedra. Quería ser una almohada blanca como un cuchillo, y difundir su muerte, dulcemente, con el viento de Europa. Pero no tenía plumas, porque no tenía gansos, la cuidadora de gansos. Para sus ratos libres, la cuidadora de gansos tenía un jardín de rosas, la cuidadora de gansos y Europa quedó sucia, pobrecita, y blanca con sus pétalos.

VENGA GENTUZA Venga, gentuza horrorosa. Venga, sí, gentuza, gasta la pasta terrosa y basta que rabia adentro reposa. Sácala del centro y goza del centro tuyo tu rabia, de mi arenga vulva y labia. Venga, gentuza, la renga marcha de los muladares: jadeante, puerca, renqueante, con su escarcha de millares de prostíbulos, de fábricas, de lúbricos lupanares como de honduras precámbricas de ya agotada paciencia, esa indecente violencia, toda hecha de gentecita, toda de gente que grita e irrita los buenos modos de todos: ruleta rusa: tómala, gentuza, y usa ese fondito de rayos contra los cielos serenos de los buenos. Usa, gentuza, tus truenos. Venga-de-ahí, gentuza y truena: carajo, caray, que suena (jerga canera y canora, agenda puntal que implora) tu hora de la venganza. Lanza, gentuza tu danza de balazos firmes, ciertos. Piernas y brazos abiertos. Venga ya, gentuza, venga a balazos a tus muertos.

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Rebecca Campbell

received her MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in painting and drawing in June 2001 from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has exhibited nationally and internationally at L.A. Louver Gallery, Ameringer-McEneryYohe, Gagosion Gallery, the Phoenix Art Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, among other galleries and museums.

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BIG SISTER 36” x 36” OIL ON BOARD 2013

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Selections from SATELLITE CITY AND OTHER POEMS

Carlos Villacorta

Translated by

Daniel Alarc贸n 43


1 9 8 6

Upon the city which this afternoon we shall call The Capital a thousand bombs have been emptied on this hill for example La Victoria spreads flame through the city in our room overcrowded with dreams my mother takes her hands to her face Because we are children and do not yet understand death and it is night and everything is buried in deep mist that swells and drowns our faces. But my father does not come He does not carry me or my brothers Nor does my hill, cross of San Crist贸bal, know how to heal its wounds Like the one on my wrist But my father does not come on this election night And the house is infected with that illness which gnaws at our mouths. And upon the table, Lord, all these candles will not be enough to extinguish this darkness.

from Ciudad Sat茅lite (2007)

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SATELLITE

CIT Y

My grandfather crisscrossed the sands in his wilted bus Accompanied by a whistle -Machine gun, wake up early or I’ll leave youAnd off he went to empty the Ventanilla highway of passengers and dogs because there was no one quicker because he traced the city and the city to the dreams and nightmares of the sands My grandmother was not Penelope But she sewed a comet before the static of a buzzing television (in Ventanilla news of time travel is babbled at an infinite speed) -Build the road Carlitos, though the desert may bite usIn the universe of Lima spin the satellite cities and their gloom assails the empty bus But now that I am in another desert flies circling above divine blow reaction inertia and no one woke up on time and my grandmother with sand between her eyelids tells me we must return to Ventanilla because my grandfather has been bitten by the desert

and the world won’t end with a bang but with a whimper from Ciudad Satélite (2007)

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A S U I TC A S E I S A DA N G E R O U S W E A P O N A suitcase is a dangerous weapon in which one carries that cold light those days passed flattened by memory Approaching the counter language becomes confused shuddering like a tower of babel among all this luggage Perhaps here too it will be necessary to abandon all hope all that filth which is not white but a concrete barrier The suitcase appears withered it tumbles along the conveyor belt bouncing silently against the others and there are one and two and three and there are four and five and six multiplied by death itself.

from Ciudad SatĂŠlite (2007)

U N T I T L E D Lost with the madness of a sea that brands all silences. Lost unaware of my expanding skeleton At the edge of this room, dejected severed head, Only your breath, moaning and warbling the dawn, wakes me Only your cry, like an abandoned forest, resting on my back in that bright universe Lost among your blows A planet headed nowhere.

from TrĂ­ptico (2003)

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CO U N T RY

F E E D BA C K O N E )

( TA K E

A train arrives from distant Central Station and I have lost all contact with you with the scent with your humid scent that spreads between the street and this trace of winter burning my feet And still you come to me with your madness to dress in these clothes that do not fit You come to me with your gilded night You come to me with your bones trembling with your news of war with your gaze sewn to these trains that don’t know you with your hair newly shorn and that marvelous beat slicing the air and all this just makes me the rails the signs the path dissolving into the snow the trains of Boston and we have been here before screaming about how the city will end remembering every fall You devouring every word and every dream Me escaping ever further with only the insides of my pockets unable to cleanse my heart anywhere and bound up as you are bound up in a city steeped in fog and I tell you bones tremble here as well and the sun offers no heat that night swallows day at three in the afternoon and beneath this blackened sky there will be only endless wandering along the old Massachusetts bridge to play as magicians who remove their clothes and their skins and their bones and toss themselves into the river and then goodbye and the shards of ice as if the undertow might overwhelm us like the anonymous trains that leave Central Square.

from Ciudad SatĂŠlite (2007)

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C u ba n s H e a r d : O r i s h a s ’ U r ba n , A f r o - C u ba n , T r a n s At l a n t i c S o u n d Jessica Piney Penn state behrend

Siembro porque aquí falta, guantanamera ---Orishas

T

he fragmentation of Spain during the Transición of the postFranco era resulted in the reemergence of peripheric nationalisms in the Autonomous Communities of the country—the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusía, and Galicia—giving Spain an undisputed cultural plurality. This resulted in the allowance of multiple languages as Michael Richards’ essay about collective memory in the post-Franco era explains. The recognition of a multilingual nation-state allows the creation of a space for the voice of the “Other” and within the scheme of migratory flows, it is key in permitting the development of a nationalist tune such as the one that the Afro-Cuban rap group Orishas brings to Spain through their hip hop music. As Richards points out, Spain’s democratic governments of the 1980s and 1990s stressed openness to the outside world— Cuba was no exception— which led to Spain’s growing role in international affairs. In 1982 came membership in NATO, 1991 was the year Spain hosted the First Middle East Peace Conference and 1992 was its crowning year when Madrid was named European Cultural Capital, the Universal Expo was held in Seville and Olympic Games took place in Barcelona. It was clear that in less than twenty years following Franco’s death, Spain had finally arrived onto the world stage as a politically significant player and had itself become a stage for the performance of international events. Spain had indeed become an attractive place, also becoming a mecca for immigration mostly from Latin America and Africa given its economic stability and the promise of an integrated multicultural society. By 1992, year of the encuentro or El Quinto Centenario, as celebrations that lauded Spain’s imperial history were under way, so were the makings of a new Spanish nation. This opening of a New Spain coincided with a racial fragmentation taking place in Cuba during the Special Period. If the 1990s marked the historic moment for rap to become an escape route through which Afro-Cuban youth could express a frustration with their place in Cuban society, to give voice to this racialized and marginalized sector of society, the newly plural Spain seemed to be the most fitting of places to receive such an artistic expression. 48


Recalling the documented cultural and historic ties between Spain and its praised Cuban colony, Orishas’ hip hop sound, an expression of Afro-Cuban identity, can be interpreted as another peripheric nationalism within Spain’s borders. It is a Cubanized nationalism with a black face that expresses an undefined or transient, origin through the hip hop genre. This is expressed by Orishas in their song “Tumbando y Dando”: “Siembro porque

aquí falta, guantanamera. Con mi canción te quiero hacer a ti, que escuchas, la voz de mi generación…Aquí falta guajira al golpe e’ tambor.” Orishas proposes a colonizing, albeit musically, of the ilé—their new home, land of the colonizer—with a syncretic sound

born of the Conquest and that takes on life as a viable artistic voice of protest from a trans-Atlantic stance.1 Orishas being the top selling hip hop group in Spain during the 1990s shows a pattern of consumption that readily accepts this “Othered” Cuban voice, even if symbolically and musically from the periphery. Perhaps it is due to the indelible place in Spain’s imaginary of that romanticized Cuba, the prized child colony in the imperial family trope that, when lost in 1898, marked the extinction of the Spanish Empire, that such a peripheric voice is loudly heard in Spain. It has the trace of imperial nostalgia. If Cuba is part of the national family as imagined, as mourned, as celebrated because there is a triumphant return to reintegrate the lost colony through post-colonial migration—through power relations established in the industry of cultural production, here music—Orishas’ success would indicate a homecoming that welcomes the racialized face of the ‘Other’ who is historically, Spanish. Despite the welcoming tone that a homecoming suggest, the lyrics of Orishas seem to narrate a racially based rejection. Their songs speak to a social protest that denounces a palpable form of racism from the host society, la Madre Patria, which leaves the artists in a state of limbo. Their existence becomes a trans-Atlantic one which I define as an unstable point of origin, an oscillatory movement that in each act of the journey—departing or returning— articulates and later de-articulates the starting point of said journey. It is, in reference to the image that De Certeau creates in “A Walk in the City,” the practice of walking, of constructing one’s own map in the act of walking that requires leaving points along the path behind with every step taken; it is the absence of a stable place, the lack of place (103). 49


From his trans-Atlantic positioning, based in Paris, Alejo Carpentier contributed to the formation of an Afro-Cuban nationalism, to the formation of the finding of a place in society. Through his writing, he was able to re-inscribe the marginalized African cultural element into Cuba’s national imaginary, thus challenging the island’s musical legacy to reflect on its African roots. The members of Orishas, based in both Spain and France at the group’s inception but producing exclusively in Madrid for Universal Latino, took to that challenge of years past through their Afro-Cuban rap music. From the group’s name to their lyrics and the images that represent them in their productions A lo cubano (1999), Emigrante (2002) and El Kilo (2005), Orishas confirms a Cuban identity that is firmly rooted in Afro-Cubanism. Nonetheless, the place of origin they evoke musically exists solely as a geographic point—Cuba, Caribbean island, Havana, capital city—that is a metaphoric anchor in their process of lack of place, trans-Atlantic in nature, that expresses the oscillatory condition of being Cuban and producing a Cuban art outside of Cuba. In their first musical production, A lo cubano, Orishas dedicates a nostalgic song about their roots to a seemingly changing and forgetful world. The topics of their songs are latent with a need for remembering the Afro-Cuban cultural element by honoring their ancestors and the musical legacy they have left behind as a testament to Cuban cultural identity. The song “Represent” in particular, speaks to those cultural elements that the rappers represent, highlighting first and foremost that their own music is a product of a rich musical history, “Rumba son y guaguancó todo mezclado,” through which they represent all their ancestors. To “represent” within hip hop music and its culture is, according to Christopher Holmes-Smith, “To become a walking signifier, the self-embodiment of one’s value system as answers to What do you

stand for? Where do you come from? With whom do you choose to associate?” (345). Thus, in this musical genre, the urban spaces

where these signifying practices originate—as Murray Forman has pointed out—serve as a continuum from inner-city to ghetto, to the hood, and are spiritual homes for rap artists (45). The genres named are what the members of Orishas represent—the African influence in Cuban music that in this 1999 musical production are mixed to continue the musical genealogy of which they form the latest generation. 50


The word “mix” is of prime importance in this historicizing project because by nature to mix means to fuse various components, losing the origin of said components. If Orishas’ project is to represent that which is Cuban, in itself a multi-layered mix of the indigenous, the African and the European, it proposes an identification with a transAtlantic heritage whose articulation is also trans-Atlantic. Likewise, in the song “A lo cubano”, colloquial Afro-Cuban language or street jargon serves to reveal the Afro-Cuban cultural element as does the use of phrases uttered in African dialects associated with santería. Orishas reaffirms its proximity to Afro-Cuban culture and their aim at offering and representing it as a nationalist cultural expression. Lyrics from later songs use Spain’s vosotros which demonstrates linguistic transitions that highlight oscillatory state between various identities, including that of the immigrant. Throughout the album, the references to journeys symbolic of the circular migration that constantly influences Orishas’ music are countless. Although these sons of Eleguá produce and sing their nationalist note from abroad, it is still Cuba: “Cuando quiero estallar yo me voy a mi zona, pa’ la Habana yo me voy.” Here, the metaphoric journey emphasizes the trans-Atlantic journey to and fro that characterizes the Cubaness that Orishas proclaims. The presence of Compay Segundo, of the famed Buena Vista Social Club, in the song “537 C.U.B.A.,” demonstrates Orishas’ marked homage to the Cuban musical legacy they have inherited and that through their music remains palpable for consumers worldwide. Orishas not only successfully appropriates the Cuban rhythms these artists are known for, they insert themselves in Cuban musical history as representatives of the hip hop genre, a genre traditionally rejected within Cuba due to its American origins but that makes the canon via the trans-Atlantic journey. Even though the sense of hope is present in “537 C.U.B.A.” the hope of returning to that supposed place of origin, the absence of a place to call their own is all the more present, as they describe themselves floating, in limbo, “Flotando

ando pasando la mano, ‘mano’ Sobre el mapa de este mundo.”

The perceptible distance from that longed for place, evident in the separation of the word C.U.B.A. as well as the image of the floating citizen, left homeless in an undefined place or zone, communicate the oscillatory (trans-Atlantic) condition of the album A lo cubano as well as that of the members of Orishas.

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The image of an undecipherable, undefined map reappears on the cover of Orishas’ second musical production, Emigrante. The condition of dislocation that the title communicates—referencing he who leaves his place of origin behind and lives a transitory existence—is the recurring theme throughout the songs included in the 2002 production, reaffirming the trans-Atlantic nature of their music and positionality. It is in this musical production that a greater association is made with other immigrants to Spain and the protest of a non-egalitarian society for said immigrants becomes more evident.

“Oye dicen que... Dicen que fue pa’ Europa y cuando llegó yaaaa… tremenda desilusión…” serves as the opening to the song

entitled “Emigrante.” Orishas, themselves the product of a transAtlantic migratory journey, confronts the topics of racism against the immigrant “Other,” an experience which they, even as award winning artists, could not circumvent. Reproaching the host nation, Orisha sings “Me has colonizado y ahora discriminas mi raza,” thus expressing the difficulty of being racialized immigrants who through their music have represented “las inferencias y penurias de este lado del continente colonizao, explotao, marcao.” This overwhelming sentiment of knowing and being marginalized is trans-Atlantic in nature as historically Afro-Cubans had been marginalized in their own society, following social hierarchies established by the Spanish Crown that held true during the governments of Machado, Batista, and Castro and with an ever more dichotomized Cuba of the Special Period. To belong to or be relegated to the margin is synonymous with a lack of place other than the periphery, the place of the Other, the forgotten, and the disenfranchised from the social ladder. With this song and the album in its entirety, Orishas breaks from a Cuba-centric project that marked their initial musical production. They create a more pan-Latin project that finds a common root in racial discrimination amongst immigrants to Spain to protest its existence. Orishas claims to have a brotherhood with Peruvians, Chileans, and Colombians—otherwise piled together in Spain under the derogatory umbrella term—sudaca— to whom they dedicate the song “Emigrante”. “Pa’ mi gente, esos que llaman emigrantes,

son personas comunes, corrientes. Oye mi gente por tener otro color, otra forma de pensar dos culturas diferentes, yo no me puedo quedar”. If the migratory experience unites those who are by 52


virtue of immigration in a floating state, Orishas proposes a global brotherhood—that those who have been the product of historical colonization join forces to fight immigrant inequality in the colonizer’s territory. It is not in vain that Orishas chooses these three South American countries to name in the song given that in numbers, they are amongst the most populous in Spain (amongst Latin Americans), more specifically, Madrid, at the end of the century. Orishas makes this call for unity through the hip hop genre, a resource marginalized youth have used globally to combat racism against the racialized “Other.” The song “300 Kilos” in particular achieves a musical brotherhood as Orishas joins the Colombian group Yerbabuena for a fusion sound that inch toward leaving the place of origin behind to incorporate other Latin sounds in their music. Also notable is code switching whereby words specific to the Spanish lexicon of Spain—the vosotros form and the word rollo—substitute Cuban and Colombian versions of these words. This seems to indicate that the immigrant subject adapts to and even appropriates elements of the host culture without sacrificing a sense of nationalism and panLatinism tied to a geographic imaginary. It is evident that Orishas perceives their music as a symbolic journey that alongside their physical journey of immigration, allows them to invent and re-invent what is Cuban and what it means to be Cuban from a trans-Atlantic perspective. They employ the image of a train in transit, under their command (Castro reference), that will continue disseminating the message of their “Other/ed”roots through their urban poetry made song. Using a play on words of “Chan Chan”, Orishas confirms that it will continue its labor of bringing the new voice of the periphery— their product— to the forefront of the Spanish and market. They sing: “La música cubana, ésta es la nueva era, aunque te duela , en el

volante Orishas el tren va repartiendo su mercancía. Urbana poesía… Orishas a lo cubano, puso nuevo jefe al mando, chau chau, tren de medianoche va chan- chan- do. With this musical production, Orishas shows that to be an immigrant is to be subject to transit but it does not change what and whom they represent, nor their protest against unjust treatment of “Othered” subjects.

Orishas takes us from 300 kilos to just one, El Kilo—their

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third musical production released in 2005 by EMI Spain. They return to the music scene, six years after their initial appearance, with an image of Cuba and all things Cuban that is stronger, more varied and more trans-Atlantic. If Emigrante denied a specific geographic location, El Kilo zones in on the Cuban topography as a starting point for the production. With a map of Cuba in the foreground of the CD’s cover and Havana’s famed Malecón boardwalk in the background, Orishas undoubtedly locate themselves on the island. None of the artists face the audience of this cover as they did, rather defiantly, with the two earlier productions. This cover, as text, speaks to the fusion that undoubtedly characterizes Orishas’ hip hop sound. Theirs is a transcultured sound of African-American lyrical style (West Coast hip-hop), Cuban classical rhythms of Afro-European syncretism produced by young urbanites who promote a militant Afro-Cuban identity on Spanish soil. Amidst this mix of musical origins, the origin of their hip hop is subject to disarticulation and thus the need to rely on Cuban national images—Havana, the flag and its solitary star, the freedom fighter’s machete, and firmas paleras—as unifying symbols of a Cuban identity. Unlike the cover of A lo cubano where the members express their militant character associated with Afro-Cuban warriors, here the intent is to identify with mambises, those criollos who fought against the Spaniards in the War for Independence in the 19th century. Orishas inserts itself in a historic battle to have the voice of the “Other” heard as an act of patriotism. As Cuban roots take American musical and Spanish migratory and cultural production routes, political and cultural genealogies are mobilized so as to relocate el cubano and lo cubano within the geographies of national identities. With memories of an unresolved past (racism) marking the condition of displacement, diasporic communities are de-territorialized but not detached from la patria and continue defining themselves in relation to a shared national history. By remembering the battles there then and fighting them here now the struggle continues; it has not been lost. Despite their condition as artists, the members of Orishas are diasporic subjects living as part of a post-colonial migrant community fighting historical memory in the project of individual identity construction as racialized immigrant subject. As diasporic identity is in dialogue with the hegemonic imaginary of Spain, el cubano’s relational positioning is as internal (with the Afro-Cuban and Latin American imagined community) as it is external (host community). 54


“Nací Orishas” is the opening song of the 2005 musical production and its chorus, “Yo nací Orishas en el underground” is reminiscent of the message they revealed in A lo cubano’s first song, “Represent” (1999). Orishas continues to associate their music with a struggle against the marginalization of blacks from their trans-Atlantic positioning. Their music is obviously a commercial product and is therefore not a product or a result of what aforementioned Cuban artists consider an underground sound. They however continue to proclaim an underground subjectivity that can be understood as a representation of the “Other,” of the Afro-Cuban subject who sings from the margins in the diaspora while living as an immigrant subject. It is from a trans-Atlantic positioning that this marginalized Cuban subject has a voice. The song says: “Oísteis socio, te ponga boca arriba

este negocio, del 97 vengo a filo de machete. Tú sabes lo que lucho día a día pa’ poner la cubanía al flow que tu querías”. These lyrics

are quite telling in regards to the arguments set forth here about the industry of cultural production. With these words, lead rapper Ruzzo speaks directly if rather defiantly to a socio. In the Cuban lexicon, this word is often used to refer informally to a friend. However, being that there is specific talk of a business, the music business as can be inferred, socio thus takes on its more common meaning of a business partner or associate. There is a noteworthy code switch whereby the singular socio is being addressed in the plural vosotros form. While it is plausible that both the speed of the rapping coupled with the infamous Cuban “s” aspiration in everyday speech come together in this verse, it is nonetheless indicating a message aimed directly at a music industry that while plural in its makeup is perceived as a singular, a monopoly.2 Orishas alludes to their success by saying they have turned this music business on its head, producing the type of lucrative Cuban flow that consumers wanted to hear. They speak to the 1990s, new millennium trend that Arlene Dávila notes in relation to Latino artists in the U.S. context, whereby non-Latinos attempt to “colonize” Latino artists culturally, politically and economically. In the case of Orishas, it is the Spanish label EMI Spain. It is precisely against this perceived colonization that Orishas fights against in their last album. It is indisputable that as artists who work for a Spanish label they are part of a larger project that Spain has at hand for conquering a global market through the monopolization of Cuban artists during the Special Period. However, for artists such as Orishas who view

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themselves as the voice of Cuba’s marginalized youth and the voice of the disenfranchised, racially marked, immigrant subject, it is of prime importance to reiterate loyalty to these causes. “Distinto” is a song that for the first time establishes a dialogue with marginalized Afro-Cubans on the island, perhaps even other island rappers, from their trans-Atlantic subjectivity. They sing: “Si el idilio te castiga con mi canto que te traigo al negro,

déjate aconsejar, solo queremos cantar. Si las cosas que te pasan no tienen santo ni remedio, busca una rumba buena que te lleve al altar. Háblame sin dolor, dale ya pasa la voz. Si no te van a meter en el saco de los que niegan, que esto es Cuban hip hop y que se pega.” The need for a brotherhood and for a return to the altar—to

the Orishas’s deities and to them as a musical source—through the rumba and hip hop genres is expressed here as voices of and for the marginalized who need to come together in a trans-Atlantic alliance. From their relocation in Spain, Orishas attempts to prove that their hip hop actively upholds the battle against racism despite being commercialized artists. It is a message that is also communicated in the opening line of the song “El kilo,” “A mi estilo te canto mi negro, a mi estilo voy.” It goes on to speak about the value of el kilo as the least valuable of Cuban coins, akin to a penny. “Tíralo, pásalo písalo, asere no, se te olvidó que el kilo no tiene vuelto no.” With this lyric, it brings to mind a common expression in everyday Cuban speech, No vale un kilo prieto, which emphasizes the lack of monetary value of a dark coin, an allusion to the depreciation of Afro-Cubans. This allusion is better understood when they sing about “una mentira que puede correr por años”—the fib about racial equality and racial inferiority being a plausible reading in the context of Orishas’s critique. It is a point they drive home in the song “Tumbando y Dando” where they say “El color se mide en todos sitios por lo que valen.” Ironically, the economic capital that Orishas acquires is accomplished because of musical history whose symbolic capital is rich, thus proving that un kilo prieto can be worth much more than it is thought to be worth.

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Notes: 1 Ilé is the Yourba term for house/ home/ place of the family. 2The inside cover of EL Kilo shows the lyric to be oisteis socio. Works Cited Dávila, Arlene. Latinos, Inc: The Marketing and Making of a People. Berkeley: U of California Press, 2012. Print. De Cereau, Michel. “Walking in the City.” The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley: U of California Press, 1984. Forman, Murray. The Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2002. Print. Orishas. A lo Cubano. EMI Music, 1999. CD. ---. Emigrante. EMI Music, 2002. CD. ---. El Kilo. EMI Music, 2005. CD. Richards, Michael. “Collective Memory, the Nation-State and Post-Franco Society.” Contemporary Spanish Cultural Studies (2000): 38-47. Smith, Christopher Holmes. “Method in the Madness: Exploring the Boundaries of Identity in Hip-Hop Performativity.” Social Identities 3.3 (1997): 345-374. Print.

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“The corrido was always about applauding the loner, often a poor man, up against power”

Sam Quinones Interview by Cristóbal Garza

Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three nonfiction books. He is formerly a reporter with the L.A. Times, where he worked for 10 years. He is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border and Mexico, where he lived, and wrote, from 1994 to 2004. He is also editor of TELL YOUR TRUE TALE, an experimental format for storytelling. He teaches a writing workshop of the same name, based on his books and the stories he has written for most of his 28-year journalism career. h t t p : / / w w w . s a m q u i n o n e s . c o m

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Our current issue of Hiedra focuses on protest song, art and politics in Latin America and the United States. Given your experience and interest in these topics, we would like to start by asking about your views on what is currently happening in music and border culture. What is the state of pop music with regards to politics or social movements currently on the (U.S.-Mexico) border? It is a good question. My feeling is that the message is less overtly political, and more political in the sound that they are sharing rather than the words and the message. I think the corrido has become coopted, if it’s political it is a way of maintaining the status quo, particularly as it tends to applaud the drug trafficker and cartel leaders, and that is a very disturbing trend politically. But there’s a lot of other music that is being created that has nothing to do with that at all, and is political in a rambunctious way, not in an overt political way. Just the things that they’re trying and the combinations of music they are putting together are very interesting and political -- I believe radical in a way. But I believe the corrido has been corrupted and coopted.

Can you talk about examples of the artists, sound or regions that you think are political in terms of their sound? I think Nortec Collective in Tijuana, who piece together different kinds of music; electronica, a lot of norteño music, a little bit of heavy metal thrown in there. I think that along the border that’s a natural tendency because the border is made of pieces from everywhere, physically demographically it is a hodgepodge of things. That’s a place where you see this kind of thing. I am not sure if they are still recording, but they had a very interesting political sound, not political in an overt sense, rather political in what they were trying, they were showing instead of telling, showing us new ways of approaching the world, new ways of seeing the world, so that we are not so conformist, which I like quite a bit.

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What is so interesting about Nortec? I love the approach, more than anything, just this idea that, “we are going to be a part of where we are from, and we are no longer going to kowtow to the Mexico City music industry. We are going to be up here on the border, we have a whole different reality than the folks in Mexico City, and we don’t know anything about that. And the music reflects the region we are from.”

It seems that many of the stories that you follow, although broad in reach, seem to germinate from very specific and small communities in Mexico. Is this the case in current movements such as canción alterada and narcocorrido? I think that that grew, of course, from all the violence that has been going on for the last 10 or 12 years in Mexico. Very barbaric stuff, very medieval stuff and you would guess that some kind of painful, disruptive or destructive music might in fact originate from that. It mainly grew from a business situation. People saw that that was the kind of music that sold. And they began to work towards putting together more bands that sing that kind of stuff. The thing with the corrido is that it has become propaganda for whatever cartel you write about, and that is a huge about-face for the corrido. The corrido was always about applauding the loner, often a poor man, up against power, probably doomed, probably he was going to die. But he is going to go up there and do his thing, he is going to do it anyway, fight and confront power. That was the essence of corrido; about the lone individual, some bandit, some social outcast, some social misfit who is a loner. And now the corrido is basically propaganda, applauding the virtues, whatever they might be, of the most powerful, the wealthiest and the most armed and the most bloodthirsty. That is a complete corruption of the corrido, in my opinion, and it’s almost impossible to listen to.

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So is there complicity between musicians, fans and a culture that condones or normalizes violence? Yes, that’s part of it. They always say that they are just “newspaper reporting”, and to a certain degree, the corrido has always been that. But this is more like advertising, not just telling stories. This is more like advertising; you find advertising in newspapers too. This is what the corrido has become, advertising. And musicians, in part out of fear, in part out of natural alliances or in part out of desire for more money, have bought into this and written songs about what a great man this one gunman is, or how fearsome he is. Or they write about El Chapo or one of these guys. What it really amounts to is propaganda, advertising, and it a sad thing to see.

In your most recent book, Dreamland, you tell the stories of middle class Americans becoming addicted to opiates, and of young Mexican traffickers’ addiction to the glamour of being “king for a day” with the money they bring back home from the United States. An important element of their homecoming celebrations involves paying long hours of live banda music. How does that work? For these guys, the sign of having made it, the sign of prominence is to come back well dressed, wearing the nice jeans, nice cowboy hats, and whatever else. They want to build a nice house, but also have enough money to dance with their girlfriends all night, pay the banda for hours of music, pay the beer for everybody around and that kind of thing. It just became what these guys were really addicted to and that’s why they keep coming back here to sell dope, because nothing else around them was going to fulfill that addiction or satisfy that habit. Only driving heroin around cities in the United States, and eventually for some of them starting a heroin business in the United States. That is what it was. 61


And I believe that is really true for many, many traffickers in Mexico. There is this idea, they may start out thinking, “I am going to do enough to buy a house or start a new business and not mess with it ever again.” But a lot of people just don’t know how to stop, because there is that narcotic of coming home and being the man of envy, the man of respect, the guy who is giving away gifts, the guy all the girls want to talk to. All of that is a real narcotic and many, many times we overblow the profit a family makes selling drugs to the United States. Some make an awful lot, but those are the ones who are frequently going to be targeted by the cops or other traffickers. A lot of guys on the lower end, I don’t really think they make a lot, or if they make a lot they blow it on things that don’t actually lead to a more productive life. They just seem to be interested in that momentary charge of being the guy everybody wants to know. I heard this many times not just from folks in Nayarit [Mexico], I heard it from other folks as well. They just end up not spending their money on productive things; instead, they end up wasting it. In the same book you also mention the Xalisco boys, a notorious group of heroin traffickers. Have you heard any corrido about the Xalisco Boys?

There are a few. There is one by one particular band that was from Xalisco, Vaqueros Musical. They have the “Corrido de David Tejeda,” among others. There are two or three corridos that Vaqueros Musical has put out. “El Gomero de Nayarit” is another, there are a few and they are almost all about the traffickers from Xalisco. But this was also in the late 90’s when they were doing this, I am not sure if they record many of these songs anymore.

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Since the Xalisco Boys may not have a great deal of corridos about them, but now they have a book about them, do you see any relation between the politically engaged corrido and your book? No, mainly because the book has not been published in Spanish yet. I would be surprised if ten people know about this book down in Xalisco. Nobody speaks English down there. I would be very surprised if anyone knew it. We are looking to publish it in Spanish, but the truth is that until that happens, I don’t think widespread knowledge of this book is going to be achieved. I am not sure 63


when that will happen or if it will happen. Remember, most of the folks that came to the U.S. to traffic heroin. Whatever English they learned had to do with their business, to make their business easier. They didn’t really learn how to read in English. A lot just learned what they needed, and some never learned a word of English at all. So I think that there is that gap that hasn’t been bridged.

Can you talk to us about your current project and what attracted you to it?

I want to make my next book a full biography of Chalino Sánchez, the narcocorrido singer who was killed in 1992. He is from Sinaloa but really made most of his life in Los Angeles. What attracted me to it was that I thought that his story allowed me an opportunity to tell the history of several things at once in the same book. Not just his personal story, but also the story of Mexican immigration and the growth of the smuggling industry, illegal immigration particularly through Tijuana and Southern California. Also there is emergence of the coyote industry, which is a very interesting story. Number two is the story of drug trafficking, from Mexico into the United States. He [Sánchez] was part of the time when the cartels were really small but growing. What ends up happening is that the Colombians, who were dominant in the market of that time, end up being killed or going to prison. And the Mexicans basically take the business from the Colombians and that is the way it stands now. The Mexicans are now in charge. That began in the early 90’s into the late 90’s and on into today. They have grown very, very large and well-armed, bloodthirsty, and sophisticated. The years in which Chalino was alive were the years when all that began to happen, so I thought that was pretty interesting. And lastly I wanted to tell the story of one of the most important areas in Mexican immigration to the United States, which are the cities of Southeast of Los Angeles County, which effectively became another Mexico, beginning in the 80’s and into the 90’s and they remain so today. There is 64


intense concentration in small suburbs that were built for white G.I.s in the 1940’s and 50’s; the whites move out, Latinos move in, and they become essentially Mexican suburbs, and a lot of that is connected to Sinaloa, a lot of Sinaloans, a lot of people who want to pretend that they are Sinaloans because it got a certain cachet, because of the trafficking of drugs. It is a very interesting group of towns. None of them has over a hundred thousand in population, but all of them are densely populated. I spent a lot of time in those areas. I was hoping the Chalino book would be a good way of talking about those areas. Chalino spent a lot of time in those towns; he did a lot of his first singing there as well, and became hugely popular. I think they are unique and unprecedented in the history of U.S. history of immigration. I think they stand alone for a lot of the reasons I want to get into in the book.

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B E F O R E AYO T Z I N A PA : CO R R I D O S O F S O C I A L P R O T E S T I N G U E R R E R O John Holmes McDowell Indiana University

O

n September 26, 2014, a series of events that are not fully understood occurred in and around Iguala, a city at the northern edge of Mexico’s Guerrero state, events that led to the disappearance of forty-three students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Normal School, a rural teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa, near Tixtla in the central portion of the state, a school with a strongly socialist curriculum and activist agenda. Due to a number of factors —the student status of these young victims, the apparent collusion of state authority and drug cartel, the absence of transparency in the official handling of the matter— this episode of brutality rose above the many others that have afflicted Mexico in recent years and spawned a fervent, massive, nationwide, and indeed, international response under the banner, “Ayotzinapa Somos Todos.” In the aftermath of the Iguala disappearances, a powerful protest movement surged forth in Mexico and beyond, at its core set of artistic performances based on traditional expressive forms such as the corrido and nueva canción, with additional forays into rap and rock, all of which can be amply sampled on YouTube. As one might expect, the corrido, the ballad form that chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Mexican people from a grass-roots perspective, has been especially prominent in the mix of artistic responses to Ayotzinapa. These songs, with their heroic narratives set to the melodious strains of guitar, accordion, and banda music, establish an aesthetic domain where commemoration meets political protest, and the memorialization of tragic events creates emotionally powerful experiences. 66


My theme for the present contribution is, however, not the Ayotzinapa corridos, of which there are far too many to cover adequately in this short essay. Instead, I direct our attention to four corridos that emerged in the state of Guerrero from earlier periods – “El corrido de Juan Escudero” from the 1920s; “El corrido de Genaro Vásquez” and “El corrido de Lucio Cabañas,” addressing two heroes of the common people who attended Ayotzinapa and went on to lead revolutionary movements in the state of Guerrero; and “Tragedia de Aguas Blancas,” telling the story of a massacre from the mid-1990s. My treatment of each case study is necessarily brief, but I believe that attending to these songs, their heroes, and the events that engulfed and destroyed them, offers a perspective that can enrich our understanding of the current moment. Gathering together these precursor corridos opens a window on a significant arena of commemorative practice, featuring a variety of rhetorical positions and strategies even as it conveys a depressing sameness in the obstacles that must be confronted and surmounted. 1. “El corrido de Juan Escudero” This text is taken from a performance by Marciano López Arizmendi, in a palm grove in Ejido Nuevo, Guerrero, on February 18, 1989.

Voy a cantar un corrido sin agravio y sin disgusto, el mes de diciembre ha traído grandes pesares y sustos, la traición que ha renacido en el puerto de Acapulco.

I will sing a corrido with neither offence nor anger, the month of December brings us great sorrows and shocks, treachery has been reborn in the port city of Acapulco.

Nueva noticia les traigo de desgracias y millares, se murió Juan Escudero el que evitaba los males, era él que regía las leyes civiles y militares.

Fresh news I bring you of mishaps by the thousands, Juan Escudero has perished the one who got rid of our woes, it was he who enforced the laws of civil and military rule. 67


Triste quedó Acapulco el palacio entristecido,

de ver a los Escuderos que los llevaban cautivos, vendidos en treinta mil pesos por sus peores enemigos. Un día viernes por la tarde Sámano fue a conferenciar, en donde conferenciaron hicieron firma de puesta, Manuel se hallaba sentado allá por Pie de la Cuesta. Sámano le dijo a Flores ensillando su caballo: “Matando a los Escuderos nos vamos a correr gallo.” De gusto que les cabía que los tenían sujuzgado. El mayor Flores le dice: “Ganaremos el dinero, ya la mecha está prendida en Iguala de Guerrero, ganaremos esta plata va de caída el gobierno.” Un día sábado temprano alboreando la mañana, Escudero estaba vivo todavía no se acababa, se sentó y luego les dijo que cuanta sangre regaba. Escudero estaba vivo pero con gran desespero, de ver a sus dos hermanos revolcados en el suelo, pero quedan dos caudillos eran Vidal y el Ciruelo.

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Acapulco was left in sadness city hall deeply saddened, to see that the Escuderos were being led off as captives, sold for thirty-thousand pesos by their most hated foes. It was on a Friday afternoon Sámano went to arrange it, at the place they got together they made a firm agreement, Manuel found himself seated over there by Pie de la Cuesta. Sámano said to Flores while saddling his horse: “When we kill the Escuderos let’s throw ourselves a party.” What satisfaction it gave them having them in their power. Major Flores told him: “We will win the money, now the wick is lighted in Iguala of Guerrero, we will win ourselves the money the government is in disarray.” Early one Saturday morning just as dawn was breaking, Escudero was still alive he still hadn’t reached his end, he raised his head and said that so much blood was spilling. Escudero was still alive but in a state of despair, on seeing his two brothers sprawled out upon the floor, but there are still two bosses who were Vidal and el Ciruelo.


Luego mandaron el aviso a La Venta y a Barrio Nuevo, que ahí estaban tres cadáveres eran los tres Escuderos, venga el gobierno a juzgarlos para determinar de ellos. Su madre fue a levantarlos el cura y señoritas, como iban bien escoltados porque así es la disciplina, el comercio lo ha comprado para quitarle la vida. Su muerte fue resonada en Costa Chica y Costa Grande, hasta México llegó y pasó a los imparciales, a la república indiana en nombre de esos cadáveres. Los ricos y españoles todos quedaron a gusto, como quedó esclavo el pobre de ellos no tenían producto, todos en ahogo decían se murió el dios de Acapulco. Mas en fin ya me despido por lo que el país va anunciando, el rico se está vendiendo y el extranjero está comprando, los hombres más opulentos son los que están acabando.

Then they sent the news to La Venta and to Barrio Nuevo, that three cadavers were there it was the three Escuderos, the authorities should come to inspect them to make a report on them. His mother went to retrieve them with the priest and the nuns, they went well escorted because that’s the way it must be, the commerce has paid the price to deprive him of his life. His death made quite an impact on Costa Chica and Costa Grande, word arrived in Mexico City and came to the legal clerks, of the sovereign Mexican nation in the name of those three bodies. The wealthy and the Spaniards all were greatly pleased, the poor man remained a slave and from them got no bounty, all in grief were saying the god of Acapulco has died. But at last I must take my leave of that which the nation is announcing, the rich man is selling himself and the foreigner is buying, but the most opulent men are those who are disappearing.

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Juan Ranulfo Escudero Reguera, known in his day as “the Lenin of Acapulco,” was a revolutionary figure on the Guerrero coast during the Mexican revolution. He came from a leading Spanish family allied with the gachupín (Spaniard) oligarchy in Acapulco but took up the populist cause of the dockworkers and other marginalized groups in the early 1920s. Influenced by the Flores Magón brothers in the United States, where he attended college, he established the Partido Obrero de Acapulco and was elected Mayor of Acapulco in 1921, a position that he held for two successive years. He promulgated reforms to improve the lot of the common man and sought to reform the political system. An assassination attempt in March 1922 left him paralyzed but still active; in December 1923 he was eliminated by his enemies among the local establishment. Marciano López Arizmendi, who sang this corrido, alerted me that the song is controversial, as it names families that remain prominent in the area, but stated his desire to sing it at a rally in the Acapulco zócalo for Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the leftist PRD presidential candidate at the time. 2. “El corrido de Genaro Vásquez” I present here the text of “El corrido de Genaro Vásquez” as performed by a local mariachi group in the Cantina Bohemia, Chilpancingo, Guerrero, in June of 1972. The corrido became popular among university students and reached a larger audience through release on a 45rpm record.

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Para cantar un corrido pido permiso primero, su nombre es Genaro Vásquez secuestrador de Guerrero.

In order to sing a corrido I first ask permission, his name is Genaro Vásquez the kidnapper from Guerrero.

Supo burlar al gobierno hasta la hora de su muerte, muchos hombres le seguían porque era un hombre valiente.

He knew how to fool the government until the hour of his death, many men followed him because he was a valiant man.


En la sierra guerrerense lo buscaban sus rivales, lo perseguían policías y también los federales.

In the mountains of Guerrero his adversaries searched for him, the police came after him and also the federal forces.

Su hazaña más comentada lo conoció el mundo entero, al secuestrar un rector de Chilpancingo, Guerrero.

His most renowned deed the entire world came to know, when he kidnapped the rector in Chilpancingo, Guerrero.

Nueve presos fueron libres del gobierno mexicano, fueron mandados a Cuba por órdenes de Genaro.

Nine prisioners were set free by the Mexican government, they were sent to Cuba on orders from Genaro.

El gobierno está contento por la muerte de Genaro, aquí termina el corrido de un hombre que fue bragado.

The government is pleased with the death of Genaro, here ends the corrido of a man who was truly daring.

Genaro Vásquez Rojas (1933-1972), from San Luis Acatlán in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero, organized an armed struggle under the auspices of the Asociación Cívica Nacional Revolucionaria, which operated in Guerrero’s Sierra Madre mountains and had popular support among students, teachers, campesinos, and workers. The most notorious deed of this rebel movement was the kidnapping in December 1972 of Jaime Castrejón Díez, rector of the Autonomous University of Guerrero and owner of a soft-drink bottling company with ties to CocaCola. The rector was released after eleven days in captivity in return for a large cash ransom and the transfer of nine political prisoners from Mexican jails to freedom in Havana, Cuba. Genaro Vásquez died in an automobile crash on the Mexico City-Morelia highway on February 2, 1972. José Luis M. Ramírez, composer, musician, and musicians’ agent with a strong commitment to political change in Mexico, was driven by ideological conviction to compose this corrido for Genaro Vásquez, portraying its protagonist as un hombre valiente and noting that he was, like many a corrido hero, bragado. 71


This language assimilates Genaro Vásquez to the prototype of the revolutionary standing for his rights against an abusive government. Ramírez, from Tixtla, the Guerrero city near Ayotzinapa, was an earnest and affable exponent of the socialist cause in Mexico. He explained to me, in an interview conducted in Chilpancingo on July 31, 1972, his motives in composing corridos with a political message: “Es que esas injusticias que se ven, pues duelen tanto que uno trata de ya mero darla a conocer a todo el mundo como uno ya tiene esa facilidad de escribir, de hacer versos, la música...para que se dieran cuenta de las injusticias que por lo regular son cometidos por el gobierno.” Ramírez told me that after Genaro’s involvement with the protest movement of the late 1950s, which culminated in a massacre of citizens in Chilpancingo’s public square in December, 1960, and the eventual fall of the governor and his administration, the people of Guerrero came to “sentirlo como hermano.” 3. “El corrido de Lucio Cabañas” This version of the corrido was performed by Tomás and Rogelio Morales by the city beach in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, on Monday, March 18, 1996. I will relate the history Voy a relatar la historia que lo sepa el mundo entero, so the whole world will know it, about what is happening de lo que está sucediendo in my state of Guerrero, en mi estado de Guerrero, in the mountains of Atoyac en la sierra de Atoyac se está muriendo el gobierno. the government is dying. Tanks of war and airplanes Tanques de guerra y aviones are climbing into those hills, encumbran por esos cerros, looking for Lucio Cabañas buscando a Lucio Cabañas que está acabando el gobierno, who is finishing off the army he must have his reasons tal vez tendrá sus motivos que no los conoce el pueblo. of which the people are not aware.

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Les grita Lucio Cabañas: “Voy a darles la batalla, yo no le temo al gobierno también traigo buenas armas, yo represento a Genaro he de morir en la raya.”

Lucio Cabañas shouts to them: “I am going to give you a fight, I do not fear the government I also have good weapons, I represent Genaro I’ll die standing my ground.”


El gobierno lo persigue con ganas de terminarlo, por toditas esas sierras y no han podido encontrarlo, cada golpe que les da siempre les mata soldados.

The government chases him hoping to finish him off, over all those mountains but they haven’t found him, every time they strike at him he always kills some soldiers.

Les grita Lucio Cabañas: “Voy a darles la batalla, yo no le temo al gobierno también traigo buenas armas, yo represento a Genaro he de morir en la raya.”

Lucio Cabañas shouts to them: “I am going to give you a fight, I do not fear the government I also have good weapons, I represent Genaro I’ll die standing my ground.”

Lucio Cabañas Barrientos (1938-1974) was from Atoyac de Álvarez, a Costa Grande region with a long history of agrarian unrest. After graduating from Ayotzinapa, he returned to Atoyac as a teacher but quickly came into conflict with the local authorities for his political activities. In the late 1960s Cabañas established in the mountains el Partido de los Pobres and initiated a series of violent, direct actions that included executions of political bosses, kidnappings, bank assaults, and confrontations with soldiers. Perhaps the most famous episode of this group was the kidnapping of Senator Rubén Figueroa, a wealthy man and at the time the PRI candidate for governor. Figueroa sought out Cabañas in the mountains in May 1974 hoping to negotiate an end to the uprising. Cabañas refused to let him go and presented demands including the release of political and other prisoners throughout Mexico, the provision of arms and money for his movement, and the public airing of guerrilla speeches and songs. Figueroa offered to free all political prisoners in the state of Guerrero and to provide money for a political movement if Cabañas would call off the guerrilla war. Cabañas refused this offer. In September 1974 Figueroa was freed by the army. From this high point in the success of the movement, the fortunes of Cabañas and his cohorts declined. The army saturated the highlands with military equipment and personnel, and Cabañas’ forces began to suffer setbacks. Finally, Cabañas was killed in a shootout with federal forces on December 2, 1974. This corrido alludes only indirectly to the facts of this history and in general assimilates Cabañas to the prototype of the hero standing firm against abusive authorities. The corrido’s allegation

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that Cabañas “always kills some soldiers” rings true with respect to a series of ambushes and encounters between June 1972 and October 1974, each resulting in the death of a dozen or more soldiers. The prototype of the hero is felt in traditional boasts like “he de morir en la raya,” a defiant pose frequently adopted by corrido heroes, comparing them to the fighting cocks who are released “en la raya” to engage in battle to the death. It is noteworthy that the corridista explicitly links Genaro Vásquez and Lucio Cabañas, two revolutionary alumni of Ayotzinapa, and does so in the Lucio’s own defiant voice. 4. “La tragedia de Aguas Blancas” In 1996, corridos on the Aguas Blancas massacre were circulating in Acapulco and on the Costa Grande, with some circumspection due to the politically charged nature of the case. The corrido I present here is taken from a commercial audio cassette tape, titled “Corridos famosos del Edo. de Gro.,” “Famous corridos from the State of Guerrero,” without any indication of composer or performers. The performance is done in the norteño style, with accordion and electric guitar, and voices in two-part harmony.

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(Sound of gunfire) El día veintiocho de junio noventa y cinco es el año, a un grupo de campesinos los mata un comando armado, por defender sus ideales a todos los masacraron, a la ciudad de Atoyac ellos ya nunca llegaron.

The twenty-eighth of June ninety-five is the year, a group of rural workers are killed by an armed command, for defending their ideals they massacred all of them, to the city of Atoyac they never did arrive.

En Coyuca de Benítez esto es lo que ha sucedido, unos buitres disfrazados de policías y soldados, mataron a campesinos hombres que eran honrados, tal vez cumpliendo una orden los policías desalmados.

In Coyuca de Benítez this is what has happened, some buzzards in disguise as policemen and soldiers, killed those rural workers men who were respected, perhaps following some orders those policemen without souls.


De Tepetixtla venían They were coming from Tepetixtla los campesinos costeños, those rural workers of the coast, en un retén los pararon at a police barrier they were stopped la orden la dió un sargento, a sergeant gave the order, y del camión los bajaron and they got them get off the bus con el a erre quince sin cuernos, with the AR-15 without horns, allí los acribillaron there they riddled them with bullets y hubo diecisiete muertos. and seventeen were left dead. Y como buen guerrerense lo que siento yo lo digo, que se les haga justicia a sus esposas e hijos, estos hechos tan horrendos no se queden sin castigo, que el gobierno federal castigue a los asesinos.

And as a good man of Guerrero I say just what I feel, that justice must be done for their wives and children, these actions so horrendous cannot go unpunished, the federal government must punish those who killed.

Si hay segundos o terceros que sea un castigo ejemplar, porque entre pueblo y gobierno se deben de respetar, al pueblo lo que es del pueblo al gobierno por igual, por eso al mal gobernante se le debe de castigar.

If there are hidden agents it must be an exemplary finding, for between the people and the government there should be respect, to the people what belongs to the people and in the same way to the government, that’s why the bad public official must meet his punishment.

Con un profundo dolor de Acapulco me despido, de Costa Grande también y de sus pueblos tan lindos, me voy pidiéndole a Dios no escapen los asesinos, que les apliquen la ley a todos esos bandidos.

With a very deep pain I take my leave of Acapulco, also from the Costa Grande and from its beautiful towns, I leave asking of God don’t let the killers escape, apply the law to them to all of those outlaws. 75


During the year of 1996, the Aguas Blancas case was in the newspapers and a major topic of conversation in Acapulco and throughout the state of Guerrero. Indeed, this egregious case came to the notice of the international press and was widely publicized as an instance of government misconduct in Mexico. Aguas Blancas is a town lying a few kilometers towards the mountains from Coyuca de Benítez, the first city on the coastal highway north and west of Acapulco. This area has been a crucible of agrarian activity since the Porfiriato, the long rule of dictator Porfirio Díaz (1876-1911), and it was here that government forces, on June 28, 1995, slaughtered a group of unarmed campesinos on their way to an anti-government rally in Coyuca. In the aftermath of the massacre, it was difficult to establish with clarity the chain of command responsible for this travesty. The police officers who did the shooting, most of them members of the state judicial police force, were placed in jail awaiting trial and after some months the governor, presumed to be the “intellectual author” of the crime, was forced to resign. Conclusion And so it goes in Guerrero, as elsewhere in Mexico, a recurring cycle of state-sponsored violence followed by citizen outrage and a politics of commemoration that features the corrido. Does the cycle have an end-point? Is Ayotzinapa sufficiently shocking to instigate real accountability and bring about real change in the relationship between the people and the state in Mexico? We have entered the second year after the Ayotzinapa massacre, and all is still muddled. Protests continue, fueled by the bitter anger of the families of the missing and by the collective outrage of the citizens, not only of Mexico but of the entire world. Meanwhile, YouTube continues to proliferate with corridos and songs in other genres dedicated to replaying, processing, and protesting the events of September 26. This zone of commemorative practice continues to explore the outlines of what will eventually crystallize into public memory of those horrific events, even as the torrent of political protest, with its commemorative tinges, continues to flow unabated. 76


Works Cited Hernández, Antonio Avitia. Corrido histórico mexicano: Voy a cantarles la historia. Vol. 1. México: Editorial Porrúa, 1997. Print. Hodges, Donald C. Mexican Anarchism After the Revolution. Austin: U of Texas Press, 2010. Print. Kuri-Aldana, Mario, and Vicente Mendoza Martínez. Cancionero popular mexicano. Vol. 2. México: Consejo nacional para la cultura y las artes, 1987. Print. McDowell, John Holmes. Poetry and Violence: The Ballad Tradition of Mexico’s Costa Chica. Vol. 1. Champaign: U of Illinois Press, 2000. Print. Ortiz, Orlando. Genaro Vázquez. México: Ed. Diógenes, 1972. Print. Otero, Crecencio. El movimiento agrario costeño y el líder profesor Valente de la Cruz. México: Author’s Edition, 1979. Print. Paredes, Américo. “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero. Austin: U of Texas Press, 2010. Print. Simmons, Merle E. The Mexican Corrido as a Source for Interpretive Study of Modern Mexico, 1870-1950. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1957. Print. Suárez, Luis, and Lucio Cabañas. Lucio Cabañas, el guerrillero sin esperanza. México: ROCA, 1976. Print. Vázquez, Santa A. H. Canciones, cantares y corridos mexicanos. México: León Sánchez, 1925. Print.

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Travis Sebastián,

a second language speaker of Spanish, enjoys writing from a deeply personal space in which his voice represents only one of many other queer voices. His purpose is to say that which is seldom said but nevertheless felt, da igual la lengua. Muchas veces una de las muchas versiones de la verdad se le presenta en español, como se ve en el presente trozo.

La bandera sagrada Tumbado en el césped, miro pausadamente hacia el cielo. El espectáculo del 4 de julio comenzará en poco tiempo. Cierro los ojos y siento las alas revolotear. De pronto, me llevan a otro momento... La música rompe el silencio, y todos, excepto yo, se ponen de pie:

¿No veis, a la luz de la aurora, Lo que tanto aclamamos la noche al caer?... América, oh América, (¿Américo?) en una sola noche, me convertiste en un niño sin suelo. En la cuna de tus brazos, me dejaste caer en la mar de perdición. Soy un hombre que ha olvidado su nombre,… o quizá nunca lo haya tenido. Tan orgulloso estás de la bandera que llevas encima de tus hombros estrechos, siempre manteniendo la cabeza alta, que no llegas a ver a los desaparecidos que están muertos a tus pies. Fanfarroneas en la oscura habitación de mi mente, y nuestra cama se ve iluminada por la tenue luz de tus estrellas y el vago recuerdo de lo que me hiciste cuando todos se habían acostado. Sentía, y siento, las ondulaciones de la sábana flameando al viento de tu respiro cuando empezaste a desvestirme, capa tras capa. En aquel momento comenzó la lucha contra mí mismo, y la fugacidad de la tierra puso a descubierto lo que, en realidad, era: arenas movedizas.

…Fulgor de cohetes, de bombas estruendo, Por la noche decían: ¡Se va defendiendo!... 78


Con esa bandera, tú, un niño un poco mayor, me enseñaste a tus trece años lo que significaba ser hombre, ¡como si lo supieses tú! Lamiéndome la oreja, me susurraste lo que creías que quería escuchar. Y cuando no te contestaba, me amenazaste: ¡no digas nada! Torturado y silenciado, tanto hoy como ayer, sueño con la efímera libertad de mi infancia, pero tu cuerpo hace sombra al niño que fui y al hombre que nunca seré.

Niño, oh Niño, te pido que duermas. No llores, por favor, que no llores. Mañana por la mañana, ya vas a ver, cuánto mejor te sentirás… ¿Tu cantar, o el mío? Que sí, América, me has vencido. De una buena vez, entierra la bandera manchada y déjala ondear en el viento.

…¡Aún allí desplegó su hermosura estrellada, Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada! Entre los mil silencios, a tus pies descalzados, me planto… al último recuerdo de mi niñez.

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SHANNON MIMS Cover Artist

Shannon Mims is a New York City-based visual artist who works in a variety of media including pen and ink, photography, graphic design, and original jewelry. A diversely accomplished artist, Shannon is also highly service-oriented, teaching art and mentoring students. 80


a relief printing be seen as similar to n ca le sty tic tis ar y “M an integral black and white plays ly on in ng yli St . cal ue techniq y art. Social and politi m of ion sit po m co all role in the over of my subject matter.� lot a e nc ue infl ily av he issues

81


something pen and ink. There is lor co ck bla in ing rk ct of wo “I love ke away from the subje ta d an ct tra dis n ca at about color th pics revolving my artwork address to in es em th y an M spoken t. my ar that I feel needs to be pic to a h alt he l ta e around men out of my work lets th lor co e th g kin ta at th raw and about more. I find s me to become more ow all d an , elf its r fo k subject spea honest as an artist.� 82


“The theme of protest mu sic completely resonates with me. It serves as a vo ice for a so cia l or po litical movement that make impactful statement without s an violence.�

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ip es involves a relationsh ns se e fiv e th es olv inv “Anything that t uses sound ch other. A visual artis ea to es ns se e th write g amon usician uses sight to m a y wa e m sa e th in to create art music.� 84


Jaime Augusto Shelley / Luis Felipe Lomelí / Jessica Piney Carlos Villacorta / Sam Quinones / Shannon Mims Rebecca Campbell / Óscar de Pablo / Gilberto Bustos

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Profile for Hiedra Magazine

Hiedra Magazine 5  

Hiedra Magazine 5 ISSN: 2328 3653. Hiedra Magazine Issue 5 - Fall 2015. Please contact revistahiedra@gmail.com with any questions or concer...

Hiedra Magazine 5  

Hiedra Magazine 5 ISSN: 2328 3653. Hiedra Magazine Issue 5 - Fall 2015. Please contact revistahiedra@gmail.com with any questions or concer...

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