One of Mexico’s best known bands found itself on the wrong side of the law in Chihuahua last weekend for performing a song glamorizing the life of the narco.
“Many want to climb to my height, I just see them fall away, they want to scratch at my crown, those that try have been dying off.”
The words form part of a song by Los Tigres del Norte, arguably the originators of the narcocorrido sub-genre of northern Mexican music, called norteño.
Narcocorridos, or narco ballads, contain lyrics glamorizing narco life but the municipality of Chihuahua is having none of it.
Los Tigres performed the song, called Jefe de Jefes, or Chief of Chiefs, at the Santa Rita Fair in Chihuahua on Sunday before a devoted audience that sang along. But local authorities were not entertained.
The municipality fined the band 500,000 pesos (US $27,000) and shut down the stage for the duration of the fair.
The municipality of Chihuahua introduced a law in 2015 prohibiting the public performance of music that glorifies drug traffickers. Breaking the law could bring a fine of up to 5,000 times the daily minimum wage and 36 hours of jail time.
As far as the current mayor is concerned, the law remains in effect.
“This is not the appropriate time [for such music],” said María Eugenia Campos Galván. “We cannot allow the veneration of drug trafficking figures through songs given the current security conditions.”
There are similar laws prohibiting narco ballads in the state of Sinaloa, where Los Tigres del Norte are from.
Corridos, or ballads, became the staple genre of music throughout the northern states of Mexico at the turn of the 20th century. Back then, singers sang of the deeds of the heroes of the Mexican Revolution, giving them an epic shine.
By the 1970s, war heroes gave way to drug lords. Los Tigres pioneered the narcocorrido genre by recreating in their songs the “adventures” of drug smugglers on the Mexico-United States border, lauding the narco and outlaw lifestyle.
A reaction against the music is not so surprising considering that the state of Chihuahua is no stranger to the devastating effects of rivalry between drug cartels. The border city of Ciudad Juárez was the scene of a cruel territorial war between the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels.
Today, after a few years of respite, the state is seeing a resurgence in homicides.
Source: El País (sp)
Los Tigres perform Jefe de Jefes.