Los Tigres del Norte Banned in Chihuahua

Los Tigres del Norte, one of my favorite (and one of the world’s most popular) bands, was banned yesterday from playing in the city of Chihuahua. They were banned for playing a very popular narco-corrido based on a soap opera and book, La Reina del Sur (the city of Chihuahua has banned narco-corridos).<.div>

The Mexican press, and most Mexican people, are upset about and vocal in objecting to this cavalier censorship.

I value free speech, and do not believe in censorship. It is interesting, though, that this ban occurred because Chihuahua city is trying to change its culture. It is trying to take the narco culture out of norteña culture, to stop the glamorization of criminal activity, to restore responsibility and good citizenship to its citizens.

Northern Mexican norteña culture has become closely mixed with narco culture. That cultural mix includes a style of dress (one extreme is those tippy-toed guarachero boots), a unique vocabulary and style of speech, songs (narco-corridos are songs that glorify the life of the outlaw), and even a patron saint whose image, likeness and altars can be found in most any colonía (Jesús Malverde, so-called patron saint of the drug lords and lost causes).

Mexico is a large country, as is northern Mexico, and norteña culture as influenced by narco culture has a diversity within it. There is also spillover; many people who have nothing to do with the drug trade may build an altar or light a candle to Malverde (unwed mothers may pray to him, for example, as might people who have lost their jobs) or have his face emblazoned on the window of their pickup truck. And, MANY of them listen to what can be called narco-corridos. The particular song for which my Tigres were banned, ironically, ends with the outlaw (a woman) being punished for her crimes.

Chihuahua’s ban is personally ironic to me because last year, I posted on the Facebook page of another favorite band of mine, la Banda El Recodo, sharing with them my disappointment that they had released a song so far below the respect and esteem with which they are held by the public (the song talks about guns, arms, bulletproof vests; it encourages people to get drunk and shoot bullets into the air; the official video involves non-stop drinking, high-priced cars and watches, and ends with the lead singer pretending to shoot the viewer). In hindsight, was I censoring? I know my motivations were the same as those of the city of Chihuahua: El Recodo is at the top of their craft; people respect them. I love them, and I love Mexico. I wanted them to stand for and promote what is good about Mexico, help make it a better place, not glorify and feed the worst of our local culture.

What do you all think?