Quitapenas is coming to the Twin Cities August 26th. Check out this short video to listen to enjoy sound and how their music inspires!
Tickets can be Purchased here!
Quitapenas is coming to the Twin Cities August 26th. Check out this short video to listen to enjoy sound and how their music inspires!
Tickets can be Purchased here!
Dropping their self-titled album in February of last year, Quitapenas has added to the emerging texture of vibrant Los Angeles based Latinx bands. Similar to established groups such as Chicano Batman and Viento Callejero, Quitapenas draws from our antepasados as a musical base while instilling the sensibility and imagination of a Latinx population living our diaspora in the United States.
What draws me to this emergent sound in Latinx music is that it feels like my youth, like home. The pop icons we were subjected to didn't speak to our experience but rather seemed to draw us closer to a hispanic, white aesthetic. The Latinx sounds of the time felt too neutral and too many songs where unpoetic english. I missed the romance, tragedy, depth and diaspora instilled in the music of our backyard BBQ's. Quitpenas and their contemporaries captures my youth in a way that gives me warmth, evoking memories of my Mexican parents and community.
Furthermore, different from others, Quitapenas has an overt political sensibility to their sound. As president Obama continues to deport our community at alarming rates, people of color are getting shot continuously by cops and this election cycle offers little by way of reprieve. Quitapenas' political assertions are indeed welcome and warranted. In particular their political voice emerges in songs like:
We wanted to personify Justice.
Dime donde (Justicia querida)Dime donde (que linda te miras)Te encontrare (Justicia querida)Te encontrare (que linda te miras)
Dime donde (Justicia querida)Te encontrare (que linda te miras)Yo e escuchado de ti (Justicia querida)Tu has escuchado de mi (que linda te miras)
Que linda te miras (Justicia querida)Dime donde estas (que linda te miras)Donde estas (Justicia querida)Donde estas (que linda te miras)
This song is about our people, coming from rural landscapes as farmers and working people, moving into cities, seeking a better life for their family. El Campesino Urbano (urban farmer worker)...
Callos en las palmas de tus manos
Cuentan la historia de ti hermano
Hace dias que no hablamos
Cuenta los dias ya por hora
Pero se la pasa cantando
Su linda voz me voy imaginando
Madre que por dos se mueve
Se queja ya mas frequente
Pero es la mas valiente
Doy gracias por su gran ambiente
Tickets can be purchased here
QUITAPENAS, one word – all caps, four syllables – all claps, gives you a taste of their rhythmic contagion. This tropical Afro-Latin combo was born under the warm California sun in 2011. They borrow aesthetics from the radical 60s, 70s and 80s. Each song echoes a remix of history and invites one to engage in the liberating evenings of Angola, Peru, Colombia, Brazil and beyond. The name means “to remove worries.” Everybody has a "pena" and the mission of QUITAPENAS is simple: to make you dance and leave you worriless.
I sat down with Hector Edwardo Chavarria. Hector is fast becoming one of my favorite personalities in Minneapolis. His stage presence as the "Big Gay Mexican" is intended to inspire and promote self love.
Buyepongo is a band in the middle of a thriving latinx music scene in Los Angeles. Their style reflects Los Angeles, a largely latinx city that draws from all over Latin America.
Tickets can be purchased here. Pre sale are $10, $12 at the door.
In their own words,
The name Buyepongo means “to cause a ruckus” –which certainly describes the scene on the dance floors of Los Angeles whenever the band launches into its dizzyingly energetic, instantly infectious rhythms. But it also describes Buyepongo’s riotous mash-up of influences, which absorbs hip-hop, punk, funk, and jazz sounds into a delirious tropical blend of styles from across the Latin American diaspora. Like its name, the band is part hybrid, part invention, something untranslatable that nevertheless perfectly captures its uniquely vibrant spirit.
As described in a Los Angeles Weekly feature
Todo Mundo, produced by Eugene Toale and due out this Friday, features 12 songs of what the members of Buyepongo have dubbed “buyangú,” a style of music that encompasses each member’s diverse roots and backgrounds in California, Mexico and Central and South America. Cumbia, merengue and punta beats and rhythms don’t collide with each other so much as they flow and combine together like rivers, picking up elements of funk and jazz along the way.
“There’s no tradition that we follow in our cumbia playing,” explains Larry Harvey, who recorded percussion on the album and has played with Buyepongo intermittently over the years. “I feel like when we were playing cumbia as the original Buyepongo, it was very influenced by Andres Landero. Then we broke into this vibe of Tatico Henriquez with the merengues. I would honestly say we never pushed hard back into cumbia. We’ve grown into our own sound.”
By Noe Lopez
This Article was first Published in the September-December Issue of Critique Magazine at Delhi University, India. Do not cite without the author’s consent.
As I write this piece for an audience in India I cannot stop thinking of the history of colonisation and imperialism I share with this audience. I cannot neglect to mention a certain explorer who arrived to the American continent thinking he had discovered a route to India and, thus, erroneously called my people 'Indians'. This explorer, Christopher Columbus, changed the routes of the history of my people for centuries. I personally don't appreciate the word 'Indian' for its colonial legacy and, although others claim it with pride, I cannot forget its role in history. It has impacted indigenous racism and classism in Mexico, influenced migration and indigenous labor, and defined our place in Mexican society. In fact, this history and its consequences still affects me and angers me.
First and foremost, let me explain this anger.
Anger, Coraje, a feeling of antagonism, the feeling of burning heat in the heart and attitude demonstrated by through embodied movements such as the frown of my eyebrows. It is what the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) calls 'digna rabia', or dignified rage, a humanised rage of oppressed peoples. I speak now not as an academic but as an indigenous migrant living in the United States, in displacement, and as the son of indigenous farm workers.
I am angry and I will not apologise for it.
It is with this anger, coraje, that I think of the strikes in San Quintin valley, a region in northern Mexico that serves as a hub for agricultural industries catering to world markets in the production of different varieties of berries and vegetables. Many impoverished people around Mexico, especially indigenous people from the southern part of the country, migrate to this region to work in this industry. Earlier last year, on 17 March 2015, farm workers in San Quintin made headlines in Mexico as they struck work, engaging in peaceful protest by ceasing to pick crops in the agricultural fields in protest of the inhuman work conditions the industry subjected them to. This included sexual abuse, 17 hours of work per day, with no basic necessaries (i.e. water, bathrooms, medical services) and the use of child labour. The protests turned violent when policemen raided the protests with gum bullets and gases, as well as showed up in people’s homes, looking to detain organisers and protesters, thereby criminalising them. The protests prolonged as farmworkers attempted to negotiate for better working conditions with agro-industry companies and growers, and defend themselves against police violence. As a result of the strike, many crops went rotten due to the absence of labourers for weeks and even months. In May 2015, many growers accepted the demands of the protesters by promising to end child labor and increasing wages to $200 pesos ($15 U.S. dollars) a day instead of the $300 pesos demanded by protestors. Until today, the implications of the negotiations are part of the dialogues of the protesters because state institutions have not responded effectively to demands of healthcare and other social services. Also, many companies have begun to terminate employment of those who participated in the protests.
San Quintin: Media and Neo-Liberalism
As the strikers and residents of San Quintin protested they have posted videos of police shooting gum bullets at protesters though Youtube and Facebook. National media in Mexico turned their attention to these migrant workers using terms such as 'jornalero' (daily wage labourers), 'migrantes' (migrants) and 'trabajadores de campo' (farmworkers), often neglecting their indigenous identity. International media such as CNN and Los Angeles Times began writing reflective pieces on how these workers pick up food to feed the United States population for less than 10 dollars a day, when minimum wage workers in the U.S. earn the same amount in an hour.
In videos posted on the Internet, we saw women yelling at their friends and family to protect themselves from the shootings. Articles focus on the treatment of women in the agricultural fields. Women are often sexually abused in the workplace. Child labour has been another important issue in this region. Children from ages thirteen to eighteen assist their parents in the fields, in violation of international human rights and state laws.
The abysmal working conditions in San Quintin are closely related to the growth of Mexican neoliberal economic state policies. Allowing for the entry of foreign capital with the promise of providing employment to Mexicans, U.S.-based companies like Driscoll’s, that are dedicated to growing and marketing berries, are amongst those that are responsible for the exploitation of workers in San Quintin, and who simultaneously benefit from their exploitation. These corporations work through ejidos, communal agrarian holdings, and ranchos, plantations owned by certain families and private proprietors. These ejidos and ranchos hire primarily indigenous labourers to work in their fields, who hail from southern Mexico and migrate north, leaving behind their communities, in order to flee poverty and political conflicts. Thus a capitalist chain of labour and profit is created; indigenous people work for the ranchos/ejidos and these make contracts with transnational corporations such as Driscoll.
San Quintin and Mexico’s Dominant Society
The San Quintin protests have historical roots and demonstrate the Mexican state’s contempt towards its indigenous population. Often, media reporting on these issues fail to analyse the historical inequality of indigenous people. Based on its colonial legacy, the Mexican nation state is founded on and dependent upon patriarchal-racist systems of oppression that have historically relegated indigenous people to poverty and political conflicts, thus making them 'exploitable' and forcing them to migrate.
In Mexico, there is a phrase that justifies the exploitation of indigenous people: 'trabajo de indio', or Indian work, a phrase that is based on the racialisation of bodies and that justifies the exploitation of indigenous peoples as agricultural workers. A YouTube video goes on to exemplify the ideologies of employers. In this video, it states that the life of an indigenous person working in agricultural fields is worth less than a slave because Indian work is easily found and easily exploited, as they are ignorant and worthless. What could possibly justify the broadcast of such a narrative? These violent ideologies demonstrate the normalisation and racialisation of the exploitation of indigenous bodies in Mexico.
What do I mean by normalisation? I mean that Mexico’s national culture breeds images of the subordinate indigenous labourer. We see Mexican 'telenovelas', soap operas, where light-skin-rich families have workers portrayed by actors that 'behave' and 'look' indigenous—characters with dark skin, broken Spanish, and submissive personalities.
The Mexican media portrays indigenous women who are domestic workers as docile, vulnerable, and hopeless. The domestic labour of the indigenous, is therefore, gendered and racialised. A perfect example of this is the Mexican caricature of La India Maria, the Indian Maria, a popular indigenous character in Mexico reproduced in a series of films portraying the image of the 'Indian woman' as submissive and hopeless, often dehumanising her agency. These ideas are founded on paternalism, a form of exertion of power that is often masked by a discourse of care. Such discourses are also found in the academia. In one such instance, an academic in my graduate school coined the phrase, 'racismo de amor', or racism of love, in to order to refer to this form of paternalism, acted on domestic indigenous workers. On hearing such a formulation, however, I was angered, as I do not believe any form of racism is based on love, but is always based on oppression. In yet another instance of the normalisation of this form of paternalism, La India Maria was described by a professor in class as being 'part of Mexican culture'. Mexican society has, similarly, been blind or reluctant in recognising indigenous communities' identity, power, and autonomy (unless of course, if it involves neoliberal tourism).
It is until our anger is performed; until our people speak up, stand up, protest, and rise to arms (such as San Quintin and EZLN) that we get national and international attention. It is when we disturb the bourgeois-upper-class-white-mestizo-Mexican society; it is when we go against the colonial social norm that we get acknowledgements. Acknowledgments that often negate our identities. They call us 'daily wage workers', 'migrants', peasants', but not Ñuu Savi, Triqui, , Tarahumara, or Purepecha.
San Quintin and Colonial History
The exploitation of indigenous workers in San Quintin is part of a longer history of exploitation beginning in the colonial period. During the colonial period, for instance, the strategic development of the haciendas, or large-scale plantations, was based on the basic principle of the dispossession of land and the use of indigenous bodies for labour. The development of haciendas in Mexico during the 16th century marked the beginning of displacement of indigenous people from their lands converting them into labourers.
During the Porfirian period, between the 1870s and 1910 under the rule of Porfirio Diaz, foreign investment and land appropriation became exaggerated, also leading to a growth of industrial production geared toward export products. Many indigenous people were forced to give up their land and work for the production of agricultural and mining commodities. According to various historians, people were often hired when they were drunk and basically kidnapped. People worked as peons, domestic servants (especially women), many of which were dominated by paternalism on the one hand and physical violence on the other. In addition, the agrarian reform of 1915 after the Mexican Revolution failed to compensate indigenous peoples for their stolen land, creating land conflicts that have lasted until this day, causing people to leave their homes.
Article 27 of the Mexican constitution of 1917 nationalised (state-controlled) land and reinforced the distribution of land to rural communities. Land distribution, however, only impacted communal lands of northern Mexico, such as San Quintin, where vast irrigation systems were located, and farms were introduced to industrialisation and capitalist agriculture, focusing on national and international production of commodities, that required cheap vulnerable labour. By 1992, Article 27 was revoked, permitting massive foreign capital investment in Mexico, which increased the price of domestic crops and ruined local rural markets. Many rural indigenous people in the south, therefore, were left with no choice but to migrate to work in northern Mexico and the United States. Together these historical processes account for creating the conditions for sharp inequalities, undergirded by racism, in the valley of San Quintin, bringing us back to the subject of anger.
San Quintin and Anger
Anger is important because we are tired of historical oppression. We have been the backbone of the Mexican economic structure. We have been displaced from our land. Yet here we are making our presence noticed.
Why does the media not talk about this anger we have held for generations? Why not mention this anger that we hold within the depths of our memories? I remember my grandparents telling me about their work in Sinaloa and Veracruz during the 1940s and 1950s, how they were told 'dirty indios' by their employers to make them feel ashamed of who they were. My father once told me he was physically punished in elementary school when he spoke our language in the classroom. His teacher took his pants off and sat him on an anthill of red ants. I remember how I was told by my family to aspire to be civilised, to become a man of reason and a man of letters. I was told to reject the 'Indian' in me so that I do not suffer like my parents and grandparents did. I grew up learning that to be an Indian meant to be the lowest race, class, and human in Mexico. Let’s not forget, the anger one must feel as a woman.
San Quintin is that anger we hold; anger growing and developing through history; an anger that must not be forgotten.
Are we just exploited labourers claiming for a fair salary, as the media portray us, or are we also oppressed people striving for dignity by denouncing the oppressor?
San Quintin is anger. We, the indigenous people of Mexico, are angry. We are angry at Mexican neoliberalism. We are angry at racism in Mexico. We are angry at patriarchy in Mexico. We are angry at Mexican internal colonialism.
We are angry at history: a history of exploitation and oppression.
So I say it, with all the anger that I feel righteous to: Mexico has a colonial racist patriarchal state and oppressive society. It is for this reason that many of us live in constant oppression and exploitation; we live in displacement away from our communities. It is also for that reason we speak up, we stand up, and we create our own future. We speak up because that anger is the foundation of our own definition of justice. San Quintin is part of the anger we hold.
About the author:
Noe Lopez is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin.
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