The following are the original tweets in Spanish from the official Twitter account of Los Tigres del Norte, one of the world's most popular bands, and some of the recent reactions by Mexican social media profiles regarding the decision by the city of Chihuahua to censor the band from the city for playing "for playing three songs at the weekend which defended crimes." Chihuahua is the capital of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the country's most violent state. (After presenting some of the latest tweets, we offer our take on this news, which we feel is censorship: plain and simple.)
The original tweet by the band on March 12 referred to their March 10 concert in Chihuahua and specifically called out their performance of "La Reina Del Sur." Here is the music video:
The song begins: "Voy a cantar un corrido, escuchen muy bien mis compas/Para la reina del sur, traficante muy famosa/Nacida alla en Sinaloa, la Tia Teresa Mendoza." ("I am going to sing a corrido, listen carefully, my friends/For the Queen of the South, the famous drug smuggler/Born in Sinaloa, the Tía Teresa Mendoza.") The song tells the story of Teresa and how in the end, she either died, was in jail or was living in Miami or California. The point of the song? La Reina learned her lesson. But we guess that the Chihuahua government doesn't agree.
And for that, the band has humbly tweeted: this is about freedom of expression. And of all the bands that would be censored, it was surprising to see Los Tigres get singled out. We are wondering if the city government of Dublin would ban U2 for singing about violence and rebellion ('Sunday Bloody Sunday") or that the state of New Jersey would censor Bruce Springsteen for singing about teenage sex and a careless lifestyle ("Born to Run"). You might laugh, but basically that is what happening with the Chihuahua ban of Los Tigres del Norte.
One thing to note: Los Tigres del Norte are part of a long and rich history of Northern Mexico's popular music (norteño music), and as their official Billboard biography states, it would be hard to think that this is a band that should be banned for artistic expression (and if their humble tweets don't prove their professionaism, who knows what can):
Their breakthrough hit, "Contrabando y Traición" (1972), is emblematic. Like most of the group's songs, "Contrabando y Traición" is a corrido, which is an age-old style of narrative song common to the mestizo cultural area of North America, including the northern states of Mexico as well as the southwestern ones of the United States. Traditionally, corridos feature a salutation or prologue; a story, often a legend or ballad of a hero or criminal native to northern Mexico; and in conclusion, a moral or lesson. However, "Contrabando y Traición" is a thoroughly modern corrido, as it features a pair of lovers who traffic marijuana across the border in the tires of a car.
The song became a sizable hit in southern California and set the course for the long, continuing success of Los Tigres, who went on to write a multitude of notable contemporary corridos about the drug trade (i.e., narcocorridos) and immigration…
Throughout their long and storied career, Los Tigres, also known as Los Idolos del Pueblo and Los Jefes de Jefes, maintained a respectable image, never glamorizing the drug trade nor any other criminal activity. They refused to be photographed with so much as a gun in sight. This air of respectability helped them expand their audience demographically as well as internationally.
For those who are interested, here is a video that briefly explains the history of how corridos became narcocorridos and why.