Mexico: Murders of Mexican musicians

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Mexico:
Murders of Mexican musicians

Violent assaults on popular Mexican figures – which includes musicians – increase as battles for drug dealing territories and drug routes intensify in the country.

By Martin Buch Larsen, Freemuse

Sergio Gomez, 35, the lead singer of the Mexican band K-Paz de la Sierra is the latest musician to be killed in a row of gruesome assaults on musicians over the past year.

According to a source quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Sergio Gomez and his band had received death threats urging them not to perform in Mexico’s western state of Michoacán. They chose to ignore the threats, and as it turned out their concert in the Michoacán state capital of Morelia on 1 December 2007 was to be Gomez’ last.

The British broadcaster BBC reports that Sergio Gomez and his companions were travelling in a car in the early hours of Sunday after K-Paz de la Sierra’s concert in Morelia, when they were kidnapped by armed men. While his companions were released shortly hereafter, Gomez was found dead in the outskirts of Morelia, bearing signs that he had been tortured and strangled to death. This was recounted by Magdalena Guzman, a spokeswoman for Michoacán state’s justice department.

Last week, another Mexican singer, Zayda Pena, was shot in her hospital bed in the North Eastern state of Matamoros, where she was recovering from another violent assault.

According to BBC, several of the murders of musicians over the past year are believed to be tied to organised crime and drug-trafficking. Alone in Mexico, more than 1,000 people are said to have been killed this year as drug cartel’s battles for territory and drug routes.

Motives unknown
The motives for the murders of Sergio Gomez and Zayda Pena are still unclear. However, many locals seem to believe the murders were two of many drug-related assaults which appear to be on the rise in several of Mexico’s states.

Previously, musicians in Mexico mainly found themselves at risk if they sang so-called corrido-ballads, which are songs that can be perceived as glorifying the drug trade and in particular some of the drug cartel leaders. This type of songs have given their singers the common label narcocorridos. One of the most high-profile narcocorrido-slayings occurred last year when the Mexican singer Valentin Elizalde, the so-called ‘Golden Rooster’, was brutally gunned down in a gang related dispute.

Sergio Gomez (in middle, top row) with his band K-Paz de la Sierra, popular for their ‘duranguense’ music

Sergio Gomez and his band K-Paz de la Sierra, whose bouncy duranguense music – a mix of heavy drums and synthesizer – have grown a large following in both USA and Mexico does however not seem to fall within this narcocorrido category, as their music primarily focuses on odes to love.

Some observers raise speculations whether they have had connections to the expanding underworld drug environment in Mexico.



Sergio Gomez (1973-2007) was murdered after a performance in Morelia, Mexico

Sources

Reuters – 3 December 2007:
‘Singer abducted, strangled to death in Mexico’

BBC News – 4 December 2007:

‘Abducted Mexican singer strangled’

Chicago Tribune – 5 December 2007:

‘Ex-Chicago singer slain in Mexico’

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