Mexico: Popular music group banned in Chihuahua



Popular music group banned in Chihuahua

Authorities in the capital of Mexico’s most violent state, Chihuahua, which lies on the U.S. border, has banned the popular group Los Tigres del Norte from performing in the city after the band sang ballads glorifying drug traffickers during their concerts.

“The musical group will not get permits for future shows in the city limits, until such time as authorities decide otherwise,” the Chihuahua city government said said in a statement. The band violated a three-month-old city ordinance prohibiting songs that glorify drug traffickers, and that the concert’s organisers would be fined “at least 20,000 pesos” – 1,585 US dollars.

During concerts in Chihuahua and the border city of Ciudad Juarez on 10 March 2012, the group had included three of their well-known narcocorridos, ‘drug ballads’ which glorify drug traffickers. Among the songs were ‘La Reyna del Sur’, (‘The Queen of the South’), a song believed to refer to alleged female drug capos like Sandra Avila Beltran, better known as the Queen of the Pacific.

Surprised by the ban
An official from the city hall, City Governance Director Javier Torres told AFP on 13 March 2012 that at a cattle exposition the band had been playing three songs which defended crimes, and that they “ask concert organisers and the artists themselves to think about the difficult situation the country is in.”

Within the following 24 hours the news of the ban were distributed and published by literally all the major media houses in the world.

Los Tigres del Norte announced on their Twitter account that they were surprised by the ban because they were not aware that drug ballads were prohibited there.

Banning of narcocorridos
There have been other attempts in Mexico to ban the drug ballads but seldom have they affected a mainstream group as popular as Los Tigres del Norte.

The song ‘La Reina del Sur’, The Queen of the South, song sums up a novel on a slain trafficker’s rise through the drug business. It later became a tv soap opera.

Manuel Valenzuela, expert on narcocorridos at the College of the Northern Border in Tijuana, calls the bans ‘censorship’ at a time cultural expressions — movies such as ‘Miss Bala’ and ‘El Infierno’ — draw on strife from the ongoing drug war. He cites self-interest among a nervous business and political class for the ban, rather than public-safety concerns.

Growing following
Songs glorifying drug traffickers, known as narcocorridos, have attracted a growing following in recent years from Mexico City to Los Angeles. According to official figures, drug-related violence has cost the lives of at least 47,515 people in Mexico from December 2006 through September 2011.

In 2009, Los Tigres del Norte cancelled a planned appearance at an awards ceremony after organisers allegedly asked it not to play the song ‘La Granja’ (‘The Farm’). The song’s biting lyrics appear to lampoon former officials and also allude to the violence unleashed in Mexico’s war on drug cartels.


Los Tigres del Norte


The Associated Press – 14 March 2012:

‘Ciudad Juarez bans Los Tigres del Norte band for glorifying drug trade’

AFP – 13 March 2012:

‘Mexico group banned for playing drug songs’

BBC News – 13 March 2012:

‘Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte banned in Chihuahua’

The News Tribune – 12 March 2012:

‘Mexican city bans Tigres del Norte for drug songs’

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