Mexico: Legislators propose nation-wide ban on ‘drug ballads’




Legislators propose nation-wide ban on ‘drug ballads’

A bill presented to Mexico’s congress in the last week of January 2010 by the ruling National Action Party (PAN) proposes that musicians could be sent to prison in up to three years for playing songs that glorify the drug trade and trafficking – the socalled ‘narcocorrido songs’.

National Action Party lawmaker Oscar Martin Arce said the proposal’s intention is not to limit free expression, but to stop such performances from inciting crimes.
But Elijah Wald, author of the book, ‘Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas,’ said politicians are attempting to censor artists rather than attacking Mexico’s real problems.

On his website, Elijah Wald has posted descriptions of dozens of past efforts to stop the songs, including radio broadcast bans and politicians’ proposals.
“It is very hard to stop the drug trafficking. It is very easy to get your name in the papers by attacking famous musicians,” he told Associated Press.

Stephen Marche wrote in the Canadian newspaper National Post: “The Mexican war on drugs is about to claim another casualty: music.”

The proposed law would bring prison sentences of up to three years for people who perform or produce songs or movies glamorizing criminals. It is not clear when the proposed legislation is going to be voted on.

“Society sees drug ballads as nice, pleasant, inconsequential and harmless, but they are the opposite,” National Action Party lawmaker Oscar Martin Arce told The Associated Press.


The ballads, known as ‘narcocorridos’, often describe drug trafficking and violence, and are popular among some norte

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Google News – continuously updated:

Search: “narcocorridos”

Sources (Drug War Chronicle – world’s leading drug policy newsletter) – 29 January 2010:

‘Latin America: Mexico Proposes Banning Narcocorridos (Drug Ballads)’

Stephen Marche, Weekend Post – 29 January 2010:

‘In defence of Mexican gangster polka’

Associated Press / The New York Times – 21 January 2010:

‘Mexican ruling party proposes banning drug ballads’

Dig deeper

Elijah Wald: ‘Corrido Censorship: A Brief History’

Information about Elijah Wald’s book, ‘Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas’:

The Standford Review – Bellum – 10 February 2009:

‘Narcocorridos: The Cartels Stretch Their Wings’

BBC News Online – 3 October 2004:

‘Mexico’s forbidden songs’

These background links were provided by Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

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