viernes, 17 de febrero de 2012


Death Rattle
Gerardo Ortiz, whose latest CD both celebrates andquestionsthe culture of drug violence
In 2010, the collective of Mexican musicians known as Movimiento Alterado released a rousing carousel blitz of tubas, accordions, and snare rolls it called “Sanguinarios del M1.” The song’s title roughly translates as “The Bloodthirsty Killers of El M1”—M1 is the nickname for Manuel Torres Félix, an infamous member of the Sinaloa drug cartel. (He also goes by El Ondeado, “The Off One” or “The Crazy One.”) His long rap sheet includes a 2008 “message murder” in which he left three decapitated bodies with severed legs in the trunk of a car with a signed note and a decapitated snake.
“Sanguinarios” begins with the sound of semiautomatic gunfire, and then a rotating cast of singers role-plays as AK-47- and bazooka-toting M1 mercenaries. “We are crazy bloodthirsty guys,” the singers declare. “We like to kill.” They brag about their kidnapping, beheading, and torture skills and declare themselves architects of a reign of gunfire that, they promise, will never end. When the singers deliver these lines in the video, some carrying guns, others wearing ski masks and bulletproof vests, they stare into the camera, its lens splattered with blood.
The sing-alongs of Movimiento Alterado could only have been born during this blood-soaked moment of the U.S.–Mexico drug war. The statistics are now an unwelcome media mantra: More than 40,000 people have died, and more than 9,000 have gone missing since President Felipe Calderón began his campaign against Mexico’s cartels in 2006. Reports of mass graves, torched casinos, and mutilated bodies have become so commonplace that there are days when the Google Mexico news feed is nothing but a death scroll.
A groundswell of populist outrage has emerged, peaking last April when marches and vigils were held in 38 cities across Mexico. The protests were spearheaded by the poet Javier Sicilia, who founded the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity after his own son was killed (along with five others) by members of the Gulf cartel for allegedly reporting drug activity to a government hotline. The demonstrations have voiced opposition not only to cartel and military violence but also to the government’s response, demanding everything from changes in anti-trafficking strategy to the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “There they come / the beheaded, / the handless, / the dismembered,” the poet María Rivera recently wrote in “Los Muertos” (“The Dead”), a piece she read aloud at last year’s National March for Peace in Mexico City. “So lonely, so silent, so ours.”
 In a recent essay in the Mexican newspaper Milenio, the Tijuana writer Heriberto Yépez claims that Mexico’s cartels have gone from being an economy to becoming an ideology that saturates society. The term narco can refer to both “drug trafficker” (el narco) and “drug life” in general (lo narco). For Yépez, narco was once a prefix, an adjective that described an aspect of Mexican culture. Now it is Mexican culture; “narco and culture are synonyms.”
Movimiento Alterado is the first major musical effort to exploit this cultural shift. In Spanish, alterado means “altered,” but it can refer to being agitated, angry, violent, or even, more colloquially, to being high. These are all states of mind associated with the hyper-violent culture of the Mexican narco, and they’ve been turned into a popular brand by Movimiento Alterado’s creators, Burbank-based producers and musicians Adolfo and Omar Valenzuela (also known as “Los Twiins”).
The newest Movimiento compilation, Desvelada Party Loquera (Crazy All-Night Party), is the sixth in less than two years, and with songs like “Mi Vida Es Una Fiesta” (“My Life Is a Party”) and “Let’s Go to the Fiesta!,” it might be the first narco album to be overtly, and perversely, packaged as a nonstop Saturday-night dance party. On “La Fiesta del Cartel” (“The Cartel’s Party”), one of the collective’s most prominent acts, Los BuKnas de Culiacan, takes us into a fictional private bash for the Sinaloa cartel at which the band is playing. “Cheers for another year,” the performers sing as shots ring out and a champagne cork pops. “The cartel celebrates its good deeds.”

( via Jace Clayton &

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