Latinoamèrica- Calle 13

A journey through Latin America's social and political context

Released in 2011 by Calle 13 an alternative hip-hop music band famous for its songs filled with political and social consciousness ideas, Latinoamérica is inspired by a journey that two of the founders of the band took through the continent.  The song was released as a single from their album Entren Los Que Quieran (Enter those who want) 2010.

Calle 13 is a Puerto Rican band formed by stepbrothers Rene Perez Joglar and Eduardo Jose Cabra Martinez, and their half-sister Ileana Cabra Joglar, whose sweet yet strong and melodic voice accompanies many of the band’s songs. Rene and Eduardo like to call themselves respectively ‘Residente’ (resident) and ‘Visitante” (visitor). Calle 13 is known for its diverse musical style, using unconventional instrumentation in its music, which distances the group from the reggaeton genre. 

The poetic lyrics, written in first person as if Latin America was speaking to the listener, send a strong political and social message  about the meaning of this land, and what makes a person Latin American. It is almost as if the song is keen on highlighting a sense of ownership of the land, a land that has been exploited heavily because of its resources, a land that was under colonization for centuries. The band makes sure that it is understood that the land is not for sale, and that no matter the exploitation, there are certain things which cannot be bought. The chorus really captures this through its lyric: “This land is not for sale, you cannot buy my happiness, you cannot buy the wind, you cannot buy the sun, you cannot buy the rain” sings Ileana, in Spanish and Portuguese, to not exclude anyone.

The song is a journey through Latin America, a summary of the past and future of the continent. The lyrics describe part of Latin American history when they choose to remember the thousands of people who disappeared (desaparecido) under the dictatorships in the 1970s: “El sol que nace y el día que muere, con los mejores atardeceres. Soy el desarrollo en carne viva, un discurso político sin saliva. Las caras más bonitas que he conocido, soy la fotografía de un desaparecido.” (The sun that is born and the day that dies, with the most beautiful sunsets. I am development in flesh and bone. The most beautiful faces I have met. I am the photograph of a disappeared).

The lyrics keep on going back to pride and love for the land using examples of how roots and traditions have been maintained even after all the years of colonization. For example, “una canasta con frijoles” (a basket of beans) symbolizes a typical staple food of indigenous people, stressing on the preservation of tradition against the injustices of invasion.

Latinoamèrica really goes into every corner of the continent,  mentioning all countries,   and referring to several injustices and political and environmental scandals. An example is when the singer says  “soy una fábrica de humo, mano campesina para tu consumo.” (I am a factory of smoke, a farmer’s hand for your consumption) representing the injustice of farmer’s labor and exploitation for the consumption of others.

The references are not very explicit, but perhaps this is exactly what the band wants to portray, by speaking in first person (as the continent) they really manage to portray the Latin American-ness of the people, truly representing unity, pride and  strength against corrupt governance, failing economies, corporate injustices and imperialism.

Other than a song about injustices and economic failure, this is a song about love. There is so much love, tenderness and affection for the people of South America, a strong connection between all of them, a huge sense of unity. The video was meant to be shot all around the continent but ended up being shot all in Peru, showing a common trait between each country, a connection of sorts.

“Soy America Latina, un pueblo sin piernas, pero que camina” (I am Latin America, a population without legs, but walking)

 

The song gives goosebumps. The end of the song expresses an even stronger sense of unity, imagining it whilst hearing it, I see the song beginning with one person walking, and ending with thousands of people, from all over the continent, walking together, designing their path.

“Vamos dibujando el camino” (We move on, drawing our own path)

The lyrics and the music truly speak for themselves, a beautiful depiction of love and patriotism.

 

Soy, soy lo que dejaron
Soy toda la sobra de lo que se robaron
Un pueblo escondido en la cima
Mi piel es de cuero
Por eso aguanta cualquier clima

Soy una fabrica de humo
Mano de obra campesina para tu consumo
Frente de frío en el medio del verano
El amor en los tiempos del cólera mi hermano

El sol que nace y el día que muere
Con los mejores atardeceres
Soy el desarrollo en carne viva
Un discurso político sin saliva

Las caras mas bonitas que he conocido
Soy la fotografía de un desaparecido
La sangre dentro de tus venas
Soy un pedazo de tierra que vale la pena

Una canasta con frijoles
Soy Maradona contra Inglaterra
Anotándote dos goles
Soy lo que sostiene mi bandera
La espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera

Soy lo que me enseño mi padre
El que no quiere a su patria
No quiere a su madre
Soy América latina
Un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina

Tu no puedes comprar el viento,
Tu no puedes comprar el sol
Tu no puedes comprar la lluvia,
Tu no puedes comprar el calor
Tu no puedes comprar las nubes,
Tu no puedes comprar los colores
Tu no puedes comprar mi alegría,
Tu no puedes comprar mis dolores

Tengo los lagos, tengo los ríos
Tengo mis dientes pa’ cuando me sonrío
La nieve que maquilla mis montañas
Tengo el sol que me seca y la lluvia que me baña

Un desierto embriagado con peyote
Un trago de Pulque para cantar con los coyotes
Todo lo que necesito
Tengo a mis pulmones respirando azul clarito

La altura que sofoca
Soy las muelas de mi boca mascando coca
El otoño con sus hojas desmayadas
Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada

Una viña repleta de uvas
Un cañaveral bajo el sol en un cuba
Soy el mar caribe que vigila las casitas
Haciendo rituales de agua bendita

El viento que peina mi cabello
Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello
El jugo de mi lucha no es artificial
Por que el abono de mi tierra es natural

[Coro:]
Tu no puedes comprar el viento,
Tu no puedes comprar el sol
Tu no puedes comprar la lluvia,
Tu no puedes comprar el calor
Tu no puedes comprar las nubes,
Tu no puedes comprar los colores
Tu no puedes comprar mi alegría,
Tu no puedes comprar mis dolores

Trabajo bruto pero con orgullo
Aquí se comparte, lo mio es tuyo
Este pueblo no se ahoga con marullos
Y si se derrumba, yo lo reconstruyo

Tampoco pestañeo cuando te miro
Para que te acuerdes de mi apellido
La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido
Perdono pero nunca olvido

Vamos caminando
Aquí se respira lucha
Vamos caminando
Yo Canto porque se escucha

Vamos dibujando el camino
Estamos de pie
Vamos caminando
Aquí estamos de pie

Translated lyrics here

Latinoamèrica- Calle 13
4 (80%) 2 votes
Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Virginia Vigliar

Virginia is a freelance journalist and editor based in Barcelona, consults for Oxfam in Spain and the Netherlands, and she is the Chief Editor of WIB. She is a passionate advocate of human rights and freedom of speech. And a meme enthusiast. She has worked in the development sector in Malawi and Kenya and Somalia before returning to Europe, where she gained experience in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Spain. To see her work, look at her website here: http://virginiavigliar.com/
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