The video opens with a radio broadcast in an indigenous language that is hard to place. Scenes flash before us: serene lakes, mountain ranges, snowy peaks… and the beautiful sadness of street life. A heart beating in tempo with the music, the pulse of blood and the pulse of a people, of a culture, blending into one.

And the faces, so many faces… the faces of Latin America. The indigenous and Spaniard, the young and the old, the playful and the hardworking. The tattoos of a teenager. Feet walking to school, to work in the fields, to board airplanes. Hands that weave baskets, that work in the mills, that pour coffee and hold treasured cups of fresh juice. The faces of Latin America.

The Huffington Post calls Latinoamérica a continuance of the journey the stepbrothers embarked on” in their documentary “Sin Mapa .” In some ways, they are right. But in other ways, Latinoamérica is a journey unto itself.

Calle 13 cannot be called “rap”. They cannot be called “hip hop” or “reggae” or even “urban”, for as Residente, one of the two stepbrothers that front the group, has said, Calle 13 is above classification – and that’s how he prefers it. They are a musical style that combines all of these categories and yet rises above them all, particularly through the power that is their political, socially-driven lyrics.

Roughly translated, the opening lines of Latinoamérica read: “I am. I am what they left. I am the leftovers of what was stolen. A village hidden on the peak. My skin in made of leather – that’s why it stands any weather. I’m a factory of smoke, a peasant work of art for your consumption. Cold front in the middle of summer, Love in the Time of Cholera, my brother… I am development in flesh and blood, a political discourse without saliva… I am Latin America, a people without legs, but that walks.”

It is not the material possessions we possess that make us who we are:

“I have the lakes, I have the rivers.
I have my teeth for when I smile.
The snow that beautifies my mountains.
I have the sun that dries me an the rain that washes me,
A desert intoxicated with peyote.”

Pride is found in the land itself, a land that has known centuries of conquest, bloodshed, and destruction and yet still possesses the power to maintain its beauty. This is not only true of the land, but of the people as well. Centuries of conquest, bloodshed, and destruction have made the peoples of Latin America as strong and unshakable as the mountains themselves.

I once believed that no words could accurately capture the beauty and strength of such a resilient people. Calle 13’s Latinoamérica proved me wrong.

Such resilience must treasured in words that will be remembered, and the last two lines deliver it perfectly: “Long live Latin America – you can’t buy my life.”

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *