Latin Noise: Latin Voices Silent Against Donald Trump's Hateful Remarks
Only Maná rallies
It took a while for Donald Trump's words to sink in.
On June 16, when the businessman announced his bid for presidency, the very first issue he addressed, barely a couple of minutes into his speech, was immigration; specifically immigration coming from Mexico.
"When do we beat Mexico at the border?" asked Trump. "They're laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they're killing us economically.
The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems […] When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
That was bad enough. But then, Trump warmed up. "It's coming from more than Mexico," he added, excitedly. "It's coming from all over South and Latin America, and it's coming probably -- probably -- from the Middle East. But we don't know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don't know what's happening. And it's got to stop and it's got to stop fast."
Latin artists have long spoken up and marched for immigration reform: Jenni Rivera famously drove to Arizona from her home in Los Angeles to protest their immigration laws; her brother Lupillo Rivera confronted anti-immigrant protesters in Murietta, Calif., last year. Los Tigres del Norte have marched in countless immigration rallies; and scores of artists -- from Ricardo Arjona to La Santa Cecilia -- have penned moving migrant songs.
More to the point, musicians celebrate their Latin identity every single day by mere virtue of the fact that their music is in Spanish.
But on this subject, they've all been oddly silent.
Aside from understandable consternation in Mexico, where high ranking government officials immediately condemned Trump and enterprising businesses started selling Trump piñatas, Latin influentials in the music and entertainment world have kept mum about Trump's hate speech.
The lone exception was Maná singer Fher Olvera, who denounced Trump's words at a sold-out June 18 show at the Los Angeles Staples Center, where the band performed their cover of Los Tigres Del Norte's "Somos más Americanos" (We are more American) -- a song that deals precisely about immigration and preconceived stereotypes.
"He said we were trash, he said that the people who came from Latin America and Mexico are rapists, thugs and drug dealers," said Olvera of the presidential hopeful, with palpable indignation. "We feel pity for this incompetent man. I have never heard a speech as violent, or as filled with hatred -- not since Hitler."
Melodramatic? Not really. When my family and I first heard Trump's speech, we thought it was laughable, despite the fact that I'm one of those despicable (according to Trump) South Americans, born and raised in Colombia. The fact that Trump is such a non-contender, fueled the hilarity and, perhaps, the ensuing silence.
But after a few days, the import of his words began to hit home. Fool or no, Trump is a major public figure. His words get attention. And be assured that his hate speech reflects the beliefs of many, or, at the very least, the beliefs of many around him.
Clearly, in his view, Latin Americans, particularly Mexicans, are the source of serious and present danger to U.S. stability, security and economic progress; so much so that mentions of ISIS came much later in his speech.
One would think that with such provocative comments, the Latin world would have exploded with indignation. But no such thing happened.
In that climate, our silence as Latins is disingenuous at best. Trump wasn't standing in his soapbox merely lamenting illegal immigration; he was denouncing Latins as a whole as undesirables. Had his attack been targeted at any other group, be assured the reaction would have been swift and furious. So where are the voices of Latin musicians now?