Citing Sexist Lyrics, Public Funds Withdrawn From Maluma Concert in Canary Islands

Maluma performs live on stage at Espaco das Americas on April 30, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

Maluma performs live on stage at Espaco das Americas on April 30, 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Officials in Tenerife, where the reggaeton star is to begin his Spain tour, deem the content of his hits “an apologia for violence against women”

Reggaeton star Maluma is set to begin a tour of Spain on Sept. 8 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, a habitual hot spot for tropical music artists. But Maluma’s appearance will not have the support of officials in Tenerife, who have called the popular controversy-courting singer’s lyrics “an apologia for violence against women” and have rescinded financial support for the concert.

“We can’t support something with public money that denigrates women,” Efraín Medina, Vice President in charge of the island’s economy, told the local newspaper La Opinión. The government has cancelled 3,000 euros destined for Maluma’s appearance at the Mar Abierto Festival – billed as “the Canaries most important music festival” --- where "Despacito"’s Luis Fonsi and Colombian pop star Carlos Vives are also scheduled headliners.

“The sponsorship is a small and generic one for the Mar Abierto festival,” tweeted Carlos Alonso, President of the island’s government. (The Canary Islands are an Autonomous Community of Spain.) “I decided that our support would not include that event.” The decision has attracted both support and criticism on social media.

The decision was made amidst widespread alarm about violence against women in Spain, and just after the murder of a 38-year-old woman in Tenerife earlier this month; her partner was charged in the crime. She was the 34th woman to be murdered in Spain this year by their current or former husbands or boyfriends, according to official figures from Spain’s Health, Social Services and Equality Ministry.

On neighboring Grand Canary Island, also a location for the Mar Abierto Festival, and where Maluma will perform on Sept. 9 in the capitol city of Las Palmas, officials followed Tenerife’s decision with the announcement that they also do not approve of Maluma’s appearance, for the same reasons.

In a Tweet, the local government clarified that public funds were not destined the concert. They also demanded that the promoters take the official Grand Canary logo -- “being used without permission” -- off of promotional materials for the show.

The island’s top cultural administrator, Carlos Ruiz, told reporters that although he does not condone censorship, “institutions should not sponsor events with the content contained in the lyrics of that so-and-so.”

Arte Valle Productions, organizers of the Mar Abierto Festival, announced on Facebook that the show will go on regardless of the officials’ opinions or actions. Following the officials’ statements, the promoters have stepped up publicity for Maluma’s shows and noted that tickets are selling briskly.

“Promoting music has nothing to do with violence against women,” a representative of Arte Valle said, according to La Opinión.

Maluma has not yet commented publicly about the Canaries situation. But the current outcry by the officials is just the latest chapter in an ongoing controversy about his lyrics. Maluma’s 2016 song “Cuatro Babys” was met with a petition on, posted from Madrid, that demanded its removal from digital platforms because its lyrics were demeaning to women.

"Both the lyric and the images incite direct violence towards women, which are described as worthless, interchangeable and absolutely available bodies at the service of the authors' unlimited sexual desire," wrote Laura Perez, who posted the petition. "The woman figure appears represented as a valueless entity, or power of decision, that exists only to satisfy the physical needs of a group of virile little boys with money."

The lyrics to "Cuatro Babys" include a verse that says, in Spanish, "They always give me what I want, they f--k when I tell them to."

At that time, Maluma reacted to his critics on social media: "You'll always be judged for one thing or another. Just do what comes out of your heart, what makes you happy. If they talked about Jesus Christ, why would it surprise you to have them talk about you?" he wrote.

This past June, Maluma walked away from an interview with a Univision reporter when he was asked about the controversy.

Maluma’s current single, “Felices los Cuatro,” is currently at no. 1 on Billboard’s Latin Airplay and Latin Pop Songs charts. 


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