Why is this man
smiling? Outspoken musician incurs the wrath of the Mexican government.
By Fred Mills
Meanwhile, as Hilary Clinton has been getting all the
U.S.-and-Mexico headlines lately, let’s take a look at some under-the-radar
news. Never forget that just because America is purportedly working together
with our neighbors to the south on this drug cartel thing (hint to all you NRA
supporters: the gun sales thing is going to have to be addressed on this side
of the border or nothing will change, so maybe you need to have an attitude
adjustment), the country retains many trappings of a police state (and remains
awash in corruption, too).
Musician-activist Manu Chao hasn’t been feeling much love
from Mexican authorities. Seems that last week, on Tuesday, at the Guadalajara International Film Festival Chao,
referring to a 2006 incident in which a Mexican police and federales intervention (following a citizen protest that led to
several officers being taken hostage) resulted in injuries, a number of rapes
and two deaths, observed that, “What happened in Atenco was, in some way,
State terrorism. [The authorities] are saying ‘don’t say a word when we seize
your land, because you better watch out, the same thing will happen to you as
happened in Atenco'”.
Subsequently on Thursday Mexican Interior Ministry launched
an investigation into Chao, citing an article in the Mexican Constitution that
prohibits foreigners from “interfering” with internal political matters and
allows immediate deportation when an incident does occur. That night Chao did
not appear at a scheduled concert. Then on Friday both Peter Gabriel and
Mexican film actor Diego Luna spoke out in Chao’s defense, and apparently the
whole matter has generated much commentary in the Mexican media, some coming
down on the side of Chao and other suggesting that since he is in fact a
foreigner he should keep his mouth shut.
Meanwhile, the Mexican government denied in a statement that
it had been planning to expel Chao from the country – this despite the Interior
Go HERE to read a full account of the situation.
On March 28 Chao issued the following statement in a posting
to his website (via translation engine,
glitches left intact) in order to clarify his position and apologize to fans who’d wanted to see him perform:
COMUNICADO Manu Chao
– GUADALAJARA 27 DE MARZO
Guadalajara March 27, Comunicado Manu Chao
Yesterday I was told to wake up to the Mexican government to investigate my
statements in this press conference at the International Film Festival in the
city of Guadalajara.
Statements referring to the police operation carried out in
May 2006 in San Salvador Atenco. This operation left two dead, over 200
detainees and several allegations of sexual abuse of women by police. Are still
in prison 12 people with absurd sentences of 31 to 112 years. Undoubtedly I
revindico as one of all those people who is campaigning for his release and
trying to break any part of this blatant injustice.
Gradually in the day, we heard about the possibility of an immigration check on
me, and that could result at any time in my immediate expulsion from the
country without trial.
Yesterday at night on the Rambla de Catalunya Guadalajara projected outdoors and free
admission to the film LT22 Radio La Colifata Carlos Larrondo in the context of
section Cinelandia that the film festival invited me to lead. As usual there
was a chance to sing about issues after the screening as happened during the
festival at the Instituto Cabañas along Cinelandia cycle. I think it is
important to note that these informal palomazos were never part of the official
program of the event and are offered at no profit to the film lovers who came
to enjoy the films selected.
The decision not to sing in the Rambla Catalunya last Thursday was expressly
mine. I took it to avoid any possibility of violent overflow if the authorities
had intended to come to me during the event. What could have triggered a
confrontation between police and public. Mindful that children could attend
this evening and thousands of people, I did not want to take the risk of
transforming the cultural festival into something uncontrollable and distressing
for those present.
The primary reason for my decision was that one. And no other.
Here I apologize to everyone who attended the ceremony and stayed with these
temitas rumberos after the movie. I hope they understand my decision and
appreciate the context.