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Which Aspects of Latin American History and Cultural Formations Are Reflected in Calle 13’s Video Latinoamérica?

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To begin, where is Latin America? Geographically, the term refers to a set of nations belonging to the regions of North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Culturally and linguistically, Latin America is defined as nations in the Americas and the Caribbean whose residents predominantly speak Spanish or Portuguese—two of the many languages descended from Latin. The first use of the term “Latin America” can be traced back to the 1850s in the writings of Michel Chevalier (1806–1879), who employed the term as a way to differentiate the “Latin” peoples from the “Anglo-Saxon” peoples of the Americas, using language to create a geographic distinction.

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The Puerto Rican rap duo Calle 13 is one of the most beloved and hated bands in the Spanish-speaking world. Its members are politically outspoken and opinionated. They've also undergone an unusual evolution: They went from making raunchy club hits to becoming Latin America's premier political troubadours. When the group first surfaced in the mid-2000s, Calle 13's lyrics earned it comparisons to rapper Eminem. Frontman Rene Perez Joglar was foul-mouthed and self-deprecating, but undeniably talented. He was as funny as he was gross. Armed with the stellar beats and hooks created by Joglar's stepbrother Eduardo Cabra, the duo elbowed its way through a crowd of gold-chain-wearing Puerto Rican reggaeton stars, and became a club hit. "Who cares if you like Green Day? Who cares if you like Coldplay?" Joglar taunted Latinas in one of Calle 13's most famous lines. "I swear that by law, all Puerto Rican women know karate, they cook with Salsa De Tomate, and dip the rice in avocado, so they can harvest nalgas de 14 kilates — 14 karat butts." Nuria Net is the managing editor at Fusion, and she says that even at the time, she was in no way offended by Calle 13's lyrics. "Calle 13 rapped about the female body, the nalgas, the curves, the bodily fluids ... It was so much more graphic, and poetic, but even raunchier than reggaeton and urban music 10 years ago." Beyond its concern for derrieres, from the very beginning the band also had a political streak. One of its first songs is called "Querido FBI," or "Dear FBI," and it was an enraged protest against the FBI's killing of Puerto Rican nationalist Filiberto Ojeda Rios. "They've pissed on our flag, he bled to death, my people, I tell you he bled to death," Joglar rapped. Back in those days, Joglar says he "didn't care about anything. I had no commitments, I was relaxed." He might have been careless, but he had a huge impact on Latin music. Music blogger Juan Data says that Calle 13 broke a lot of barriers, adding, "It was the first time there was intelligent music in Latin America." Musically, the band also evolved unexpectedly

While its counterparts kept riding on that thumping mix of Spanish rap and Caribbean beats known as reggaeton, Calle 13 experimented with sounds from across the Latin world, collaborating with rock bands such as Mexico's Cafe Tacvba, or Panamanian salsa legend Ruben Blades.

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There are few documented cases of noncitizen voter fraud in which the noncitizen registered to vote or voted knowing that they were ineligible. It seems unlikely that a noncitizen would risk the severe penalties involved—criminal prosecution and deportation—to cast a ballot. In addition, citizenship-based voting purges employ flawed and unreliable methods to identify ineligible voters. Indeed, they often fail to discover a significant number of noncitizen voters. Yet, citizenship-based voting purges that either target or disproportionately affect Latinos are becoming part of the electioncycle norm. The public transcripts on the noncitizen voter threat shape and move legislative policy and electoral practices that disenfranchise Latinos. Public transcripts about rampant voter fraud by undocumented Latinos obscure these shortcomings, while simultaneously garnering support for purges that disproportionality affect Latinos (Myrna Pérez, 2008). Hidden transcripts create oppositional narratives that draw attention to those relegated to the social margins by providing a space for their views to be heard, understood, and developed into communal resistance. Reggaeton, like rap, is a hidden transcript. It stems from an amalgamation of rap, rap en español, and Jamaican dancehall with strong Latin American influences. This Article focuses on Calle 13, a musical duo comprised of the lyricist Rene Perez Joglar, and instrumentalist Eduardo Jose Cabra Martinez, stepbrothers from Puerto Rico. The Article examines the duo’s use of social commentary and satire to confront the negative representations of Latinos, which are often used to engender support for discriminatory laws. The Article also focuses on citizenship-based voting purges because voting on a particular issue or for a candidate or party, expresses some facet of the voter’s beliefs, values, and ideology (Bonnie L

Mitchell & Joe R. Feagin). This means that voters have the ability to elect officials that may reflect or at least be responsive to their views. The inability to vote consequently renders a person voiceless, relegating them to the societal periphery. The hope is that the music of Calle 13 may provide a voice, or a hidden transcript, for Latinos who would otherwise be silenced by laws and policies that disenfranchise them.

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In either case, Calle 13 is made up by Residente, his stepbrother Eduardo Cabra Martínez, known as Visitante, and their sister Ileana Cabra Jogler, PG-13. Many of their songs carry strong political overtones, including support for the Puerto Rican independence movement. “Querido F.B.I.” (Dear F.B.I.) was written to protest the 2005 killing of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, a Puerto Rican revolutionary. While not as politically controversial as “Querido F.B.I.,” Calle 13 are certainly not shying away from their criticism of the U.S. or their pride in being Latino American.

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Theresa A. Martinez, Image of the “Socially Disinherited”: Inner-City Youth in Rap Music, 10 J.L. & FAM. STUDIES 111, 119 (2007)

Bonnie L. Mitchell & Joe R. Feagin, America’s Racial-Ethnic Cultures: Opposition within a Mythical Melting Pot, in TOWARD THE MULTICULTURAL UNIVERSITY 65, 68–69

Ana Henderson, Citizenship, Voting, and Asian American Political Engagement, 3 U.C. IRVINE L. REV. 1077, 1084–89 (2013)

Myrna Pérez, Voter Purges, BRENNAN CTR. FOR JUSTICE, 1 (2008)

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