Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Michoacan Narco Ballad

A helpful reader emails to point me to this morning's NPR story, Mexico's Drug Wars Leave Rising Death Toll, plus their web-extra 3-minute audio slideshow on the subject of Mexican drug cartels in the state of Michoacan. It's a bit sensationalist, perhaps, but then when drug cartels go into night clubs and dump bags of human heads on the floor, that's pretty sensational.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that, with so many people employed by the drug trade, the cartels are becoming local folk heroes in many quarters, with dramatic ballads or "narco-corridos" sold by street vendors on homemade CDs. Here's an example:

A Michoacan Narco Ballad

While the drug violence has everyone worried, the drug kingpins in Michoacan are actually folk heroes. Although they are illegal, go to any market in Michoacan and you can find CDs with homegrown narco-corridos, ballads that glorify drug dealers and the drug trade. ... (GFB note: An audio file of this catchy tune is on NPR's web page for this story.)

'Michoacan Harvest'
by El Cejas ('the eye-browed one')

The product we offer is first quality,
You can sample it if you want.
Harvested in Michoacán,
It’s pure goat’s tail.

It’s part of the best product,
We have picked from our land.
In Michoacán’s soil,
We harvest tons of it.

In our green meadows we plant the ‘evil weed’ -- hierba mala,
And it’s transformed into millions in the United States.

They say the mafia dies,
And that is a big lie
The product has been ‘internationalised’ to a large scale,
And our Mexican land gets more and more famous.

In La Ruana and El Aguaje,
They have changed their crops.
They used to plant corn,
But those times are gone.

Today, you can only see the green tops,
Of that very expensive grass.

There are many who criticize us,
I am going to give them an advice.
If this was an easy business,
anyone would be involved in it.
It is not a matter of having pants,
one has to wear them well.

With these lines, I say goodbye,
They expect me in Tijuana,
As I finish delivering this parcel
And I am back at La Ruana
To prepare another load for some friends in Atlanta.