I had to go all the way to Argentina to learn about a Puerto Rican group called Calle 13, which has two Grammys and holds the record for the most Latin Grammys (19).
Around the time we landed in Buenos Aires, Calle 13 was there as part of a Latin American tour promoting the album they released last year. My new teacher, Matias, was in Buenos Aires for the concert and played Calle 13’s song Latinoamérica in class for us today.
The song’s video starts with a Peruvian man introducing Calle 13 in Quechua. The lyrics begin:
Soy lo que dejaron
Soy toda la sobra de lo que se robaron
(a translation: “I am what you left behind, I am the remains of what you stole”)
The final bit of chorus goes like this (my translation):
You can’t buy the sun
You can’t buy the rain
You can’t buy my life
My land is not for sale
Latinoamérica’s reflection on historical, social, and political themes acts as a criticism of Western force and influence within Latin America, while at the same time asserting the collective strength of the Latin American oppressed. In addressing the shared history of Latin America, the band exposes the faults that are still a factor in present day Latin America.
The video is long (5:42), but it’s really well done.