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Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte fined for playing “Narco Corrido”

May 27, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte fined for playing “Narco Corrido”

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A popular song about Camelia — the Texas woman who smuggles drugs into the U.S. and then killed her lover in a jealous fury — has gotten the band Los Tigres del Norte “JammedUp” with legal trouble in Mexico.

The well-known band played the song — one of their many hits detailing the lives of drug smugglers — during a sold out performance on Sunday in the northern Mexican city of Chihuahua.

The group broke the one strict rule for musicians who play Chihuahua: no one is allowed to sing about drug cartels, the L.A. Times reported.

Now the band owes $25,000 in penalties for breaking the city’s law.

The punishment against the Grammy-winning band is another high-profile salvo in Mexico’s war against narcocorridos — a popular genre of music that some Mexicans believe praises drug trafficking and violence.

Los Tigres del Norte fined 500,000 pesos (The US $27,000) for performing a song glorifying a drug trafficker.

A few years back, officials in Chihuahua made it a crime punishable by fines and prison time to play narcocorridos in public, saying such shows were “acts against security.”

In other parts of Mexico, radio stations have been coerced to stop playing the songs and some of the singers who produce them have been investigated for ties to drug cartels.

“The way things are now with insecurity, we can’t permit drug traffickers to be venerated in songs,” Chihuahua Mayor María Eugenia Campos Galvan told the media.

The city and its residents, she stated, are spending significant resources supporting authorities in their battle against organized crime. So it is not logical “to be glorifying drug traffickers,” according to Galvan.

Los Tigres del Norte — whose narcocorridos led them to fame in the 1970s — have long maintained that their music doesn’t glorify drug culture, but reflects the reality in Mexico. They also talk about love, the life of migrants north of the border and even presidential elections.

Los Tigres del Norte on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

“We sing what the people want to hear, and what the people are living,” singer Jorge Hernandez stated in 2009, when the band canceled an appearance at an awards ceremony in Mexico City after organizers asked them not to play “La Granja,” a song criticizing the government’s strategy to the drug war.

In the years since violence in Mexico has only intensified — this year the country is on its way to recording more murder than in any year since the government began releasing statistics in 1997.

Some performers of narcocorridos have questioned why other forms of art that explore themes of violence haven’t come under the same level of investigation. Movies and telenovelas about the lives of cartel head have been popular in Mexico, including a new Univision series about Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

It is likely that Los Tigres del Norte, which consists of four brothers and a cousin who immigrated to the U.S., ridiculed the law intentionally when they started playing the first lines of “Contrabando y Traicion,” or “Contraband and Betrayal,” which records the exploits of Camelia the Texan.

The band also played “Jefe de Los Jefes,” or “Boss of the Bosses,” another forbidden song that tells the story of a swaggering cartel head.

The members of the band were forbidden from playing in Chihuahua in 2012 after they broke the law by performing one of their most popular songs, “La Reina del Sur” — “Queen of the South” — which describes the exploits of a female dealer.

It’s not clear when the ban was dropped and how Los Tigres were permitted to play Sunday’s show.

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