A ban on music inspired by drug trafficking and organized crime bosses underscores the illicit trade’s impact on modern Mexican culture.
The city council in the capital of Mexico’s northern Chihuahua state has implemented a ban on performing and distributing a genre of music known as “narcocorridos” within city limits, reported Excelsior.
Violators are subject to fines of around $20,000 dollars and up to 36 hours in jail. Chihuahua state’s legislature approved a statewide ban on narcocorridos in 2011, but it was never implemented by municipalities. The capital’s city council has decided to put the ban into action and stiffen the penalties as they believe narcocorridos promote crime and violence while apologizing for and glorifying organized crime figures, according to Excelsior.
The council’s decision followed a shooting at a narco corrido concert in the nearby city of Parral that reportedly left two dead and one wounded.
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The Chihuahua city council’s decision is not the first time authorities have attempted to curb the influence of narcocorridos. Other states have enacted similar bans and some radio stations have refused to play the genre. Yet narcocorridos remain popular — a testament to the drug trade’s influence on popular culture. In addition to glorifying crime, narcocorridos are also controversial because they are often directly commissioned by drug bosses.
Alongside narcocorridos, Mexico has seen the rise of organized crime inspired TV series, know locally as “narconovelas,” and biographies on top drug capos often enjoy popularity.
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While Chihuahua’s city council accused narcocorridos of glorifying criminality, others see them as a natural result of Mexico’s ongoing security crisis. “The corridos are attempts by Mexican society to come to terms with the world around them, and drug violence is a big part of that world,” the country’s former foreign secretary Jorge Castañeda told The New York Times. “You cannot blame narcocorridos for drug violence. Drug violence is to blame for narcocorridos.”
Narcocorridos are a popular genre of music originating in northern Mexico. While the instrumentation and playing style are based on local folk music, the genre’s lyrics are often compared to gangster rap in the United States. Famous songs include tributes to drug capos like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias “El Mayo,” as well as tales of drug smuggling and retaliation against criminal rivals (see below).