Orishas: Desaparecidos


a los presidentes asesinos

a los responsables
de desaparecidos
pa' los que trafican con ninos
el culpable sabe de que hablo yo

To the assassin presidents
To those responsible
for the Disappeared
For those who traffic children
The guilty knows of what I speak

This week's musical entry comes from Orishas, a hip-hop group of Cuban migrants that combines rap en Español with a traditional Cuban sound.

From the group's Wikipedia page:

Orishas is a hip-hop group whose members had emigrated from Cuba. . . . The Orishas delved into a realm of music in which they challenged "Castro's ideal of a colorless society" and created a black identity that the younger generations could relate to. They tackled important and obvious issues that dark skinned Cubans faced everyday though the government refused to recognize.

. . .

The name "Orishas" refers to the set of deities worshipped in African-based religions that were brought to the Americas by slaves of the Yoruba people in West Africa. These religions, parts of the Yoruba mythology, include Santeria in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil. These orishas, or deities, each represent a natural element (such as the ocean or leaves) and exhibit a human characteristic (such as motherhood or love). The choice of this name for the hip hop group is a way of creating a direct link between this band and the African diaspora. This link is evident in the lyrics to "Nací Orichas" and "I Sing For Elewa and Changó".

One of my favorite Orishas songs, Desaparecidos, is about the "Disappeared," the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people kidnapped and murdered by their governments in Latin America during the Cold War, from Cuba to Guatemala to Argentina to the DR. Anyone who believes the Cold War was relatively casualty-free didn't spend much time in Latin America while it was happening.

To my knowledge, the term desaparecido first gained currency during el proceso, Argentina's "Dirty War," to describe those whom the junta kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. General Videla, President of the Argentine military dictatorship, is supposed to have said of the desaparecidos, "They are neither dead nor alive, they disappeared".

The murderers planned to hide behind this conceit even after power changed hands. As any amateur sleuth knows, without a body, a prosecution becomes much more difficult. But resourceful jurists turned the uncertainty against the killers:

Since the bodies couldn't be found decades later, those responsible for human right violations claimed that the statute of limitations impeded any trial. However, in Chile, judge Juan Guzmán Tapia would create, by jurisprudence, the felony of "permanent sequestration": he argued that since the bodies couldn't be found, the statute of limitations couldn't be applied since the sequestration continued and was still in effect.

The transnational human rights movement as we know it today has its roots in the mobilization of Argentina's civil society against the disappearances; in particular, in the agony and anger of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, U2's Mothers of the Disappeared.

Orishas' tribute to the desaparecidos is more outraged than U2's mournful ballad:

su madre pregunta que paso fue a ver a su novia pasadas las die desperte al sentir disparos mi hijo anoche no llego

madre no preguntes
que paso lo se
testigos no habran me olvidaran
sigue la misma historia

el dia a dia
sangre que corre
muertos por sida
guerra mundial se clona

diecisiete primaveras
iba a la universidad
no se buscaba nunca
un problema que alguien
diga donde esta

me hacias falta y tu
no estabas dios
rezos fueron poco gritos
locos planes suenos rotos
a plomo y sangre olian otros
familia como nosotros

salio a la esquina
quien lo vio
mi amigo desaparecio
no dejo ni la sombra
el culpable sabe de que
hablo yo

anoche escuche varias
butum batam butum bete
y eso es muy normal bebe
la concienca de hoy en dia
esta al reves

la gente no sabe donde
cono mete el pie
y ademas para los criminales
una cena de buen provecho
y aunque salgan por el techo
con las palabras
que he dicho del dicho al hecho
hay un buen trecho y prosigo

en nombre de mi amigo muerto
que ya saben como fueron
lo detuvieron, arrestaron
las ropas le quitaron fusilaron
las pruebas quemaron
lo mismo le occurio
a mi vecino de diez anos
que sus organos no encontraron
oye, que fatiga los quemaron,
e torturaron


otro mas de los caidos
otra espina otro dolor
otro madre sin un hijo
arbol que fruto no dio

diecisiete primaveras
iba a la universidad
no se buscaba nunca
un problema que alguien
diga donde esta

a los presidentes asesinos
a los responsables
de desaparecidos
pa' los que trafican con ninos
el culpable sabe de que hablo yo

yo yo yo se
que mi canon de palabras
le faltaron canallas
para derribar en esta batalla

pero la historia se encargara
de cortar sus garras
hijos de asesinos

ya ves lo que he vivido
sin rastro para poner flores
en mi tumba
a mi madre le han dejado
quien pagado me mata no sabe
que arrebata un alma


(No se donde se fueron las tildes. I don't have the time or skill to translate the whole song--sorry. I've translated one passage at the top of the post.)

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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on November 10, 2008 11:44 PM.

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