Expect to find the unexpected in Mexico City (DF) with Marcela Viejo, keyboardist/vocalist of Mexico’s praised electropop ensemble, Quiero Club. Mexico’s capital is a lively, rich, and diverse place where one is bound to find oddities, novelties, and underground movements of sorts. In this weekly column, Marcela takes you along on her musical quest to find these rare gems and obscure scenes via reviews, interviews, and profiles. The idea is to search.
After almost two years of living in a city as all-consuming and brimming as Mexico City, I realize that it is a city with infinite possibilities. It’s always changing and it’s very rich in its diversity and it becomes (like Dali once said) a surreal city where you never know what you will happen upon or see. Its 112 million residents strive for a better tomorrow, raise their voices in a 112 million possible expressions. There are protests, indigenous marches, feminist marches (with naked ladies through the streets), street performances, people wearing clothing that expresses their philosophy of life, temples for a variety of religions, foreigners who have left their own countries and have chosen to live as Mexicans, and rockers who persist in their craft despite aging.
I arrived here with my band Quiero Club in 2010, and ever since, we’ve been fascinated by how much this city has to offer. At first, the hours passed by like minutes, and the velocity and tumultuousness caught us by surprise. The rhythm of life made DF seem like a completely different world than that of northern Mexico. All of us in the band are from Monterrey — an important city in the realm of the music industry, but which also carries the mentality of being a capital city. Given its geography, and its proximity to the border, Monterrey is often closer to style to Texas than Mexico. For a long time, we were familiar with more cities in the United States than in our own country.
Now living in the capital, we’ve discovered how colorful and full of possibility our country is. Personally, I love finding new corners in the city, observing the sea of people, and noting that the people here never shut their mouths. They are always demanding that their rights be preserved–something that doesn’t happen in our province. They live and breathe the difficult times that Mexico is going through.
Something that’s caught my attention, and in which I’ve been partaking in, is the #yosoy132 movement. This movement — the largest student demonstration that Mexico has seen in recent years — came about a couple of months ago when the then PRI‘s candidate Enrique Peña Nieto was received with “boos” at the Ibero-American University (La Ibero). Thousands of students chanted, “La Ibero no te quiero” (Ibero doesn’t want you). The level of scandal and rejection coming from the students towards the candidate was so high that he left with his security guards to hide in the bathroom of the university. The students continued jeering and shouting until they were sure that Nieto had left the university.
The next day, the public press declared on television and on the front page newspapers that Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit to La Ibero had been a success. Their reports included falsified videos of students saying what a great experience the visit from the PRI candidate was.
#MÚSICOSCONYOSOY132 IS ABOUT THE UNION OF
MEXICAN MUSICIANS IN SUPPORT OF THE STUDENTS; WE UTILIZE
OUR PLATFORMS TO HAVE THESE VOICES HEARD.
I am not proud to say that my country is 100% manipulated by the media. Television has great sway over people, and Televisa, the largest national channel, has almost total control. They have given us a candidate that instead of a politician is more like the boyfriend out of the telenovela Maria la del Barrio. Nieto is a candidate that has been accused of illegal activities, assassinations, and corruption. With the media’s help, he has managed to convince people with his Ken-like doll face that he has their best interests at heart–even though he holds values and positions that tolerate and approve of the poverty that is abundant in this country.
The students of La Ibero were witnesses to Nieto’s visit and were incredibly offended by the media’s coverage. They decided to do something definitive to stop the media from insulting the public, and from publishing lies sold to them by the government.
Students uploaded videos of themselves via social media declaring that the press lied. These videos included their names and university ID numbers to verify that they are real students of the La Ibero. That’s how the #yosoy132 movement emerges. It turns into this phenomenon.
Since this movement begun, the protests have not stopped. I’ve joined in rallies with more than 45,000 youths. These protests have the spirit of a carnaval, with its participants excited to have their voices heard. During these months, the youths involved have stationed themselves on subway platforms with cardboard televisions over their heads that say, “Don’t let television fool you” or “No more lies.” They have organized silent candlelight vigils at night, whose message are “The light will bring us the truth.” They have dressed themselves as politicians with Pinocchio noses, made masks of the ex-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Onto the walls of Televisa, they have projected graphic images of tragedies–the students who died in ‘68 in Tlatelolco, the femicide in Juarez, the children who died in the nursery ABC–to show some of the tragedies that we have lived through as Mexicans.
In spite of this rises #músicosconyosoy132 which is about the union of Mexican musicians in support of the students; we utilize our platforms to have these voices heard. Vicente Gayo, Panteón Rococó, Niña Dioz, Julieta Venegas, TEX TEX, Descartes a Kant, Quiero Club, and La Gusana Ciega are a few of the musicians who for this submovement and who have organized free concerts for the sake of peace and democracy; to manifest the support of the #yosoy132 movement.
One of the submovement’s most vocal members is Natalia Lafourcade. Lafourcade has not only urged people to join the movement, but has composed the song “A right of birth,” the lyrics to which were composed collectively with her followers on twitter. In addition to LaFourcade, the song features instrumentals and vocals from Alan Ortiz of Vicente Gayo, Carla Morrison, Pambo, Madame Recamier, Juan Manuel Torreblanca, Carmen Ruiz, Marian Ruzzi, Dan Zlotnikde, Los Dorados, Sol Pereyra, and Julieta Vengas.
Los Drama Queers have also been quite active. They organized a concert series called Say Goodbye Or Say Forever. Each show had a specific political theme, and one included a mass nude demonstration in the Zocalo. René of Calle 13, despite not being Mexican, has given his support to the movement, sending a video message where he expresses that the problems facing Mexico are problems that all of Latin America faces.
Sadly, despite these efforts, on July 1st, Nieto won the presidential elections. We are a country that has much to learn. For this reason, the #YoSoy132 and #MusicosConYoSoy132 movements have decided to continue protesting peacefully even after the elections. They have decided to take on the role of the conscientious citizen and will continue their investigation until the possibility of electoral fraud is completely ruled out. They will continue defending our human rights until, together, we win.
In times of crisis, the only thing that remains is knowledge; it is the only thing that persists. We, Mexicans, will continue making music and art, marching, obtaining knowledge, and fighting for our rights until we succeed — sooner or later — in effecting real and lasting change.
Translated by Christine Lai