Mexico: Musicians are kidnapped and tortured
On 8 April 2012, Julio Cesar Leyva Beltran, a singer with the Mexican band Los Ciclones del Arroyo, was kidnapped and tortured after refusing to perform a song requested by a group of people at a party, police said according to several news media.
41-year-old Julio Cesar Leyva Beltran was abducted from a party in the community of La Guayaba in Choix, a city in the North-Mexican state of Sinaloa. He was was beaten, tortured and shot in the leg with a large-caliber weapon, and then dropped off at a hospital in Choix a few hours later. The gunshot caused a leg fracture.
Los Ciclones del Arroyo’s best known songs are ‘Asesino a sueldo’ (Killer for Hire), ‘La marcha’ (The March), and the narcocorrido ‘El aguila blanca’ (The White Eagle).
Reports claim that drug lords pay large sums for the narcocorrido ballads, and that the genre is gaining popularity.
More than a dozen narcocorrido and grupero singers have been tortured and murdered since 1992. Among them are:
• Rodolfo Gomez Valenzuela who was fatally wounded in March 2012 in Sinaloa. He was member of the band Cartel de Sinaloa, named after one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels. Armed men entered a house where the band was rehearsing and opened fire.
• Jose Antonio Sanchez Velazquez, also a member of the band Cartel de Sinaloa, was slain in 2009.
• Narcocorrido singer-songwriter Diego Rivas who was murdered in Sinaloa state in November 2011. A famous song by Diego Rivas was an ode to Joaquin Shorty Guzman, one of Mexico’s most wanted drug lords. He was killed by gunmen who opened fire at close range in Culiacan’s Lazaro Cardenas neighbourhood.
• 24-year-old singer Alfredo Herrera Gomez was also pronounced dead at the scene.
• 40-year-old singer Sergio Vega, known as ‘El Shaka’, was shot to death while driving on a highway in Sinaloa on 26 June 2010 to Alhuey, where he planned to perform with several other artists. The gunmen had apparently been following him and opened fire on the vehicle.
• Singer Carlos Ocaranza was gunned down on 16 August 2009 as he left a bar where he had given a concert in the western city of Guadalajara and his agent, Jorge Altamirano Pelayo, was seriously wounded. Ocaranza had just finished performing at the La Revancha bar in the city’s western section when two gunmen shot him and fled on a motorcycle.
Ocaranza was related to
• Valentin Elizalde, who was murdered on 25 November 2006, in the border city of Reynosa by drug traffickers apparently unhappy with some of his compositions. Elizalde performed what is known in Mexico as grupero music, a genre that includes the narcocorridos ballads.
• In January 2008, Roberto Ignacio del Fierro Lugo, the publicist for Valentin Elizalde’s brother, Jesus Elizalde, was murdered near a recording studio in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan.
In December 2007, a wave of violence was unleashed against various narcocorridos and grupero singers, such as:
• 34-year-old Sergio Gomez, lead singer of the Grammy-nominated band K-PAZ de la Sierra, was kidnapped and murdered after a concert.
• 28-year-old vocalist Zayda Peña Arjona was killed by a gunman who came to the hospital where she was recovering from gunshot wounds.
According to official figures, drug-related violence has claimed the lives of at least 47,515 people in Mexico from December 2006 through September 2011.
Read more about music in Mexico on www.freemuse.org
Fox News Latino – 9 April 2012:
‘Singer Kidnapped and Shot for Refusing to Perform Requested Song’
Huffington Post’s ‘Latino Voices’ – 9 April 2012:
‘Mexican musician kidnapped and tortured adds to violent crime wave against narcocorrido musicians’
Hispanically Speaking News – 8 April 2012:
‘Mexican Singer Kidnapped, Tortured and Shot for Not Playing Requested Song’
MINN Post – 5 April 2012:
‘Mexico’s controversial gangster ballads’