Last week, french musician Manu Chao was in risk of being deported from Mexico, and went as far as cancelling a performance, after authorities investigated a political comment he made about the 2006 uprising in San Salvador Atenco. While attending the Guadalajara International Film Festival, he told journalists:
“What happened in Atenco was, in some way, state terrorism. [Officials] are saying ‘don’t say a word when we seize your land, because you better watch out, the same thing will happen to you, as happened in Atenco.’”
Since the Mexican constitution states that “foreigners cannot in any manner interfere in internal political affairs” and that the government has “the executive power to force them to leave national territory”, it was confirmed, on Thursday, that the singer was being investigated.
Chao had been criticizing the events of May 2006 in Atenco, where flower-sellers demonstrated against commercial development. Mexican Police intervened, causing a riot that led to civilian injury and death. Later it was revealed that deportation had never been the government’s plan, but Chao cancelled a performance in the Catalonia Boulevard, saying in a statement that he “wanted to avoid any possibility of violence, if the authorities came for [him] during the performance.”
“I did not want to risk that a cultural celebration might be transformed into something uncontrollable,” he wrote.
Should people be persecuted for political opinions? On a global scale, there are still countries that seek to quiet dissent, and when the opinions come from popular musicians, the controversy gets scaled up a notch. For years, musicians have expanded their influence to a point where a single quote can catch the public eye, and stop governments from proceeding as they normally would. In fact, these situations can shift public opinion, and possibly bring change to outdated legislation. How much can musicians acheive by confronting Governments and voicing political opinion?
Photo via q.liberation.fr