A common track from Peso Pluma, a well-known musician in Mexico, often begins with a guitar and trumpet, giving off a mature vibe – but the lyrics reveal stories of drug transportation, piles of money, and guns covered in diamonds.
Peso Pluma has created some of the most well-known recent instances of narcocorridos – songs that glorify the actions of the Mexican criminal world and are widely beloved not only in their home country, but also throughout Latin America and the United States.
A tribute to a low-ranking member of the Sinaloa drug organization may have resulted in the singer receiving death threats in Tijuana, causing him to cancel upcoming performances.
This week, city officials decided to prohibit the performance and even the playing of narcocorridos within the city limits. This is just the latest effort by politicians to censor this genre, despite previous attempts actually leading to an increase in its popularity.
Corridos have their roots in northern Mexico, where they were originally used to narrate the stories of notorious outlaws and revolutionaries. However, in more recent times, they have shifted their focus to the drug lords of the country, with lyrics depicting drug transactions and violent murders.
Popular tunes feature odes to mafia leaders such as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. In some cases, these artists are compensated by drug dealers to compose and sing about them, depicting them as valiant renegades.
Mexican officials have made numerous efforts to suppress corridos, which have been accused of glorifying violence and the drug industry. However, some of these songs actually criticize the harsh realities faced by those impacted by the militarized “war on drugs” that began in 2006 and has led to a surge in violence in Mexico.
The Tijuana government approved a prohibition on narcocorridos on Wednesday in an effort to decrease violence and safeguard children and teenagers from this genre of music.
“The mayor, Montserrat Caballero Ramírez, emphasizes that the focus should not solely be on seizing weapons or making arrests, but rather on prioritizing mental health. This starts with being observant and attentive.”
Penalties for violating the prohibition may reach up to £58,000 (equivalent to approximately $70,000) and will be allocated towards initiatives focused on prevention and treating addiction.
The mayor clarified that the restriction solely pertains to narcocorridos and that artists are still welcome in Tijuana.
In 2022, Tijuana, located across the border from San Diego, was ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico and worldwide due to its high murder rate of 105.1 per 100,000 residents.
Several other towns and regions have enforced prohibitions previously. Certain musicians have also been targeted, ranging from Tigres del Norte to Los Tucanes de Tijuana and El Komander.
Despite efforts to address the issue, the genre remains popular, highlighting the impact of drug trafficking on mainstream media.
On the other hand, a study revealed that censorship attempts actually resulted in increased commercial success for the artists.
According to the authors, the penalties and cancelled performances further solidified El Komander’s rebellious persona and elevated him to a heroic status among his supporters.
Critics of censorship argue that it unfairly targets artists and fails to address the root causes of violence. They also believe that it places blame on narcocorridos for drug violence, rather than recognizing the real cause and effect relationship.