Tag Archives: Latinoamerica


26 Oct

Calle 13

Calle 13 at the Fillmore in San Francisco

For those of you not yet familiar with Calle 13, they are a band, whose leaders are siblings from Puerto Rico. They categorize themselves as independent music. They constantly switch up their musical style and sing about social issues in Latin America. Rene (Residente) busts out lyrics that are brutally honest, satirical and intelligent. Eduardo (Visitante) composes music that breathes the soul of Latin America, amazingly intricate and unique. While Ileana (PG13) brings harmony and feminism to the group. Calle 13 sings about social issues from violence, to education, to immigration, to corruption, to poverty. They encourage their listeners to take action and fight for their rights, to unite together for a common cause. They do not sing about these issues in an obvious manner but rather skillfully, intelligently and most of the time upbeat.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to their concert this past Saturday in San Francisco, where they killed it. They had the whole audience jumping, singing and most importantly thinking. That same day they posted the English translation of the lyrics to their song Latinoamerica. I felt it fitting to turn it into a blog post, one because it is from this song I got the title for this blog, ‘vamos caminando’. Also, because Latin America is one of the central themes of this blog and this song captures the essence of Latin America. It magically captures the beauty, heart, pain and uniqueness of Latin America. This is by far one of my favorite songs and the video is amazing. A beautiful aspect of this song is that instead of choosing some top billboard artist to sing the chorus, that would no doubt have earned them attention from teeny boppers, Calle 13 decided to go the more authentic route. They chose Toto la Momposina(An indigenous Colombian singer), Susana Baca(A prominent Peruvian singer and now Peru’s Minister of Culture) and Maria Rita(A Brazilian singer whose comes from a famous music family), which helps make the song more authentic by having at least four Latin America countries contributing to this song. Obviously, the song is much more powerful in Spanish and more meaningful. The song doesn’t translate over perfectly to English, but the English translation allows those who don’t speak Spanish, to better understand the song and what is being said.

So here is Latinoamerica translated into English:

Verse 1
I am, I am what’s left, I am what’s left from what was stolen from you
A town hidden in the summit, my skin is made of leather that’s why it endures any climate
I am a smoke factory, the hand of a farmer’s labor for your consumption
In the middle of the summer, love in the times of cholera My brother!
I am the sun who is born and the day that dies, with the greatest sunsets
I am evolution in the flesh, a political discourse with no saliva
The most beautiful faces I’ve known, I am the photograph of a missing person
The blood in your veins, a piece of land that’s worth something
A basket(filled) with beans
I am Maradona (soccer player) scoring 2 goals against England
I am what holds my flag together, the spinal cord of my planet, in my mountain range
I am what my father taught me, one who doesn’t love their country doesn’t love their mother
I am Latin America a town without legs but that walks still

Chorus 2x
You can’t buy the wind, You can’t buy the sun,
You can buy the rain, You can’t buy the heat,
You can’t buy the clouds, You can’t buy the colors,
You can’t buy my happiness, You can’t buy my pain

Verse 2
I have lakes, the rivers…I have teeth for when I smile
The now that adorns my mountains, I have the sun that dries my skin and the rain that bathes me
A desert drunk from peyote, a ‘pulpque’ drink so I can sing with the ‘coyotes’ (smugglers)
Everything I need!
I got my lungs breathing clear blue
The altitude that suffocates, I am the molars of my mouth chewing cocoa (leaves)
Autumn with its loose leaves, the verses written under starry nights

A vineyard filled with grapes, a sugar cane plantation under Cuba’s sun
I am the Caribbean sea that watches over the small houses, performing rituals with holy water
The wind that brushes my hair, I am all the saints that hang from my neck
The juice of my struggle is not artificial because my land’s fertilizer is natural

Chorus 3x (Third time in Portuguese)
You can’t buy the wind, You can’t buy the sun,
You can buy the rain, You can’t buy the heat,
You can’t buy the clouds, You can’t buy the colors,
You can’t buy my happiness, You can’t buy my pain

You can’t buy the sun, You can’t the rain
Let’s go walking
Let’s go walking
Let’s draw the path
You can’t buy my life
This land isn’t for sale

Verse 3
My work is rough but I do it with pride, here we share…what’s mine is yours,
This town won’t drown in a rip current and if it crumbles I will rebuild it
I also don’t blink when I look at you, so you can remember my last name
Operation Condor invading my nest, I forgive but I never forget!

Walk with me, here we breathe struggle
Walk with me, I sing because I get heard
Let’s draw the path!
Walk with me, here we are standing on our feet
Long live America!
You can’t buy my life

For me, the chorus addresses the overwhelming corruption in Latin America. In Latin America, monopolies exist and are very apparent. I remember when I was in Nicaragua someone explaining to me that one family owned the major banks, the oil and the major crops. In the Dominican Republic, one family controls all of the sugar production, the major crop there. It is like that all over Latin America, if it is not a family monopoly it is a multinational corporation. And these people who are filthy rich think that they can control whatever they wish, if someone challenges them, or speaks out against them, they have them killed. They buy their influence in politics, the police, whatever they want. However, in this song, while the verses address all of the unique details of Latin America the chorus focuses on standing up to the corruption, saying that they can’t buy everything like they think they can. Somethings are priceless and even out of reach of the most corrupt.

The very end of the song is the most powerful. I believe it is Calle 13 calling the people of Latin America to come together, to progress, to fight for social justice and not give up. While with my blog title I use ‘vamos caminando’, like let’s go on a journey you, my reader, and I. I think here, Calle 13 uses it as let’s move forward, let’s progress or something more like we move forward together.

I want to leave you with Calle 13’s music video for Latinoamerica. That way you can hear the words in Spanish, how beautiful they are, even if you perhaps do not understand them and so you can see how powerful the video is. When I first saw the video I was almost in tears, with the lyrics, the music and the video I’m in aww of how Calle 13 was able to capture what Latin America is, a place that is so dear to so many of us. Calle 13- Latinoamerica

If you are interested in learning more about Calle 13 I encourage you to buy their music, or their documentary Sin Mapa, or better yet go to one of their shows. If you are interested in Latin America my best suggestion is to visit it with an open heart and mind.