‘Trafficker songs’ lead to ban for musicians

THE capital of Mexico’s Chihuahua state has indefinitely banned the famous norteno group Los Tigres del Norte from playing in the city after the band sang ballads glorifying drug traffickers during a weekend concert.

There have been other attempts in Mexico to ban the ballads known as narcocorridos, but seldom have they affected a group as popular as Los Tigres.

The band has been a mainstay of norteno music – which uses traditional instruments – for five decades, with hits such as Contrabando y Traicion (Contraband and Betrayal) and Jefe de Jefes (Boss of Bosses).

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“The musical group will not get permits for future shows in the city limits, until such time as authorities decide otherwise,” the city said in a statement.

The Chihuahua city government said the band violated a three-month-old city law prohibiting songs that glorify traffickers, and that the concert’s organisers would be fined.

The band appeared on Saturday at a concert organised as part of a cattle fair.

A Twitter posting on an account linked to the band’s official website claimed the group was surprised at the ban and was not aware of the law.

The posting said the band had played La Reyna del Sur, (the Queen of the South), a song believed to refer to alleged female drug capo Sandra Avila Beltran, better known as the Queen of the Pacific.

According to official figures, drug-related violence has cost the lives of at least 47,515 people in Mexico from December 2006 through to September 2011, after president Felipe Calderon took office and deployed the military to battle the cartels.

It is not the first time the Tigres del Norte have had run-ins over controversial songs.

The group cancelled a planned appearance at an awards ceremony in 2009 after organisers allegedly asked it not to play the song La Granja (the Farm). The song’s lyrics appear to lampoon officials and to allude to the violence unleashed in Mexico’s war on drug cartels.