Lila Downs Responds to Criticism of Her “Silence” About Ayotzinapa at Latin Grammys

In a Facebook post earlier today, Lila Downs responded to criticism that she, like other Mexican artists at the Latin Grammys, did not use the awards to speak publicly about the kidnappings of 43 Ayotzinapa students. The awards night, held November 20th, coincided with mass protests around the world in support of the 43 student teachers who have been missing from the town of Iguala in Guerrero, Mexico, since September 26th. The world has lauded artist Residente (Rene Pérez) from Calle 13 who, despite being told by organizers not to, wore a t-shirt in support of the students and during the band’s live performance declared, “We are all Ayotzinapa. We cannot allow this to still happen. Long live Mexico!” 

In her post, Downs clarified that she, in fact, did speak about the pain her country is in but that the segment wasn’t aired on television because she won for a noncommercial category. Downs, unlike other artists and activists who have focused solely on the 43 students, also spoke of the femicides in Mexico, where seven women are murdered every 24 hours, or as one activist puts it, “For women, that’s like one Iguala every 7 days.”

English translation of Facebook post is below video



English translation (by Gozamos; emphasis is ours):

I have seen that some have written asking about Ayotzinapa these days. I share the outrage, sadness and anger at what is happening in our country! I think it’s better to unite to defeat the enemy instead of attacking those who have faith in our country and want change. For those who want to divide us, I tell them: I was not televised because the Grammys separate non-commercial categories and only broadcast them online. This time Raíz did not participate in the Latin Grammys because Nina Pastori and Soledad were not granted visas. So we had no musical performance in the televised gala since the U.S. musicians’ union does not allow it.

At this link which was shown on the Grammy Latino site, you can see I dedicated the win to justice in my Mexico.

It outrages me; it angers me. They took them alive and we want them alive. That’s how I’ve announced it at our concerts, like I did in a statement days before that.

The 43 students are not listed, and although some have taken that as a symbol, I have seen that there are many more, from the 90s I have not seen justice for many disappeared women at the border and elsewhere in the country, that this chilling case is the straw that broke the camel’s back, that we seek justice in a system that has not worked in a long time, and that we know it, but until now many more are expressing it!

In my experience, I have seen that different opinions divide us and we lose strength. Let’s not lose sight of who we are, comrades, and what are our concerns. Instead of criticizing, let’s put forth ideas of how we can change. How we are going to change the justice system so that it works and how we can choose leaders who do not become corrupt at the national, state and municipal levels.

Since I started writing songs, I did it with the concern of telling the stories of my reality, also of the things that happen in my country, and some songs like black dog and others, accompanied me, and gave me strength. In those times, many did not know me, but that did not discourage me.

Although very occasionally I have been supported by radio and television (for reasons you well know), despite that we keep trying and struggling to fight for culture and identity because we believe that gives us strength as an individual, as a community and as a nation.

We walked (in our musical family) with the support of all of you who believe in the pursuit of truth, expression of identity and the power of art!

[Photo: Wikimedia/Ivan Hernandez]

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