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Upcoming titles in ABC-CLIO’s series

Popular Culture in the Contemporary World

Pop Culture Caribbean! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Brenda F. Berrian

Pop Culture China! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Kevin Latham

Pop Culture Germany! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Catherine Fraser

Pop Culture India! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Asha Kasbekar

Pop Culture Japan! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by William H. Kelly

Pop Culture Russia! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Birgit Beumers

Pop Culture UK! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Bill Osgerby

Pop Culture West Africa! Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, by Onookome Okome


Media, Arts, and Lifestyle

Lisa Shaw
Stephanie Dennison

Santa Barbara, California Denver, Colorado Oxford, England

Copyright © 2005 by Lisa Shaw and Stephanie Dennison

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in

a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion
of brief quotations in a review, without prior permission in writing from the

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Shaw, Lisa, 1966–
Pop culture Latin America! : media, arts, and lifestyle / Lisa Shaw,
Stephanie Dennison.
p. cm. — (Popular culture in the contemporary world)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-85109-504-7 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 1-85109-509-8 (e-book)
1. Popular culture—Latin America—History—20th century. 2. Latin
I. Dennison, Stephanie. II. Title. III. Series: Contemporary world issues.
F1414.2.S495 2005

07 06 05 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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Text design by Jane Raese

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Manufactured in the United States of America

Preface vii

Chronology ix

1 Introduction 1

2 Popular Music 9

3 Popular Social Movements and Politics 57

4 Sport and Leisure 81

5 Popular Theater and Performance 119

6 Travel and Tourism 139

7 Popular Literature 157

8 Cultural Icons 179

9 Language 207

10 Mass Media 227

11 Popular Cinema 255

12 Popular Religion and Festivals 285

13 Visual Arts and Architecture 317

Glossary 369

Bibliography 373

Index 375

Contributors 403

This book provides an overview of Latin American popular culture since

the 1940s, focusing on the contemporary period. We have selected the-
matic chapters that reflect the most dynamic and often unique aspects of
the region’s popular cultural production, such as popular religion and
festivals and popular music, ranging from Argentine tango to Brazilian
and Mexican hip-hop. Our aim has also been to provide information on
topics or people with whom the English-speaking world may already
have come into contact, such as the internationally acclaimed authors
Paulo Coelho and Gabriel García Márquez, whose works are available in
translation all over the world, and recent movies from Latin America,
such as the Mexican film Amores perros (Love’s a Bitch, 2000) and the
Brazilian block-buster Cidade de Deus (City of God, 2002). In addition,
we have included the chapter “Cultural Icons,” which looks at how Latin
Americans have been portrayed and perceived abroad, a fascinating area
that is overlooked in existing studies of the region. The coverage in a
work of this size cannot possibly be exhaustive, but in overviews of a va-
riety of popular cultural expressions we have tried to include references
to cultural practices found in as wide a range as possible of Spanish- and
Portuguese-speaking communities in Latin America. Thus, although
large Latin American nations with significant and well-researched cul-
tures such as Mexico and Brazil are afforded a good number of entries,
smaller nations such as Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are also
included (see, for example, the chapter “Travel and Tourism”).
All of our contributors have extensive academic knowledge of the region
and its popular culture, but we have endeavored to combine scholarly rigor
and accuracy with an engaging and accessible style of writing that we hope
will appeal to a wide readership, particularly high school and college stu-
dents but also the general public. In order to make our text accessible and
user-friendly, we have included both a detailed index and numerous cross-
references to related entries. After each entry we have included sugges-
tions for further reading, citing, where possible, texts written in English.
We would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for
their assistance and support in the writing of this book: our contributors,
Thea Pitman, Keith Richards, and Claire Taylor; Andrea Noble (Univer-
sity of Durham, England); the University of Leeds, England; Carmen
Caldeira de Barros; and Alex Nield and Fernando Barbosa.

1492 Christopher Columbus, in the name of the Spanish Crown,

arrives at the continental landmass that we now refer to as
the Americas.

1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese navigator, lands on the

northeastern coast of what is now Brazil.

1519–1520 Hernán Cortés reaches and conquers Mexico in the name

of Spain, overcoming the Aztec emperors.

1530 The Portuguese establish their colony in Brazil. Slaves

imported from Africa replace indigenous forced labor on
sugar plantations. An estimated four million Africans will
have been brought to Brazil by the end of the international
slave trade in 1850.

1532–1572 Francisco Pizarro begins the conquest of Peru in the name

of Spain, establishing Lima as the capital and destroying
the Inca state.

1595 The number of African slaves entering Spanish colonies

increases hugely as a consequence of the Spanish Crown’s
use of Portuguese slave traders.

1750–1774 Brazil’s borders are formally established.

1781–1811 Latin America undergoes a period of unrest and revolts by

indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants,
and republican movements.

1810 The fight for independence from Spanish or Portuguese

colonial rule gains momentum. Brazil shakes off
Portuguese rule in 1822 and most Spanish-speaking
territories have become independent by 1828.

1823–1872 Slavery is gradually abolished country by country, except

in Cuba and Brazil.

1845 The United States annexes Texas.


1850s By this point the pattern of nations within Latin America is

similar to the one we know today.

1886 Slavery is finally abolished in Cuba.

1888 Slavery is finally abolished in Brazil, and the first Republic

of Brazil is created the following year.

1895–1902 This period sees the Cuban War of Independence, followed

by the Hispano-Cuban-American War and the U.S.
occupation of Cuba and Puerto Rico (the latter until 1952).

1910–1920 The Mexican Revolution brings to an end the Porfiriato,

the long period of dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz.

1930 Getúlio Vargas becomes president of Brazil by a bloodless

coup and remains in power until 1945. He returns to the
presidency by democratic vote in 1950 and commits suicide
in office in 1954.

1946 Juan Perón comes to power by a coup in Argentina and

remains as dictator until 1955. In 1973 he returns to the
presidency by democratic vote for a year.

1954 Alfredo Stroessner becomes dictator of Paraguay until


1956–1959 The Cuban Revolution brings socialist leader Fidel Castro

to power, where he remains. Thousands of Cubans settle in
Florida as a result.

1961 The United States and Cuba break off diplomatic relations.

1964 A military coup in Brazil gives rise to a period of

dictatorship that lasts until 1985.

1965 The guerrilla group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of

Colombia) is formed.

1973 A bloody coup in Chile installs General Augusto Pinochet

as military dictator until 1990.

1976–1983 This period of military rule and intense repression in

Argentina is known as the Guerra Sucia (Dirty War).

1979 The Sandinista revolution occurs in Nicaragua, followed by

the Contra war between 1981 and 1987.

1980 Civil war begins in El Salvador and lasts until 1992.


1980 Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) begins

terrorist activities in Ayacucho, Peru.

1982 Great Britain and Argentina fight the

Falklands/Malvinas War.

1985 Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay return to


1990 Chile returns to democracy. Alberto Fujimori

is elected president of Peru and later stages
an internal coup, dissolving Congress with
the help of the military.

1991 Official celebrations commemorate the five-

hundredth anniversary, or quincentenary, of
the “discovery” of America.

1991 MERCOSUR (MERCOSUL in Portuguese),

the Common Market of the South, is created,
encompassing Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay,
and Paraguay.

1994 The NAFTA agreement (North American Free

Trade Agreement) is signed among Mexico,
Canada, and the United States. The Zapatista
revolts begin in the Chiapas region of

1998 Controversial leader Hugo Chávez is elected

president of Venezuela.

1998 Puerto Ricans vote in plebiscite not to

become the fifty-first U.S. state.

2000 The Partido Revolucionario Institucional

(PRI, Institutional Revolutionary Party) loses
the presidential elections in Mexico for the
first time, thus ending a period of sixty-eight
years of absolute majority.

2000 Alberto Fujimori flees Peru in disgrace.

2001 A period of severe economic crisis begins in

Argentina and worsens in 2002.

2002 Former trade union leader Lula (Luis Ignácio

Lula da Silva) becomes the first Brazilian
president of working-class origin.

2003 Outrage is caused among the international community and

human rights organizations by Fidel Castro’s decision to
condemn to death three Cubans who hijacked a boat in an
attempt to flee the country.

Swanson, Philip, ed. 2003. The Companion to Latin American Studies. London:

Defining the Popular in the Latin American Context

The notion of popular culture is not a straightforward one, and a single

definition of the term “popular” has proved elusive. The term is often
used simply to refer to cultural products enjoyed or experienced by large
numbers of people, chiefly but not necessarily those on the lower rungs
of the social hierarchy. Alongside this perhaps obvious numerical sense
of the word, some people use “popular” to signify “low-brow” culture, di-
ametrically opposed to “elite” culture in terms of sophistication, the re-
ceived standards of good taste, and its presumed consumers. Others
consider “popular culture” to refer solely to that which has origins in
preindustrial traditions, and the term may often be synonymous with
“folk” or “peasant culture” in certain Latin American contexts. In this
book it is not our intention to try to establish a single understanding of
the concept of popular culture; rather, we intend to familiarize readers
with the main definitions and ideas that have been put forward. Leading
scholars who have provided theories on what constitutes popular cul-
ture in the Latin American subcontinent include Jesús Martín-Barbero,
Renato Ortiz, Fernando Ortiz, Angel Rama, Ricardo Gutiérrez Mouat,
Néstor García Canclini, William Rowe, and Vivian Schelling.
Martín-Barbero has noted the tendency to classify the popular either
as the romanticized notion of the “authentic” or as the negative idea of
“vulgarized.” He proposes that the popular in Latin America is instead a
“dense space of interactions, interchanges and re-appropriations, the
movement of mestizaje (cultural hybridity)” (1994, p. 92). Renato Ortiz
has said that the notion of the “popular” as merely synonymous with nu-
merical consumption arose in the Brazilian context as a consequence of
the emergence of the culture industry and a market of symbolic national
goods since the 1970s.
Mouat has further observed that “mass culture bridges the gap be-
tween marginal cultures (popular and regional) and consumer culture,
whose mode of production and circulation is now perceived to be hege-
monic” (1993, p. 163). He does not believe that popular culture and mass
2 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

culture are one and the same thing; rather, that neither remains entirely distinct from
he considers mass culture to be a form of the other. The traditional duality between
mediation between popular and hegemonic “popular” (or “low”) and “high” culture is
culture. Canclini, meanwhile, believes that dangerous, they argue, since it can lead to
the traditional view of popular culture as other assumed, symmetrically polarized op-
existing in opposition to elite culture is in- positions that have highly pejorative impli-
valid, since this binary is complicated by cations for popular culture, such as “vulgar”
the existence of mass culture. However, he versus “polite” and “impure” versus “pure.”
illustrates how the distinctions among As a result of these assumed oppositions,
these three categories are increasingly be- popular culture is often thought of as the
ing blurred by the processes of moderniza- domain of the uneducated and illiterate.
tion and globalization. Globalization is not, Latin America has one of the lowest rates
however, a purely negative force, bringing of school completion in the world, pre-
with it only the eradication or appropria- school education is barely available, and
tion of popular culture; it also provides residents of rural areas are less likely to re-
new openings for the reception and inter- ceive a decent education than their urban
pretation of cultural products. As William counterparts. At times the only access Latin
Rowe and Vivian Schelling note: “the vast Americans have to education is outside for-
increases in channels of communication mal institutions (i.e., traditional schooling)
which flow across cultural boundaries in what has been termed popular educa-
have the effect of dismantling old forms of tion. The uneven patterns of literacy make
marginalization and domination and mak- it harder for large sections of the region’s
ing new forms of democratization and cul- population to have access to some forms of
tural multiplicity imaginable” (Rowe and popular culture (those using the written
Schelling 1991, p. 1). word, in particular) than to others. But in
In their study of popular culture in Latin the context of Latin America the interlink-
America, Rowe and Schelling identify three ing of literacy/popular education and popu-
different versions of popular culture in the lar culture is much more extensive. In fact,
subcontinent: first, popular culture seen as in many of its manifestations it is often dif-
authentically rural, threatened by industrial- ficult to separate Latin American popular
ization and the modern culture industry; culture from popular education. Perhaps
second, popular culture as a variant of mass the best-known and arguably the most ef-
culture, trying to copy the cultural forms of fective popular educational method is that
advanced capitalist nations; third, popular developed by Brazilian educator Paulo
culture as the culture of the oppressed, sub- Freire (1921–1997) in the 1960s and 1970s.
altern classes, in which their imaginary, Freire’s method differs from traditional
ideal future is created. In Rowe and teaching methods in that students are en-
Schelling’s view all these categories com- couraged to learn first and foremost about
bine and intermingle in Latin America. They their “oppression” and to develop the tools
also draw a distinction between popular to “liberate” themselves. As Liam Kane ex-
and mass culture: the former shares neither plains, “politically, education could never
the audience nor the popularity (in raw nu- remain neutral: traditional education pro-
merical terms) of the latter, despite the fact moted the values of the dominant classes,

ignored the real-life knowledge and experi- Key Theoretical Perspectives

ence of the ‘oppressed,’ and maintained a
social order in which the oppressed came The theorists cited above tend to agree on
to blame themselves, not the oppressors, certain key concepts and issues that in-
for their destitution” (2000, p. 595). The evitably crop up when the issue of popular
kinds of materials used in Freire’s method, culture in Latin America is discussed. Be-
which has been popularized throughout the low we have summarized these central no-
third world, include literatura de cordel tions as they have been conceived in and
(chapbooks), murals, popular songs, films, applied to this particular regional context.
theater, and so on. The consciousness-rais-
ing techniques that Freire espoused were Modernity
partly inspired by Liberation Theology and Uneven processes of development charac-
are reminiscent of Brazilian dramatist Au- terized Latin American countries through-
gusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, both out the twentieth century and continue to
of which, in turn, can be said to play a sig- do so in an increasingly globalized new mil-
nificant role in popular education in Latin lennium. Cultural theorists often refer to
America and beyond. the “other” or “peripheral” experience of
Much popular cultural production in modernity in Latin America, where the
Latin America, then, serves to liberate the modern and the premodern continue to co-
individual or communities from oppression exist. Canclini, for example, has contrasted
or can be adapted to that purpose. There the advanced state of cultural modernity in
are many examples of such “liberatory” the region with its relatively underdevel-
cultural expressions discussed in this oped socioeconomic and political moder-
book, including the work of Mexican mu- nity. For this reason, Latin American popu-
ralist Diego Rivera and the plays and songs lar culture embraces both elements of
written and performed under military dic- postmodern mass media, such as the ubiq-
tatorships in Chile and Argentina. This in uitous telenovela (television soap opera),
itself is one of the favored interpretations and vestiges of the cultural practices of
of popular culture—a culture of resistance. colonial or even pre-Columbian civiliza-
Analyses of culture using this perspective tions, such as religions created by African
can be found in the work of Paraguay’s Roa slaves in Cuba (Santería) and Brazil (Can-
Bastos and Brazil’s Marilena Chauí, for ex- domblé) or food and dress of indigenous
ample. Thus, not only does popular culture origin in Mexico and the Andean countries.
have strong ties with popular education in The work of Mexican photographer Gra-
Latin America, but it also frequently has ciela Iturbide effectively portrays this co-
links with left-wing politics. One signifi- existence of the indigenous/rural and the
cant example of this can be found in Chia- modern.
pas, Mexico, in the form of the Zapatismo In the context of Latin American culture,
movement, and another in the form of the Santería and Candomblé are often viewed
Movimento dos Sem Terra, or Landless as folkloric in the sense that their basic
People’s Movement in Brazil: both success- content predates industrialization. Folk-
fully integrate the political and the cultural lore, then, is frequently thought of as being
in their agendas. in opposition to modernity. It is generally
4 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

associated with rural or indigenous popula- emplified by the development of cinema in

tions and with communities rather than in- Latin America. As Ana López says, “we
dividuals; a certain naïveté of spirit is sug- could argue that the cinema was one of the
gested by the term itself. Theorists of principal tools through which the desire
popular culture recognize, however, that it for and imitation of the foreign became
is increasingly difficult to talk of expres- paradoxically identified as a national char-
sions of culture that are “authentically” in- acteristic shared by many Latin American
digenous, rural, and premodern given the nations” (2000, p. 167).
extent of mestizaje/mestiçagem (racial Canclini argues that the dependency the-
mixing, in Spanish and Portuguese, respec- ory model, which opposes cultural imperi-
tively), the migration of rural populations alism to national popular cultures, is inade-
en masse to urban areas, and the wide- quate to understand current power
reaching power of the media (consider, for relations in Latin America. Latin American
example, the influence of the media con- culture has often entered into a complex di-
glomerates Televisa in Mexico and Globo alectical relationship with its European and
in Brazil). That said, tourists in Latin Amer- North American counterparts, not least
ica, both international and domestic, fre- with regard to local film industries and the
quently seek out the “exotic,” which more omnipotent and omnipresent Hollywood
often than not in cultural terms means the product. Latin American films, such as the
folkloric. This preindustrial “other” is par- Brazilian chanchadas or, more recently,
ticularly attractive to Europeans, North Mexican horror films, have reappropriated
Americans, and urban Latin Americans, Hollywood techniques and genres, often in
who feel that modernity has forced upon the form of parody, in order to “dehierar-
them a globalized culture that is no differ- chise,” to use Canclini’s terminology, the es-
ent from that of the rest of the Western tablished asymmetry between the center
world. This pursuit of the “exotic” or folk- (Hollywood) and the periphery (locally pro-
loric in turn affects cultural production in duced film) (Canclini 1989, p. 229).
the region, since many producers of tradi- Canclini’s work on “deterritorialisation”
tional handicrafts, for example, depend on and intercultural movements across the
the tourist market for their economic sur- U.S.-Mexican border is particularly useful
vival. Some tourists are drawn to indige- in the context of Latin American rework-
nous communities, in Peru and Mexico, for ings of Hollywood paradigms. He analyzes
example, where they fully expect to see hybrid and simulated cultural products in
“Indians” dressed in traditional garb. border contexts, such as in cities like Ti-
juana, and argues that the homegrown ver-
Hybridity sion becomes a resource for defining iden-
Latin American cultural forms have peren- tity, whereby the “authentic” becomes
nially been involved in complex negotia- relativized. Tijuana-based periodicals, for
tions with foreign models and the demands example, rework definitions of identity and
of Westernization, giving rise to what has culture from the starting point of the bor-
been called cultural mestizaje/mestiçagem, der experience, becoming a voice for a
or cultural hybridity. With the advent of generation who grew up exposed to both
modernity this process intensified, as ex- Mexican and U.S. culture (Canclini 1989,

p. 238). The work of Chicano performance that discussing Latin American culture and
artist Guillermo Gómez Peña focuses ex- politics as a unidirectional, center-periph-
plicitly on this notion of border crossing. ery relationship (seen, for example, in the
Chicanos, some but by no means all of influential dependency theory of the 1960s,
whom inhabit the physical frontier land which ultimately blamed the region’s back-
with the United States, experience two cul- wardness on the growth of the nations of
tural worlds. Canclini argues that popular the “center”) was inadequate. That criti-
sectors in Latin America deal with ideolog- cism can also be found in the theories of a
ical oppression today by “incorporating number of other cultural critics from Latin
and positively valuing elements produced America. Renato Ortiz, for example, has ar-
outside of their own group (criteria of pres- gued that it is too simplistic to view Brazil-
tige, hierarchies, designs, and functions of ian culture as unique and peripheral and
objects)” (p. 260). that it makes more sense to consider it
within the context of a globalized culture
Transculturation industry. The Brazilian writer Roberto
Transculturation is an alternative and more Schwarz, in his theory of “misplaced
positive term for acculturation. “Accultura- ideas,” which is beginning to gain popular-
tion” suggests that one culture subsumes ity among scholars of Latin American cul-
another, as colonial relations are fre- tural studies, holds that in Brazil ideas ap-
quently perceived. “Transculturation” sug- propriated from Europe have always been
gests that two cultures in contact are both negotiated first.
influenced in what is often a complex
process of negotiation. It is thus similar to Cultural Imperialism and
the notion of hybridity, discussed above, Globalization
and it offers a more inclusive definition of Latin Americans themselves, however, do
national culture (that is, it does away with not always read the importing of ideas, cul-
the need to define what is “authentic” and tural practices, and technologies from
homegrown). The theory of transcultura- abroad in the same way. The notion of cul-
tion is most often associated with tural imperialism continues to influence as-
Uruguayan critic Angel Rama (1926–1983), pects of popular culture in Latin America.
who borrowed the expression from the As Arturo Arias points out, “from the very
Cuban intellectual Fernando Ortiz first moment when present-day Latin
(1881–1969). Ortiz, in Cuban Counter- American nations came into contact with
point: Tobacco and Sugar (1940), argued the Western world, they were placed in a
that the slave trade and agriculture in the subordinate position and an asymmetrical
Caribbean combined elements of African relationship of power to the West, politi-
and Hispanic cultures, which influenced cally, economically and culturally” (2003,
each other. Rama later picked up on the pp. 26–27). A consciousness of this subor-
notion of transculturation “as a model for a dinate position and of the threat (perceived
nationalism capable of integrating the het- or real) of cultural domination, particularly
erogeneous elements characteristic of from the United States, was particularly
many Latin American countries” (Gollnick strong in the region in the 1960s. Anti-
2003, pp. 110–111). Both Ortiz and Rama felt imperialist messages can be found, for
6 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

example, both in the protest music of this display of the Afro-Brazilian dance-fight
period and in the reaction to Latin Ameri- capoeira performed by students at a nearby
can cultural expressions that dared to ap- college. Images of Latin America created
propriate cultural forms from abroad, such abroad can be found in chapter 8, “Cultural
as the Tropicália movement in Brazil. The Icons”; such images reflect foreigners’
famous text by Ariel Dorfman and Armand perennial fascination with Latin America, of-
Mattelart on cultural imperialism in Disney ten considered as the “exotic other.”
cartoons was well known among the re-
gion’s left-wing intelligentsia and students
in the 1970s, and anti-U.S. feeling is present Popular Culture in the
to this day in many grassroots social move- Context of This Book
ments in Latin America. Notions of cultural
imperialism are making a comeback in As discussed above, there is no one work-
some quarters, in the face of the threat able definition of popular culture, and for
(again, perceived or otherwise) that global- the purposes of this book we have taken
ization now poses to national cultures. the term to encompass aspects of all the
Within the context of neoliberal globaliza- main theoretical positions outlined above.
tion, the products, not least music CDs and Thus, we have included cultural products
movie DVDs, of Europe and all North enjoyed by the mass market, such as com-
America continue to swamp the Latin mercial music and blockbuster movies. We
American market (Schelling 2000, p. 27). have also considered culture produced by
That said, in recent years, creative possi- the poor masses, sometimes referred to as
bilities have been opened up by economic the “popular” classes, such as the architec-
and cultural globalization, a feature of late ture of shantytowns in Brazil and Peru. We
modernity that has given rise to new mar- have chosen to illustrate both “elite” cul-
kets and increasingly important additional ture designed to embrace those on the
sources of income. In popular music, this lower rungs of the social hierarchy, such as
process has produced such crossover music the murals of Diego Rivera and José
as that of Ricky Martin and Shakira. In cin- Clemente Orozco, and “low-brow” culture
ema, it has led to international coproduc- that often sets out to undermine the pre-
tions. As this book testifies, Latin Americans tensions of “high” or “hegemonic” art, such
continue to enjoy a rich and distinctive pop- as the parodic chanchada musicals made
ular culture, a fact that is recognized and ap- by the Brazilian film industry and the films
preciated by the hundreds of thousands of of Cantinflas in Mexico. Finally, we have
foreign tourists who visit the region annu- included elements of folk or peasant cul-
ally. Equally, armchair travelers are today ture, such as popular medicine and healing
able to buy translations of the novels of so- in Mexico and Central America, and we
called Boom and post-Boom writers Gabriel have included contemporary urban cul-
García Márquez and Isabel Allende or the ture, such as street slang in Mexico and Ar-
New Age fiction of Paulo Coelho at their lo- gentina and rap and hip-hop music in
cal bookstore, to purchase posters and Brazil. We thus hope to have covered all
greeting cards featuring images by Diego bases and to have avoided privileging any
Rivera or Fernando Botero, or even to see a particular definition of popular culture.

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Kaleidoscope: The Experience of Modernity Schwarz, Roberto. 1996. Misplaced Ideas:
in Latin America, edited by Vivian Essays on Brazilian Culture. London and
Schelling. London and New York: Verso. New York: Verso.
Martín-Barbero, Jesús. 1994. “Identidad, Torres, Carlos Alberto, and Julie Thompson.
comunicación, y modernidad en América 2000. “Education.” Pp. 509–511 in
Latina.” Pp. 83–110 in Posmodernidad en la Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin
periferia: Enfoques latinoamericanos de la American and Caribbean Cultures, vol. 2,
nueva teoría cultural, edited by Herman edited by Daniel Balderstone, Mike
Herlinghaus and Monika Walter. Berlin: Gonzalez, and Ana M. López. London:
Langer. Routledge.
Mouat, Ricardo Gutiérrez. 1993. “Post-
modernity and Postmodernism in Latin
Popular Music

In an increasingly globalized world where popular culture transcends na-

tional and continental boundaries with relative ease, the catchall term
“Latino music” is often used to classify a heterogeneous group of styles
and artists that have become household names in the United States and
Europe. The transnational popularity of such contemporary performers
as Ricky Martin and Shakira has prompted renewed interest in the socio-
cultural origins of their music, not least so that die-hard fans can learn
more about the early careers of their idols.
Of all the musical forms associated with Latin America today, salsa is
perhaps the most familiar to international listeners. In both the United
States and Europe, salsa is often seen as quintessentially Latino music,
but the term “salsa” is in fact generic and describes a range of dance
rhythms found in Spanish America. Currently, salsa crosses continental
as well as Latin American boundaries. It is used in a variety of commer-
cials and television soundtracks in the United States and the United
Kingdom, and it has become a big hit in the unlikely form of the Orchesta
de la Luz, a Japanese salsa band whose members do not speak Spanish,
who sing the lyrics phonetically, and who have played to great acclaim
both nationally and internationally.
The penetration of the international market by Latin American artists
and musical genres is not, however, solely the consequence of globaliza-
tion. Nor is it a recent phenomenon. Throughout the twentieth century a
variety of styles made the journey from Latin America to the United
States and Europe. From Brazil, for example, Carmen Miranda took
samba to the New York World’s Fair in 1939, then on to Broadway and
subsequently to Hollywood. During the era of the Good Neighbor Policy,
and particularly during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s
administration courted Latin American nations by encouraging the dis-
semination of their music north of the border. Miranda and other Latin
American musicians performed stylized versions of the music of their
homelands for a cosmopolitan audience. In that era of ostensibly recip-
rocal cultural exchange between the two continents, even Walt Disney’s
cartoon feature films featured samba in their soundtracks. Likewise, in
10 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

the 1930s and 1940s, bolero traveled from Tito Rodríguez. Salsa drew from a variety
Cuba and Mexico to the United States, of other musical styles, principally from
where it was recorded by the likes of Bing jazz and Cuban son. The style spread rap-
Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. idly and became popular across the whole
Later, the 1960s saw the success of the of Latin America, especially in Venezuela,
Leonard Bernstein musical West Side Panama, and Colombia.
Story, which raised the U.S. public’s aware- There has been much written about the
ness of Latino culture and so paved the origins of the term “salsa,” but it is princi-
way for such diverse artists as Herb Alpert, pally a commercial rather than a musicologi-
Trini López, and Ritchie Valens. cal creation. Although the term had oc-
Since then the ever-increasing domi- curred in isolated instances in songs—for
nance of transnational corporations within instance, in Ignacio Piñeiro’s 1928 song
the record industry has intensified the “Échale salsita” (“Put Sauce on It”) and in
global reach of Latin American rhythms. the name of the 1940s Cuban group Los
Within the United States the prodigious Salseros, led by Cheo Marquetti—the wide-
late twentieth-century growth of the Latino spread use of the term to denote a mar-
population, with its demand for cultural ketable musical style is generally attributed
self-representation, has provided a vast to the New York record company Fania, a
market for music and musicians of Latin major introducer of Latino sounds. Fania
American origin. Within Latin America, used the term as a catchall expression for
musical styles move relatively unhindered the various Latino singers and groups on its
across geographical borders, increasingly books. Jerry Masucci, director of Fania
forming creative unions with new trends Records, stated that “before the word salsa
from abroad such as hip-hop and rap music. was coined, people who knew music used to
On a continent where song has often repre- say: son, guaracha, danzón, chachacha; but
sented the primary vehicle for self-expres- those who weren’t musical experts found
sion and even political dissent, popular mu- this hard to follow. In Fania we thought we
sic continues to innovate and stimulate. needed a word as simple as ‘yes,’ ‘rock and
—Lisa Shaw roll’ or ‘country music,’ so we hit on ‘salsa’”
(quoted in Calvo Ospina 1995, p. 75).
See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in
Following the early innovations by
Hollywood (Carmen Miranda)
Puentes and Rodríguez, the U.S.-based Fa-
nia All-Stars, a group of Puerto Rican, U.S.,
Salsa Dominican, and Cuban musicians, was also
instrumental in increasing the popularity of
Salsa arose from music played by Latin im- salsa. Nuestra Cosa Latina (Our Latin
migrants in New York, beginning in the last Thing, 1971), a documentary film of a Fa-
half of the twentieth century. Whatever the nia All-Stars concert, boosted salsa’s
precise origins of the term “salsa,” the mu- prominence. Among the figures in this
sic itself has its roots in the music played group who have since gone on to become
by Puerto Ricans in 1950s New York, spear- solo artists in their own right are Willie
headed principally by Tito Puente and Colón and José Feliciano.

Reasons for the rise in salsa are varied, Tesos developed some of the salsa sounds
but the shape of the music itself is a signifi- that were to make his name in this style;
cant factor. As José Matosantos argued, the Fruko’s salsa tends to give precedence to
developments in jazz from the 1950s on- the voice of the lead singer, who is fre-
ward were becoming increasingly techni- quently backed by piano and a minimal in-
cal and were therefore very difficult to strumental setup. The album Tesura (the
dance to. Salsa emerged as a counterpart title is a play on the group’s name, Los
to jazz. It is an eclectic blend, in which the Tesos) launched his career in Colombia,
tumbadora, timbal, and bongo give the per- and a concert at Madison Square Garden in
cussion section a Cuban flavor, and the 1976 spread Fruko’s name internationally.
brass section, heavy on the trumpets and Particularly outstanding of Fruko’s recent
trombones, shows clear influences of U.S. work is ¡Esto sí es salsa de verdad! (This
big-band musical styles. Thus, although Really Is Salsa! 1999), which provides an
some Cubans argue that salsa is merely a example of the clean, crisp sound that has
modern version of son, it in fact drew from made Fruko so popular.
a whole series of rhythms and is more an At the same time, another key figure was
amalgam of styles than one particular emerging in Colombian salsa. Joe Arroyo,
style. Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia notes who began his career with the Discos
that salsa composers draw upon a variety Fuentes record label, started to develop his
of different types of music, including the own original style of salsa. Arroyo started
cumbia, samba, bolero, and cha-cha-cha. out with Fruko but formed his own band in
In Venezuela, some of the leading 1981, La Verdad, and then went on to
salseros (salsa composers and performers) record under his own name. Although sty-
include the group Federico y su Combo listically similar to Fruko in some respects,
and José Luis Rodríguez, known as El Arroyo’s salsa has a more tropical sound
Puma, a singer who came to the fore in the and is often based around bass lines drawn
1970s and is also famous for his boleros. from such traditional Colombian sounds as
One of the undisputed kings of contempo- cumbia and vallenato. Arroyo is still very
rary Venezuelan salsa is Oscar D’Leon, much a force today, and his prominence is
whose 1999 album El verdadero león (The further confirmed by his high profile in the
Real Lion) includes some of his best and media, illustrated by the use of one of his
most danceable salsa music. songs as the theme song of the popular
Undeniably, however, it is Colombia that 2002–2003 Colombian telenovela, Siete ve-
in recent years has become one of the ces amada (Seven Times Beloved).
hotbeds of salsa, with the city Cali declar- Another strand of salsa in Colombia is
ing itself the unofficial “capital of salsa.” the big-band-style salsa, epitomized by
Leading figures of Colombia’s salsa boom bands such as Grupo Niche, founded in
include Joe Arroyo and Fruko. Fruko, who 1979, and Orchesta Guayacán. Grupo
had originally made his name with cumbia, Niche’s song “Cali, pachanguero” (“Lively
performed in the 1970s with his group Los Cali”) has come to serve as an anthem for
Tesos, described by some as the first real the city and for its status as one of the cap-
Colombian salsa group. Fruko and Los itals—if not the capital—of contemporary
12 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

salsa. Orchesta Guayacán came onto the Tango

scene later than Grupo Niche but contin-
ues the big-band sound and has reworked a The musical style tango and its accompa-
variety of musical rhythms, some Colom- nying dance emerged among the urban
bian, some transnational, into a salsa style. poor of Buenos Aires in the 1890s and en-
This reworking is best illustrated by their joyed their heyday between 1917 and 1935,
1996 CD Como en un baile (Like at a when they captured the imaginations of
Dance), in which musical forms such as Europeans and North Americans and sub-
cumbia, vallenato, currulao, and paso doble, sequently gained respectability and accep-
among others, are given a salsa-esque tance among the Argentine elite. The most
reworking. renowned singer of tango from this golden
—Claire Taylor age was Carlos Gardel (1890–1935), who
took the tango to Paris and New York and
See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Cumbia; who still enjoys mythical status inside and
Samba; Vallenato; Mass Media: Telenovela outside Argentina. With Gardel’s death in a
plane crash in 1935, tango entered a period
Bibliography of decline, but its fortunes were revived
Aparicio, Frances R. 1998. Listening to Salsa: during the populist regime of Juan Perón
Gender, Latin Popular Music, and Puerto (1946–1955). Since then, tango nuevo (new
Rican Cultures. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan
tango) has been closely associated with the
University Press.
Boggs, Vernon. 1992. Salsiology: Afro-Cuban name of Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992), who
Music and the Evolution of Salsa in New incorporated elements of jazz and classical
York. New York: Excelsior Music music into the genre.
Publishing. The population of Buenos Aires bal-
Calvo Ospina, Hernando. 1995. ¡Salsa! Havana looned from 100,000 in 1880 to a million in
Heat: Bronx Beat. London: Latin America
1910 because of internal migration from
Duany, J. 1984. “Popular Music in Puerto Rico.” rural areas and large-scale immigration
Latin American Music Review 5: 186–216. from Europe, particularly Italy. The under-
Lemarie, Isabelle. 2002. Cuban Fire: The Story class included Italian-speaking, Spanish-
of Salsa and Latin Jazz. London: speaking, and Afro-American populations,
Continuum. who inhabited the city’s slums. They cre-
Matosantos, José. 1996. “Between the
ated a hybrid way of speaking called lun-
Trumpet and the Bongo: A Puerto Rican
Hybrid.” Massachusetts Review 37, no. 3: fardo in defiance of the elite, who in re-
428–437. sponse dismissed this “slang language” as
Quintero Herencia, Juan Carlos. 1997. “Notes that of the criminal fraternity. Among these
toward a Reading of Salsa.” Pp. 189–222 in lunfardo speakers was born a musical
Everynight Life: Culture and Dance in dance style that brought together an eclec-
Latin/o America, edited by Celeste Fraser
tic mix of traditions of music and move-
Delgado and José Esteban Muñoz. Durham,
NC: Duke University Press. ment. Musically, it took influences from the
Waxer, Lise. 2001. “Las caleñas son como las Spanish-Cuban habanera, the Spanish con-
flores: The Rise of All-Women Salsa Bands in tradanza, the African music played by ex-
Cali, Colombia.” Ethnomusicology 45, no. 2: slaves in Buenos Aires, and the vulgar
228–259. dance and music of the city’s sprawling

fringes, which were inhabited by rural mi- sions. The macho, aggressive compadrito
grants who brought with them their gaucho character, the peasant newly arrived in
verse. The resulting folk dance style and the city, who has much in common with
the music associated with it were referred the mythical malandro of Brazilian samba
to using a variety of terms, including “mi- (the Brazilian equivalent of the zoot-
longa” and “tango.” In the late 1800s and suiter), disappeared from tango lyrics in
early 1900s this style became increasingly this era, as did the references to prosti-
popular, not least as a consequence of the tutes and violence. The tango-canción
income generated locally by prostitution, was forever associated with Gardel, who
with which this music and dance was left Argentina in 1933 and popularized the
closely linked by way of its shared social tango among international audiences by
contexts. starring in film musicals. However, after
Tango was originally played on a guitar, Gardel’s death, the tango-canción gave
but between 1900 and 1917 musicians be- way to the tango-danza (tango-dance),
gan to perform it on the bandoneon, a which placed more emphasis on the music
type of accordion, which was more suited and the dance steps than on the lyrics. In
to the larger venues that by now were also the United States a sanitized tango dance
presenting tango performances. The lyrics was promoted, whereas in Europe the
of these songs were initially a vehicle for avant-garde intelligentsia were captivated
denouncing the living conditions of the ur- by the music’s transgressive potency, and
ban poor, but as the music and its creators it was incorporated into the soundtrack of
migrated toward the city center these so- Luis Buñuel’s and Salvador Dalí’s surreal-
cial themes were replaced by a more per- ist film Un chien andalou (An Andalu-
sonal, emotional content. Thus, from 1917 sian Dog, 1929).
to 1935 the lyrics of tango became more With the untimely death of Carlos
important, not least since they began to be Gardel, tango entered a brief period of de-
recorded on gramophone records. They cline, largely due to the influx of foreign
focused on loneliness, betrayal, and unre- rhythms, such as the rumba and bolero.
quited love as experienced by the male However, during the populist regime of
protagonist, who is always the victim Juan and Evita Perón this music experi-
within a failed love affair. Female singers enced a surge in popularity and was trans-
rarely performed tangos, and when they formed into a symbol of national identity.
did sing professionally they rarely made As was the case with samba in Brazil, the
their reputations in cabaret clubs, unlike new media, chiefly the radio and the talk-
their male counterparts. Instead, female ing cinema in Argentina, brought tango
performers appeared in theatrical per- into mass culture. Tango became caught up
formances or on the radio, which became in the process of popular mobilization in-
an important medium for the genre’s dis- stigated by Perón, who sought to co-opt
semination in the 1920s. Permeated with support for a capitalist path of develop-
nostalgia for a disappearing way of life, ment among the poor, and under his rule
this melancholy tango-canción (tango- the cultural production of the lower
song), as it was known, expressed the classes, such as tango, was given increased
protagonist’s anxieties and apprehen- exposure on a national stage. Since then
14 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tango has moved in and out of favor. It was Samba

marginalized by the military junta between
1976 and 1983 but subsequently reemerged The samba, a Brazilian musical style and
with renewed vigor both within Argentina associated dance form, emerged in the first
and abroad. Tango’s renaissance is largely decades of the twentieth century in Rio de
attributable to Piazzolla, who began his Janeiro and has become well known
musical career in the 1930s playing in throughout the world because of its close
tango bands in Argentina and went on to association with the city’s annual Carnival
study classical music. He drew on his var- celebrations. The samba rhythm is Afro-
ied musical background to revolutionize Brazilian in origin and was the music of the
tango, bringing symphony orchestras and Carnival celebrations of the poor blacks
the traditional bandoneon together in a and mixed-race community of Brazil’s then
highly controversial move. His interna- capital. Subsequently, thanks to the devel-
tional fame and popularity peaked in the opment of the radio and record industry in
1980s, when he performed his avant-garde the 1920s and 1930s, samba was popular-
tango all over the world. Today tango ized among the white middle classes. The
clubs, or milongas, are thriving in both genre developed various offshoots, such as
Buenos Aires and the Uruguayan capital, the slower, less rhythmic samba-canção
Montevideo, and the music continues to in- (samba-song) with its melancholy lyrics
spire contemporary artists, such as the (sometimes likened to U.S. blues), which
transnational pop icon Shakira. predominated in the late 1940s and early
—Lisa Shaw 1950s. Samba went on to influence the
bossa nova movement and the work of
See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Samba;
Transnational Pop Icons; Cultural Icons: singer-songwriters such as Chico Buarque
Political Icons (Evita); Legends of Popular de Holanda in the late 1950s and beyond.
Music and Flim (Carlos Gardel); Regional Since then, many different varieties of
and Ethnic Types (The Gaucho in Argentina samba have emerged, such as samba-de-
and Uruguay); Language: Lunfardo enredo (theme-samba), which is played by
the escolas de samba (samba schools, the
Bibliography large neighborhood organizations that per-
Castro, Donald S. 1991. The Argentine Tango form in the Rio Carnival) and whose lyrics
as Social History, 1880–1955: The Soul of are based on the theme chosen for the cele-
the People. Lewiston Idaho/Queenston brations in a given year. Samba has a 2/4
Ontario (Canada)/Lampeter UK: Edwin
meter, an emphasis on the second beat,
Collier, Simon. 1986. The Life, Music, and and a stanza-and-refrain structure.
Times of Carlos Gardel. Pittsburgh, PA: The samba rhythm is widely believed to
University of Pittsburgh Press. have descended from the batuque, a per-
Guy, Donna J. 1991. Sex and Danger in Buenos cussive accompaniment to the circle dance
Aires: Prostitution, Family, and Nation in of the same name, performed by African
Argentina. Lincoln and London: University
slaves on Brazil’s colonial plantations. The
of Nebraska Press.
Washabaugh, William, ed. 1998. The Passion of term “samba” is thought to have originated
Music and Dance: Body, Gender, and in present-day Angola, where the Kim-
Sexuality. Oxford and New York: Berg. bundu word semba referred to a batuque

dance step. By the beginning of the nine- towns or morros (hills). The lyrics of the
teenth century, although slaves continued percussion-based samba-de-morro (shanty-
to participate in the batuque, free blacks town samba) that they created centered on
developed a musical accompaniment to the their marginal lifestyle and celebrated the
dance played on the viola, a type of Por- local antihero, or malandro, who turned his
tuguese guitar. Some experts argue that the back on manual labor—still closely linked
true musical forefather of samba was the to the exploitation of slavery—in favor of a
lundu, a music and dance form performed lifestyle of womanizing, gambling, and
by slaves in the eighteenth century that had carousing. This brand of samba, which in its
a religious significance and that was per- almost purely percussive form was also re-
formed to bring good luck. With the aboli- ferred to as samba-de-batucada (percus-
tion of slavery in 1888, many former slaves sion-samba), and those who created it were
and their offspring settled in Rio de marginalized by the authorities, unlike the
Janeiro, then the capital, and by the second more respectable type of samba that
decade of the twentieth century an Afro- evolved directly from “Pelo Telefone” and
Brazilian community existed near the port its more eclectic mix of creators. Under
and the city center. Samba emerged within President Getúlio Vargas (1930–1945) sam-
this community in the home of an Afro- bistas (samba composers and performers)
Brazilian woman, Hilária Batista de were forced to abandon the figure of
Almeida, better known as Tia (Aunt) Ciata, the malandro hustler and to espouse the
a priestess of the Afro-Brazilian religion work ethic of the political regime, which im-
Candomblé. She hosted gatherings at her posed censorship restrictions and actively
home, near the central Praça Onze square, co-opted popular musicians. As a conse-
where clandestine religious ceremonies quence, a new variety of samba, known as
were held and music was performed. Her the samba-exaltação (samba-exaltation),
home was a meeting place for a heteroge- emerged in the late 1930s; its lyrics were
neous group of popular musicians and en- highly patriotic, praising the beauty and
thusiasts, both black and white, some riches of Brazil. A classic example is the
semiliterate, others well educated, who samba “Aquarela do Brasil” (“Watercolor of
brought together a wide range of musical Brazil”), written in 1939 by the white, mid-
styles, both homegrown and imported. It dle-class songwriter Ari Barroso (1903–
was from one such gathering that the first 1964). Barroso was one of a group of white
officially designated samba, “Pelo Tele- sambistas who emerged in the late 1920s
fone” (“On the Telephone”), emerged in and 1930s, together with the acclaimed lyri-
1916. The song was credited to the Afro- cist Noel Rosa (1910–1937), whose careers
Brazilian Ernesto dos Santos, better were fueled by the development of the
known by his nickname, Donga, but in all gramophone record, the radio, and the talk-
likelihood it was a collective creation. ing cinema.
In the 1920s samba was associated with Affairs of the heart had provided the ex-
Rio’s black and mixed-race inhabitants, who clusively male sambistas with an enduring
had been driven out of the center of the city source of inspiration for their lyrics since
as part of a savage urbanization program the 1920s, and this new generation of tal-
and who now inhabited the hillside shanty- ented middle-class composers developed
16 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

the sentimental, plaintive samba-canção by Shaw, Lisa. 1999. The Social History of the
combining this theme with an emphasis on Brazilian Samba. Aldershot, UK, and
melody rather than rhythm, adding more Brookfield, VT: Ashgate.
Vianna, Hermano. 1999. The Mystery of Samba:
complex harmonies to the increasingly so-
Popular Music and National Identity in
phisticated lyrics. This variety of samba Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North
popularized the genre among the middle Carolina Press.
class and dominated Brazilian music until
the advent of bossa nova in the late 1950s.
Samba, specifically samba-de-enredo, is Bossa Nova
the music that accompanies the Rio Carni-
val processions today. The parades by the Bossa nova, an internationally acclaimed
escolas de samba dance along to the bate- Brazilian musical style, emerged in the
ria, that is, the drum-and-percussion sec- mid-1950s in the upscale district of Co-
tion, which consists of surdos (bass pacabana in Rio de Janeiro. It was epito-
drums), caixas (rattles), tamborins (small mized by Antônio Carlos (Tom) Jobim’s
drums hit with sticks), cuícas (friction and Vinícius de Moraes’s hit song “Garota
drums), reco-recos (scrapers), and agogôs de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”).
(double bells). High-register plaintive har- Bossa nova took much of its inspiration
monies are added by the cavaquinho (a from samba, but some examples of the
kind of ukulele), and the puxador (lead genre also show influences from North
singer) provides the melody. American jazz. This new sound was taken
Today musicians like Paulinho da Viola far beyond the boundaries of the city of
defend samba in its traditional form, follow- Rio thanks to multinational record compa-
ing in the footsteps of the sambistas of the nies and television, and it was particularly
Estácio de Sá district of Rio, such as Ismael popular in the United States as a conse-
Silva, who created the first escola de samba, quence of collaborations between Brazilian
called Deixa Falar (Let Them Speak), in musicians and such musicians as the North
1928. Although Paulinho da Viola does not American saxophonist Stan Getz, the jazz
accept samba mixed with other types of musician Charlie Byrd, and singer Frank
popular music, recent years have witnessed Sinatra.
the emergence of various hybrids, such as Bossa nova (literally, “new style/fash-
sambalanço, heavily influenced by Brazilian ion”) essentially slowed down and simpli-
soul music, and samba-reggae. fied the samba rhythm while incorporating
—Lisa Shaw unusual, rich harmonies and syncopations.
It grew out of the improvised jam sessions
See also: Popular Music: Bossa Nova; Popular held at small nightclubs in Copacabana and
Religion and Festivals: Candomblé; Popular in the homes of young musicians and intel-
Festivals (Carnival in Brazil)
lectuals in Rio de Janeiro’s sophisticated,
beachfront Southern Zone in the middle to
late 1950s. Because of its creators’ social
McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 1998.
The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, origins, bossa nova is often referred to as
and the Popular Music of Brazil. the samba of the middle classes. Critics
Philadelphia: Temple University Press. have also attributed the intimate, soft, con-

Tom Jobim sits at his piano and plays the flute in his home studio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February
1985. (Stephanie Maze/Corbis)

trolled nature of this musical style to the release in the same year of Marcel Camus’s
enclosed physical spaces in which it award-winning film Orfeu Negro (Black
emerged, namely, the bijou apartments of Orpheus), whose soundtrack included
the modern high-rise blocks that lined Rio’s compositions in this “new style” by Jobim
most famous beaches. The singer Nara and Moraes, popularized bossa nova
Leão, who played hostess at her apartment among an international audience. This was
in Copacabana to gatherings that centered the first large-scale global exposure for
on musical improvisation, is often referred Brazilian music. First performed in 1962,
to as the muse of the movement, and she the archetypal bossa nova “The Girl from
went on to record many of her friends’ Ipanema” is the most internationally well
songs. Another key player in the creation known of Brazilian songs, and it has been
and popularization of bossa nova was the rerecorded many times in Portuguese and
guitarist João Gilberto, who hailed from in English.
Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia and Bossa nova emerged during a period of
whose wife, Astrud, recorded the original economic development and optimism in
version of “The Girl from Ipanema.” It was Brazil, during the presidency of Juscelino
with the release of Gilberto’s album Chega Kubitschek (1956–1961), who promised
de saudade (No More Longing) in 1959 “fifty years’ progress in five.” The vitality
that bossa nova fever began in Brazil. The and confidence of this era were symbolized
18 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

João Gilberto on guitar and Stan Getz on saxophone, playing at the Rockefeller Center, 1972.

by the building of a new, futuristic capital free mood of middle-class youth in urban
city, Brasília, inaugurated in 1960, largely Brazil. “Corcovado,” which celebrates mu-
as a result of Kubitschek’s personal cru- sic making itself, and “The Girl from
sade. The lyrics of bossa nova clearly re- Ipanema” both explicitly allude to the
flect the spirit of these times. Key exam- beauty of Rio de Janeiro, creating a roman-
ples of the style, such as Jobim’s and ticized vision of life. For this reason, bossa
Moraes’s “Chega de saudade” (“No More nova’s lyrics have often been dismissed as
Longing,” 1958) and Jobim’s “Corcovado” bland and superficial, lacking in meaning
(1960), are love songs that evoke the care- and emotional depth. Nonetheless, other

examples of the style display a self-con- “light music” for settings such as airport
scious and even ironic dimension. João lounges and shopping centers. However, in
Gilberto’s “Bim Bom” (1958), for example, Brazil bossa nova has not suffered the
with its seemingly nonsensical lyrics, can same fate, and it continues to be closely as-
be interpreted as a parody of the meaning- sociated with a minimalist vocal delivery,
less, trite lyrics of the samba-canção of the usually by a solo voice, delicately accom-
early to middle 1950s. Similarly, two other panied by a simple guitar or piano and light
well-known examples of bossa nova center percussion. Bossa nova enjoyed its heyday
on clever interplays of lyrics and melody. between 1958 and 1964, but this musical
The lyrics of Tom Jobim’s and Newton style had a profound impact on jazz and in-
Mendonça’s “Desafinado” (“Off-Key,” 1958) ternational music, and it also influenced
refer to a romantic relationship that has the subsequent generation of Brazilian
gone “off key” or “out of tune,” a theme songwriters.
that is mirrored in the musical accompani- —Lisa Shaw
ment. Recorded by Gilberto in his charac-
teristic whispering style, “Desafinado” was See also: Popular Music: Samba
an ironic riposte to critics who disparag-
ingly wrote that bossa nova was “music for Bibliography
Castro, Ruy. 2000. Bossa Nova: The Story of the
off-key singers.” The song became a playful
Brazilian Music That Seduced the World.
yet defiant anthem for this nascent musical Chicago: A Cappella.
style. In the same vein, Jobim’s and Men- McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 1998.
donça’s “Samba de uma nota só” (“One The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova,
Note Samba”) is entirely self-referential, and the Popular Music of Brazil.
and as the lyrics explain, the melody delib- Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
erately repeats a single note, ironically tak- Treece, David. 1992. “Between Bossa Nova and
the Mambo Kings: The Internationalization of
ing to extremes bossa nova’s tendency to
Latin American Popular Music.” Travesía:
repeat a single melodic motif in different
Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies
registers. Some critics have also argued 1, no. 2: 54–85.
that bossa nova cannot be simply dis-
missed as apolitical, since as the badge of
the new, white, affluent, city-dwelling gen- Mariachi, Ranchera, Norteña, Tex-Mex
eration it represented a determination to
break with an atmosphere of populist sen- These four closely related styles of music
timentality that had been deliberately en- lie at the heart of popular music from Mex-
gendered by Brazil’s political leaders over ico and the border region with the United
the previous two decades. States. Although they do not represent the
Many of the most famous songs of bossa totality of Mexican popular music, they are
nova have been overcommercialized out- of great importance to the contemporary
side Brazil, and in the form of recordings Mexican popular music scene, and the first
that emphasize the repetitive, almost mo- three styles have come to signify essential
notonous nature of their melodies, they are “Mexicanness” both to Mexicans and Chi-
used widely in Europe and North America canos themselves and to the rest of the
to provide “easy listening,” “Muzak,” or world.
20 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

The Mariachi Del Rio performs at the Fiesta Nopalitos in Carrizo Springs, Texas, c. 1990. (David

Mariachi music had its heyday in the first cally played at weddings); still others sug-
half of the twentieth century. Its popularity gest that the name stems from a popular fes-
was due to its prominent use in the movies tival in honor of a virgin known as María H.
of the golden age of Mexican filmmaking. It (pronounced mah-ree-ah-chay) at which
achieved worldwide fame at this point, but musicians played this type of music. None
it has since been replaced in the public’s fa- of the theories is completely convincing.
vor by Tex-Mex and remains popular in Mariachi music is based on the Mexican
Mexico and around the United States–Mex- son, a musical form born of the fusion of
ico border only. Scholars do not agree on Spanish, indigenous Mesoamerican, and
the exact origins of mariachi music or of its (to a lesser extent) African cultures in the
name. Some trace it to the original contact eighteenth century. (Note that the Mexican
between the indigenous peoples of son is not the same as the Cuban son, al-
Mesoamerica and the Spanish conquista- though they have similar origins.) Mariachi
dors (claiming that “mariachi” is an indige- music originated in the state of Jalisco, but
nous word for musician or possibly for the it became popular throughout Mexico in
tree from which mariachi guitars are made); the first half of the nineteenth century be-
others trace it to mid-nineteenth-century cause its hybrid origins helped give differ-
Franco-Mexican contact (claiming that ent social groups a sense of belonging to a
“mariachi” is a corruption of the French fledgling national community. Since the
word mariage and refers to the music typi- end of the nineteenth century it has

branched out from its repertoire of sones more, in the 1980s Linda Ronstadt pro-
to include waltzes and polkas as well as moted new international interest in mari-
boleros (romantic ballads). The themes of achi music with her album Canciones de
the songs are extremely varied, ranging mi padre (My Father’s Songs). Mexican
from love and betrayal to politics, revolu- superstar, heartthrob, and transnational
tionary heroes, and even nonsense verse. pop icon Juan Gabriel has also helped revi-
There is a standard repertoire of mariachi talize the tradition, both in Mexico and
songs—including such numbers as “Cielito abroad, by blending mariachi music with
lindo” (“Little Angel”) and “Jalisco”—that soft rock and symphony orchestras.
all Mexicans recognize, but many mariachi Ranchera, from la canción ranchera
musicians know up to 1,500 different songs (music from the ranches), is a derivative of
and are able to improvise others for their mariachi music, and its singers are still
clients (for a fee). identifiable by their charro costumes. In-
What makes mariachi music identifiable creasing urbanization in Mexico in the first
as such despite such a broad repertoire is decades of the twentieth century provoked
partly the musical instruments used, partly a strong sense of nostalgia for rural idylls,
the form of delivery of the songs, and hence the reference in the music’s name to
partly the musicians’ style of dress. The the countryside. The style of delivery tends
traditional instruments were the harp, vio- to be much more melodramatic than that
lins, and several types of Mexican guitar, of traditional mariachi music, and the
including the vihuela (a small guitar similar repertoire is almost exclusively made up of
to a lute) and the guitarrón (a small double boleros. Although many film stars, such as
bass). These guitars gave the music its tra- Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, are re-
ditional sound. In more recent years, owing membered for their renditions of this kind
to the popularity of jazz and Cuban music, of music, the most famous exponent of
the harp has been abandoned and trumpets ranchera songs was singer-songwriter José
have been added. The style of delivery is Alfredo Jiménez. The style has also been
also important: the songs are sung with a adopted by a pantheon of female divas, in-
nasal voice and in a dispassionate manner. cluding Lucha Reyes, Eugenia León, and
Finally, all mariachi band members wear Lola Beltrán. In recent years, in the songs
charro clothing (the dress of the Mexican of Alejandro Fernández, it has accommo-
cowboy): ankle boots, a wide-brimmed dated the influence of rock music. Further-
sombrero, tight pants with lots of shiny more, Lebanese-Mexican singer Astrid
buttons down the sides, and a fitted, deco- Hadad has given it a subversive review in
rated jacket. her reworking of Lucha Reyes’s repertoire,
In general, mariachi bands were exclu- and Chicana singer Lila Downs has in-
sively male. Nevertheless, there have been creased its inherent hybridity, blending it
exceptional all-women bands, such as with indigenous music from the state of
Mariachi Las Coronelas (Mariachi Band the Oaxaca and also with norteña.
Colonels’ Wives) of the 1940s. All-women Whereas mariachi and ranchera music
bands have been more prevalent in the originate from the Mexican son, norteña,
southwestern United States, where there from música norteña (music from the
have been several since the 1970s. Further- North), has its roots in nineteenth-century
22 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

corridos. These were epic ballads from polka tempo. The dance itself is often
northern Mexico that usually recounted sto- called the quebradita (break a leg). The
ries of conflict between Mexicans and An- dominant instrument is the accordion, and
glos and that were hence important in the the style of delivery is generally less nasal
creation of a sense of popular Mexican na- than that of mariachi or norteña. In the
tional identity through resistance to Anglo early twentieth century, Tex-Mex was a dis-
imperialism. The corridos had their heyday reputable, working-class form of entertain-
in the 1920s, when they were reinvested ment; today the songs of people such as Ly-
with meaning by the events of the Mexican dia Mendoza and Chelo Silva are popular
Revolution (1910–1920). The button accor- with all classes and with both Chicano and
dion and such dances as the waltz and the Anglo sectors of society. It has become the
polka, all introduced to Mexico from east- consummate expression of Texan identity.
ern Europe in the late nineteenth century, Furthermore, Tex-Mex has recently gained
give norteña its typical sound and rhythm. worldwide popularity through such figures
Like mariachi, norteña music often has a as Flaco Jiménez and his work with major
deadpan style of delivery and a nasal style Anglo artists, and it has even started to ex-
of singing. Despite the reference to regional- ert its influence over Mexican popular
ism in the music’s name, norteña is popular music itself. Since the late 1950s, Tejano,
throughout Mexico; there are whole TV a pop-oriented urban form of Tex-Mex,
channels and radio stations dedicated to it. has evolved. The singer Selena is most
Its popularity is still due to the theme of re- renowned for her contribution to this style.
sistance of el pueblo (the common people) The group Los Lobos has also gained an in-
in the lyrics. The group Los Tigres del Norte ternational following for their blend of Tex-
(Tigers of the North) has become superstars Mex and rock music.
—Thea Pitman
in both Mexico and the United States, mod-
ernizing norteña with the introduction of
See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Cumbia;
saxophones and cumbia rhythms. Their suc- Transnational Pop Icons; Popular Theater
cess provoked a music boom in the 1990s and Performance: Circus and Cabaret
known as banda, which combines norteña (Astrid Hadad); Cultural Icons: Legends of
music with the brass band music typical of Popular Music and Film (Pedro Infante);
Popular Cinema: Melodrama
village fiestas all over Mexico.
Tex-Mex conjunto is the name given to
norteña music north of the U.S.-Mexican Bibliography
Bensusan, Guy. 1985. “A Consideration of
border. It is indigenous to the region, since
Norteña and Chicano Music.” Studies in
the southwestern United States formed Latin American Popular Culture 4: 158–169.
part of Mexico until 1848, and it is also con- Burr, Ramiro. 1999. The Billboard Guide to
tinually refreshed by contact with contem- Tejano and Regional Mexican Music. New
porary forms of Mexican popular music. York: Watson-Guptill.
Although it has distinctive characteristics Farquharson, Mary. 2000. “Mexico: Much More
Than Mariachi.” Pp. 463–476 in The Rough
that distinguish it from norteña and mari-
Guide to World Music, vol. 2, Latin and
achi, it is primarily dance music that com- North America, Caribbean, India, Asia,
bines the repertoire of ranchera with the and Pacific, edited by Simon Broughton and
wider one of boleros and sets them to a Mark Ellingham. London: Rough Guides.

Gradante, William. 1983. “Mexican Popular Some of the earlier versions of what can
Music at Mid-Century: The Role of José be termed “modern” cumbia arose in the
Alfredo Jiménez and the Canción Ranchera.” 1950s. One song from that period, “La
Studies in Latin American Popular Culture
pollera colorá” (“The Colored Skirt”), sung
2: 99–114.
Peña, Manuel. 1999. The Mexican-American at the time by Los Trovadores de Baru, a
Orquesta: Music, Culture, and the Dialectic group from Cartagena, has become the un-
of Conflict. Austin: University of Texas Press. official national anthem of Colombia and
Sobrina, Laura, and Leonor Xóchitl Pérez. 2002. has spawned a long list of adaptations since
“Unique Women in Mariachi Music.” its first recording. Other groups and singers
Mariachi Publishing Company.
from this period include Los Cumbiamberos
(consulted 7 January 2003). de Pacheco, who rely mostly on the accor-
dion, and Los Guacharacas, who derive
their name from the key instrument they
Cumbia play, the guacharaca (see the section on val-
lenato for more information on this instru-
Panama was the original birthplace of what ment). Key players, whose influence is still
was to become cumbia music, but by the felt in cumbia music today, were the group
time Colombia and Panama separated at Los Corraleros de Majagual, originally
Panama’s independence in 1903, cumbia formed in 1961. A number of its members
had already become a Colombian national have gone on to have solo careers. One such
music. Cumbia is traditionally led by the is Julio Estrada, better known as Fruko,
accordion (and as such has certain links who is generally considered to be one of
with vallenato) and was originally a type of Colombia’s leading talents in the modern
folk music. It started as a slow dance that blend of cumbia with salsa rhythms.
was practiced by the slaves and the indige- In 1977 Fruko took the lead of the group
nous Indians of Colombia’s northern La Sonora Dinamita. The Discos Fuentes
coastal region. record company had originally created a
The cumbia still being played today cumbia band called La Sonora Dinamita to
stems from songs that appeared during the perform música tropical, a combination of
independence struggles in Colombia in the salsa and cumbia. The original group had
first two decades of the nineteenth century, split up in 1963, but their re-forming under
when the group Los Gaiteros de San Ja- Fruko led to a string of hits, including “Del
cinto played an early version of cumbia. Re- montón” (“An Ordinary Girl”), one of their
lying mostly on drums and traditional in- most popular songs. La Sonora Dinamita’s
digenous flutes made from bamboo or skill lay in fusing the traditional cumbia
sugarcane, these cumbia songs frequently music with a more popular sound. They
expressed the distress of the African slaves. gained popularity first throughout Colom-
Modern-day cumbia is characterized by its bia, then in Mexico, and finally across Latin
earthy lyrics, which use a rich colloquial America as a whole. A major innovation in
language and frequent double entendres. 1981 was the introduction of a female vo-
The themes are often culturally specific, re- calist, Mélida Yará Yanguma, better known
ferring to Colombian customs and the con- as La India Meliyará, whose strong voice
cerns of everyday life in Colombia. gave a new edge to La Sonora’s sound.
24 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

La Sonora Dinamita still performs some Orquesta Guayacán. Moreover, cumbia has
of the most popular cumbias, including been given a further boost in recent years
classics such as “Mi cucu” (a Colombian by its reworking into new and eclectic
version of the song “My Toot Toot”), “Amor forms, most notably tecnocumbia and
de mis amores” (“Love of My Loves”), “Es- cumbia villera.
cándalo” (“Scandal”), and “A mover la co- —Claire Taylor
lita” (“Move Your Bum”), as well as new
songs, with a notably contemporary and at See also: Popular Music: Salsa; Tecnocumbia;
times sarcastic twist, such as “La cumbia
del Viagra” (“Viagra Cumbia”). The album
Éxitos tropicosos (Tropical Hits, 1998)
Burton, Kim. 2000. “Colombia: El sonido
provides a good roundup of some of these dorado.” Pp. 372–385 in The Rough Guide to
hits, including “Mi cucu,” “Mete y saca” (“In World Music, vol. 2, Latin America and
and Out”), and “Que te la pongo” (“I’ll Put North America, Caribbean, India, Asia,
It on You”), and the compilation 32 Caño- and the Pacific, edited by Simon Broughton
nazos (32 Greatest Hits, 2002) combines and Mark Ellingham. London: Rough
both classic cumbias such as “Del mon-
Dorier-Apprill, Elisabeth. 2000. Danses
tón,” “Mi cucu,” and “Amor de mis amores” “latines” et identités, d’une rive a l’autre:
with new ones such as “Cumbia del sida” Tango, cumbia, fado, samba, rumba,
(“AIDS Cumbia”). Nevertheless, although capoiera. Paris: L’Harmattan.
La Sonora Dinamita still performs and pro- Steward, Sue. 1999. “Colombia: Continental
duces records today, the actual makeup of Connections.” Pp. 128–137 in Salsa: Musical
Heartbeat of Latin America. London:
the group is unclear, and what was once a
Thames and Hudson.
clearly defined ensemble has now frag-
mented into a variety of groups performing
at different locations. Bolero
Even though the cumbia scene is domi-
nated by La Sonora Dinamita in its various Bolero is a balladic style of music, roman-
formations and offshoots, there are hun- tic in theme and slow in tempo, usually in
dreds of cumbia bands in Colombia today. 2/4 time. Whereas salsa and merengue are
Many of these gain an audience at the an- the current preferences for dance music in
nual Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de La Cande- much of Latin America, the bolero remains
laria, held at the end of January and the be- the favorite romantic music for listening.
ginning of February in Cartagena. A key The bolero’s official golden age was the
feature of the celebration is the perfor- 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, but it is still a
mance of cumbia. In addition to these per- flourishing musical genre today.
formances, which may include smaller en- The bolero has its roots in an old Span-
sembles, cumbia has been incorporated ish dance, and it first emerged as a Latin
into the big-band style of Colombian music, American musical form in the nineteenth
a leading exponent being the Orquesta Los century. However, although its original
Tupamaros, whose compilation 20 años sources were Hispanic, the bolero that has
(20 Years, 1996) includes “Los amores de developed in Latin America is a cultural hy-
Petrona” (“Petrona’s Loves”), and the brid, with influences from African rhythms

and inspiration from twentieth-century moruno, bolero mambo, bolero beguine,

jazz. Most experts date the appearance of bolero feeling, and bolero ranchera—one
bolero to the late nineteenth century, most constant is the theme of its lyrics: love and
often to between 1885 and 1898. Geograph- its associated seductions, secret meetings,
ically, the bolero song originated in Cuba forbidden passions, and lovers’ quarrels.
and then spread rapidly around the The bolero has enjoyed a renaissance in
Caribbean area, taking root in the sur- recent years. The most striking of its cur-
rounding islands and Mexico. rent performers is the young Luis Miguel,
The heyday of Mexican bolero began in who has gained popularity throughout
the 1930s with such key bolerista groups Latin America and Spain and who has
as Los Hermanos Martínez Gil and Trío recorded a variety of boleros of yesteryear.
Tarácuri, but soloists were increasingly Miguel’s recent album, Mis boleros fa-
coming to the fore. Perhaps the person voritos (My Favorite Boleros, 2002), in-
who had the greatest impact on the devel- cludes his versions of such now classic
opment of the bolero was the now leg- boleros as “Perfidia” (“Treachery,” origi-
endary Agustín Lara (1901–1970), whose nally by Alberto Domínguez) and “Sola-
sentimental boleros became popular in the mente una vez” (“Only Once,” by Agustín
dance halls of Mexico. The popularity of Lara). Other key figures in the revival of
boleros from the 1930s onward led to the the bolero include the Venezuelan José
spread of this genre outside Latin America, Luis Rodríguez, better known as El Puma,
with boleros being taken up by a variety of who has brought out several albums of
U.S. singers, including Bing Crosby, Nat boleros and whose recent double CD enti-
King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. Perhaps the tled Inolvidable (Unforgettable, 1997–
most famous of all boleros is “Bésame mu- 1999) reworks the songs of Los Panchos,
cho” (“Kiss Me a Lot,” 1941), composed by one of the classic trios performing bolero
the Mexican Consuelo Velásquez, who was music.
only sixteen at the time. This song has The Mexican transnational pop icon Juan
since been recorded by a wide range of Gabriel is another prominent figure to have
singers (not all of them Latin American), continued the bolero tradition. Gabriel has
including leading female exponents of brought out albums that include a variety of
bolero such as Mexico’s Toña la Negra and boleros such as “Frente a frente” (“Face to
Puerto Rico’s Ruth Fernández and more re- Face”) and “No me vuelvo a enamorar” (“I
cently Luis Miguel on his Vivo (Live, 2000) Won’t Fall in Love Again”). Similarly, fig-
album. However, “Bésame mucho” ar- ures such as the Puerto Rican José Feli-
guably enjoyed its greatest worldwide ciano have performed in the bolero genre,
recognition in the version by the Beatles, with the Grammy-nominated album Señor
recorded in 1962, which appeared on their bolero (Mr. Bolero, 1998) including some of
album Beatles Live at the Star Club in Feliciano’s best work in this genre. Contem-
Hamburg (1962). porary revivals of the bolero are dominated
Although the bolero has altered over by male singers, but some female vocalists
time in terms of its rhythms and influ- stand out, such as the Puerto Rican
ences—to encompass, among others, vari- Lucecita Benítez, who has incorporated the
eties such as the bolero son, bolero bolero genre into albums such as Mujer sin
26 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tiempo (Timeless Woman, 1983). Even the be the Cuban musician Dámaso Pérez
recent phenomenon of the Buena Vista So- Prado, who, from the 1940s onward,
cial Club has engaged in the renaissance of adopted the term “mambo” and recorded
the bolero, with Ibrahím Ferrer recently several songs of this style with his band.
recording boleros. Pérez Prado, whose range as a musician
—Claire Taylor stretched from pianist and organist to
bandleader, arranger, and composer, is
See also: Popular Music: Mariachi, Ranchera, largely credited with popularizing the
Norteña, Tex-Mex; Merengue; Salsa; mambo musical form. He developed the
Transnational Pop Icons
mambo formula for his band with a brass
and saxophone lineup, essentially uniting
Rico Salazar, Jaime. 1987. Cien años de boleros: big, jazz-band sound with Latin rhythms. In
Su historia, sus compositores, sus 1948 he settled in Mexico, where he
intérpretes y 500 boleros inolvidables. recorded several songs, many of them with
Bogota: Centro Editorial de Estudios fellow Cuban Benny Moré. After establish-
Musicales. ing himself in Mexico, he began to gain in-
Valdés Cantero, Alicia, ed. 2000. Nosotros y el
ternational fame in the mid-1950s as the
bolero. Havana: Letras Cubanas.
Zavala, Iris M. 2000. El bolero: Historia de un mambo fad spread across the United
amor. Madrid: Celeste. States, fueled by the U.S. Latino popula-
tion. Notably, his “Cereza Rosa” (1951),
sung in English in 1955 as “Cherry Pink and
Mambo Apple Blossom White,” was a key cross-
over hit. It stayed at number one for ten
Mambo is based on an Afro-Cuban rhythm weeks in the United States and for two
and is most frequently associated with the weeks in the United Kingdom.
Cuban musician Dámaso Pérez Prado. The Aside from Pérez Prado, the three most
mambo came about as a development of important bands in the U.S. Latino commu-
the danzón, adding the conga drum to the nity were Machito y sus Afro-Cubanos and
charanga ensemble, which characteristi- the bands of Tito Puente and Tito Ro-
cally features a wooden Creole flute, piano, dríguez. Tito Puente, one of the kings of
bass, violins, güiro (a type of scraper made mambo, famous above all for his hit song
from a hollowed-out gourd), and timbales “Oye como va” (“Hear How It Goes”), has
(a set of drums). This music was first produced many albums of mambo over the
called danzón de nuevo ritmo (danzón of years. Other leading players, such as Celia
the new rhythm) and later came to be Cruz, have also sung mambo and have cre-
known as mambo. ated fruitful crosscurrents between mambo
Although there is no single inventor of and salsa.
this style, its early origins are usually asso- The mambo craze proper was diminish-
ciated with the musician Orestes “Macho” ing by the 1960s, but in recent years inter-
López, whose 1938 tune “Mambo” is seen est in mambo has resurfaced, partly owing
by many as the earliest example of this to a variety of media crossovers. Oscar Hi-
type of music. However, the most promi- juelos’s novel The Mambo Kings Play
nent name in the history of mambo has to Songs of Love (1989) won the Pulitzer Prize

Tito Puente drumming at Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, California. (Craig Lovell/Corbis)

in 1990 and was subsequently made into version (a performance or recording of a

the film Mambo Kings (1992), a U.S.- work previously done by another per-
French production directed by Arne Glim- former) by the German-born Lou Bega,
cher and starring, among others, Antonio whose version was a number one hit in the
Banderas. The film, about two Cuban United Kingdom and Germany and appears
brothers attempting to make their way on on his album A Little Bit of Mambo. Simi-
the New York music scene, was full of ex- larly, Pérez Prado’s hit song “Guaglione”
amples of mambo music and brought (1958) was revived for use in a Guinness
mambo back to the attention of U.S. audi- commercial in 1994, leading to the song
ences. It also featured appearances by reaching the U.K. top ten in 1995.
some of the real-life mambo stars, such as —Claire Taylor
Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, and the suc-
cess of both novel and film revived interest See also: Popular Music: Danzón; Salsa
in the mambo.
In addition to novels and feature films, Bibliography
Daniel, Yvonne. 1995. Rumba: Dance and
mambo has come to the fore in the shape
Social Change in Contemporary Cuba.
of rerecordings and commercial uses. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Pérez Prado’s 1949 hit “Mambo Number 5,” Gerard, Charley, with Marty Sheller. 1989.
one of his several numbered mambos, rose Salsa! The Rhythm of Latin Music. Crown
to fame again in 1999 owing to the cover Point, IN: White Cliffs Media.
28 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Giro, Radamés. 1993. El mambo. Havana: more marketable and U.S.-friendly Johnny
Letras Cubanas. Ventura—itself symbolic of his commercial
skills. In the 1960s, Ventura heralded the
emergence of a new style of merengue,
Merengue transforming some of the now traditional
big-band setups into smaller ensembles
Merengue originated in the Dominican Re- with fewer saxophones and horns. Key to
public in the mid-nineteenth century and is this was Ventura’s own weekly television
arguably that country’s most popular dance show, The Combo Show, which featured
music. It has since spread throughout Latin merengue in a much more vibrant setting,
America and the Caribbean. Thanks to a complete with dance steps, and which
group of Dominican and Puerto Rican DJs launched the career of many other
working in New York, it has recently fused merengue greats. Among other innova-
with house music to give rise to the music tions, Ventura sped up merengue, incorpo-
known as merenhouse. rated elements from rock and roll, and em-
The origins of the term “merengue” are ployed a much more aggressive marketing
obscure, although it is generally accepted style, able to compete with U.S. imports.
that merengue as a musical genre derived By the 1970s, it was the turn of Wilfrido
from principally two distinct sources: the Vargas, trumpeter, composer, singer, and
French minuet of the nineteenth century bandleader, to transform merengue. Var-
and the music of African slaves. The slaves gas’s 1978 album Punto y aparte (Full
of the Dominican Republic took up the Stop) represented a defining moment in
dance from their colonial rulers but added the development of this musical style. Var-
new rhythms to it, including an upbeat. gas initiated a series of crossovers with
Thus, although early merengue had Euro- other sounds, including elements from
pean origins, it soon acquired an Afro- Haitian bands, from cumbia, and from val-
Caribbean flavor and, indeed, remains an lenato, and introduced synthesizers in
example of musical syncretism today. some of his later work.
The typical merengue ensemble consists By the 1980s merengue was gaining
of the guitar, the güiro (a type of scraper ground as the Dominican recording industry
made from a hollowed-out gourd), the became stronger, and a new style of
tambora (a two-headed drum), and the merengue evolved. Partly owing to the in-
marimba. Although merengue is still per- creased immigration of Dominicans to the
formed by such traditional ensembles, vari- United States and partly because of the rela-
ations on merengue—from the growing in- tive simplicity of its two-step rhythm—an
fluence of big-band-style arrangements easier dance step than salsa—merengue
throughout the twentieth century to more grew in popularity, and for many Latino
recent house and hip-hop reworkings— dancers it became the preferred dance style.
have brought about changes in the makeup Perhaps the most significant figure in the
of merengue bands. contemporary merengue scene is Juan Luis
A key figure in the development of Guerra. Guerra, educated both in Domini-
merengue is the Dominican-born musician can music schools and in the United States,
Juan de Dios, who changed his name to the represents the internationalization of

merengue, as well as other musical forms. (“Softly”). This song and the album of the
On his return to Santo Domingo from the same name to which it belongs are exam-
United States, Guerra formed the vocal ples of some of the best combinations of
quartet 4.40, reputedly named after the A merengue with a rock-pop sound.
440. In the 1980s, Guerra developed a A further development in the genesis of
softer, slower, more poetic version of the merengue, and one that will doubtless con-
merengue, exemplified by his 1987 hit tinue, is the emerging work of a group of
“Ojalá que llueva café” (“Let It Rain Cof- new producers and DJs who are generating
fee”). This song, originally written for a tel- musical hybrids of merengue and house mu-
evision commercial for coffee, was sic. Such so-called merenhouse style is best
adopted by coffee growers around the exemplified by bands such as Proyecto Uno,
country and became their unofficial an- a group founded in 1988, made up of two Do-
them. Guerra’s skill lies in transforming minicans and two Puerto Ricans, and based
merengue to include jazz and African influ- in New York. Proyecto Uno’s albums include
ences while maintaining a Dominican fo- In Da House (1994), which remained on the
cus in terms of lyrics. charts for months, and their recent Pura
Guerra is joined by the group Rikarena, gozadera (Pure Pleasure, 2002).
made up of fellow Dominicans, on the con- —Claire Taylor
temporary merengue scene. Rikarena’s al-
bums, such as Sin medir distancia (Mea- See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Cumbia;
sureless Distance, 1997) and Rikarena . . . Salsa; Vallenato

con tó (Rikarena . . . with Everything,

1998), are examples of the fast, danceable
Austerlitz, Paul. 1997. Merengue: Dominican
merengue that has become their trademark. Music and Dominican Identity.
In addition to the Dominican brand of Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
merengue, groups from other Latin Ameri- Manuel, Peter, with Kenneth Bilby and Michael
can countries have sprung up in recent Largey. 1995. Caribbean Currents:
years. One long-standing player on the Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae.
London: Latin American Bureau.
merengue scene is Jossie Esteban, who in
Steward, Sue. 1999. “Santo Domingo: The
1979 founded the group Jossie Esteban y la Merengue Capital.” Pp. 105–117 in Salsa:
Patrulla 15. Based in Puerto Rico, Este- Musical Heartbeat of Latin America.
ban’s group has continued to have a string London: Thames and Hudson.
of hits, with the CD Hot, hot merengue
(1992) being of particular interest, espe-
cially for its reworking of the classic bolero Vallenato
“Perfidia” (“Treachery”) into a merengue
rhythm. Even more recent is the Puerto Ri- The musical form known as vallenato origi-
can group La Makina, whose best work in- nated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.
cludes Para el bailador (For the Dancer, More than most other popular musical
1999). Similarly, singer Elvis Crespo—born forms in contemporary Latin America, val-
in New York but of Puerto Rican origin— lenato maintains a close relationship with
has had a string of merengue hits, includ- its particular geographical region of origin.
ing his chart-topping single “Suavemente” Indeed, the term itself, “vallenato,” comes
30 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

from valle (valley), referring to the north- is indicative of the fact that many of these
ern coastal region of Valledupar, and nato songs described the deeds of local people
(born): as its name makes clear, this is mu- or addressed them directly. An example is
sic that was born in Valledupar. a classic vallenato composed by the now
Traditionally, the music is played on legendary Rafael Escalona, “Miguel
three main instruments: the guacharaca, Canales” (1944), which functions not only
the accordion, and the caja drum. The as a piece of music but as a way to convey
guacharaca, the original instrument of the a message from the composer, Escalona,
trio, is a wooden instrument with ridges; to his friend, the eponymous Miguel. An-
sound is produced by scraping the surface other example is “Testamento” (“Testa-
with a hard instrument. The name ment,” 1948), which Escalona composed
“guacharaca” derives from a tropical forest to one of his girlfriends and which in-
bird whose cry the instrument is supposed cludes not only the personal story of the
to imitate. The next in the trio is the three- composer but also a description of a jour-
row button accordion, which nowadays ney through Valledupar.
has come to be the defining feature of val- Orality also affects the structure of this
lenato. Legend has it that the accordion music. Typically vallenato songs have re-
was brought to Colombia by German peated refrains at the beginning and at the
sailors in the nineteenth century. The final end of each verse, which aids in the singing
instrument, the caja, is a small, high- of the songs from memory rather than from
pitched, single-headed drum. Vallenato’s sheet music. In addition to these refrains,
musical trio represents the triple heritage which are individual to each song, val-
of Colombia’s northern region and the syn- lenato has a “signature” feature: ayombe
cretism of this music: the guacharaca, of (from ay hombre, “hey man” in Spanish) is
indigenous origin; the accordion, of Euro- usually shouted at the beginning or end of
pean origin; and the caja, of African origin. a song or during a musical interlude be-
Vallenato in its early days was a type of tween verses.
folk music, one that was fundamentally a In recent years, these more traditional
part of oral culture. Vallenato is part of oral versions of vallenato have constantly been
culture in both its composition and its per- rerecorded. Their most outstanding per-
formance: vallenato songs have been pre- former is Jorge Oñate, whose style of
served and transmitted in oral form, and singing maintains some of the oral and
some of the key masters of vallenato were folkloric inflections. Oñate’s album Lo
unable to read written music. The oral mejor de los mejores (The Best of the Best,
quality of vallenato songs is closely linked 1994) is, as the name suggests, a collection
to their original motivations. Vallenato is, of some of the classic vallenato songs, in-
principally, a storytelling device. It sprang cluding several by Escalona and by other
up as a type of informal “news service” that leading exponents of the genre, such as
passed on news in a pretechnological envi- Carlos Huertas. Another similar exponent
ronment. of this “classic” vallenato style is the duo
The orality of this music can be seen in Los Hermanos Zuleta, a partnership be-
several ways in the songs themselves: the tween brothers Tomás Alfonso Zuleta and
abundance of proper names, for instance, Emiliano Alcides Zuleta, with Tomás Al-

fonso, better known as Poncho, as the lead More recent groups include Los Chiches
singer and Emiliano as the accordionist. Vallenatos, founded around 1987, which
In addition, a variety of singers from the specializes in what can be termed val-
1970s onward have played and composed lenato romántico (romantic vallenato).
more modern vallenato works. The most The group’s 1994 album Grandes éxitos de
significant of these include Binomio de los Chiches Vallenatos (Greatest Hits of
Oro, which originally started out in the the Chiches Vallenatos), produced by the
mid-1970s as a duo, with Rafael Orozco ubiquitous Discos Fuentes record com-
and Israel Romero as singer and accordion- pany, provides a compilation of some of its
ist, respectively. However, after the death best work. Another key group in this strain
of Orozco in June 1992, the group became of vallenato romántico is Los Diablitos,
known as Binomio de Oro de América, which began in the 1980s, led by the accor-
with Jean Carlos Centeno replacing Orozco dionist Omar Geles and singer Miguel
as lead singer. Some of Binomio’s best Morales, although Morales later withdrew
work can be found on the albums Clase from the group and was replaced first by
Aparte (No Comparison, 1980) and Festi- Jesús Manuel Estrada and finally by
val Vallenato (1982). A su gusto (To Your Alexander Manga. Examples of some of
Taste, 1996) provides a good example of their best music include the early album
the sound of the “new” Binomio lineup. Diabluras vallenatas (Vallenato Mischief,
In addition to the large-group style of Bi- c. 1998) with the Geles-Morales lineup.
nomio, there are a number of solo singers. From the late 1980s and into the 1990s
The best is probably Diómedez Díaz, who vallenato took a new route, developing a
began his musical career in the 1970s. Díaz more modern, “pop” sound. The outstand-
has collaborated briefly with Cocha Molina ing figure in this transformation is the
and has teamed up over the years princi- singer and actor Carlos Vives, whose ca-
pally with three expert accordionists: reer was greatly aided by his performance
Nicolás “Colacho” Mendoza, Juan Hum- in Caracol’s 1991 telenovela Escalona,
berto Rois, and, most recently, Iván Zuleta, based on the life of Rafael Escalona. Vives
nephew of the aforementioned Zuleta brought out two albums derived from the
brothers. The 1989 album Grandes éxitos soap opera, Escalona, un canto a la vida
de Diómedez Díaz (Greatest Hits of (Escalona, a Song to Life, 1994), and
Díomedez Díaz) brings together some of Clásicos de la provincia (Classics of the
Díaz’s best work with a variety of accor- Province, 1994), which were generally
dionists, including the outstanding songs faithful renderings of Escalona’s originals,
“Camino largo” (“The Long Path”), “Todo but he then swiftly went on to composing
es para ti” (“Everything Is for You”), and and singing his own work, amalgamating
“Cantando” (“Singing”), the last composed the vallenato style with other rhythms and
by Díaz himself. Of his later work with bringing in a strong presence of other in-
Zuleta, the 1995 album Un canto celestial struments, such as the electric guitar.
(A Heavenly Song) stands out. It was pro- Some of the best of Vives’s original work
duced shortly after the death of Díaz’s pre- includes his recent album Déjame entrar
vious accordionist, Rois, and the title song (Let Me In, 2000), which illustrates this fu-
is dedicated to Rois’s memory. sion of vallenato elements with sounds and
32 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

styles from rock and pop. Although val- military dictatorship. Veloso’s and Gil’s ir-
lenato purists may deny that Vives’s latest reverent performances had alarmed the
compositions fall into the vallenato cate- military authorities, even though their cri-
gory at all, what cannot be denied is the tique of contemporary Brazil in song lyrics
force and originality of these works. had for the most part evaded the censors.
—Claire Taylor In December 1968 the regime placed them
under house arrest, and they subsequently
See also: Mass Media: Telenovela went into exile in London. Thus, by 1969
Tropicália, as a coherent musical move-
Bibliography ment, had ended, although both Veloso and
Abadía Morales, Guillermo. 1991. Instrumentos
Gil have gone on to enjoy widespread artis-
musicales: Folklore colombiano. Bogota:
Banco Popular.
tic and commercial success in their own
Araujo Noguera, Consuelo. 1998. Escalona: right.
El hombre y el mito. Bogota: Planeta. Veloso’s performance of “Alegria, ale-
Llerena Villalobos, Rito. 1985. Memoria gria” on the TV Record television station in
cultural en el vallenato: Un modelo de 1967 met with the outrage of the general
textualidad en la canción folclórica
public, which considered his groundbreak-
colombiana. Medellín: Centro de
Investigaciones, Facultad de Ciencias
ing use of the electric guitar in this rock
Humanas, Universidad de Antioquia. song as a sign that Brazilian popular music
Posada, Consuelo. 1986. Canción vallenata y had sold out to North American and Euro-
tradición oral. Medellín: Universidad de pean styles. From then on, Tropicália be-
Antioquia. came a fusion of Brazilian and foreign in-
Quiroz Otero, Ciro. 1983. Vallenato: Hombre y
fluences, taking much of its inspiration
canto. Bogota: Icaro.
from the modernist poetry of Oswald de
Andrade, who in the 1920s had advocated
Tropicália that Brazil devour and combine both home-
grown cultural forms and those imported
Tropicália, also sometimes referred to as from abroad in order to create something
tropicalismo, emerged at the end of the new and representative of Brazilian socio-
1960s in Brazil, as part of a wider move- cultural reality. Thus, the tropicalist musi-
ment in the arts. Its creation was led by cians took their lead from contemporary
two singer-songwriters from the northeast- European and North American artists,
ern state of Bahia, Caetano Veloso and such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Gilberto Gil, and although the style was In 1965 Veloso and Gil had moved from
short-lived, it had a profound impact on at- their home state of Bahia to São Paulo.
titudes and cultural production. The emer- There they teamed up with other popular
gence of this musical style was heralded by musicians, such as Gal Costa, Júlio
Veloso’s performance of his song “Alegria, Medaglia, Torquato Neto, Tom Zé, José
Alegria” (“Joy, Joy”) at a televised music Carlos Capinan, and the rock group Os Mu-
festival in 1967. Tropicália coalesced as a tantes (The Mutants). The so-called grupo
movement in 1968, during a period of in- baiano (Bahian group), consisting of
tense political and cultural upheaval that Veloso, Gil, Costa, and Zé, developed a dy-
coincided with the hardening of Brazil’s namic artistic relationship with the leaders

of the avant-garde music scene in the city. which combined traditional folkloric mu-
The tropicalists’ contact with rampant sic from the northern state of Maranhão
modernity and pervasive consumerism in with rock music played on electric instru-
the industrialized metropolis of São Paulo ments, mixed hackneyed images of Brazil,
clearly molded their musical output. In such as allusions to samba and mixed-race
May 1968 the core members of the group beauties, with references to the modern
collaborated in the recording of the con- capitalist world. The main themes of tropi-
cept album Tropicália, ou panis et calist songs included urban migration,
circensis (Tropicalia, or Bread and Cir- mass culture, third world marginality, and
cuses), the movement’s musical manifesto, political violence, and the songwriters cel-
which also featured Nara Leão, the “muse” ebrated the kitsch aspects of Brazilian
of bossa nova and Brazilian protest music, culture. The tropicalists delighted in cul-
who had adhered to the tropicalist cause. tural hybridity, mixing elements of high
The back of this album cover featured a and low culture, the traditional and the
film script written by Veloso, which modern, the national and the international.
opened with a chorus of international Thus, they made an important contribu-
celebrities singing “Brazil is the country of tion to dismantling the barriers between
the future,” a tongue-in-cheek allusion to erudite and popular music. Their songs ar-
the exaggeratedly patriotic samba-exal- ticulated a critique of Brazilian modernity
tação, which Veloso undermines by simul- and challenged dominant representations
taneously commenting that “this genre is of national culture. Tom Zé’s first solo al-
out of fashion.” This album was seen as bum of 1968, for example, can be inter-
Brazil’s answer to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s preted as a satirical chronicle of his first
Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). impressions of the city of São Paulo, par-
The name “Tropicália” was taken from ticularly its voracious capitalist culture.
the title of a piece of installation art cre- The tropicalists were not, however,
ated in 1967 by the experimental artist protest musicians, and they were not con-
Hélio Oiticica, and it reflected the move- sidered to be radicals or leftists. It was
ment’s deliberate invocation of stereotypi- Veloso’s and Gil’s visibility and notoriety,
cal images of Brazil as a tropical paradise. rather than any subversive message in
The tropicalist musicians, however, sub- their songs, that prompted their house ar-
verted these clichéd images of the nation rest on 27 December 1968 and their subse-
by alluding in their songs to the political quent voluntary exile in London, where
violence and social misery under the mili- they spent the next two and a half years.
tary dictatorship in the late 1960s. Trop- Although their departure signaled the
icália’s two manifesto songs were “Trop- end of the movement, the shock waves of
icália,” by Veloso, and “Geléia Geral” Tropicália have been felt in Brazil and be-
(“General Jelly”), by Gil and Neto, whose yond to this day. The North American mu-
highly intelligent and ironic lyrics charac- sician Beck, for example, was inspired by
terized the movement as a whole. “Trop- the work of Os Mutantes to release an al-
icália” was a powerful allegory of the bum in 1998 entitled Mutations, which in-
Brazilian nation in the aftermath of the cluded a track called “Tropicália.”
1964 military coup, and “General Jelly,” —Lisa Shaw
34 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

See also: Popular Music: Bossa Nova; far has been the huayno (to use the most
Brazilian Protest Music; Samba; Sport and common term, though it is often called
Leisure: Consumerism (Brazil); Visual Arts wayñu in Bolivia and sanjuanito in
and Architecture: Art (Hélio Oiticica)
Ecuador). Huayno adapts native tonal
structures and the pentatonic scale to a
Dunn, Christopher. 2001. Brutality Garden:
European format, allowing the incorpora-
Tropicália and the Emergence of a tion of indigenous oral storytelling strate-
Brazilian Counterculture. Chapel Hill and gies, whether the song is in Quechua or
London: University of North Carolina Press. Spanish (or, as is often the case, both at
McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 1998. once). The form became more widely ac-
The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova,
cepted as a result of the early twentieth-
and the Popular Music of Brazil.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
century indigenista movement in Cusco,
Perrone, Charles. 1993. Masters of which set out to rehabilitate native culture
Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB in the definition of a national identity. The
1965–1985. Austin: University of Texas Press. most famous example of the genre is prob-
ably “El condor pasa” (“The Condor
Passes”), derived from a classical piece by
Andean Rock and Popular Music Daniel Alomías Robles in the Huánuco
area of the central Peruvian highlands.
Popular music in the Andean countries (for The song has been covered (reperformed
the purposes of this volume, Bolivia, or rerecorded by other artists) and
Ecuador, and Peru) is inescapably influ- adapted countless times, most famously
enced by the legacy of the Spanish con- by Paul Simon in the 1970s. This very
quest: in the highlands, an influx of mainly adaptability, as well as the expressive
European musical forms combined with range of the form, may explain why
those of indigenous origin. Traditional An- huayno is still alive and important today.
dean wind instruments such as the quena Andean “folklore” thrives in differing de-
(a bamboo flute held vertically) remain but grees of authenticity. For instance, artists
are now played alongside European instru- like Ñanda Mañachi (Show Me the Way)
ments. Chief among these is the guitar, from Ecuador have remained true to their
though violin, harp, and even saxophone indigenous roots, and the Bolivian band
have found their way into groups playing Los Kjarkas specializes in romantic bal-
mestizo (culturally and ethnically mixed) lads sung in the huayno style.
forms of Andean music. In the latter half of During the massive urban migration of
the twentieth century, as a result of urban the second half of the twentieth century,
migration and of greater tolerance of in- Andean music underwent a transforma-
digenous culture on the part of urban tion. This was particularly true of Peru, due
whites and mestizos, Andean music has to the high degree of urban migrations and
begun to fuse with rock and other global the consequent transformation of the mu-
styles. sic as it came into contact with rock, pop,
The European influx gave rise to various and Peruvian tropicalismo.
new hybrid musical idioms. The most The result was the style known as chicha
prominent mestizo Andean song form by (the term comes from the name of a popu-

lar maize-based drink), which is not simply performance of traditional native songs and
a form of music but also a broad cultural built compositions around them.
expression belonging to displaced Andean An almost unique phenomenon in An-
peoples in their attempt to come to terms dean music has been the career of Bolivian
with city life. Chicha music uses melodic singer Luzmila Carpio, whose period of ex-
and structural patterns similar to those of ile in Paris resulted in her becoming well
the huayno, but its lineup of electric or am- known and respected as a musical ambas-
plified instruments (mostly guitar and sador for her people. Carpio still lives in
drums) is designed to reach large audi- France, although she is a regular visitor to
ences at open-air concerts and dances. her home in the province of Norte Potosí.
Chicha’s popularity among the urban mi- On albums like Warmi (Woman, 1998) she
grants of Lima and other large coastal contributes songs aimed at raising political
cities drew the contempt of middle-class consciousness and levels of education.
Peruvians, who were ever eager to hear the Carpio has been taken up by one of the
latest rock and pop from the United States World Music labels in the United Kingdom,
and the United Kingdom. a move that has not noticeably compro-
More recently Peru has witnessed the mised her authenticity. Other Andean
upsurge of tecnocumbia, which has largely artists belonging to this phenomenon, in
superseded chicha as the musical expres- recent years, are the Bolivians Jenny Cár-
sion of the urban migrant and has become denas and Emma Junaro.
a new target for the scorn of Lima sophisti- Andean musical forms also found their
cates. Tecnocumbia bands—such as the way into the nueva canción political song
successful Skándalo (misspelt Spanish for movement, most notably in Chile and Ar-
“scandal”), which was followed by Joven gentina during the periods of military dicta-
Sensación (Young Sensation) and several torship of the 1970s and 1980s.
others—speak for a younger generation al- —Keith Richards
ready established in the city and with no
memories of the Andes. Hence, Andean See also: Popular Music: Contemporary Urban
tecnocumbia songs no longer have nostal- Music: (Tecnocumbia); Nueva Canción
gic lyrics of yearning for an abandoned ru-
ral idyll; rather, they express a will to ad- Bibliography
dress urban reality. Aretz, Isabel. 1980. Síntesis de la etnomúsica
en América Latina. Caracas, Venezuela:
The Andean tradition has nonetheless
Monte Avila Editores.
been maintained, though in unavoidably al- Olsen, Dale A., and Daniel E. Sheehy, eds. 1998.
tered form, among indigenous communities. Garland Handbook of Latin American Music:
At the same time, certain rock groups have South America, Mexico, Central America,
shown an interest in indigenous culture and and the Caribbean. New York: Garland.
even in producing music in the native lan-
guages. Among these are the Peruvian rocker
Miki González, who was particularly promi- Danzón
nent in the 1980s, and an Andean group
singing in Quechua, Uchpa (Ash). In Bolivia By today’s standards, danzón is a rather
the rock band Octavia has used tapes or live old-fashioned, slow form of Latin ballroom
36 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

dancing. Nevertheless, it is still very popu- an upright posture and holding each other
lar in its country of origin, Cuba, as well as at a distance. The woman is also required to
in its adopted home, Mexico. It is based on avert her gaze from her partner out of mod-
a French courtly dance, the contredanse, esty. During the paseo, as the name sug-
and was taken to Cuba by Haitians fleeing gests, the couples either stroll arm in arm
revolution in their own country in the late about the dance floor, greeting the other
eighteenth century. The contredanse then dancers, or stand still and talk together.
blended with traditional Cuban dance In Cuba the danzón became popular with
forms to create the danza and, by the late both the working classes and the bour-
nineteenth century, the danzón. Danzón geoisie, and from the 1870s to the 1930s it
bands were originally known as charangas was considered the country’s national
francesas (French orchestras)—a refer- dance. Indeed, in its heyday danzón was so
ence to the type of European instruments popular that its influence reached as far as
used and possibly also to the French Mexico, primarily the Gulf Coast region
women who ran the high-class brothels in (Veracruz) and Mexico City. In Mexico the
Havana where the music was popular at dance remains a predominantly working-
the turn of the century. Nowadays they are class leisure activity, although it has been
simply known as charangas. Charangas given a recent boost in popularity on a na-
francesas usually comprised a small tional and international level by María No-
rhythm section, a larger string section, and varo’s 1991 film Danzón.
a wooden flute. It is this lack of emphasis —Thea Pitman
on percussion and the addition of the flute
that gives danzón its distinctive sweet, ele- See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Salsa
gant, European sound. Nevertheless, syn-
copated rhythms and the use of some per- Bibliography
Fairley, Jan. 2000. “Cuba—Son and Afro-Cuban
cussion instruments did betray some
Music: ¡Qué rico bailo yo!” Pp. 386–413 in
Afro-Cuban influence. Increasingly since The Rough Guide to World Music, vol. 2,
the 1950s, other instruments, such as the Latin and North America, Caribbean,
piano or the conga drums, have been incor- India, Asia, and Pacific, edited by Simon
porated into the orchestras, and a vocal el- Broughton and Mark Ellingham. London:
ement, often a bolero (a romantic ballad), Rough Guides.
Manuel, Peter, Kenneth Bilby, and Michael
has been added to the music. There has
Largey. 1995. Caribbean Currents:
also been evidence of influence from the Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae.
more fully Afro-Cuban musical form, the Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
son, and danzón is clearly one of the many Salon Mexico. 2003. “A Brief History of
roots of contemporary salsa music. Never- Danzón.” http://www.salonmexico.
theless, danzón still exists in its own right 20m.com/custom2.html (consulted
7 January 2003).
as a recognizable traditional form of dance.
The dance itself is characterized by mod-
esty and reserve. The music of the danzón is Nueva Canción
split into a melody and a paseo (stroll). Dur-
ing the melody the pairs of dancers follow a Nueva canción (new song) was a move-
strict, limited pattern of steps, maintaining ment rather than a single musical style. It

spread throughout Latin America between canción anthem despite the complete ab-
the 1950s and 1970s, and its aim was to ex- sence of social or political allusions. On the
press opposition to military dictatorships other hand, Jara’s style was considerably
and foreign, particularly U.S., hegemony in more straightforward, rooted in folk tradi-
the region. Like many such forms of cul- tion and emphasizing solidarity and politi-
tural expression it found a catalyst in the cal awareness with a talent for vivid
triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 metaphors that, in songs like “El arado”
and in the general atmosphere of resis- (“The Plough”), reached both unschooled
tance to authority in Europe, the United and sophisticated audiences without de-
States, and elsewhere, and it drew inspira- scending into the facile or sentimental. Af-
tion from earlier anti-imperialist move- ter Jara’s brutal murder at the hands of Au-
ments, such as that of Sandino in 1930s gusto Pinochet’s forces during the 1973
Nicaragua. In musical terms nueva can- coup (Parra had already died by that time),
ción, which usually featured acoustic in- it was left to exiled artists like the Andean
struments (mainly guitar, percussion instru- folk group Inti-Illimani (the name invokes
ments, and occasionally wind instruments), respectively the Inca sun god and Bolivia’s
drew upon a variety of sources that de- highest mountain) to maintain opposition
pended largely upon local or national popu- to the military regime.
lar cultures. There were also strong foreign Andean folk music also found its way into
influences: the U.S. protest song move- the political song movement in Argentina,
ment, singer-songwriters in Europe, and where antiestablishment figures like Mer-
some strands of rock music. Most of the cedes Sosa and Atahualpa Yupanqui
musicians who survived this violent era (1908–1992) were able to adapt and reclaim
found themselves in exile, and the impor- folk traditions that had long been synony-
tance in this movement of that exile can- mous with rural conservatism. Sosa’s potent
not be underestimated, since it led the voice covered (reperformed or rerecorded
tone and content of many of the songs to music by another performer) songs by
lean toward expressions of nostalgia and artists as diverse as Charly García and Bola
alienation. de Nieve (real name Ignacio Jacinto Villa,
One of the countries most closely associ- 1911–1971), memorably captured in Mer-
ated with nueva canción is Chile, where the cedes Sosa en Argentina, a live concert al-
outstanding exponents were Violeta Parra bum marking her return from exile in 1983.
(1917–1967) and Víctor Jara (1932–1973). The singer-songwriter Yupanqui, who, sig-
Both became almost synonymous with the nificantly, borrowed the name of the Inca
Popular Unity government of Salvador Al- lord executed by the Spanish conquistadors,
lende in the early 1970s, but their individual was known mainly as an exponent of folk-
styles were different. Parra’s strange, other- lore, but it seems clear that his songs of
worldly voice and quasi-mystical lyric style hardship and persecution alluded largely to
were seldom overtly polemical, stressing his own experiences as a political fugitive.
instead the human spirit with its need for The controlled anger with which he wrote
unity and potential for the celebration of and performed was expressed through
life. Her most famous song, “Gracias a la stark, often ironic imagery that, despite
vida” (“Thanks to Life”), became a nueva many years spent abroad, constantly drew
38 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

upon musical traditions of the Argentine in- Trova Cubana (New Cuban Troupe) was a
terior. Songs like “Preguntitas sobre Dios” loose grouping of artists eager to voice the
(“Little Questions about God”) also show- island’s revolutionary zeal and exuberance.
case his mastery of local guitar styles and The very name of the group hinted at a
their adaptation to his brooding sensibility. break with the past, and such singers as
In Buenos Aires and Montevideo, with Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés indeed
their inevitable and understandable use of dispensed with many elements of a Cuban
European cultural models, the musical musical heritage that was seen as out-
sources for nueva canción were found in moded and redolent of a past, steeped in
diverse places: Spanish ballads, the Italian inequality, racism, and ignorance, when
and French folk revivals, and British rock. Cuban nightclubs, brothels, and casinos
The Argentine León Gieco’s “Sólo le pido a were patronized by North American visi-
Dios” (“I Just Pray to God”), which despite tors. Ironically perhaps, the rehabilitation
its title is rhetorically secular, became an- of son, cha-cha-cha, rumba, and other such
other nueva canción anthem. Gieco, who in genres began under Rodríguez’s tenure as
the 1990s turned to making rock albums, minister of culture in the mid-1990s. Never-
distinguished himself through a terse yet theless, the popularity of “Silvio y Pablo”
impassioned vocal and lyrical style. The (as they are invariably known in tandem),
Uruguayan Daniel Viglietti, meanwhile, though past its 1980s heyday, remains high.
was widely admired for his whimsical po- The two men, despite their close associa-
litical songs, sensitive cover versions of the tion as figureheads, have quite distinct
works of other songwriters, and musical styles. Rodríguez constructs highly intri-
settings of poetry, graced with a powerful cate melodic patterns with poetically auda-
yet tender vocal delivery. The legendary cious, optimistic lyrics accompanied by his
rock composer and performer Charly Gar- virtuoso guitar playing. Among his most fa-
cía can also be attributed with some contri- mous and popular albums are Días y flores
bution to nueva canción in the form of (Days and Flowers, 1975) and Unicornio
songs such as “Dinosaurios” (“Dinosaurs”), (Unicorn, 1985). He intersperses his more
a thinly veiled prophecy on the fate of the experimental songs, with their abstruse
Argentine military junta that was allowed and whimsical imagery, with politically
to escape censorship. confrontational songs. Likewise, Milanés
Another politically traumatized region in has always exercised a certain social re-
which nueva canción emerged as a voice of sponsibility in his craft despite his more
dissent was Central America, where the wistful reflections on love, loss, and social
Nicaraguan brothers Carlos and Luis En- responsibility.
rique Mejía Godoy became its leading The legacy of nueva canción is, to date,
lights. Their opposition to the regime of more ideological than musical; it can be
Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua was con- seen primarily in Latin American rock mu-
ducted from Costa Rica. sic, particularly during the 1980s and
It is hardly surprising that the spirit of 1990s. Explicit political content is unusual,
nueva canción was most strongly and con- but even some of those artists who refrain
fidently expressed in Cuba. Unmolested by from even coded social comment often dis-
political or military authority, the Nueva play their leanings through their actions or

choice of material. One example is the Ar- other Latin American countries under dic-
gentine band Divididos (Divided), with tatorships, during the days of repression
their blues-rock adaptations of songs like there emerged a number of singer-song-
Atahualpa Yupanqui’s “El arriero” (“The writers who both inspired a politically
Muleteer”). Among other rock singers and committed generation at the time and influ-
composers whose sentiments and lyrics in- enced the shape of popular music for fu-
herit something of nueva canción is singer- ture generations. The most significant of
composer Fito Páez, who in 1990 made an these singer-songwriters were Geraldo
unequivocal political statement with the al- Vandré and Chico Buarque.
bum Tercer mundo (Third World), a musi- Geraldo Vandré (Geraldo Pedrosa de
cal travelogue based on his own experi- Araújo Dias) was born in 1935 in Paraíba
ences in Latin America. In 1994 Páez gave a in northeastern Brazil. His musical style
concert in Havana at the invitation of Silvio has been defined as a mixture of bossa
Rodríguez. In 1997 Páez and several of the nova and the folkloric traditions of his na-
artists mentioned above, plus Mexican tive region. His songs, often interpreted by
bands Café Tacuba, El Tri, and Maldita other performers, proved very successful
Vecindad (Damned Neighborhood); Parala- at the televised music festivals of the mid-
mas do Sucesso (Mudguards of Success) 1960s, vehicles that revealed a wealth of
from Brazil; and Los Tres (The Three of songwriting talent. These music competi-
Them) from Chile, participated in the bene- tions eventually came to an end toward
fit album Chiapas, whose proceeds went the close of the 1960s because many of the
to the Zapatismo movement in southern popular competitors had been forced into
Mexico. exile and because material was increas-
—Keith Richards
ingly being censored. Geraldo Vandré be-
came famous at the festivals for his fiery
See also: Popular Music: Contemporary
Urban Music (Rock Music); Popular Social
protest songs, especially “Prá não dizer
Movements and Politics: Zapatismo que não falei de flores” (“So as Not to Say I
Didn’t Speak of Flowers”), also known
simply as “Caminhando” (“Walking”). The
Jara, Joan. 1998. Víctor: An Unfinished Song. song took second place at a festival in
London: Bloomsbury. 1968 and was subsequently banned for ten
Sairley, Jan. 1994. “Nueva Canción.” Pp. years by the military government for its
569–577 in World Music: The Rough Guide, lyrics, which were deemed offensive to the
edited by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham,
armed forces, and for its capacity to pro-
and Richard Trillo. London: Penguin Books.
Schechter, John M., ed. 1999. Music in Latin
voke subversion, particularly among stu-
American Culture: Regional Traditions. dents. “Caminhando” quickly became a fa-
New York: Schirmer Books. vorite anthem among political protesters
during demonstrations, particularly during
the difficult years of severe censorship
Brazilian Protest Music and imprisonment of political adversaries
(1968–1976). As a result of the song’s pro-
Although protest music in Brazil did not hibition, Vandré left Brazil for his own
constitute a movement as such, as it did in safety in 1969.
40 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Another singer-songwriter to find fame the song “Cálice” (“Chalice”), further ex-
on the music festival circuit was Chico pressing the bitterness felt toward the re-
Buarque (Francisco Buarque de Holanda), pressive government of the day. (In Por-
who has enjoyed a considerably longer tuguese the word cálice, in addition to
professional life than Geraldo Vandré. meaning “chalice,” is a homophone of the
Buarque did not write traditional protest command cale-se, meaning “shut up,” and
songs as such; he wrote gentle sambas thus acts as a comment on the silencing of
with very clever and often intricate lyrics dissent under the military dictatorship.)
that gradually, with the hardening of the The first time Buarque and Gil attempted
Brazilian military regime in the late 1960s, to perform this song, they were “shut up”
came to challenge the political status quo. by the authorities, who invaded the stage
Eventually Buarque, like Vandré and the and turned off their microphones. The
Tropicália musicians Caetano Veloso and song was subsequently banned, and it then
Gilberto Gil, was forced to leave the coun- became, rather like Vandré’s “Camin-
try for fear of persecution. On his return in hando,” an anthem against the dictator-
1970, his songs were heavily censored (for ship. Buarque had such difficulty with the
example, only one song in three released censors that he released material under a
by him in 1971 was approved). In songs pseudonym, Julinho de Adelaide. One such
such as “Construção” (“Construction”) was the song “Acorda Amor” (“Wake Up,
from 1971, Buarque’s lyrics are so imagina- Love”), in which the singer, fearing for his
tive and deceptively simple that they are safety at home one night, tells his partner
frequently included in poetry anthologies. to call a thief for help (“chame ladrão”),
“Construção” depicts the alienation and echoing a widely held belief at the time
death of a faceless construction worker, that the real criminals in society were the
representative of the hundreds and thou- police. By 1984, with the end of the military
sands of migrant workers who came to Rio regime in sight, Buarque’s lyrics became
de Janeiro and São Paulo in the 1960s and more positive, as witnessed in the samba
1970s to work, in the most precarious of “Vai Passar,” with its double meaning of
conditions, in the construction industry. “it’s on its way past” (a reference to a Car-
The song thus criticizes the developmental- nival parade mentioned in the song) and “it
ist policies of the military government, will soon be over” (a reference to the dicta-
which showed little concern for the vast torship). Buarque also wrote musicals and
majority of Brazilians who experienced lit- later, in the 1990s, best-selling novels. He
tle or nothing of the supposed prosperity of continues to write songs and perform be-
the times. Occasionally, the censors were fore live audiences, and his popularity
temporarily fooled by Buarque’s intelligent shows no sign of waning.
and powerful lyrics, such as those con- —Stephanie Dennison
tained in the ostensible love song “Apesar
See also: Popular Music: Bossa Nova; Samba;
de você” (“In Spite of You”), whose refrain
begins “In spite of you tomorrow will be
another day”—a clear indictment of the Bibliography
military regime. The song was later Gonzalez, Mike, and David Treece. 1992. The
banned. In 1973 he wrote with Gilberto Gil Gathering of Voices: The Twentieth-Century

Poetry of Latin America. London and New onymous with gangland violence, they are
York: Verso. much more politically motivated in São
McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 1998. Paulo. For example, posses would often
The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova,
hold discussion groups on racism, police
and the Popular Music of Brazil.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press. violence, and black history, and these
Perrone, Charles. 1993. Masters of themes in turn would inform rap music’s
Contemporary Brazilian Song: MPB lyrics.
1965–1985. Austin: University of Texas The first album by the Racionais MCs
Press. was released in 1992, entitled Holocausto
Urbano (Urban Holocaust). Between 1992
and 1997 they gradually built up a follow-
Contemporary Urban Music ing, both within the poor neighborhoods of
the suburbs of São Paulo and Rio de
Brazilian Rap and Hip-Hop Janeiro and among Brazil’s middle-class
Among the most successful and politically youth. Their fourth album, Sobrevivendo
committed urban music crazes to hit Brazil no inferno (Surviving in Hell, 1997) is
in the last ten years are rap and hip-hop, in- Brazil’s most successful rap album to date:
spired by North American rap (“rhythm it sold over one million copies and was
and poetry”) music, which emerged in widely pirated. Like many other rap acts,
black ghettos of the United States in the such as O Rappa from the Baixada Flumi-
1980s. The most successful rap band in nense (poor suburbs of Rio de Janeiro), the
Brazil is Racionais MCs (The Rational Racionais MCs express an antialcohol or
MCs), one of many bands to appear since antidrug attitude in their music, seeing
the late 1980s in the periferia, or poor sub- drugs as destructive of their communities.
urbs that surround Brazil’s megacity, São An exception to this is the aptly named
Paulo. In the late 1980s break dancers, DJs, band Planet Hemp, whose sole reason for
graffiti artists, and rappers would meet at existence seems to be to rap about the
the Largo de São Bento and Rua 24 de Maio virtues of cannabis. Both Racionais MCs
in the center of São Paulo on weekends, and O Rappa sponsor charity projects, and
where Brazilian rap’s distinctive sound (of- in a conscious effort to “keep it real,” many
ten incorporating roots, samba, and reg- rappers tend to avoid big media vehicles
gae) and lyrics began to be developed. In and multinational music corporations.
the 1990s, those interested in the hip-hop Most are signed to independent music la-
scene began to meet in the suburbs in bels, many of which are owned by rap per-
“posses.” There are around 30,000 of these formers themselves. The Racionais MCs
posses in existence today. They were orga- own their own music label (Cosa Nostra).
nized in 1989 into a movement with the The Poder Para o Povo Preto (Power for
founding of the Movimento Hip Hop Orga- Black People) enterprise (partly owned by
nizado (Organized Hip Hop Movement, K. L. Jay, the Racionais DJ) comprises a
MH2O). The movement’s manifesto de- record label, two black music shops, and
manded “poder para o povo preto” (power an Afro-hairdresser in São Paulo.
for the black people), so although in the Not all Brazilian rap groups and perform-
United States such posses are often syn- ers are black or of mixed race. For exam-
42 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Brazilian singers Afro-X (left) and Dexter, who together form the rap music duo 509-E, pause inside
their uncharacteristically large cell in the Carandirú penal complex, where the two are inmates of
Latin America’s biggest prison, 21 June 2000. (Reuters/Corbis)

ple, Yuka, the front man of O Rappa, is At the other end of the spectrum of ac-
white. In most cases white stars such as ceptability are a number of popular rap
Yuka are also from the poor suburbs and acts that either met in prison or are still in-
can therefore relate to the common themes carcerated, for example, 509-E and Deten-
of rap music, such as the struggle for re- tos do Rap (both from Carandirú prison in
spect for their impoverished communities São Paulo) and Escadinha, with a prison
and the attempt to combat the proliferation connection in Rio de Janeiro (Bangú).
of arms and police violence there. (Yuka Needless to say, despite the politically mo-
was hit by a police bullet in 2002.) It is in- tivated and socially aware lyrics and atti-
teresting, however, that O Rappa’s Website tude of the hip-hop movement in general in
complains about economic rather than Brazil, particularly when compared with
racial segregation in Brazil. Another suc- hip-hop acts in the United States, rappers
cessful white rapper, in this case from a and their audience have been and continue
privileged background, is Gabriel o Pen- to be the victims of scorn, suspicion, vic-
sador (Gabriel the Thinker—real name timization, and even violence at the hands
Gabriel Contino, born 1974), the white son of the press and the police.
of a successful television presenter, who —Stephanie Dennison
represents the pop side to rap music in
Brazil. See also: Popular Music: Samba

Bibliography opment of Latino rap in the United States,

Caldeira, Teresa. 2000. City of Walls: Crime, as urban Latino youths quickly absorbed
Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo. the musical styles of their black neighbors.
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
Rock Steady Crew, The Terror Squad, Big
California Press.
Hanchard, Michael. 1994. Orpheus and Power: Pun, and Fat Joe are some of the most suc-
the “Movimento Negro” of Rio de Janeiro cessful of these Latino (often specifically
and São Paulo. Princeton: Princeton Nuyorican) rap acts on the East Coast. On
University Press. the West Coast, Latino (and more specifi-
Magaldi, Cristina. 1990. “Adopting Imports: cally Chicano) acts such as Mellow Man
New Images and Alliances in Brazilian
Ace and Kid Frost also became very popu-
Popular Music of the 1990s.” Popular Music
18, no. 3: 309–330. lar in the late 1980s. In the 1990s the boom
Michalas, Apostolos. 2001. “Rapping in the continued, with new Chicano rap acts such
Periphery of São Paulo: Black as Aztec Tribe, Darkroom Familia, and
Consciousness and Revolutionary Discourse South Park Mexican. Shortly thereafter,
in the Works of Racionais MCs.” MA thesis, full-fledged Mexican rap groups began to
Institute of Latin American Studies
emerge, such as Control Machete (Machete
Control), from Monterrey, and Molotov,
from Mexico City. Inevitably, these Mexi-
Mexican Rap and Hip-Hop can rap groups have continued to blend
Just as Mexican popular music has had an U.S. rap with elements of Mexican popular
impact on the music scene in the United music and to combine U.S. English slang
States with Tex-Mex and Tejano, such U.S.- with Mexican Spanish slang in a heady Chi-
born musical styles as rock, rap, and hip- cano-inflected Spanglish. They have also
hop have also influenced the development produced lyrics that speak directly to Mex-
of new hybrid forms south of the border. ican youth about their own social and po-
The key factor that facilitates this cultural litical situation. Control Machete, founded
exchange is the existence of the Chicano in 1995, is most accurately classified as
(and more broadly Latino) community, hip-hop, blended with the distinctive
which is conversant in both Anglo and sounds of traditional Mexican guitar har-
Latin American cultural traditions and monies and the rhythms of danzón, for ex-
which eclectically blends elements from ample. One of their best-known tracks,
both in its own music. “Danzón,” combines the traditional music
Rap and hip-hop music in the United of danzón and a rap about the current state
States is traditionally associated with black of the Mexican nation; a line in the chorus
street culture and with urban youth in gen- is taken from the work of popular black
eral. “Rap” refers to the performance of Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén. In general,
rhythmic, slang-inflected monologues sup- Control Machete’s lyrics are aggressively
ported by some musical backing; hip-hop is anti-imperialist and pro-raza (race, the
a slightly more danceable variant, fre- common term that Mexicans and Chicanos
quently associated with the rise of break use to indicate their ethnicity).
dancing in the 1980s. Although rap has gen- Molotov, founded in 1996 (not to be con-
erally been promoted as a black musical fused with New York City–based punk
phenomenon, the 1980s also saw the devel- band Molotov Cocktail), produces a potent
44 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Rapper Fat Joe (center) and the Terror Squad perform during the VH1 Hip Hop Honors show,
3 October 2004, in New York City. (Scott Gries/Getty Images)

mix of rap, hip-hop, and the already hybrid track for Fernando Sariñana’s blockbuster
form that is Mexican rock. The group has film Todo el poder (All the Power, 1999).
stirred up a substantial amount of contro- These best-selling Mexican rap and hip-
versy, both for the political views ex- hop bands have also garnered a substan-
pressed in its songs’ lyrics, which rage tial following in the United States; cultural
against Mexican media conglomerates exchange at the U.S.-Mexican border con-
such as Televisa, and for the rather puerile, tinues to flow in both directions. Molotov
sexist, and homophobic nature of much of and Control Machete have both toured the
their material. The group claims that the United States and Europe, and Molotov
humor it brings to its work should liberate has toured with bands such as REM and
it from the latter criticism. Metallica. A number of critics consider
Both Molotov and Control Machete have that the fusion of Latin American musical
been immensely popular in Mexico, con- styles with rap and hip-hop seen in the
tributing songs to the soundtracks of a work of these two groups is the way for-
number of highly successful recent Mexi- ward for popular music in general.
can films, such as Amores perros (Love’s a —Thea Pitman
Bitch, 2000, with music by Control Ma-
chete) and Y tu mamá también (And Your See also: Popular Music: Mariachi, Ranchera,
Mother Too, 2001, with music by Molotov). Norteña, Tex-Mex; Language: Chicano
Molotov also provided the title and title Spanish; Popular Cinema: The Mexican Film

Industry (Box-Office Successes and live in slums). Mangue beat has a hard, ag-
Contemporary Film in Mexico) gressive sound that cleverly blends heavy
rock with northeastern folkloric music, in-
Bibliography cluding maracatu (an Afro-Brazilian slow
Cruz, Cesar A. 2003. “The Rage of the Young processional dance form associated with
and the Restless.” Digital Aztlan/Brownpride.
Carnival in Recife) and embolada (an im-
com. http.//www.brownpride.com/latinrap/
latinrap.asp?a=molotov/index (consulted 1 provisational musical form with tongue-
April 2003). twisting lyrics, often with a set refrain and
Montes, Richard. 2003. “Hip-hop/Rap.” Digital using alliterative words that are difficult to
Aztlan/Brownpride.com. http://www. pronounce). The band’s debut album, De
brownpride.com/latinrap/default.asp lama ao caos (From Mud to Chaos), was re-
(consulted 1 April 2003).
leased in 1994 to critical acclaim. Chico Sci-
“Raperos mexicanos.” n.d. Digital Aztlan/
Brownpride.com. http://www.brownpride. ence’s second and final album, Afro-
com/latinrap/latinrap.asp?a=mexside/index ciberdelia (1996), was influenced by
(consulted 1 April 2003). ambient music, rap, funk, and psychedelic
Smith, Geri. 2000. “Will Young Rockers Really guitar as well as by the familiar rhythms of
Rock the Boat?” Businessweek Online, 26 rock and maracatu and by northeastern
June. http://www.businessweek.com/2000/
baião (accordion-based folk music, popular-
00_26/c3687167.htm (consulted 8 May 2003).
ized in the 1940s by Luiz Gonzaga and back
in fashion with Brazil’s urban middle class).
Mangue Beat The band’s songs were used, to dramatic ef-
Mangue beat is a new Brazilian musical form fect, in the 1997 film set in the backlands of
that appeared in the 1990s in the northeast- the Northeast, Baile perfumado (Perfumed
ern cities of Recife and Olinda. It was popu- Ball). Despite Chico Science’s untimely
larized by the talented Chico Science, who death, Nação Zumbi continues to produce
died in a car crash in 1996. Science (Fran- music in its native state of Pernambuco,
cisco de Assis França, 1966–1996), brought along with other mangue beat bands such as
up in the suburbs of Olinda, an old colonial Fred Zero Quatro (Fred Zero Four).
town adjoining Recife, began experimenting —Stephanie Dennison
with black music in the 1980s in a variety of
bands, mixing 1960s rock with soul, funk, See also: Popular Music: Contemporary Urban
and hip-hop sounds. He took on the moniker Music: (Brazilian Rap and Hip-Hop); Popular
“Chico Science” in order to sell himself as Cinema: Youth Movies, Cinema, and Music;
the “King of Musical Alchemy.” In 1991 he Popular Religion and Festivals: Popular
Festivals (Carnival in Brazil)
made contact with a Bloco Afro (Afro-Brazil-
ian) Carnival club called Lamento Negro
(Black Lament) from the suburbs of Olinda. Bibliography
The club’s regional percussion was mixed McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 1998.
The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova,
with Chico Science’s black music, and a new
and the Popular Music of Brazil.
band was formed: Nação Zumbi (Zumbi Na- Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
tion). This new style of music was dubbed “Rádio Piratininga: Especial Chico Science.”
mangue (in a reference to the swampy land n.d. http://www.winf.com.br/piratininga/
that surrounds Recife, where many people historiachico.htm (consulted 10 May 2004).
46 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Rock Music Throughout its short history, rock music

Although rock music is a musical style and has been associated with youth culture and
broader cultural phenomenon born in the the urban environment, particularly with
United States and practiced extensively in the more marginalized, such as the urban
the English-speaking world, its influence poor and the chavos banda (gangs). Rock
can be felt throughout Latin America. In music has sought to express the point of
the first instance, in the 1950s and early view of this group and has been key in the
1960s, Anglo rock music, known either as formation of an urban youth countercul-
rocanrol or música rock, became popular ture in such countries as Mexico and Ar-
in its own right in the region. Subsequently, gentina. It has had a difficult relationship
local English-language covers (a perfor- with the establishment in both countries.
mance or recording of a work previously In the first instance, the influence of Anglo-
done by another performer) of Anglo rock American music was seen by the establish-
songs were produced, followed by versions ment as a betrayal of local cultural values,
of these same songs in literal and then in even when songs were sung in Spanish.
much freer translations. Gathering impetus Nevertheless, at key moments both Mexico
from the early 1970s onward, local musi- and Argentina have endorsed rock en es-
cians have chosen to blend elements of An- pañol as a national cultural product, pro-
glo rock music, such as the electric guitar ducing a complex relationship of both re-
and the accentuated 4/4 beat, with ele- jection and acceptance between the state
ments taken from Latin American popular and its organs of media diffusion, on the
music (the immediately identifiable sounds one hand, and the bands and artists them-
of particular percussion instruments and selves, on the other.
the rhythms and harmonies of danzón or In Mexico, rock music with a substantial
cumbia, for example). This music has emphasis on Anglo culture and on hedo-
come to be known throughout the Spanish- nism became a notable middle-class youth
speaking world as rock en español (rock in phenomenon in the 1960s. The adherents of
Spanish). this trend were known as jipitecas (Mexi-
Because this kind of rock music is able can hippies). In contrast to the jipitecas
to blend elements of both Anglo and Latin were the more politically radical, and con-
American cultural traditions and thus to sequently less rock-oriented, participants in
express, in both the music and the lyrics, a the student movement. These two opposing
particular national cultural identity, it has currents in Mexican youth culture eventu-
also been called rock nacional (national ally converged into the movement known
rock music). The conduit for cultural influ- as La Onda (The Wave), which was born as
ence has been the existence of the Latino a result of the Mexican government’s re-
(often Chicano) communities in the United pression of all forms of youth culture, seen
States, which have themselves frequently most clearly in the 1968 massacre of hun-
blended U.S. rock music with elements of dreds of young people at Tlatelolco Square
their cultures of origin to produce such key in Mexico City. La Onda, although fre-
crossover figures and acts as Ritchie quently condemned by critics for merely
Valens, Santana, Jerry García (of the Grate- translating U.S. counterculture to a Mexi-
ful Dead) and Los Lobos. can setting, sponsored the gradual change

from Anglo rock to more socially aware of cultural influences: Caifanes had a big hit
Mexican rock nacional or guacarock (a hu- in the 1980s with “La negra Tomasa,” a rock
morous reference to the combination of the version of a traditional cumbia. Maldita
Mexican dip guacamole and rock). Vecindad is known for blending mambo,
Even though the Mexican government danzón, ska, rap, and rhythm and blues
did its best to discourage the imperialist within any one song. Most recently the com-
threat to national culture that was Anglo bination of rap and hip-hop with Mexican
rock music and hippy culture, it was no rock nacional has become popular in the
less censorious of the growth of Mexican work of the band Molotov.
rock music proper, and after permitting the Argentine rock music has come to oc-
staging of the Avándaro rock concert in cupy the same (urban) space and to per-
1971 (the Mexican Woodstock) in order to form a social function (that of creating a
gauge the strength of the countercultural sense of solidarity among the marginalized
movement, it clamped down even more sectors of society) similar to that of Ar-
heavily on manifestations of youth culture gentina’s most identifiable popular musical
in the aftermath. Mexican rock music thus form, the tango, in the first half of the twen-
retreated to the working-class neighbor- tieth century. It is no surprise, then, that the
hoods of the big cities, to the hoyos fon- first key figure in Argentine rock music
quis (the underground clubs), until guac- went by the name of Tanguito. Tanguito was
arock was reborn in the 1980s, stimulated a marginal, ephemeral figure who started
by the spontaneous mobilization of large translating Anglo rock songs into Spanish
sectors of the urban working classes after (and composing a few of his own) in the late
the devastating 1985 Mexico City earth- 1960s. Under the military dictatorship
quake. Groups and acts that date from this (1976–1985), all forms of community and
early period in Mexican rock are Rock- mass gatherings were repressed, and Argen-
drigo, Botellita de Jerez, and Three Souls in tine youth was specifically targeted for re-
My Mind (this last band is almost a national pression because it was considered innately
institution in present-day Mexico and is subversive. Thus, rock music was censored
known affectionately as El Tri). and concerts were banned. Nevertheless,
In recent years the massive and conserva- the rock magazine Expreso imaginario
tive media conglomerate Televisa, which has (The Imaginary Express) managed to keep
strong allegiances to the Mexican govern- up publication during the worst years of re-
ment, has tried to manipulate the popular ap- pression, and this helped rock music to sur-
peal of rock music by sponsoring certain vive and indeed to flourish as the vehicle for
pop-rock bands and singers such as Los Tim- the expression of countercultural values
birichi, Alejandra Guzmán, and transnational and specific opposition to the regime.
pop icons Thalía and Gloria Trevi. Neverthe- During the Falklands/Malvinas War
less, some groups—such as Caifanes, Café (1982), however, the Argentine government
Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad, Los de Abajo, and banned the dissemination of English-lan-
Plastilina Mosh—have managed to achieve guage music and hence favored Argentine
massive success via such routes yet retain rock nacional despite its oppositional
their countercultural edge. Evident, too, in stance. Although many musicians cautiously
the work of these groups is the radical blend benefited from this increased dissemination
48 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

of their work, their audiences were attentive Newcomers to the rock scene who have
to the relationship between artist and au- achieved critical acclaim include rappers
thority, and those thought to have compro- Illya Kuryaki and The Valderramas.
mised their integrity in this way were ac- In Brazil, rock nacional coexists com-
cused of being transa (sellouts). It is also for fortably alongside so-called Música Popular
this reason that so many Argentine rock Brasileira (MPB, Brazilian Popular Music),
bands broke up once they started to achieve foreign rock music (especially from the
mass appeal, and the most important Argen- United States, Britain, and Ireland), and
tine rock musicians are best identified by other popular forms such as hip-hop and
name rather than by the many bands in samba-reggae. By far the most successful
which they played. Key figures here are rock band to come out of Latin America
Charly García, León Gieco, and Luis Alberto was the Brazilian (but Phoenix, Arizona–
Spinetta. The kind of rock favored by these based) “death metal” group Sepultura
musicians was progressive rock, with strong (Grave), which enjoyed considerable inter-
links to U.S. folk music (Bob Dylan, Pete national success in the late 1980s and
Seeger, and so on) and to protest songs in 1990s. Despite singing in English and thus
general. The resultant music was rarely identifying strongly with their international
danceable and was appreciated more for its fan base, Sepultura’s music was concerned
lyrics than for its upbeat tempo. Argentine with Brazilian history and culture. For ex-
rock music has continued to blend cultural ample, the 1996 album Roots, with its Afro-
currents, exploring its relationship with the Brazilian percussion, dealt with the decima-
tango (see, for example, García’s albums tion of Brazil’s Amerindian populations and
Tango, 1985, and Tango 4, 1991) and with the horrors of the slave trade. The band’s
Argentina’s other forms of popular music founder, Max Cavalera, left in 1997 to form
(see Gieco’s work with Argentinean folk mu- Soulfly, a band with musical aspirations
sicians on De Ushuaia a La Quiaca, From similar to those of Sepultura, which also
Ushuaia to La Quiaca, 1985). delves into Brazilian themes and rhythms.
Rock music has continued to be an im- —Thea Pitman and
portant forum for youth culture in Ar- Stephanie Dennison
gentina in the years since the end of the dic-
tatorship. Many of the older artists, such as
See also: Popular Music: Contemporary
García, Spinetta, Fito Páez, and groups Urban Music (Mexican Rap and Hip-Hop);
such as Virus and Patricio Rey y sus Re- Cumbia; Danzón; Mambo; Nueva Canción;
donditos de Ricota (Patricio Rey and His Tango; Transnational Pop Icons
Chubby Friends from Ricota), have contin-
ued to produce interesting work. As have Bibliography
Mexican rock groups, other Argentine rock Agustín, José. 1996. “Rock mexicano.”
groups, such as Soda Stéreo and Los Enani- Pp. 111–116 in La contracultura en
tos Verdes (The Little Green Dwarves), México: La historia y el significado de los
rebeldes sin causa, los jipitecas, los
have achieved mass appeal and interna-
punks, y las bandas. Mexico City: Grijalbo.
tional dissemination by media conglomer- “Encyclopedia del rock argentino.” n.d. Website
ates; their reputations within the world of del rock argentino. http://www.rock.com.ar
rock culture have subsequently suffered. (consulted 20 May 2003) [in Spanish].

“Historia del rock argentino” n.d. http://www. villera (slum cumbia), arose in the suburbs
rockeros-argentinos.com.ar/paghistorock. of Buenos Aires. It reworks both the con-
htm (consulted 13 May 2003) [in Spanish]. tent and style of traditional cumbia. In
Lipsitz, George. 1992. “Chicano Rock: Cruising
terms of content, the lyrics are peppered
around the Historical Bloc.” Pp. 267–279 in
Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass with street slang and focus on social is-
Movements, edited by Reebee Garofalo. sues, often dealt with in uncompromising
Boston: South End. terms. The changes to the style and sound
Martínez, Rubén. 1993. “Corazón del rocanrol.” of the music have come about through
Pp. 150–165 in The Other Side: Notes from combining the cumbia rhythm with ele-
the New L.A., Mexico City, and Beyond.
ments from reggae, rap, and hip-hop,
New York: Vintage.
Monteleone, Jorge. 2002. “Figuras de la pasión among others. Such bands have gained
rockera: Ensayo sobre rock argentino.” fans in Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Everba. http://www.everba.org/summer02/ Modern urban versions of cumbia have
figuras_jorge.htm (consulted 13 May 2003) also been developed extensively in Peru and
[in Spanish]. have come to form what is now classified as
Morales, Ed. n.d. “Rock Is Dead and Living in
tecnocumbia. This music draws on a variety
Mexico: The Resurrection of La Nueva
Onda.” Rockeros Website. http://www. of influences, including Tex-Mex music, the
rockeros.com/tidbit/rockmex.htm (consulted rhythms of Brazilian music (especially that
13 May 2003). of Manaus), Bolivian saya, merengue, and
Vila, Pablo. 1992. “Rock Nacional and the so-called música chicha, itself a hybrid
Dictatorship in Argentina.” Pp. 209–229 in of Colombian cumbia and Andean music.
Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass
This music mixes the more traditional
Movements, edited by Reebee Garofalo.
Boston: South End. sounds of Peruvian cumbia with synthesiz-
Zolov, Eric. 1999. Refried Elvis: The Rise of ers and keyboards, which have come to play
Mexican Counterculture. Berkeley and Los a major role in the music. Tecnocumbia,
Angeles: University of California Press. which arose in the mid-1990s, is popular
both in Lima and in the provinces, and its
Tecnocumbia foremost exponent is Rosa Guerra Morales,
“Tecnocumbia” refers to recent reworkings or Rossy War, as she is better known. War
of the cumbia genre that combine this tra- has been called the “Queen of Tec-
ditionally Colombian folk music, which ex- nocumbia,” and her first album, Como la
presses local and national themes, with flor (Like a Flower, 1995), brought her hits
other musical forms from countries such with the songs “Te acuerdas de mí” (“You
as Argentina and Peru to give rise to a vari- Remember Me”) and the title song “Como la
ety of musical hybrids. flor.” War is one of Peru’s best-selling
Young Argentinean groups such as Los singers, and her music has also gained pop-
Pibes Chorros (The Thieving Lads) and ularity outside Peru. She has played across
Yerba Brava (The Wild Weed) have adapted much of Latin America, including Chile, Bo-
traditional formats, transforming the often livia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.
romantic content of cumbia into a social —Claire Taylor
protest and description of harsh reality.
This new style of cumbia, known variously See also: Popular Music: Contemporary
as cumbia gangsta, hard cumbia, or cumbia Urban Music (Mexican Rap and Hip-Hop);
50 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Cumbia; Mariachi, Ranchera, Norteña, music spread beyond the cultural and eth-
Tex-Mex; Merengue nic confines of the southeastern U.S.
Latino community and rendered it mar-
Bibliography ketable on a world scale. Selena is remark-
Moss, Chris. 2002. “The People Will Be Heard.” able not only for her huge success and the
Guardian, 4 October. http://www.guardian.
near-deification that followed her murder
00.html (consulted 7 October 2002). in 1994 but also for bringing U.S. Latino
culture into Mexico on a scale previously
unimaginable and for breaking down the
suspicion and scorn with which U.S.-based
Transnational Pop Icons
artists were often seen south of the border.
Another crossover artist, Cuban-born Glo-
A number of contemporary Latin American ria Estefan, represents another U.S. Latino
singers and musicians have become house- community. Her band, Miami Sound Ma-
hold names outside their countries of ori- chine, which came to prominence in the
gin, often even outside their cultural and late 1970s, attracted Anglo audiences by
linguistic borders. In some cases artists tempering its original raw salsa with a ro-
have adapted traditional musical styles, mantic element. She has remained success-
such as by smoothing stylistic raw edges, ful, recording in Spanish, Portuguese, and
censoring content in order to become ac- English with an eye to satisfying the full
ceptable abroad, or incorporating musical spectrum of her fan base without overly
styles already globally popular into new fu- compromising her musical roots.
sions. The linguistic aspect is also crucial, Cooder and Byrne, always with an eye
and several artists have recorded in En- to the World Music market, have sepa-
glish and other languages so as to pene- rately explored Latin America’s musical
trate wider markets. heritage. Some of the results have been
Mexican-U.S. border culture has been collaborations, such as Cooder’s foray into
very important in the emergence of Cuba and his famous “rediscovery” of sur-
transnational pop icons. The most promi- vivors from the pre-revolutionary night-
nent exponents of Tex-Mex music, the club scene. Wim Wenders’s documentary
Mexican accordionist Flaco Jiménez and Buena Vista Social Club (1999) famously
North American guitarist Ry Cooder, have records the musical and personal interac-
in turn inspired other artists to experiment tions between classic exponents of bolero,
with new forms of cultural fusion, with son, guaracha, and other Cuban genres, on
ex–Talking Heads veteran David Byrne and the one hand, and their intrepid “savior,”
Chicano rock band Los Lobos among those Cooder, on the other. This film’s massive
also dabbling in the genre. However, the success relaunched the careers of such
most prominent artist springing from the artists as Compay Segundo, Rubén
U.S. Latino community, at least in terms of González, Omara Portuondo, and Ibrahím
record sales, is surely Texas-born Selena Ferrer. Meanwhile, Byrne has produced
(1971–1995), whose album Amor pro- numerous albums in collaboration with
hibido (Forbidden Love) achieved quadru- Latin American artists, most notably
ple platinum in 1994. Selena helped Tejano Naked (1988) and Rei Momo (1989), as

Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club (right to left): Amadito Valdés, Barbarito López, Ibrahím Ferrer,
Eliades Ochoa, Omara Portuondo, Guajiro Maribal, Pio Leyva, and Cachaito López, during a press
conference in Mexico City on 20 May 2002. (Henry Romero/Reuters/Corbis)

well as many compilations of music from rial by Caetano Veloso, Björk, and Cuban
Brazil, Cuba, and Peru. percussionist Mongo Santamaría.
A Peruvian artist who has benefited from An altogether more overtly commercial
exposure to an international audience is artist is Thalía, who made her name in te-
the singer Susana Baca, whose music fol- lenovelas in her native Mexico but has
lows the traditions of her African heritage. since become a successful pop singer who
The coastal Afro-Peruvian landó song form, commands the affection of a wide audi-
which draws upon both African and Span- ence. Cheerfully deploying her sexuality
ish traditions, was made socially accept- and benefiting from a slick publicity ma-
able by the efforts of white singer Chabuca chine, Thalía is nonetheless a respected
Granda in the 1960s and was subsequently and genuinely popular professional who
popularized by such artists as Eva Ayllón, has made a name across not only Latin
Andrés Soto, and Tania Libertad. Baca, who America and the United States but also in
acted as Granda’s personal assistant for Europe. Despite her recent moves toward
some years, is notable for continuing these crossover, she is seen as an essentially
traditions while making careful innovations Mexican artist. Other Mexican stars having
based on contact with Latin American and enjoyed similar success include Luis
other musical forms. Her 2001 album Es- Miguel (born in Puerto Rico of an Italian
píritu vivo (Live Spirit), recorded in New mother and Spanish father), whose career
York, brings in a number of influences pre- has spanned more than two decades, dur-
viously unseen in her work, including mate- ing which he has moved from pop to
52 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Peruvian singer Susana Baca performs during the OFF-Fest four-day music festival held in the
Macedonian capital Skopje, 6 June 2004. (Robert Atanasovski/AFT/Getty Images)

boleros. The romantic image associated ties is Lila Downs. Her music proclaims her
with this artist’s good looks and impas- manifold cultural heritage, not just a Mexi-
sioned delivery has been crucial to his en- can-U.S. double heritage but a combination
during prominence and to his winning a of her mother’s indigenous roots and those
string of international awards. Mexican of her white North American father. Her
singer-songwriter Juan Gabriel has also work reflects a life shared among rural
achieved international fame, without the Oaxaca (one of the Mexican states in which
childhood advantages Luis Miguel’s show native culture is strongest), California,
business upbringing brought him. Indeed, Mexico City, and Wisconsin. Downs is able
Juan Gabriel’s troubled early life in Mi- to sing in Mixtec, Nahuatl, and Zapotec as
choacán and Ciudad Juárez is legendary well as in Spanish and English, and she
and has ultimately enhanced his image as does so as a declaration of pride and cul-
an artist who, being the product of a disad- tural affirmation. Her use of rural native
vantaged background and true to his roots, dress invites comparisons with Frida
embodies all senses of the word “popular.” Kahlo, comparisons that were strengthened
A singer-songwriter who blends tradi- by her appearance in the film Frida (2002).
tional forms with entirely modern sensibili- Of her two albums to date, Árbol de la vida

Ricky Martin arrives at the premiere of Cold

Mountain in Los Angeles, California,
7 December 2003. (Frank Trapper/Corbis)
Singer Lila Downs participates in the American
Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom Concert at
Avery Fisher Hall, 4 October 2004, in New York
City. (Matthew Peyton/Getty Images) eventually being offered a place in the
group two years later. Menudo went on to
dominate the teen music market all over
Latin America, including Brazil (where it
(Tree of Life, 1999) is closer to indigenous released records in Portuguese and inad-
tradition; La línea (The Border, 2001) is a vertently caused riots at its live shows), as
collection of songs taken from all the well as the Latino music market in the
above-mentioned traditions to make up a United States. After five years with the
powerful statement on the problems of the band, Ricky tried and failed to launch a
Mexican-U.S. border. solo career in New York. He then moved to
The Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin is Mexico, where he took part in musicals
credited with bringing Latin pop into the and telenovelas and secured a record deal
mainstream. Enrique Morales IV (known as with Sony. He released a self-titled album
Kiki to his close friends) was born in 1971 in 1992, followed by Me amarás (You Will
in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. Love Me, 1993), A medio vivir (Half Alive,
From an early age he took an interest in 1995), and Vuelve (Come Back, 1998). His
performing, trying out for Menudo, a kid- Spanish-language album sales reached a
die-pop band based in Puerto Rico, and staggering thirty million. Meanwhile, he
54 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tried his luck again in 1994 in the United duet performed with another singer of
States, taking a role in the daytime soap Latin American origin, Cristina Aguilera,
opera General Hospital and singing on entitled “Nobody Wants to Be Lonely.”
Broadway. By the release of his fourth al- Despite his high-profile on-off relation-
bum (Vuelve) in 1998, he was beginning to ship with Mexican TV presenter Rebecca
get noticed beyond the Latin American and de Alba, the international press has de-
Latino market (the single “Maria,” for ex- lighted in debating Ricky’s sexuality. Like
ample, was a big summer hit in clubs in the pre-outed George Michael, Ricky refuses to
United States and in the holiday resorts of be drawn on the subject. Keeping his fans
Europe). Also taken from that album was guessing has helped ensure a large follow-
“The Cup of Life,” the signature tune to the ing of both teenage girls and gay men. He
1998 football (soccer) World Cup finals has not been quite so successful at avoid-
held in France. As with most Latino singing ing controversy in other areas of his life,
stars, it was not until Ricky released his however. He was sued by his former man-
first English-language album (Ricky Mar- ager in 2004 and was said to have alienated
tin) in 1999 and gave an electrifying per- his one-time songwriter-producer Robi
formance at the 1999 Grammy Awards (his Draco Rosa by his participation in the
live shows are always dazzling affairs) that opening ceremony of George W. Bush’s
he broke into the U.S. market (his album presidential inauguration, which Rosa felt
went straight to number one on the Bill- was a betrayal of what every Puerto Rican
board Charts). He was on the cover of should stand for. He did, however, turn
Time magazine in the same week that his down the chance to star alongside Jennifer
album was released. Ricky Martin is six Lopez in a remake of West Side Story, fear-
feet two inches tall, lean and chisel-jawed, ing the film would promote negative
with pale skin and blond-highlighted hair. stereotypes of Puerto Ricans.
On stage he is known for his sexy gyrating The diminutive Colombian singer-song-
hips, but in fact he sticks to a very limited writer Shakira (Shakira Isabel Mebarak
range of dance moves. His music is a Ripoll) is one of the most successful Latin
straightforward blend of U.S. pop and non- American artists on the international stage
specific Latin American rhythms, with the in recent years. Born in 1977 in Barranquilla,
odd reference in Spanish thrown into the an industrial city with a population of one
chorus (see, for example, the single “Livin’ million located on the Caribbean coast, to a
La Vida Loca,” which made him a house- Colombian mother and Lebanese father, her
hold name). His looks, moves, and songs meteoric rise to fame outside of Colombia
thus offer a familiar, easily absorbed, and (she has been a superstar there since she
safe version of Latin American culture for was a teenager) coincided with a boom in
Anglos in the United States and for middle- interest in all things Latino in the U.S. enter-
of-the-road music listeners elsewhere tainment industry. Like Ricky Martin, her
(Ricky has a huge following in Russia, for musical style can be described as a mixture
example). Ricky followed up the success of Latin rhythms and stadium rock, but un-
of Ricky Martin with a second English-lan- like Ricky, she has been able to garner a cer-
guage album, Sound Loaded (2000), which tain credibility with the international music
included the hit single “She Bangs” and a press by writing her own material; playing

Colombian pop star Shakira performs at El Campin stadium in Bogota, 12 March 2003. Shakira sang
songs from her English-language album Laundry Service for the first time in Colombia. (Daniel

guitar, harmonica, and drums; and occasion- success, in the mid-1990s. There she made
ally voicing controversial views, such as her contact with Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
antiwar stance during her U.S. and British Gloria would be a significant influence on
tour of 2003. According to good friend, Shakira’s songwriting from then on. Her
Boom writer, and fellow Colombian Gabriel fourth album, Donde están los ladrones?
García Márquez, her success is partly due to (Where Are the Thieves?, 1998), sold well in
the fact that she is hardworking, very deter- Latin America and in the Latino market in
mined, and completely focused on her musi- North America. The musical influences on
cal career. She had not even started second- the album are heavy rock, mariachi, and
ary school when a record company signed Lebanese music. After the album’s success
her in her native Colombia, and she released and on the eve of the launch of her interna-
her first album in 1990. Like Ricky Martin, tional career, Shakira dyed her hair blonde
before making it really big in the music in- and began to use thick eyeliner, eliciting the
dustry, she made an incursion into the inevitable comparisons to other young star-
world of the telenovela, starring in 1992 in lets such as Britney Spears and Christina
the Colombian production El Oasis (The Aguilera (and alienating some of her home-
Oasis). grown fans). Her first album in English,
Shakira moved to Miami, the mecca for Laundry Service, was recorded on a farm
all Latino performers seeking transnational in Uruguay and released in 2001. It sold two
56 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

million copies in the United States alone. Cinema, and Music; Visual Arts and
The first single from the album, “Whenever, Architecture: Art (Frida Kahlo)
Wherever,” went to number one in many
countries. The song featured Andean pan- Bibliography
pipes and a pop-rock chorus, and the ac- Adams, Rachel. 2002. “Shakira.” Ch. 3 in “Great
Female Singers of Our Time and Place,” MA
companying video included some obliga-
thesis, University of Manchester.
tory belly dancing to remind fans of her Bethell, Leslie, ed. 1998. A Cultural History of
Middle Eastern roots. On Laundry Service, Latin America: Literature, Music, and the
the singer notably toned down the strident Visual Arts in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
quality of her voice, which had until then Cambridge and New York: Cambridge
sounded like a cross between ululating and University Press.
Clark, Walter Aaron, ed. 2002. From Tejano to
the mock-Irish warbling of Dolores O’Rior-
Tango: Latin American Popular Music. New
dan of The Cranberries. York: Routledge.
As Shakira’s international career was be- Furman, Elina. 1999. Ricky Martin. New York:
ing carefully forged, she was conducting a St. Martin’s.
very high-profile relationship with Antonio García Márquez, Gabriel. 2002. “The Poet and
De La Rua, the lawyer son of ex–Argentine the Princess.” Guardian Weekend, 8 June,
president Fernando De La Rua (the single
Patterson, John. 1999. “Spanglish Made Easy.”
“Underneath Your Clothes” from Laundry London Guardian, 3 June.
Service was written about her famous Peña, Manuel H. 1999. The Mexican American
boyfriend). The jet-set Latin American cou- Orquesta: Music, Culture, and the Dialectic
ple faced considerable criticism for their of Conflict. Austin: University of Texas Press.
flashy lifestyle after the economic crash in Ricky Martin Official Website. http://www.
rickymartin.com (consulted 30 August 2003).
Argentina in 2001.
Roberts, John S. 1998. The Latin Tinge: The
—Keith Richards and Impact of Latin American Music on the
Stephanie Dennison United States. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford
University Press.
See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Mariachi, San Miguel, Guadalupe. 2002. Tejano Proud:
Ranchera, Norteña, Tex-Mex; Salsa; Popular Tex-Mex Music in the Twentieth Century.
Literature: The Boom; Mass Media: College Station: Texas A&M University
Telenovela; Popular Cinema: Youth Movies, Press.
Popular Social Movements
and Politics

Popular movements in Latin America in the late twentieth century have

generally been a response to two major phenomena: first, the wave of
military dictatorships that overtook the region between the 1960s and
1970s, and second, the imposition of neoliberal economic policies from
the mid-1980s to the present. Numerous other contributory factors and
consequences have accompanied these phenomena, of course, such as
the inroads made by foreign economic interests after most of the region
achieved independence from Spanish rule in the 1820s. The emergence
of vigorous indigenous movements in several countries must also be
taken into account, as must the increasing role in the political process,
both formal and otherwise, of women.
Spanish rule had ended in continental Latin America by the third
decade of the nineteenth century. (The last colony to become indepen-
dent, nominally at least, was Cuba in 1898.) The region then came under
the influence of mostly British economic concerns. Argentine beef was
one main British interest, and railways were built to bring the supply to
the port of Buenos Aires, from which tinned meats were sent to the
United Kingdom. The British exploited nitrates from the Pacific coast of
Bolivia (a coastline later taken by Chile) and guano from the Peruvian
coast for fertilizer. European governments and companies coveted oil
deposits across the region, as did the new emerging power of the United
States. For although the British hand could be seen behind such con-
flicts as the War of the Pacific (1879–1883), in which Bolivia and Peru
both lost territory to Chile, and the Chaco War (1932–1935), in which
Paraguay took over most of the oil deposits of southeastern Bolivia,
Latin America’s northern neighbor was to become far more influential in
the twentieth century, taking a leading role in developing fruit-growing
enterprises in the Caribbean region and moving aggressively into re-
sources of raw materials elsewhere.
The legacy of Latin America’s colonial past, and its correlate, its neo-
colonial and neoliberal present, is a social reality still bereft of the institu-
58 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tions and infrastructure necessary for for- Unsurprisingly, many people see their
mal democracy to attain any real meaning. only hope of political representation out-
Nation-states in the region were created out side formal politics in direct action (guer-
of the remains of the Spanish colonial sys- rilla warfare, or “terrorism”), in protest of a
tem and conditioned by the urgency the “po- less confrontational kind, or in the devel-
litical” classes felt to comply with the new opment of self-sufficient infrastructures
foreign powers. Three main elements of this that bypass central power. Resistance may
legacy are transport networks existing only be mounted along all manner of positions,
to move raw materials to the coast for ex- concepts of difference, or stances that are
port; hegemonic urban centers in Mexico morally or ethically unassailable. Las
City, Lima, and Buenos Aires; and limitation Madres de la Plaza de Mayo have learned
of education and health services mostly to a to use motherhood itself as the basis for
privileged minority decided by ethnic origin. their indefatigable actions in search of jus-
As the 1930s saw an influx of Marxist tice, displaying a faith in fundamental de-
ideas and as the example set by the Soviet cency that is finally being endorsed by the
Union and China became clear, political Argentine president Néstor Kirchner, with
parties began to adapt socialist ideas to the his pledge to address the grievances of
Latin American context. The American those who lost family members in the mili-
Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), tary dictatorship of the late 1970s.
founded and led in 1930s Peru by Víctor Elsewhere, the fundamental basis of
Raúl Haya de la Torre, is one example of a protest is ethnicity: age-old wounds stem-
party founded with social reformist aims: ming from the abuse of racial difference
after enduring several decades of repres- and the assumption of racial superiority
sion the APRA finally took power in 1985 granting one group a divine right to enslave
with the election of Alan García, who and oppress another. Examples of re-
proved to be one of the most corrupt and sponses to these conditions can be seen in
opportunistic leaders in even that country’s the rebellions linked to Zapatismo in south-
unfortunate political history. Nonetheless ern Mexico, in the repeated standoffs with
García, who lived in exile in Colombia and government forces in Bolivia, and to some
France for much of the 1990s, only nar- extent in the Peruvian Shining Path guer-
rowly lost the presidential election of 2001. rilla movement. The role of certain tenden-
The APRA experience exemplifies two cies in the Catholic Church must also be
common occurrences by no means exclu- acknowledged, for example, that of such
sive to Latin America: first, the ease with leaders as El Salvador’s martyr to social
which political parties can betray their ini- justice, Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero.
tial impulse, and second, the dogged loy- Another indisputably justified position
alty of some voters to parties that have from which protest stems is the lack of pro-
long ceased to represent their true inter- vision of the most basic necessities, such as
ests, as well as the catastrophically short land, water, food, and the opportunity to
memory of the electorate when it comes to learn and work. These fundamental needs
the return of disgraced politicians (another have long occasioned protest movements
striking example being the election in 1997 of all kinds across the entire continent.
of the Bolivian ex-dictator Hugo Banzer). —Keith Richards

Bibliography the unions. Perón granted legal standing to

Eckstein, Susan. 1988. Power and Popular trade unions, allowing them to negotiate di-
Protest: Latin American Social Movements. rectly with the government, although, cru-
Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
cially, these negotiating powers were re-
California Press.
Garretón Merino, Manuel Antonio. 2003a. stricted only to those recognized by Perón,
Incomplete Democracy: Political which led in effect to the government im-
Democratization in Chile and Latin posing settlements. At this time Perón be-
America. Chapel Hill: University of North gan to promise a “new Argentina,” one that
Carolina Press. would champion the rights of the masas
———. 2003b. Latin America in the Twenty-
descamisadas (shirtless masses).
first Century: Toward a New Sociopolitical
Matrix. Coral Gables, FL: North-South Perón won the presidential elections of
Center. 1946 with a 54 percent majority. Shortly af-
Peloso, Vincent C. 2003. Work, Protest, and terward he announced his five-year Eco-
Identity in Twentieth-Century Latin nomic Plan, which began with the declara-
America. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly tion “in 1810 we were liberated politically:
today we long for economic indepen-
Pineo, Ronn F., and James A. Baer. 1998. Cities
of Hope: People, Protests, and Progress in dence.” The principal aims of the plan were
Urbanizing Latin America. Boulder, CO: to achieve economic independence for Ar-
Westview. gentina by reducing foreign influence on
the economy, principally by nationalizing
foreign-owned companies and by paying
Peronismo off Argentina’s external debt. One of
Perón’s greatest triumphs was the national-
The political movement Peronismo takes ization of the railway in 1948, which up to
its name from Juan Perón (1895–1974), then had been a British-owned company,
president of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and the cancellation of Argentina’s foreign
and from November 1973 to July 1974. Per- debt in 1947, which was celebrated with a
onismo, also known under the banner of mass ceremony named the “Declaration of
the Partido Justicialista (Justicialist Party), Economic Independence.”
is frequently described as nationalist and Although Perón and the political move-
populist, and it is still strongly associated ment he created stated that their aim was
by many with the charismatic figure of to find truly Argentine solutions while
Evita, Perón’s first wife. helping workers, Peronismo is far from
Juan Perón first came to prominence as communism. Despite some improvements
part of the military government ruling in the in conditions for the urban working class
mid-1940s in Argentina, when he served as and the introduction in the early years of
secretary of labor. Considered a fairly mi- such key legislation as that concerning
nor post at the time, the Labor Department pensions, the maximum working day, and
was transformed by Perón and gained in paid holidays, Peronismo became increas-
stature and in responsibilities. From 1944 ingly autocratic over time. Frequently, al-
onward Perón made a concerted effort to though Peronismo is characterized by the
engage working-class support, and one of use of working-class rhetoric in its declara-
his important moves was negotiation with tions, its policies have often been conser-
60 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

vative; as Thomas Skidmore and Peter See also: Cultural Icons: Political Icons (Evita)
Smith have noted, “as the economic policy
became more orthodox, Peronist rhetoric Bibliography
became more strident” (1992, p. 91). James, Daniel. 1988. Resistance and
Perón’s rule grew steadily more draconian, Integration: Peronism and the Argentine
Working Class, 1946–1976. Cambridge:
and toward the end of his first term he had
Cambridge University Press.
the Argentine constitution amended to al- Levitsky, Steven. 2003. Transforming Labor-
low himself to stand for reelection. In 1951 Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine
he was reelected with 67 percent of the Peronism in Comparative Perspective.
vote. Over the years Perón’s policies be- Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
came more authoritarian, gagging the McGuire, James W. 1999. Peronism without
Perón: Unions, Parties, and Democracy in
press, rigging the election of the judiciary,
Argentina. Stanford: Stanford University
and purging the universities, among other Press.
repressive measures. Thus, Peronismo is a Rock, David. 1987. Argentina, 1516–1987:
difficult movement to define. From Spanish Colonization to the
By 1955 Perón had been forced into exile, Falklands War and Alfonsín. London:
and Peronismo had been outlawed, al- Tauris.
Skidmore, Thomas E., and Peter H. Smith. 1992.
though support still continued and Peronist
“Argentina: From Prosperity to Deadlock.”
unionism remained strong within the Argen- Pp. 68–113 in Modern Latin America.
tine working class. In 1962 Peronists were Oxford: Oxford University Press.
allowed to stand for election again, and
Perón himself made a brief reappearance on
the Argentine political stage in 1973, when Castrismo
he was once again elected president.
Nowadays, Peronismo is still in evi- The Cuban political movement Castrismo
dence in Argentine politics, although its is named after the high-profile socialist
outlook has changed from the early days leader Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro Ruz is the
of Perón’s rule. As Steven Levitsky has most controversial politician of his genera-
noted, although Perón’s party may have tion in the Western world, provoking
started off as a labor-based party, by the equally fierce passions on either side of the
mid-1980s it had changed to a “clientelistic ideological divide, represented by Cubans
party” in which unions had a very minor based in Havana and Miami. The biographi-
role. Moreover, under the recent leader- cal details of his life are by now well
ship of Carlos Menem, the Peronist presi- known: born in 1926 into a wealthy family
dent of Argentina from 1989 to 1999, the in Mayari in the underprivileged eastern
Peronist policy of reducing foreign inter- Oriente province, Castro trained as a
ests in Argentina was reversed, as Menem lawyer and in 1953 made his name by lead-
embarked on a neoliberal policy and en- ing the famous if abortive attack on the
couraged foreign investment. Thus, al- Moncada barracks. The speech “History
though Peronismo is still a political force Will Absolve Me” with which Castro under-
in Argentina, its policies have changed took his own defense marked him as a
over time. gifted orator and rhetorician. After spend-
—Claire Taylor ing two years in prison Castro was

Fidel Castro speaks to the crowd at the Hotel Antofagasto, c. 1950–1960, Antofagasto, Chile.

amnestied and sent into exile in Mexico, health care), on the one hand, and its un-
where he organized the 26 of July Move- compromising attitude toward political
ment (whose name was taken from the dissent, on the other. Any discussion of
date of the Moncada attack). This rebel Castro must, however, take into account
force landed in eastern Cuba in 1956 and his appeal to Cuban nationalism for a pop-
eventually overthrew the dictatorship of ulation that had hitherto known little more
Fulgencio Batista in 1959. The revolution- than repeated humiliation. Without this
ary government subsequently alienated the factor, it is difficult to explain his contin-
United States with a program of national- ued hold on power for well over four
ization of foreign interests, and Castro be- decades. Castro’s legendary charisma is
came a symbol of courageous self-determi- undeniable and, allied to his keen instinct
nation or Communist tyranny, depending for political survival, has certainly aided
upon one’s political leanings in the polar- his position. Without considerable popular
ized atmosphere of the Cold War. support, however, his longevity as a Cuban
Castro’s status in the United States as a leader would surely have been curtailed.
villain, as has been argued in several quar- For many, this unofficial mandate counter-
ters, has largely served to enhance his im- balances the more coercive elements of
age in Cuba and every other center of re- Cuban communism.
sistance to U.S. foreign policy. Debate over Thomas Paterson’s Contesting Castro
Castro’s role in the island’s politics gener- (1994) is an absorbing account of Washing-
ally focuses upon the nation’s advances in ton’s fixation with the Cuban leader, into
social policy (particularly in education and whose hands U.S. foreign policy has played
62 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

on countless occasions. All attempts to un- Rice, Donald E. 1992. The Rhetorical Uses of
dermine the Castro regime by sabotage, in- the Authorizing Figure: Fidel Castro and
vasion, economic embargo, and even as- José Martí. New York: Praeger.

sassination have further enhanced Castro’s

standing both within Cuba, where he is still Chavismo
widely regarded as an embodiment of na-
tional independence, and elsewhere in the The Venezuelan political movement Chav-
so-called third world, where he is an exam- ismo, named after long-term leader Hugo
ple to be emulated. Chávez, is similar politically to Cuba’s Cas-
Not surprisingly, depictions of Castro trismo. Hugo Chávez Frías, born in 1954 in
tend to be either hagiographic, typified per- Sabaneta in the state of Barinas, graduated
haps by Herbert Matthews’s 1969 book Fi- with a degree in engineering from a mili-
del Castro, or demonizing, as represented tary academy in 1975 and led a coup at-
by Alicia Castro’s 1998 book Castro’s tempt against the government of Carlos
Daughter. Fidel Castro has few natural al- Andrés Pérez in February 1992. Jailed for
lies, though these have increased consider- two years before receiving a pardon,
ably in the early twenty-first century with Chávez has nonetheless constantly criti-
the election in South America of a series of cized the oligarchy that traditionally ruled
presidents with socialist sympathies. Luis Venezuela as corrupt and self-serving, con-
Inácio “Lula” da Silva in Brazil, Néstor tent to monopolize the country’s huge oil
Kirchner in Argentina, and Lucio Gutiérrez wealth for its own ends.
in Ecuador have all displayed a will to in- A critic too of the hegemony of the
stitute radical social reforms, but within a United States, Chávez is the closest of Latin
framework that makes U.S. intervention America’s leaders to Fidel Castro in more
unlikely. than merely geographical terms, and he oc-
—Keith Richards cupies a similarly beleaguered position.
Castro is a regular visitor to Caracas, and
the bond between the two leaders has given
Bunck, Julie Marie. 1994. Fidel Castro and the
Quest for a Revolutionary Culture in Cuba. rise to talk of an axis between their coun-
University Park: Pennsylvania State tries, both of which have Caribbean coast-
University Press. lines and thus share geopolitical interests.
Castro, Alicia. 1998. Castro’s Daughter: An The two governments have reached ac-
Exile’s Memoir of Cuba. New York: St. cords on mutual support, featuring particu-
larly the provision to Cuba of Venezuelan
Coltman, Leycester. 2003. The Real Fidel
Castro. New Haven, CT: Yale University oil it desperately needs.
Press. Constantly balked by opposition from an
Matthews, Herbert L. 1969. Fidel Castro. New oligarchy indignant at his populist and so-
York: Simon and Schuster. cialist policies, Chávez has nonetheless
Paterson, Thomas G. 1994. Contesting Castro: managed to mobilize popular support
The United States and the Triumph of the
against several attempts to oust him, main-
Cuban Revolution. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. taining the power base that brought him
Quirk, Robert. 1995. Fidel Castro. New York: landslide election victories in both 1998
Norton. and 2000. The land redistribution policies

he instituted have provoked the wrath of Cuban national hero José Martí. The
the landowning classes, which also own Venezuelan leader’s television persona is
practically all the media. For this reason chatty, recounting international confer-
Chávez has had to work in constant oppo- ences and meetings with heads of state in
sition to the main shapers of public opinion the manner of one describing a week’s
in Venezuela. Despite this, he has managed work at the hacienda or factory. However,
to achieve two election victories, and al- behind this persona lies an astute political
though the probity of these elections has brain: Chávez has consolidated upon his
been called into question, Chávez’s popu- election victory and has been careful to
larity remains indisputably high. nurture the popular support that won him
This also became evident in the wake of power. This was shown beyond doubt by
an attempted coup in April 2002, when his victory in the August 2004 referendum
Chávez, deposed by a junta transparently to decide whether he should continue in
representing the oligarchy, was reinstated power.
through direct action by the country’s —Keith Richards
poorest sectors. The coup attempt, and the
See also: Popular Social Movements and
strike that accompanied it, were a re-
Politics: Castrismo
sponse to the radicalization of the govern-
ment’s policies after Chávez’s second elec- Bibliography
tion victory and its increased emphasis on Ellner, Steve. 2003. Venezuelan Politics in the
reform and the restriction of private enter- Chávez Era: Class, Polarization, and
prise. Even though Chávez has yet to sub- Conflict. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
stantially improve the material condition of Gott, Richard. 2000. In the Shadow of the
Liberator: Hugo Chávez and the
the lower classes, he appears still to enjoy
Transformation of Venezuela. London:
their support in preference to those al- Verso.
ready tried and found wanting. Rice, Donald E. 1992. The Rhetorical Uses of
Chávez’s personal style is a curious mix the Authorizing Figure: Fidel Castro and
of authoritarianism and bonhomie, as can José Martí. New York: Praeger.
be seen in his television broadcasts, which
have been known to exceed three hours. MST
The president is at pains to identify himself
with nineteenth-century revolutionary The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais
leader Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) and to Sem Terra (Landless Rural Workers Move-
bask in the reflected glory of a previous ment, MST), an association set up in Brazil
transformation. To this end he had his in 1984, is now one of the world’s largest
country’s official name changed to the Boli- and most influential direct-action land-
varian Republic of Venezuela, and he usu- reform groups. The MST was founded offi-
ally has photographs taken or televised dis- cially in Cascavel, in the southern state of
courses filmed in front of a portrait of the Paraná, but many people date the recent
Liberator of South America. To follow the tradition of organized occupation of unpro-
argument of Donald E. Rice, Chávez is em- ductive land from 1979 and the first occu-
ploying the figure of Bolívar in much the pation by the landless poor in Ronda Alta,
same way as Castro has mobilized the Rio Grande do Sul.
64 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

The MST is among the nongovernmental The MST is present in twenty-three of

groups that have proliferated in third world the twenty-seven Brazilian states, and 1.5
countries in the face of increased poverty million people are associated with the
and the undermining of local economies by movement. Around 350,000 families have
trade liberalization. It also forms part of been settled, and a further 80,000 live in
the Brazilian “redemocracy” movement of camps awaiting formal settlement (known
the late 1970s and early 1980s, which began as assentamento). The MST regularly
as the dictatorship’s hold on the country holds national congresses: more than
was gradually loosened. The perennially 11,000 participants attended the congress
pressing issue of land reform has never in Brasília in 2000. It is hard to deny either
been properly addressed in Brazil, where the impact of the MST on bringing to light
45.1 percent of farmable land currently is the issue of land reform or the success of
owned by latifundiários, or large-scale its approach to the issue: three-quarters of
landowners. today’s assentamentos originated as land
There have previously been few at- occupations.
tempts to mobilize the rural poor: the Ligas Once unused, underused, and aban-
Camponesas (Peasant Leagues) of the doned farms are occupied by families orga-
1950s, which demanded land reform in the nized by the MST; cooperatives and credit
northeast of Brazil, were brutally crushed unions are set up; and the land is farmed to
and were used by the Right as evidence of grow fruit, dairy products, grains, coffee,
the infiltration of socialism in Brazil. That meat, and so on. The families sell their pro-
said, a Land Statute dating from 1964 (the duce to commercial food companies, farm-
beginning of the dictatorship) and recon- ers’ markets, and the MST shop in São
firmed in the postdictatorship Federal Con- Paulo. The assentamentos run their own
stitution of 1988, guarantees access to land schools (1,800 at the last count); MST
for people who wish to work it and live off members are often sent to specially set up
it. Land thus has a social function, and the teacher-training programs at sympathetic
state has an obligation to promote access institutions, including state-run universi-
to it. The MST interprets this as meaning ties, designed for MST members, where the
that unused and underused land can be ap- methods of the internationally renowned
propriated. The purpose, then, of the MST Brazilian educator Paulo Freire are widely
is to organize rural workers and encourage used. A large number of local and interna-
them to occupy such land in order to speed tional charity organizations take an inter-
up the redistribution of land rather than sit- est in the social and educational side of life
ting back and waiting for government to on the assentamentos, and government
reappropriate unproductive land and hand support is offered for many educational
it over to the rural poor. (The legal system and cultural initiatives.
in Brazil is notoriously slow, and rural The highly informative MST Website
elites have always been a wealthy, politi- states: “our struggle is not only with the
cally powerful, well-organized, and often great estates; it is with the neoliberal eco-
well-armed group for whom possession of nomic model.” It emphasizes the move-
land is and always has been an important ment’s links with the Cuban Revolution of
investment and indicator of wealth.) 1959 and its support for Palestine. The

MST has successfully forged links with two were convicted of any wrongdoing,
like-minded groups as far afield as South and the rest were acquitted.
Africa, the Philippines, and throughout Sebastião Salgado’s 1996 photographic
Asia. It is deeply suspicious of multina- project Terra (Land) brought the struggle
tional corporations, genetically modified and achievements of the MST to light
crops (it is hoped that all MST farms will abroad, as well as helping turn Salgado
soon be organic), and the Free Trade Area into an internationally acclaimed photo-
of the Americas (ALCA): the most impor- journalist. Salgado continues to support
tant international campaign the MST is cur- the movement, for example by being in-
rently involved in is the Continental Cam- volved in setting up an MST Environment
paign against ALCA. The movement has College.
also demanded a plebiscite on Brazil’s for- —Stephanie Dennison
eign debt, which currently stands at over
200 billion dollars. See also: Visual Arts and Architecture:
The news media in Brazil, particularly Photography (Sebastião Salgado)

the highly regarded weekly newsmagazine

Veja, delight in sending up the MST for Bibliography
Branford, Sue, and Jan Rocha. 2002. Cutting
what they would define as misplaced polit-
the Wire: The Story of the Landless
ical correctness and naïve socialist beliefs Movement in Brazil. London: Latin
that seem to hark back to a different era America Bureau.
(the highly politicized pre-dictatorship Hopkinson, Amanda. 2002. “Of Human
1960s, for example). Others are suspicious Grandeur.” London Guardian, 27 July.
of the militant nature of the organization: Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem
Terra—Brasil Website. http://www.mst.org.br
the term militante is freely used on the
(consulted 1 December 2003).
Website, and the assentamentos are said to “People’s Power.” 2000. London Guardian,
be superseding Cuba as a training ground 28 June.
for future militants. But despite this the
movement has plenty of support in Brazil
in urban as well as rural areas. A more dan- Zapatismo
gerous enemy is the unsympathetic landed
elite, whose members are regarded as be- The contemporary Mexican protest move-
ing behind the large number of deaths and ment Zapatismo is named after the revolu-
shootings of MST members since the (un- tionary leader Emiliano Zapata. In the early
armed) movement was set up. Between hours of 1 January 1994, the day that the
March 1987 and September 2003, 137 MST North American Free Trade Agreement
workers were murdered. The worst attack (NAFTA) among the United States,
to date on landless protesters occurred in Canada, and Mexico was due to come into
1996 in Eldorado do Carajás, where 19 effect, a few hundred armed indigenous
MST members were shot dead and 57 were rebels calling themselves the Ejército Zap-
severely wounded. A total of 155 police- atista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN, The
men were subsequently accused of their Zapatista Army for National Liberation)
murder, and over 100 were finally brought stormed seven towns in the southern Mexi-
to court in 2002. In June of that year only can state of Chiapas and laid siege to them
66 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

for a number of days. Relatively little blood hierarchical and inclusive manner. That is
was shed, but the political impact of their to say, they are not directed from the top
move was massive and continues to affect down, with troops taking orders from a
Mexico. The Mexican government quickly leader who is perhaps somewhat divorced
deployed over half of its troops to the area from the realities of the indigenous people’s
(approximately 12,000 soldiers) and suc- lives by dint of origin and education. Al-
ceeded in retaking key urban sites, con- though their spokesperson, the charis-
taining the rebels in the remote highland matic, well-educated, and well-spoken Sub-
and jungle areas of the region. However, comandante Marcos is clearly not an
the government stopped short of taking out indigenous Chiapanecan peasant; he is only
the rebels altogether (though it could have their spokesperson, not their leader. In-
done so easily), opting to engage in a series stead, indigenous comandantes (command-
of “dialogues” with the EZLN via govern- ing officers) set the political agenda, and
ment spokesman Manuel Camacho Solís, a they in turn are dictated to by all members
veteran negotiator of the post-1985 earth- of the community they represent: men,
quake protests. Clearly, the government women, and even children. Furthermore,
did not want to jeopardize the new trade the EZLN is inclusive in that it represents
agreement by paying too much heed to a members of different ethnic groups (includ-
bit of insurrection in the farthest-flung ing poor ladinos, or nonindigenous Chia-
parts of the country; nor did it want to at- panecans) and religions and of both sexes.
tract national and international condemna- The structure, then, is profoundly demo-
tion by perpetrating a massively visible act cratic and is much more likely to help bro-
of genocide after all the media hype sur- ker lasting solutions agreeable to all parties
rounding the quincentenario, the five-hun- and to cement grassroots community soli-
dredth anniversary of the “discovery” of darity than any previous group has been.
the Americas and its concomitant sense Although the demands of the Zapatistas
that issues of racial conflict had been re- are fairly typical of an indigenous uprising,
solved. After all, 1994 was the year for na- their ultimate aspirations are not. The EZLN
tional elections in Mexico. To date, the dia- has petitioned the government for restitu-
logues between the Zapatistas and the tion of land rights accorded by the revolu-
Mexican government—the Partido Revolu- tionary Mexican Constitution, which the
cionario Institucional (PRI, Institutional government was in the process of rescind-
Revolutionary Party) or, since 2000, with ing; for improvements in living conditions
the Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN, Na- and infrastructure (health, education, sani-
tional Action Party)—have resolved rela- tation, roads, services, salaries); and for
tively little. Yet perhaps the importance of recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights.
the Zapatista movement has more to do This last point is one of the only areas
with its novel organizational structure, its where the dialogues have been successful,
aims, and its means of achieving those and some indigenous self-governance in ac-
aims than with demonstrable results. cordance with traditional legal systems has
Unlike previous left-wing guerrilla been granted. Nevertheless, the EZLN has
groups across Latin America, the Zapatistas also petitioned for matters that affect more
have managed to unite and fight in a non- than just indigenous Chiapanecans. They

A Zapatista rebel stands guard near a news conference held by Subcomandante Marcos in the village
of La Realidad in Chiapas on 22 February 2001. (Reuters/Corbis)

have protested against the Mexican govern- minds of Mexican civil society and the in-
ment’s neoliberal policies and willingness to ternational community via the media, par-
sign agreements with the United States that ticularly via media that the Mexican gov-
will have detrimental effects on poor people ernment cannot effectively silence, such as
throughout the nation, and they have the Internet. They have continued to pro-
protested against the antidemocratic, re- vide information so as not to fall out of the
pressive, and corrupt tactics of the Mexican media’s eye, and they have further involved
government, challenging its legitimacy to national and international communities by
hold power. Yet the Zapatistas do not seek inviting them to physically participate in
to claim that power for themselves. Rather, their campaign, in peace camps set up to
they define themselves as a movement that deter the Mexican military from attacking
seeks to disappear once it has achieved its Zapatista settlements, in aguascalientes or
objective of revolutionizing Mexican society ad hoc conventions held in jungle clearings,
and its form of government. and in educational Zapaturs (tours of the
Finally, the EZLN has been particularly Zapatista heartland). Furthermore, the
innovative in the ways it has sought to communiqués issued by Subcomandante
achieve its objectives. Although the initial Marcos make great use of humor, allegory,
armed uprising was hardly original, since symbolism, and even the techniques of
then they have fought for the hearts and magical realism. Indeed, his whole per-
68 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Subcomandante Marcos waves to supporters in Tepoztlan during his seventeen-day march through
Mexico to lobby Congress for the passage of an Indian rights bill. (Shaul Schwarz/Corbis Sygma)

sona—the gentle voice, the pipe, the bala- it has stimulated debate over key issues
clava (mask) that he never removes in that affect all Mexicans.
public—has seduced a national and inter- —Thea Pitman
national audience eager for a new revolu-
tionary icon who is also lovable (even sexy) See also: Popular Social Movements and
and entertaining. Marcos has even been Politics: Post-1985 Earthquake Movements
used as a source of inspiration for fashion. in Mexico; Sport and Leisure: Fashion
(Mexico); Travel and Tourism: Cultural
Yet even this last, rather facile, reappropria-
Tourism; Mass Media: The Internet
tion of Zapatista iconography by Mexican
popular culture should not be seen as proof
that the EZLN’s cause has been sanitized Collier, George A., and Elizabeth Lowery
and reabsorbed by mainstream Mexican so- Quaratiello. 1994. BASTA! Land and the
ciety. This kind of impact on the popular Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas. Oakland,
imagination can still be seen as an expres- CA: Food First Books.
sion of the need for alternatives to main- Holloway, John, and Eloína Peláez, eds. 1998.
Zapatista! Reinventing Revolution in
stream politics in Mexico. Remarkably, this
Mexico. London: Pluto.
small group of revolutionaries has managed Katzenberger, Elaine, ed. 1995. First World,
to have its voice heard all across Mexico Ha Ha Ha! The Zapatista Challenge.
(and beyond) for nearly ten years now, and San Francisco: City Lights.

Subcomandante Marcos. 1995. Shadows of sought to build on this legacy but using a
Tender Fury: The Letters and strategy borrowed from Mao Zedong: mo-
Communiques of Subcomandante Marcos bilizing the countryside against the cities
and the Zapatista Army of National
and preventing food supplies from reach-
Liberation. Introduction by John Ross. New
York: Monthly Review. ing urban populations. In the Peruvian con-
text this meant chiefly the people of Lima,
capital of the Viceroyalty and a city long as-
Shining Path sociated with the Spanish imperialism that
built it, considered inimical to indigenous,
The guerrilla movement Sendero Luminoso particularly Andean, interests.
(Shining Path) began in the southern Peru- Despite the Marxist insistence upon
vian Andes in 1980 and rocked Peruvian class struggle, the campaign took on clear
society during the late 1980s and early ethnic parameters, a form of millenarian
1990s, causing considerable political and vengeance exacted by the dispossessed
psychological impact. Springing from a Andean peasantry against their oppressors.
Maoist branch of the Peruvian Communist Guzmán, under his nom de guerre Coman-
Party in the city of Ayacucho under the dante Gonzalo, was proclaimed heir to the
leadership of the philosophy lecturer Abi- legacy of Marx, Lenin, and Mao as the
mael Guzmán, Shining Path established its Fourth Sword of Marxism. Shining Path de-
emergence upon the Peruvian political veloped a rhetoric that was at once chilling
landscape through a series of gestures and unintentionally comical. An anony-
aimed at imprinting images of violence mous letter to the Communist Party Cen-
upon the national consciousness. Carlos tral Committee speaks of “Gonzalo
Degregori has pinpointed the beginning of Thought, all-powerful and infallible ideol-
the movement as 17 May 1980, when ballot ogy that illuminates our path and arms our
boxes in the small Andean town of Chuschi minds” (quoted in Starn et. al. 1995, p. 336).
were publicly burned and dead dogs, bear- However, behind the apparent auto-satire
ing labels identifying them with the then was an unmistakable ruthlessness: neither
Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (1904– the will of Shining Path nor the very real
1997), appeared hanging from lampposts in threat to established power that the group
the capital, Lima. constituted by the early 1990s was ever se-
The raw brutality associated with these riously called into question.
images became Shining Path’s stock-in- What was certainly more open to doubt
trade, as figures associated with the ortho- was the authenticity and sincerity of the
dox political process were threatened and, organization’s ideological position, partic-
if the warnings were not heeded, elimi- ularly once it was established that a sub-
nated. Such figures tended to be low-pro- stantial source of its income was cocaine
file rural authorities, mayors in the small trafficking. Since the 1980s the coca-grow-
Andean towns and villages that were the ing upper Huallaga Valley in northern Peru
guerrillas’ power base. The southern Andes has been an arena in which Shining Path
had witnessed sporadic indigenous rebel- vies for influence with more orthodox traf-
lions throughout the history of colonial and fickers and with the now almost defunct
particularly republican Peru. Shining Path Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
70 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

(MRTA). The MRTA, named after an eigh- manded considerable respect and affection
teenth-century native rebel and often con- throughout the country, was savagely mur-
sidered a more humane alternative to dered and her body publicly mutilated.
Shining Path, was decimated in April 1997 Moyano was killed because the revolution-
when its occupation of the Japanese am- aries saw her model of independent and
bassador’s residence in Lima ended with non-ideologically based self-help, even
an army raid that killed all fourteen partic- though it was of an essentially socialist na-
ipating members. ture, as a threat to their own control over
Shining Path’s appeal to the indigenous minds, if not hearts. Such actions height-
peasantry exploited age-old resentments ened popular revulsion for the rebels’ ac-
and drew upon the traditional rebellious- tivities as well as fear of the consequences
ness of this sector of the population. The of opposing them. In September of the
great uprising led by Tupac Amaru II in same year this aura was largely dispelled
the 1780s, which narrowly failed to end when Guzmán was captured during a raid
Spanish rule, is still a part of indigenous on a suburban house in Lima. Notwith-
political consciousness. Shining Path’s standing Guzmán’s messianic status as
rise in the countryside, though, was leader and his importance in coordinating
largely orchestrated from the outside the group’s functions, Shining Path has not
through manipulation by Guzmán and oth- been entirely defeated.
ers of the political theory of José Carlos James Rochlin has declared that “the
Mariátegui (1894–1930). However, as sev- rebels’ extraordinary reliance on violence
eral observers have pointed out, Mar- created a legacy whereby Peruvians gen-
iátegui’s ideas of the incorporation of An- erally associate the memory of SL
dean traditions of reciprocity into a [Sendero Luminoso] with unabashed car-
Marxist framework are very distant from nage rather than with any positive
Guzmán’s authoritarian stance and his or- achievements” (2003, p. 255). Nonethe-
ganization’s taste for intimidation. Rural less, it may be too early to speak in terms
populations found themselves caught be- of a legacy when the group, albeit dimin-
tween the guerrillas and the no-less-brutal ished in size and impact, is still far from
Peruvian military, forbidden by both sides extinct: Shining Path has seen a notable
to aid the enemy and subject to vicious resurgence during the first years of the
reprisals if they stepped out of line. In twenty-first century.
fact, early support for the rebellion faded —Keith Richards
as people in the countryside grew disillu-
sioned, and rondas campesinas (armed See also: Popular Social Movements and
peasant vigilante groups) were sponsored Politics: Base Communities in the Andes
by the government to help stem the tide of
insurgency. Bibliography
In February 1992 Shining Path claimed Degregori, Carlos Iván. 1994. “The Origins and
one of its more high-profile victims, albeit Logic of Shining Path: Two Views.” Pp. 51–75
in The Shining Path of Peru, edited by David
one from humble origins: the grassroots
Scott Palmer. New York: St. Martin’s.
shantytown leader and organizer María Gorriti Ellenbogen, Gustavo. 1999. The Shining
Elena Moyano (1958–1992), who com- Path: A History of the Millenarian War in

Peru. Chapel Hill: University of North deserts is extraordinary: the immediate

Carolina Press. question it raises is how communities can
Poole, Deborah, and Gerardo Rénique. 1992. subsist in such an arid and inhospitable
Peru: Time of Fear. London: Latin America
Rochlin, James Francis. 2003. Vanguard Water is indeed of particular concern,
Revolutionaries in Latin America: Peru, and often a source of conflict, in the estab-
Colombia, Mexico. Boulder, CO: Lynne lishment of these communities. The river
Rienner. Rimac that flows through central Lima is
Starn, Orin, Carlos Iván Degregori, and Robin already reduced to a trickle by the de-
Kirk, eds. 1995. The Peru Reader: History,
mands made upon it, and the flow of peo-
Culture, Politics. Durham, NC, and London:
Duke University Press. ple into the area shows little sign of abat-
Stern, Peter A. 1995. Sendero Luminoso: An ing. Henry Dietz has written of some three
Annotated Bibliography of the Shining hundred illegal settlements in the metro-
Path Guerrilla Movement. Albuquerque: politan area, and Lima’s population has
SALALM Secretariat, University of New concomitantly exploded. Peter Lloyd’s
study shows that the area had some half a
million inhabitants in the 1940s, rising to
around three and a half million by 1975. Ac-
Base Communities in the Andes cording to current estimates that figure has
again doubled: around one-third of Peru-
In the poor districts of Andean capitals vians live in Lima, and it is estimated that
such as Lima, squatter settlements, known the population will soon reach 10 million.
as base communities, have formed as a re- The euphemistic Peruvian term pueblos
sult of large-scale migration to cities. The jóvenes (young towns) is particularly appo-
massive urban migration that has taken site if one takes into account the number of
place in Latin America, above all in the sec- children involved in these migrations, as
ond half of the twentieth century, has the national average age continues to fall.
thrown up a whole set of previously un- Of course, the effect upon the city has
known social phenomena. Since the 1940s been more than simply demographic. The
the Peruvian capital, Lima, has seen a par- economic transformation has also been
ticularly striking influx, mostly of people extraordinary, as was shown by Her-
from the Andes. The influx of indigenous nando de Soto’s 1989 study The Other
Quechua-speakers has never exactly been Path. Soto examined the growth of the
welcome in this proud “City of Kings,” the “informal sector” (another Peruvian eu-
hub of the Spanish Viceroyalty founded in phemism, this time alluding to the black
1535. But the newcomers have changed the market, unregistered commercial activity,
nature of urban life in the region, bringing transport, squatting, and street vending).
cultural elements first scorned but then He argued that the existence of this form
gradually integrated, albeit in a diluted of activity is a social fact that is not about
form as acculturation takes place. To the to disappear and that social structures
visitor entering or leaving this metropolis and institutions have to be amended to in-
the sight of squatters’ settlements stretch- clude people who have no alternative but
ing far out into central Peru’s coastal to sidestep the law. To crack down on
72 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

such activity would simply be to outlaw guided hope of erasing her significance,
the majority of the population. Lima’s but the three hundred or so mourners at
mayor, Alberto Andrade, instigated a her funeral confirmed the contrary. Moy-
cleanup of the city’s historic center that ano said that the communal kitchens were
involved moving away street vendors as a matter of far more than mere nutrition.
well as painting and planting flowers. She argued that they also served as a venue
This cosmetic measure has so far simply for voicing grievances. Moyano was com-
shifted the problem, even if it has made memorated in the 1998 film about her life
tourists more comfortable. Coraje (Courage), written and directed by
The experience of migration has had a Alberto Durant.
considerable effect on women, bringing —Keith Richards
them into a new environment where they
come into contact with new ideas, often See also: Popular Social Movements and
for the first time. This has been true in the Politics: Shining Path; Visual Arts and
case of the many housemaids brought into Architecture: Architecture and Landscape
urban middle-class households, some of Design (Pueblos Jóvenes)
whom are allowed the opportunity to
study. It also applies to women in new set- Bibliography
tlements faced with extreme poverty, es- Chueca, Marta, and Javier Alva Gambini. 1989.
pecially in the wake of the “Fujishock,” No sólo se cocina en los comedores. Lima:
Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori’s pol- Centro Latinoamericano de Trabajo Social
icy of economic austerity in the early
Dietz, Henry A. 1980. Poverty and Problem-
1990s. This kind of hardship meant that Solving under Military Rule: The Urban
communal kitchens were practically the Poor in Lima, Peru. Austin: University of
only option for new settlers to cook, eat, Texas Press.
and socialize in. The role of women as de- ———. 1998. Urban Poverty, Political
fenders of family well-being, in the ab- Participation, and the State: Lima,
1970–1990. Pittsburgh, PA: University of
sence of men, who were working long
Pittsburgh Press.
hours or indulging in irresponsible drink- Dobyns, Henry F. 1971. Peasants, Power, and
ing, consequently became more demand- Applied Social Change: Vicos as a Model.
ing and militant. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
The outstanding example of women Lloyd, Peter. 1980. The “Young Towns” of
from this environment was María Elena Lima: Aspects of Urbanization in Peru.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Moyano (1958–1992), an activist and repre-
Moyano, María Elena, and Diana Miloslavich
sentative of the Villa El Salvador settle- Túpac, eds. 2000. The Autobiography of
ment south of Lima. She became a living María Elena Moyano: The Life and Death of
symbol of the dignity and human potential a Peruvian Activist. Gainesville: University
conceivable in even these surroundings. Presses of Florida.
The transcendent nature of Moyano’s per- Musset, Alain. 2002. Villes nomades du
nouveau monde. Paris: Editions de l’Ecole
sona is evident in the manner of her death,
des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
at the hands of Shining Path assassins and Soto, Hernando de. 1989. The Other Path: The
in the presence of her sons. Her body was Invisible Revolution in the Third World.
blown up with dynamite in the crassly mis- New York: Harper and Row.

Base Communities in Brazil Center teaches local youngsters how to use

the Internet and how to learn the informa-
Comunidades de base, or shantytown tion technology skills necessary for the
community groups, emerged in Brazil in world of work.
the 1960s and came to the fore in the late Base communities in São Paulo were
1970s on the initiative of the progressive part of the so-called Operation Periphery
Catholic Church. The heyday of the com- established in the 1970s by the city’s arch-
munities coincided with the military dicta- bishop, Cardinal Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns,
torship, when restrictions on personal free- a leading proponent of Liberation Theology.
doms meant that the church and the Priests and resources were directed to the
community were virtually the only spaces outlying districts of the city, where impov-
where people could come together. Since erished migrants were erecting their
then, shantytown residents’ associations in makeshift homes. In these emerging neigh-
Brazil’s major cities have continued to fight borhoods, with unpaved streets and no
for improved conditions, such as running amenities, priests and nuns worked along-
water and sewers, and for recognition of side the inhabitants, encouraging them to
their land rights. The responsibility for pro- hold community meetings where commu-
viding answers to the huge housing short- nity members could apply the teachings of
age in Brazil has largely been left to the the Bible to the realities of their lives and
poor themselves. More recently, such com- where they could also deal with such prac-
munities have been working with such tical issues as building schools, setting up
non-governmental organizations as local health centers, and gaining access to elec-
universities and have successfully em- tricity. As these practical goals were
braced technology in order to improve the achieved, participation in these groups de-
quality of the lives of their inhabitants. clined. The exhausting routine of the city,
Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro, is the largest and especially the two-hour commute by
favela, or shantytown, in the world. With a bus each day to work, made it increasingly
population of some 200,000, it has a thriv- difficult for ordinary people to dedicate
ing sense of community that has given rise time and energy to these base communities.
to various initiatives, including a Website Today universities collaborate with
and a television channel. Its so-called shantytown community projects, such as
Tourist Workshop organizes training for lo- that of the Favela do Gato (Shantytown of
cal young people in English, geography, Cats, “cat” being the slang term for a per-
first aid, and tourism to enable them to son who climbs up electric poles to ille-
work with tour operators involved in pro- gally obtain power for his community), lo-
moting visits to the neighborhood, which cated in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro State.
now refers to itself on its official Website With the help of the Department of Archi-
as an “ex-favela.” Rocinha has its own tecture and Urban Planning at the nearby
trade association that assists its approxi- Fluminense Federal University, Niterói, the
mately 2,500 commercial establishments, resourceful inhabitants of this shantytown
ranging from shops selling electrical goods have developed the political and technical
to cybercafés, from branches of banks to skills necessary to help them better their
radio stations. The Rocinha Vocational living environment. They successfully cam-
74 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

paigned against a highway scheme that was hit by an earthquake measuring 8.1 on
would have relocated the entire neighbor- the Richter scale and lasting ninety sec-
hood, and they fought for the building of a onds early in the morning of 19 September
new service road that would integrate the 1985. Another of slightly less intensity and
community into the surrounding area. In duration struck the next evening.
addition, the existing inhabitants were Although the epicenters for both quakes
granted ownership of the land they occu- were located in the Pacific Ocean just off
pied, in exchange for agreeing not to per- the coast of the state of Michoacán, Mex-
mit the shantytown to grow any further. ico City, particularly the old downtown
The Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro area, was the worst hit area in the whole
(PUC-Rio) is currently involved in various country because the city is built on unsta-
projects to help educate children and ble ground (a dried-up lake). Significantly,
teenagers in the shantytowns of Vidigal it was not the centuries-old monuments
and Santa Maria. that perished but the badly maintained old
—Lisa Shaw housing blocks in the city center, together
with many more recent, often government-
See also: Popular Religion and Festivals: sponsored or owned, buildings (hospitals,
Popular Catholicism; Visual Arts and ministry buildings, and housing com-
Architecture: Architecture and Landscape
plexes) that had not been built according
Design (Favelas)
to contemporary international guidelines
on how to protect structures against earth-
Boff, Leonardo, and Clodvis Boff. 1987. quakes. The resultant damage caused by
Introducing Liberation Theology. Tunbridge the two quakes was considerable: accord-
Wells, UK: Burns and Oates. ing to Paul Haber, conservative estimates
Gay, Robert. 1994. Popular Organization and suggest that around 10,000 people lost
Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: A Tale of Two their lives and a further 250,000 were left
Favelas. Philadelphia: Temple University
Nagle, Robin. 1999. “Liberation Theology’s Rise In the eighteen-month period that fol-
and Fall.” Pp. 462–467 in The Brazil Reader: lowed the earthquakes, the Mexican govern-
History, Culture, Politics, edited by Robert ment was compelled to reconstruct or repair
M. Levine and John Crocitti. Durham, NC, 80,000 homes, and plans were in place to ac-
and London: Duke University Press. commodate a further 8,000 people who were
Pino, Júlio Cesar. 1997. Family and Favela:
not technically homeless but who were liv-
The Reproduction of Poverty in Rio de
Janeiro. Westport, CT: Greenwood. ing in other people’s homes. Furthermore,
Rocinha Website. http://www.rocinha.com.br the new homes were built in the same loca-
(consulted 20 November 2003). tion as the previous ones rather than in new
settlements on the outskirts of the city, as
the government had initially intended, and
Post-1985 Earthquake Movements they were made available at highly subsi-
in Mexico dized prices. This reasonably prompt and
ample response to a disaster of significant
In 1985 two earthquakes sparked a series proportions would not have happened had
of organized protests in Mexico. Mexico those involved—the damnificados (injured,

or in this case, homeless people)—not orga- quences. Although Haber has conceded
nized themselves and protested en masse to that the protesting organizations, such as
achieve their objectives. the Unión de Vecinos y Damnificados—19
Whether the mobilization of thousands of de septiembre (19 September Union of
damnificados constitutes a fairly brief in- Earthquake Victims), did have to become
stance of successful urban protest or the less radical and in many cases had to ac-
creation of a popular social movement to cept affiliation with the ruling party to
achieve improvements in living conditions achieve their objectives, he has also noted
and radical social change on a more general that many of the popular organizations that
level remains an issue that scholars dis- formed as a result of the earthquake con-
pute. To Alan Gilbert, the mass demonstra- tinued to exist long after the direct solution
tions of up to 30,000 protesters that took to their problems had been provided. Fur-
place on a number of occasions from late thermore, with time, many expanded their
September to December 1985 were no remit precisely to pressure for general im-
more than an instance of successful urban provements in living conditions and urban
protest. He has credited the protesters with infrastructure and even for more demo-
good large-scale organization, but he also cratic government, consistent with defini-
noted that they benefited from a fortuitous tions of what constitutes a popular social
moment when international attention was movement. A substantial number of impor-
directed at the country: the 1986 soccer tant Mexican writers and intellectuals,
World Cup was jeopardized by the protests. such as Elena Poniatowska and Carlos
In the event, international aid, prompted by Monsiváis, have also picked up on what
the will for the World Cup to go ahead in Mexican society has gained from the expe-
the planned location, allowed the Mexican rience of the earthquake protests. Mon-
government to respond to the protests in siváis has noted that, given the govern-
the way it did. Gilbert also noted that even ment’s initially reluctant response in the
though Mexico was in a period of recession aftermath of the earthquake, Mexicans
for almost the entire 1980s, it was only the were forced to work together as never be-
earthquakes that provoked such large-scale fore, thus galvanizing a new sense of “civil
demonstrations. Thus, to Gilbert, the popu- society,” of community solidarity and civic
lar response to the earthquake was limited responsibility, and an ongoing critical
to solving the problems caused by that stance toward the government. And both
event. It did not then spread into a wider Monsiváis and Poniatowska have com-
sense of popular mobilization against the mented in some detail on the formation of
government with a view to demanding on- specifically working-class women’s organi-
going improvements in living conditions for zations, such as the Promotora de Costur-
the lower classes or breaking down tradi- eras en Lucha (the seamstresses’ union),
tional and undemocratic political struc- that owe their creation to the experience of
tures such as clientelism (the focusing of the post-earthquake protests. Furthermore,
benefits on a political party’s supporters such popular icons as Superbarrio—visu-
rather than on society as a whole). ally, a cross between a masked wrestler
Other critics see the 1985 earthquakes as like El Santo and Superman—emerged
having had much more far-reaching conse- from the protests to defend the homeless
76 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

and the poor and inject a subversive dose of despair for families who might other-
of humor into popular protest. wise have remained cowed by the violence
—Thea Pitman erupting around them as the military
sought to “restructure” society by eliminat-
See also: Sport and Leisure: Lucha Libre; ing anyone suspected of harboring left-
Popular Literature: Testimonio wing sympathies. These women, wearing
the white head scarves that have become
their emblem and carrying placards bear-
Betancourt, Fernando, ed. 1995. Imágenes y ing photos of their missing relatives, con-
testimonios del 85: El despertar de la stitute an image by now familiar from news
sociedad civil. Mexico City: Unión de Vecinos reports and documentaries. The impact of
y Damnificados—19 de septiembre. their action, however, was enormous. As
Da Cruz, José. 1993. Disaster and Society: The Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard has pointed
1985 Mexican Earthquakes. Lund, Sweden:
out, the regular demonstrations in the cen-
Lund University Press.
Gilbert, Alan. 1998. The Latin American City. ter of Buenos Aires registered utter rejec-
London: Latin America Bureau. tion of the prevailing social and historical
Haber, Paul Lawrence. 1997. “Earthquake of mood. “Against the military values of hier-
1985.” Pp. 423–427 in Encyclopedia of Mexico, archy, obedience and the unchecked use of
vol. 1, edited by Michael S. Werner. Chicago: physical force, the Mothers practiced paci-
Fitzroy Dearborn.
fism, cooperation, and mutual love” (1994,
Monsiváis, Carlos. 1987. “Los días del terremoto.”
Pp. 17–122 in Entrada libre: Crónicas de la p. 1). The demonstrations, moreover, di-
sociedad que se organiza. Mexico City: Era. rectly and consciously flouted a law passed
Poniatowska, Elena. 1995. Nothing, Nobody: The in the early days of the tyranny. That these
Voices of the Mexico City Earthquake. middle-aged, unassuming women were
Foreword by Aurora Camachom de Schmidt such unlikely dissenters also added to their
and Arthur Schmidt. Philadelphia: Temple
effect on sympathizers and enemies alike.
University Press.
Dismissed at first as las locas (mad-
women), they became the form of opposi-
tion most uncomfortable for the military
Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and junta to face, one that embodied the very
Other Women’s Movements same Christian values that the military
claimed to uphold. It was politically feasi-
Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (the Moth- ble to outlaw and violently repress trade
ers of the Plaza de Mayo) is the term used unionism, radical theater, and other such
to describe a protest movement that sup- activities; being seen as opposing mother-
plied the clearest voice in Argentina oppos- hood was an entirely different prospect.
ing the vicious military dictatorship that The women’s courage, albeit born of des-
terrorized the country between 1976 and peration, was nevertheless extraordinary.
1982. The movement was made up of the As Jo Fisher’s collection of testimonies re-
mothers of those who had “disappeared.” veals, these were usually mothers of fami-
“Disappearance,” the euphemism for the lies that had been shattered, financially as
military’s strategy of abduction, torture, well as emotionally, by what had been done
and summary execution, became a source to them (the military would also steal from

the homes of those they “visited”). Also re-

markable is the Mothers’ ingenuity in adver-
sity. The head scarves were the most clearly
visible examples of an entire system of vi-
sual codes and signals through which they
initially managed to recognize one another
and to organize despite a ruthless and ubiq-
uitous secret police. Meetings would some-
times be held in the few churches that
would allow them, or else they would be
disguised as informal social occasions. The
Grandmothers of the Plaza were another vi-
tal presence, active particularly in investi-
gating another appalling practice: stealing
the young children of murdered parents for
illicit adoption by childless military couples.
This question was memorably raised by Luis
Puenzo’s film La historia oficial (The Offi-
cial Version, 1985); another fine cinematic
version of these events is La amiga, di-
rected by Jeanine Meerapfel in 1989. La
amiga exemplifies what Diana Taylor has
seen as exploitation by the Mothers and Demonstration by the Mothers of the Plaza de
Mayo in Buenos Aires, 4 May 1995. (Carlos
Grandmothers of theatrical devices in the
Carrion/Corbis Sygma)
expression of their grievances.
Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo are an
example of women’s potential to effect pay long-overdue wages. These two
change through direct action. That poten- women and their roles are profiled by
tial can be seen in various other protests in Javier Auyero, who examines “the ways in
Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America which these two women use (not neces-
that may have little to do directly with gen- sarily in conscious ways) elements of their
der but that provide a space in which everyday lives to make sense, to experi-
women are able to affirm their political po- ence, and to remember collective struggle”
tency as representatives of a community. (2003, p. 206).
Two further Argentine examples are Laura A fine example elsewhere is that of
Padilla, who successfully led protests Domitila Barrios de Chungara, a Bolivian
against a fertilizer plant in the southern miner’s wife who overcame prejudices
province of Neuquén in 1996, and Nana against women in that environment to be-
(no surname is provided), who took part come a prominent figure in the struggle for
in a huge demonstration, in the northwest- improved living conditions and wages, as
ern city of Santiago del Estero in Decem- well as the mining town’s very existence as
ber 1993, by state employees frustrated a community. In some ways a conservative
and angered at the authorities’ failure to woman, distancing herself from feminism
78 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

and emphasizing her Christian faith, Domi- Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
tila Barrios de Chungara nonetheless California Press.
adopted a radical stance against early man- Auyero, Javier. 2003. Contentious Lives: Two
Argentine Women, Two Protests, and the
ifestations of globalization in the late 1970s
Quest for Recognition. Durham, NC, and
and provided an example of unrelenting London: Duke University Press.
willpower and remarkable courage. Barrios de Chungara, Domitila, and Moema
The figurehead of Guatemalan Indian re- Viezzer. 1978. Let Me Speak! New York:
sistance is Rigoberta Menchú, whose auto- Monthly Review.
biography remains a classic of testimonio Behar, Ruth. 2002. “Gender Que Pica un Poco.”
Preface to Gender’s Place: Feminist
literature, despite attempts to besmirch her
Anthropologies of Latin America by Lezzie
credibility. Native women have taken up Jo Frazier, Janise Hurtig, and Rosario
Rigoberta’s example elsewhere in Central Montoya. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
America, for instance in Chiapas in south- Fisher, Jo. 1989. Mothers of the Disappeared.
ern Mexico, where a generation of young Boston: South End.
women are active in a church that combines Guzmán Bouvard, Marguerite. 1994.
Revolutionizing Motherhood: The Mothers
elements of Liberation Theology with tradi-
of the Plaza de Mayo. Wilmington, DE:
tional Catholicism and the indigenous cos- Scholarly Resources.
mogony that incorporates worship of natu- Jetter, Alexis, Annelise Orleck, and Diana
ral phenomena and defines the place of Taylor. 1997. The Politics of Motherhood:
humanity as strictly within natural bound- Activist Voices from Left to Right. Hanover,
aries. The system of reciprocity and comple- NH: University Press of New England.
Simonelli, Jeanne. 2001. “Complementaridad:
mentarity that characterizes many native
Realities of Gender in Contemporary
American philosophies also posits an equi- Mesoamerica.” Paper presented at the
table and balanced relationship between the annual meeting of the American
sexes as crucial for all forms of progress. Anthropological Association, Washington,
Cuba is still the only Latin American DC, November.
country where the emancipation of women Taylor, Diana. 1994. “Performing Gender: Las
Madres de la Plaza de Mayo.” Pp. 275–305 in
has been set as a cornerstone of national
Negotiating Performance: Gender,
development—although this policy is not Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o
without its contradictions, given the con- America, edited by Diana Taylor and Juan
comitant persecution of gays during the Villegas Morales. Durham, NC, and London:
early years of the Revolution and the Duke University Press.
growth of sex tourism on the island.
—Keith Richards
The Bolivian Gas War
See also: Travel and Tourism: Sex Tourism;
Popular Literature: Testimonio; Popular
Cinema: Melodrama; Popular Religion and
The implications for Bolivia and for the rest
Festivals: Popular Catholicism
of Latin America of the so-called Gas War,
the Guerra del Gas, have yet to be fully un-
Arditti, Rita. 1999. Searching for Life: The derstood. Between 8 and 19 October 2003,
Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the this major Bolivian political crisis curtailed
Disappeared Children of Argentina. the second presidency of Gonzalo Sánchez

de Losada and forced politicians across the gave a voice to indigenous peoples and
region to be wary of adopting neoliberal suggested answers, often pragmatic, to
economic policies without consulting the their immediate problems.
electorate. The 1991 March for Land and Dignity
This type of action, involving popular (Marcha por el Territorio y la Dignidad)
mobilization in street demonstrations and was a great success. During the thirty-four
other measures, has numerous precedents, days it lasted, numerous indigenous groups
which Álvaro García Linera and colleagues were brought together for the first time.
describe as being union, mass (or multi- Native peoples from the tropical north and
tude), or community based. It is certainly east of the country came into close contact
true that trade unions have been of huge with others from the Chaco, with the Ay-
political importance in Bolivia in the twen- mara-speaking groups from the high plains
tieth century, and above all in the mining around La Paz, and with the Quechua-
industry, which exerted considerable mus- speakers from the lower elevations around
cle until its decline in the early 1990s. As Cochabamba and Sucre. The march was
examples of mass-based action, García Li- the beginning of a new period of struggle in
nera sees the regrouping of the lower which indigenous groups were no longer
classes along new lines, often mobilized by isolated and intimidated. As a result of this
just such issues as gas privatization. And action, native peoples were granted repre-
“community” refers mainly to rural indige- sentation in parliament for the first time,
nous groups, which have also been abun- and the constitution was rewritten to in-
dantly evident in informal political action. clude the terms “pluriethnic” and “multi-
The earliest forms of popular protest in cultural” to describe the nation. Nonethe-
Bolivia, in fact, were based on indigenous less, the living conditions of native peoples
demands for the restitution of lands and still leave much to be desired.
rights or even for the outright removal of In April 2000 the issue of water privatiza-
European rule. In the 1780s a huge rebel- tion (the so-called Guerra del Agua or Wa-
lion led by Tomás Tupac Katari laid pro- ter War) rocked the Andean city of
longed siege to La Paz and posed a very Cochabamba when the government of
real threat to the survival of the Spanish Hugo Banzer (1926–2002) announced plans
colony. In republican times, too, numerous to sell rights to local water administration
rebellions arose, both in the countryside to a British-Spanish-Bolivian consortium.
and in the mines, as frustrations periodi- Cochabamba has long been troubled by an
cally came to a head. The political classes insufficient water supply, and substantial
have long known and feared the mining urban migration has compounded the prob-
communities, such as Siglo Veinte (Twenti- lem. The considerable price increases that
eth Century) and Catavi, for the virulence would have occurred under privatization
and coherence of their political action. The measures provoked such impassioned and
miners’ indigenous heritage was an ele- insistent opposition that ultimately the gov-
ment in their militancy even if they consid- ernment was forced to back down. As
ered themselves distinct from (and often Willem Assies has shown, the protests were
superior to) the peasantry. A movement characterized by a shift in forms of organi-
called Katarismo that began in the 1970s zation: “The trade-union structures that
80 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

since the 1952 Revolution had been a major zalo Sánchez de Losada resign from the
vehicle of protest played only a marginal presidency. However, the success of the
role, and territorial organizations such as protest must be seen in the context of a
neighborhood associations and potable- newly politicized indigenous peasantry, a
water committees emerged as the main car- group now largely urbanized and, with the
riers of protest activity” (2003, p. 15). vertiginous growth of the city of El Alto
The issue that triggered the Gas War in (once a mere satellite of La Paz huddled
2003 was the proposed sale to the United around the international airport), having
States and Mexico of substantial reserves its own distinct power base. Violent gov-
of natural gas from the southern region of ernment reactions to the protest, far from
Tarija. However, gas from landlocked Bo- quelling dissent, roused the urban middle
livia would have to be piped to the coast classes to oppose a measure they might
for delivery, and debate had been going on well otherwise have at least tacitly sup-
for some time about what route any gas ported. The recent emergence of indige-
pipeline should take. The suggestion of nous political leaders such as the Aymara
piping the gas through Chile was broached representative Felipe Quispe and the for-
but encountered much opposition because mer coca-growers’ leader Evo Morales—
Chile still occupied a coastline it had however diminished their credibility in the
wrested from Bolivia in the nineteenth cen- eyes of the establishment—will render Bo-
tury. A route through Peru was less direct livia’s immediate political future of consid-
but less objectionable. However, a third erable interest.
possibility came to the fore: that of declin- —Keith Richards
ing to sell the gas and of using it instead to
improve the living conditions of Bolivia’s See also: Language: Indigenous Languages;
Visual Arts and Architecture: Architecture
own population. Ordinary people—by now
and Landscape Design (Popular Architecture
tired of watching the country’s natural re- in Bolivia)
sources be sold off as raw materials in
transactions benefiting only the political Bibliography
and commercial sectors—began to agitate Assies, Willem. 2003. “David versus Goliath in
for implementation of this possibility. The Cochabamba: Water Rights, Neoliberalism,
seeds of this protest were already evident and the Revival of Social Protest in Bolivia.”
Latin American Perspectives 130, no. 3:
in the 2000 Water War, particularly middle-
class mobilization into support for the Contreras Baspineiro, Alex. 1991. Etapa de una
poorer sectors and identification with their larga marcha. La Paz: Asociación Aquí
complaints. Avance/Educación Radiofónica de Bolivia.
The massacres of civilian demonstra- García Linera, Álvaro, Raquel Gutiérrez, Raúl
tors, who were almost always indigenous Prada, and Luis Tapia, eds. 2001. Tiempos de
rebelión. La Paz: Comuna.
persons, provoked solidarity from intellec-
Prada Alcoreza, Raúl. 2003. “El gasto heroico.”
tuals and professionals, who formed hu- In Clajadep, 21 December. http://clajadep/
man chains, went on hunger strikes, and ahaine.org/articulo.php?p=2294&more=/
marched in the streets to demand that Gon- &c=1 (consulted 17 November 2003).
Sport and Leisure


Many of the popular sporting interests of Latin Americans will be famil-

iar to North Americans and Europeans. These tend to be sports that, al-
though initially the leisure pursuits of Europe’s elite, are now frequently
associated with poverty and the nations of the third world (that is, they
are sports for which no expensive equipment is needed and for which
quick-thinking savvy is an advantage). These sports include football
(soccer), boxing, and athletics. It may come as a surprise to learn, then,
that a number of sports still associated with the U.S. and European bour-
geoisie are played in many Latin American countries. Argentina and
Uruguay, for example, have an international profile in rugby football, a
sport dominated by British Commonwealth nations. Cycling is very pop-
ular in Colombia, and Colombians regularly finish in the top ten of the
prestigious Tour de France. Brazil has a very strong tradition in yachting
and has produced a number of world-class swimmers, and Argentine
tennis players compete regularly in Grand Slam tournaments. Motor
sport has frequently been dominated by Latin American drivers, includ-
ing the great Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio (1911–1995); Brazil’s Emer-
son Fittipaldi (1946– ), Nelson Piquet (1952– ), and Ayrton Senna
(1960–1994); and Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya (1975– ). Other sports
at which Latin Americans excel include volleyball, basketball, beach vol-
leyball, and track and field. In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens,
Greece, Latin American countries won gold medals in the following
sports: track and field (three, by Cuba and the Dominican Republic),
boxing (five, by Cuba), wrestling (Cuba), baseball (Cuba), soccer (Ar-
gentina), basketball (Argentina), beach volleyball (Brazil), volleyball
(Brazil), yachting (two, by Brazil), and tennis (two, by Chile).
A number of homegrown sporting and leisure pursuits are found in
Latin America. One of the most recognizable is capoeira, the trendy
Brazilian martial art/dance that is now enjoying considerable success
outside of Brazil. Wrestling is an international spectator sport, but
wrestling in Mexico (lucha libre) has been transformed to such an ex-
82 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tent that it is difficult to think of it as any- ing over much of the continent and was in-
thing other than authentically Mexican. Jai volved in the War of the Pacific (1879–1883)
alai, which originated in the Basque area of and the Chaco War (1932–1935). Soccer ar-
Spain and which is popular in Mexico and guably has non-European precedents in
Central America, has made considerable Latin America. Some Brazilians will argue
inroads in Florida and elsewhere in the that soccer already existed in Brazil well
United States; many U.S. citizens follow before the English “invented” the game, and
the sport solely to bet on the outcome of in most Central American pre-Columbian
matches. Latin Americans, when their gov- civilizations, a team game played with a
ernments allow them, also enjoy gambling hardened latex ball held great social and
(racecourses can be found throughout even religious importance.
Latin America). Lotteries are popular in Unfortunately, another import from En-
many countries throughout the world, but gland is soccer-related violence, which in
in Brazil the lottery, the jogo do bicho, is a Argentina resulted in thirty-seven deaths
national obsession. during the 1990s. A game between Cha-
—Stephanie Dennison carita and Boca Juniors in August 2003 led
the authorities to suspend league games,
Soccer dock three points from Chacarita’s total,
Association football (soccer, in the United and revise procedures to deal with this
States) is by far the most popular sport in problem. Soccer-related violence is also a
Latin America, surpassed only by baseball problem in several other Latin American
in some of the Caribbean countries. The countries. Tamir Bar-On has examined the
game’s enormous success must be attrib- reactionary nature of most soccer clubs in
uted to its adaptability to manifold styles, Latin America and their contribution to the
temperaments, and philosophies as well as continuation of racism, male chauvinism,
to its accessibility to those unable to afford and the basest nationalism. It is certainly
expensive equipment: a piece of flat ground fair to say that soccer has aided repressive
and a ball (or box, tin can, or the like) will governments by providing an escape valve
suffice. In the nineteenth century Britain for social frustrations and sublimating pos-
had deep economic and political interests sible class resentment. Collusion with au-
in Latin America. The nineteenth-century thority has at times been conscious, but it
British engineers who introduced the game has also simply been the result of manipula-
left a readily visible legacy in the names of tion of the game’s popularity. An often-
prominent clubs, including River Plate, quoted example of this is Brazil’s famous
Banfield, and Newell’s Old Boys in Ar- World Cup (Copa do Mundo) win in Mexico
gentina; The Strongest in Bolivia; and in 1970 at the height of the military dictator-
Corinthians in Brazil. The introduction of ship: the Brazilian national team’s record-
the game by the English reflects the depth breaking third World Cup victory was hailed
of British influence in Latin America at the by the government as a kind of legitimiza-
time—Britain had economic interests in Ar- tion of the country’s authoritarian regime.
gentine beef, Peruvian guano, Bolivian The notorious Soccer War between Hon-
(later Chilean) nitrates, Bolivian (later duras and El Salvador in 1969 is another
Paraguayan) petroleum, and railroad build- example of the sport’s being manipulated

for political ends, and it caused a great membered. For example, the 1982 Brazil-
deal of international stereotyping about ian team that came in a poor fifth in Spain
Latin American volatility, immaturity, and is thought by many to be the best ever se-
misdirected passion. Although the conflict leção, or national squad, boasting great
was sparked by an international match be- players such as Zico, Socrates, and Falcão.
tween these two countries, it in fact had Brazil has been runner-up twice, on both
far more to do with a long-standing border occasions to the utter disbelief of both do-
dispute and whipped-up Honduran resent- mestic and international followers of soc-
ment at the presence of some 300,000 Sal- cer. Conspiracy theories still abound to ex-
vadorian immigrants. The only clear out- plain Brazil’s poor performance against
come was electoral triumph for the France in the final of 1998, particularly the
Salvadorian military in 1970, followed by involvement of Nike, the team’s chief spon-
continued repression. sor, in the decision to allow a seemingly
Latin Americans are proud of the fact mentally unbalanced Ronaldo to play.
that no European team has ever won a Argentina, like Uruguay, has won twice.
World Cup in Latin America. In fact, As hosts in 1978 they prevailed in what was
Brazil’s is the only team to have won a seen by many as a propaganda coup for the
World Cup outside its own continent (in then military dictatorship. This victory was
Sweden in 1958 and in Japan in 2002). blighted by political implications and by
Three Latin American countries have won the dubious circumstances in which Ar-
World Cup titles: Uruguay, Brazil, and Ar- gentina defeated Peru in a second-stage
gentina. In 1930, Uruguay, playing at home, group match, thereby going into the final at
triumphed in the very first tournament, a the expense of Brazil. Nonetheless, the
win seen as an endorsement of the reforms team contained some wonderfully gifted
then taking place under José Batlle’s gov- players, such as the goal scorer Mario
ernment. The Uruguayans prevailed again Kempes and midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles,
in 1950 in Brazil in one of the game’s most and was arguably the best in the tourna-
famous victories: the decisive final match ment even without home-field advantage
saw them overcome Brazil’s team, which or the shenanigans of which they were ac-
was willed on by a crowd of some 200,000 cused. In 1986 Argentina again prevailed,
at the famous Maracanã stadium in Rio de the controversy this time being provided
Janeiro. The outstanding players from that by the genius and gamesmanship of Diego
legendary Uruguayan team were inside for- Armando Maradona.
ward Juan Schiaffino and center-half Ob- Maradona, the Spanish-speaking world’s
dulio Varela, the self-effacing but highly in- most famous soccer player, inspired utter
fluential captain. devotion in his fans and often loathing in
Brazil has won the World Cup a record his foes. His classic rise from the poverty
five times, making them pentacampeões: in of a Buenos Aires barrio to dizzying levels
Sweden in 1958, Chile in 1962, Mexico in of fame and wealth was accompanied by
1970, the United States in 1994, and scandal both on and off the pitch.
Japan/South Korea (joint hosts) in 2002. Maradona made his league debut shortly
Ironically, however, the losing sides and before his sixteenth birthday, and by age
their performances are often the best re- twenty-one he was playing for the Argen-
84 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Diego Maradona holds up the World Cup trophy as he is carried off the field after Argentina defeated
West Germany 3–2 to win the World Cup soccer championship in Mexico City, 1986. (Reuters/Corbis)

tine capital’s “people’s team,” the Boca Ju- effort with which he deceived nobody but
niors, soon attaining near-divine status in the referee (he pushed the ball into the net
the city’s port districts (Boca, literally with his hand), followed by a devastating
“mouth,” refers to the River Plate estuary). second goal achieved by dribbling through
Too young for his country’s 1978 World what seemed to be the entire English side.
Cup win, he made a brief appearance in the In his club career, Maradona experi-
1982 tournament in Spain at which Ar- enced extreme sporting highs and personal
gentina was humbled and its star was lows. His move to Barcelona in 1982 was
“hacked” out of the game by Italy’s so- by no means unsuccessful: altogether
called assassin, Claudio Gentile. It was at Maradona scored thirty-eight goals for the
the Mexico finals in 1986 that Maradona Catalans in only fifty-eight matches. But
emerged into genuine global fame with a this period was also memorable for the in-
string of sensational, match-winning per- jury he suffered in September 1983.
formances culminating in victory over Maradona had accumulated numerous ene-
West Germany in the final. On the way, he mies within the international league, envi-
removed England from the quarter-finals ous of his status and possibly piqued by the
with two goals that epitomized his double- Argentine’s perceived arrogance as an up-
edged genius: the infamous “Hand of God” start “Sudaca” (a disparaging term used by

Spaniards toward South Americans). The Corações in the state of Minas Gerais.
one who took ultimate satisfaction from Other nicknames he has acquired over the
this enmity was Athletic Bilbao’s robust de- years—Black Pearl, God, and the King—
fender Andoni Goikoetxea, whose brutal give an idea of the esteem in which he is
tackle put Maradona in the hospital. held in Brazil. Now a registered brand
The Argentine player finally found a worth millions, Pelé’s fame began when he
home in the European club in Napoli, played for Brazilian club Santos in the
whose fans were as starved of sporting 1950s. He was the star player of Brazil’s
success as they were deprived in material long-overdue first World Cup victory in
and social terms. The Neapolitans took the 1958. He was on the winning side four
young Argentine to their hearts, and he re- years later, and by 1970 and Brazil’s third
paid them by leading the team out of the World Cup victory, he had scored twelve
doldrums and into the European Champi- goals, a record only matched in 2002 by fel-
ons’ Cup via Italian titles in 1987 and 1990. low Brazilian Ronaldo. He also played in
Nevertheless, the bad publicity arising the 1966 finals in England, where he was so
from Maradona’s drug habits and allegedly mercilessly “hacked” by a number of un-
unprofessional lifestyle eventually caused sporting players that he contemplated giv-
him to leave Italy and return to Argentina. ing up soccer for good. Such was Pelé’s
His international swan song in the 1994 fame at the height of his soccer career that
World Cup was ruined by a positive test for he famously stopped a war: in 1967 the two
performance-enhancing drugs—a result sides in Nigeria’s civil war called a forty-
many viewers might have predicted after eight-hour cease-fire so Pelé could play an
witnessing the frenzied celebration of his exhibition match in the capital, Lagos.
brilliant goal in a match against Greece. Pelé retired when he still had plenty to
Maradona has remained true to his so- offer the sport in 1974. But a couple of
cialist beliefs and has become a friend of Fi- years later a U.S. team, the New York Cos-
del Castro, whom he visits when Argentina mos, made him an offer he could not re-
becomes too hot, both meteorologically fuse, and thus began a second and more fi-
and metaphorically. In 1998 he was given a nancially fruitful phase of his career.
suspended prison sentence for firing an air Before moving to the United States, Pelé
rifle at reporters camped outside his home. had made a series of poor investments and
His distrust of the press has made him was practically bankrupt. It was only after
something of a recluse in Buenos Aires. He the move that he seems to have acquired
hit the world headlines once again in April the business acumen for which, among
2004 when he was rushed to the hospital af- other things, he is famous. Over the years
ter an alleged overdose. he has made a number of guest appear-
But the worldwide fame of Maradona is ances in films, usually playing himself, and
an exception; for the most part, only Brazil- he has published more than one autobiog-
ian players achieve superstardom. The first raphy. He currently makes his fortune from
soccer superstar, although by no means the licensing the use of his name in advertising
first great Brazilian player, was Edson (although never for cigarettes or alcohol),
Arantes do Nascimento, otherwise known from sports management (he played a cru-
as Pelé, from the small town of Três cial role in bringing the World Cup finals to
86 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Pelé, Brazilian soccer player, 1963. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis)

the United States in 1994), and from occa- end of his career Pelé had scored a remark-
sional soccer commentary. able 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches. In 1999
The best-known Brazilian and one of the he was voted Athlete of the Century by the
most familiar faces of African origin on the International Olympic Committee, beating
planet, Pelé has been careful not to be the likes of Muhammad Ali. Ironically, Pelé
dragged into discussions of politics or, has never taken part in the Olympic Games.
specifically, of race relations, for which he Despite Pelé’s veneration in Brazil and
has not always been thanked. Despite this, abroad, many Brazilians (particularly sup-
in 1995 he accepted the role of special min- porters of the Rio club Botafogo) argue that
ister of culture and sport in Brazil. By the the greatest soccer player was Mané Garrin-

cha (Manoel Francisco dos Santos,

1933–1982), the crooked-legged arch-drib-
bler, who was said to have been incredible
at the club level in Brazil, where he was par-
ticularly dazzling as a player for Botafogo.
At the international level, whenever Garrin-
cha and Pelé played together, Brazil never
lost a match. He was one of the stars of the
1958 World Cup victory, and he is remem-
bered as almost single-handedly winning for
Brazil its second consecutive World Cup in
1962, when Pelé was injured. Others argue
that Pelé’s title is under threat by a new
wave of great players: Ronaldo (1976– ),
perhaps the best-known Brazilian player
currently in action, and a multiple winner of
the FIFA (International Federation of Foot-
ball [Soccer] Associations) World Player of Brazil’s Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the
the Year award whose fame (like that of so fourth goal with a penalty kick in the second
many other international soccer stars such half of a Group C match at the World Cup
as English midfielder David Beckham) is soccer championship in Sogwipo, South Korea,
8 June 2002. (Reuters/Corbis)
sustained in part by lucrative advertising
contracts with sportswear companies; Cafu
(1970– ), the only soccer player to have two Latin America’s premier club competition
World Cup medals and who is still playing; is the Copa Libertadores, inaugurated in
and two more of Ronaldo’s teammates from 1960 and dominated by teams from Brazil,
the top-quality 2002 World Cup–winning Uruguay, and Argentina. This domination
side, Rivaldo (1972– ) and Ronaldinho Gau- was punctuated by triumphs for the Para-
cho (1980– ). All five players currently play guayan team Olimpia on three occasions
at club level in Europe. (1979, 1980, and 2002) as well as by Chilean
In Latin American soccer, perhaps the club Colo Colo (1991) and Colombia’s Na-
greatest underachievers have been the cional de Medellín (1989). The most fre-
Mexicans, who have hosted the World Cup quent winners have been the Uruguayan
twice but have still to do better than the clubs Peñarol and Nacional, with four tri-
quarter-final stage that they reached as umphs each, and the Argentines of Indepen-
hosts in 1970 and 1986. Peru reached that diente (seven wins, including four consecu-
same stage in 1970 with a team inspired by tive ones between 1972 and 1975), Boca
the great forward Teófilo Cubillas, losing Juniors with five wins, and Estudiantes de
4–2 to the eventual winner, Brazil. Ironi- la Plata with three victories. Some of these
cally, one of Peru’s best sporting perfor- clubs have gone on to win the World Club
mances coincided with the country’s worst- Championship against the winners of the
ever earthquake, which killed some 70,000 European Cup (now Champions’ League),
people. Peñarol and Nacional leading the way with
88 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

three victories apiece. Since 1998 teams United States has experienced the deepest
from Mexico have been allowed to com- political problems. In addition to Japan,
pete, surprising many observers with the béisbol, as it is known in Spanish, is played
impact they have made. The Cruz Azul club at high or professional levels in Cuba,
reached the final in 2001, losing to Boca Ju- Nicaragua, Mexico, the Dominican Repub-
niors only in a penalty shoot-out. lic, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Venezuela.
The Copa América, equivalent to the Eu- Other Latin American countries that have a
ropean Nations Cup but played at different keen interest in the game but that have so
intervals, has been won by the big three far made a modest impact are Argentina,
countries on most occasions. However, Colombia, Honduras, and Belize.
less fancied nations have triumphed: Peru It is argued that in the middle to late
and Paraguay have both won on two occa- nineteenth-century “America’s game” spread
sions, Bolivia and Colombia once each. from its East Coast origins westward to
—Keith Richards and California and south to the Caribbean.
Stephanie Dennison However, according to Peter C. Bjarkman,
“ballplaying on American soil (that is, the
Arbena, Joseph, ed. 1988. Sport and Society in mainland United States) was never all that
Latin America: Diffusion, Dependency, and far ahead of the game’s evolution in other
the Rise of Mass Culture. New York: nations of the region. Canada and Cuba
Greenwood. seem to share almost equally in the game’s
Bar-On, Tamir. 1997. “The Ambiguities of earliest history and prehistory” (1994,
Football, Politics, Culture, and Social
p. 235). The first recorded “baseball-like”
Transformation in Latin America.”
Sociological Research Online 2, no. 4. game took place in Beechville, Ontario, in
http://www.socresonline.org.uk/socresonline/ 1838, a year before the supposed “inven-
2/4/2.html (consulted 1 October 2003). tion” of the game by Abner Doubleday. The
Bellos, Alex. 2002. Futebol: The Brazilian Way first official game to be played in Latin
of Life. London: Bloomsbury. America apparently took place in Cuba in
Burns, Jimmy. 2002. Hand of God: The Life of
1874, and Cuban settlers introduced base-
Diego Maradona. London: Bloomsbury.
Galeano, Eduardo. 2003. Soccer in Sun and ball to the Dominican Republic in the
Shadow. London: Verso. 1880s, to Venezuela in 1895, and to the Yu-
Kissinger, Henry. 1999. “Heroes and Icons: catan peninsula in the 1990s. Overall, the
Pelé.” Time, 14 June. http://www.time.com/ Cubans appear to have had as much influ-
time/time100/heroes/profile/pele03 ence in spreading the sport in their region
(consulted 1 March 2004).
as did the North Americans.
Parry, Chris. 1999. The Beautiful Game: A
Journey through Latin American Football. Professional leagues opened in Cuba in
London: Phoenix. 1878 and in Mexico in 1925. Organized
Sebreli, Juan José. 1998. La era del fútbol. clubs were appearing elsewhere by the late
Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamérica. nineteenth century, and by the late 1930s
and early 1940s, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and
Baseball Puerto Rico had all entered the World Ama-
Ironically, perhaps, the favorite game of teur Championship.
the United States has been taken up pre- Early Latino baseball players had to over-
cisely in those countries with which the come the issue of segregation, which led to

some farcical situations in which players of geles Dodgers’ Mexican pitcher Fernando
clearly African heritage were smuggled into Valenzuela in the 1980s and the Dominican
whites-only leagues on the basis that they Sammy Sosa since the 1990s, players who
were not U.S. nationals and hence were not have demonstrated the depth of talent in the
officially “colored.” Nevertheless, clubs Latin American game. This might be seen as
also encountered problems when they went another aspect of the cultural phenomenon
to sign these players: in 1911, for instance, known in the United States as the “Latin
the Cincinnati Reds acquired two presum- boom” that is visible in many other manifes-
ably mulatto Cubans and faced the wrath of tations as well, from cooking to music.
their fans, who expressed severe misgiv- Cuba is probably the Latin American
ings. The removal of the ban on black play- country where baseball has become most
ers opened the gates for Latinos of African popular and where it has become most em-
heritage to enter the league. broiled in politics. The two putative “fa-
The impact of Latino players in U.S. Ma- thers” of Cuban baseball, Nemesio Guillot
jor League Baseball has long been signifi- and Esteban Enrique Bellán, were both ed-
cant, even though it has been downplayed ucated in the United States and brought
as a result of the deep-seated prejudice that equipment and tactical knowledge back to
denied the existence of Latinos of tradi- Cuba in the 1860s. Fidel Castro, a fairly tal-
tional Anglo-Saxon sporting values. Atten- ented pitcher in his younger days, nonethe-
tion was focused not on truly successful less attempted in the early 1960s to remove
Latino athletes but on those Latino players baseball, with its inevitable associations
whose actions reinforced the notion that with the United States, from the national
Latinos were volatile, hot-headed, and gen- sporting agenda. But his plan to impose
erally unreliable. This bias diminished the soccer, which would have brought the is-
importance of the careers of such players as land into line with the sporting preferences
the Cuban pitcher Adolfo Luque, who was a of most of the rest of Latin America, had to
huge success with the Cincinnati Reds in be abandoned because of popular outcry.
the 1920s. The Mexican second baseman Instead, revolutionary Cuba drew some of
Bobby Ávila’s fame grew out of controversy its greatest sporting kudos from baseball.
as much as out of the superb season he en- Moreover, baseball has even been used as a
joyed in 1954 with the Cleveland Indians, diplomatic means of easing tension be-
when he won the batting crown on what tween Cuba and the United States.
some regarded as a technicality. The bril- —Keith Richards
liant Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, an
outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates from See also: Sport and Leisure: Soccer
1955 until the early 1970s, was seen by many
as the greatest Latin American player ever Bibliography
in the U.S. major leagues, but he com- Arbena, Joseph L., ed. 1988. Sport and Society
plained that appreciation of his contribution in Latin America: Diffusion, Dependency,
and the Rise of Mass Culture. New York:
came late because of his ethnic origins.
Such tales of injustice nonetheless Beardsell, Peter R. 2000. Europe and Latin
opened the way for the far more generous America: Returning the Gaze. Manchester,
recognition afforded the likes of the Los An- UK: Manchester University Press.
90 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Bjarkman, Peter C. 1994. Baseball with a Latin years thereafter. José María “Mono” Gatica
Beat: A History of the Latin American (1925–1963), whose nickname Mono (the
Game. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. monkey) conveyed popular affection de-
Burgos, Adrian, Jr. 2000. “Learning America’s
spite his relative lack of success in the ring,
Other Game: Baseball, Race, and the Study
of Latinos.” Pp. 225–239 in Latino/a Popular was an Argentine lightweight whose career
Culture, edited by Michelle Habell-Pallán was blighted by events and circumstances
and Mary Romero. New York and London: only indirectly connected to boxing.
New York University Press. Leonardo Favio’s 1992 film Gatica, el Mono
Cockcroft, James D. 1996. Latinos in Béisbol. charts the rise and fall of this fighter, the
New York: F. Watts.
love and hatred he inspired in equal mea-
Dreifort, John E., ed. 2001. Baseball History
from Outside the Lines: A Reader. Lincoln: sure, and his sometime role as a sporting
University of Nebraska Press. flagship of Peronismo during the presi-
Figueredo, Jorge S. 2003. Who’s Who in Cuban dency of Juan Domingo Perón.
Baseball. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. The Cuban Teófilo Stevenson (1952– )
Regalado, Samuel O. 1998. Viva Baseball! Latin won gold medals as a heavyweight in three
Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger.
successive Olympic Games (1972, 1976,
Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
and 1980), but he never turned profes-
sional. Stevenson was a symbol for revolu-
Boxing tionary Cuba and Castrismo, and his prodi-
Boxing, in Latin America as elsewhere, has gious sporting feats have always provided
provided an escape for young men from welcome positive publicity for the island.
humble backgrounds. Mexico and Central Despite Cuba’s boycotting the Olympic
America, Cuba, and Argentina have been Games in 1984 and 1988, Cuban athletes
the most successful regions, producing nu- have won a total of thirty Olympic gold
merous world champions. medals in boxing, an extraordinary feat for
One of the finest middleweights of all a country with Cuba’s resources.
time was the Argentine Carlos Monzón The legendary Panamanian Roberto
(1942–1995), who went undefeated in his “Manos de Piedra” Durán (1951– ) domi-
last eighty-one fights, over a period of thir- nated the lightweight division of which he
teen years up to 1977. Monzón lost only was champion between 1972 and 1979,
three of a total of 102 professional fights. when he moved into welterweight and had
Perhaps the most memorable world title his best-remembered fights, the two epic en-
fight involving an Argentine was the 1922 counters with Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.
heavyweight bout in New York between After an ignominious defeat in his second
Luis Angel Firpo and the then champion, battle with Leonard, Durán became one of
Jack Dempsey. Dempsey was knocked out only a few men to claim three separate titles
of the ring in the first round but returned when he won at junior middleweight in
(within ten seconds, according to the 1983. Another important fighter from the
judges) to win with a knockout in the sec- same era was the Nicaraguan Alexis Ar-
ond. Another noteworthy Argentine boxer guello (1952– ), who won a remarkable
was Pascual Pérez, who won his country’s three world titles in separate divisions
first-ever world championship at flyweight (featherweight, junior lightweight, and light-
in 1954 and remained undefeated for five weight) between 1974 and 1981.

Gregory Rodríguez has analyzed the role Wrestling first came to Mexico in the early
of boxing as a focal point for Los Angeles twentieth century when Salvador Lutteroth
Mexican immigrant identity, concentrating González founded the Empresa Mexicana
on the career of welterweight world cham- de Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling Com-
pion Oscar de la Hoya (1971– ). This well- pany) at the start of the 1930s. The early
groomed, clean-living fighter has earned a matches held in Mexico featured foreign
living from the game well beyond normal stars such as Bobby Sampson (United
expectations among his community. But States) and Cyclone Mackey (Ireland)
the very absence of scandal and bad habits alongside Mexican talent, although Mexi-
in his life has encouraged an image of can lucha libre soon came into its own. The
aloofness, an image compounded by his sport grew in popularity over the years and
moving away from the barrio and indulging progressed from its initial humble origins
in other activities, such as singing. His to ever grander premises. In 1956 the
Grammy nomination and marriage to Arena México was inaugurated, able to
Puerto Rican singer Millie Corretjer, along hold 20,000 spectators, and the wrestlers in
with an elegant but deadly boxing style, the inaugural sessions included Médico
have placed de la Hoya in an ambiguous Asesino (Doctor Death), Rolando Vera, and
position with regard to Mexican Ameri- the legendary El Santo (The Saint).
cans, who identify far more closely with As Heather Levi has noted, in Mexico
the attritional style and closeness to social lucha libre functions by assigning the roles
roots of the Mexican Julio César Chávez of good guy and bad guy to opposing com-
(1962– ), over whom he won a resounding petitors or teams, known by the terms téc-
victory to claim the WBC (World Boxing nico (technical) and rudo (crude). Whereas
Council) Super Lightweight title in 1996. the técnico aims to win by using superior
—Keith Richards technique and skill, the rudo uses illegal
techniques, smuggles weapons into the
See also: Popular Social Movements and ring, and tries to escape from the ring to
Politics: Castrismo; Peronismo avoid injury. Often, however, there is no
clear audience identification with the good
Bibliography guys, and frequently it is the rudos that the
Rodríguez, Gregory. 2002. Boxing and
spectators “love to hate.” A key part of this
Masculinity: The History and (Her)story of
Oscar de la Hoya. Pp. 252–268 in Latino/a performance/sport is the wearing of masks,
Popular Culture, edited by Michelle Habell- themselves a traditional part of Mexican
Pallán and Mary Romero. New York and culture. Having one’s mask removed by an
London: New York University. opponent is seen as the ultimate shame, al-
Sugden, John Peter. 1996. Boxing and Society: though the fighter who does the de-mask-
An International Analysis. Manchester, UK:
ing is immediately disqualified.
Manchester University Press.
The popular appeal of the lucha libre
hero was given a great boost by the series
Lucha Libre of “Santo” films that spanned three
Lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, is a sport decades of popular cinema in Mexico. In
characterized by stage names, elaborate these films the wrestling legend El Santo
masks, and highly staged routines. (the stage name for Rodolfo Guzmán
92 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Huerta, 1917–1984) appeared in a variety of Levi, Heather. 1999. “On Mexican Pro Wrestling:
scenarios, although always playing himself, Sport as Melodrama.” Cultural Politics 16:
complete with mask and costume. El Santo 173–188.

was frequently pitted against a series of su-

pernatural enemies, as can be seen in such Capoeira
movies as Santo contra las mujeres vam- Capoeira is a combination of martial art
piros (Santo against the Vampire Women, and dance created by African slaves in
1962), Santo contra la invasión de los Brazil; it is often described as the only truly
marcianos (Santo against the Martian In- Brazilian sport. There are two main vari-
vasion, 1966), and Santo contra la hija de eties of capoeira: capoeira regional (re-
Frankenstein (Santo against Franken- gional capoeira), a style perfected by a lead-
stein’s Daughter, 1971). The Santo film se- ing practitioner of the art, Mestre Bimba, in
ries became part of cult cinema in Mexico, the 1930s, and capoeira tradicional or
and Santo grew to a figure of almost capoeira (de) Angola (literally, “traditional
mythological proportions. capoeira” or “Angolan capoeira”), associ-
Lucha libre continues to be a popular ated with Mestre Pastinha and his capoeira
spectator sport in Mexico, and films and school, established in 1941. The movements
videos of its heroes are still sought after. In of the two varieties differ, but both tend to
1992, El Santo’s son, also a wrestling hero center on displays of physical strength such
and performing under the name Hijo del as handstands. The object of the game is to
Santo (Son of the Saint), brought to the try to trip up or kick one’s opponent, in-
screen the film Santo, la leyenda del en- creasing one’s own freedom of movement
mascarado de plata (Santo, the Legend of while restricting that of the other player.
the Man in the Silver Mask), in which he Forbidden by their masters to fight, the
played his father. In 1991, the Museo de African slaves were forced to hide behind
Culturas Populares (Museum of Popular what appeared to be a display of acrobat-
Cultures) held an exhibition of lucha libre, ics, whose movements were inspired by
an indication that this sport has been ac- those of wild animals. Capoeira served as
cepted into the realms of popular national an outlet for expressing the injustices of
culture. slavery, its freedom of movement liberating
—Claire Taylor the slave’s mind and body from bondage. It
allowed the slaves to prepare themselves
See also: Popular Cinema: Mexican Horror physically for possible insurrection against
Films their owners or for combat with members
of rival ethnic groups among the slave pop-
Bibliography ulation, but perhaps more importantly,
Box y lucha (Boxing and Wrestling) Website. capoeira became a source of self-expres-
http://www.boxylucha.com.mx/revista.htm sion and ethnic identity. The famous Brazil-
(consulted 2 January 2004). ian sociologist Gilberto Freyre argued that
González Ambriz, Marco. 2003. “Mad Mex:
capoeira was tolerated by the white planta-
Santo contra los zombies.” In Revista
cinefagia, 30 June. http://www. tion owners because it provided a grisly
revistacinefagia.com/madmex001.htm form of entertainment, akin to the equally
(consulted 2 January 2004). common practice of cockfighting.

Students dance capoeira during a demonstration for world peace in front of the Brazilian National
Congress in Brasilia, 19 December 2003. (Jamil Bittar/Reuters/Corbis)

The musical accompaniment to a game gins, one of the musicians, usually the per-
of capoeira is provided by various instru- son in charge of the roda, sings a song
ments, most importantly the berimbau, a praising the orixás (deities) of the Afro-
musical bow with a metal string and a Brazilian religion Candomblé. This song
gourd resonator; other instruments include also praises the mestre (master) of the
the atabaque drums. The rhythm of the given capoeira group, who has either di-
berimbau dictates the speed of the play rectly or indirectly taught all the members
within the roda, or ring of participants, their skills. Those forming the roda repeat
known as capoeiristas. One by one the mu- the words of the song in a chorus. They
sicians, all of whom are practitioners of the then begin to clap their hands, and the two
sport, begin to play their instruments, be- crouching within the roda touch the
ginning with the berimbau. As the music berimbau, cross themselves (usually ask-
begins, two capoeiristas take their places ing for protection from the orixás), shake
within the roda, crouching down before hands with each other, and then begin to
the berimbau. Before the jogo (game) be- jogar (literally, “play”) capoeira. A soloist
94 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

continues to sing, and all the other mem- culture, a law was passed that prohibited
bers of the roda join in the chorus through- the practice of capoeira and displays of
out the game, each of which usually lasts physical agility and dexterity in public.
between three and five minutes, and for a Capoeira was outlawed until the 1930s,
maximum of ten. when the regime of President Getúlio Var-
After the abolition of slavery in Brazil in gas (1930–1945) began to embrace expres-
1888, free blacks migrated from the planta- sions of Afro-Brazilian culture in its drive
tions of the northeast and the mines of the to forge a sense of Brazilian national iden-
interior to the then capital, Rio de Janeiro. tity and to attenuate the power of ethnic
They took with them their cultural prac- practices. Mestre Bimba (Manoel dos Reis
tices, and capoeira became associated with Machado, 1900–1974), a gifted black
this marginalized underclass, who were capoeirista from the state of Bahia, was
forced to live in poverty in the emerging the first to open a capoeira school, known
shantytowns and sprawling poor suburbs as an academia, in 1932. He broke down
of the city. The capoeirista became syn- the complex movements of the art form
onymous in the minds of the white elite into a series of simple sequences, making it
with the gangs of young unemployed and more accessible to those who wished to
stigmatized Afro-Brazilians who roamed learn the skill and creating what is known
the streets of the city and were forced to as capoeira regional. His students in-
turn to a life of crime. After the demise of cluded members of the lower classes as
the monarchy and the establishment of the well as rich politicians, doctors, and for-
Republic in 1889, rival political factions in mer policemen. Mestre Bimba’s aim was to
the capital employed gangs (maltas) of clean up capoeira’s image, to take it off the
capoeiristas. The largest and most power- streets, and to distance it from capoeira
ful gangs were the Guaiamuns and Nagoas. tradicional/capoeira (de) Angola and its
Linked to republicans and monarchists, re- associations with violence and criminality.
spectively, these gangs were used as vio- On 9 July 1937, Bimba’s efforts were recog-
lent and bloody troops to settle disputes, nized when the first Vargas government
rivalries, and infighting. Confrontations be- granted him a permit and registered his
tween this criminal element of capoeira school. When Vargas returned to the presi-
and the police were so frequent that such dency in the early 1950s, he invited Mestre
politically motivated attacks could be Bimba to the presidential palace and de-
passed off as random occurrences, without clared that capoeira was the only true
incriminating any of the politicians in- Brazilian sport. Mestre Pastinha (Vicente
volved. Gang members were not exclu- Joaquim Ferreira Pastinha, 1889–1982)
sively of African descent; gangs included sought to preserve the more traditional
poor white men, and capoeira also ap- form of capoeira, founding his Centro Es-
pealed to a bohemian element of elite soci- portivo de Capoeira Angola (Sporting Cen-
ety. Once firmly in power, the republican ter for Angolan Capoeira) in the Pelour-
establishment no longer required the assis- inho district of the city of Salvador, Bahia,
tance of hired thugs to intimidate their in 1941.
monarchist rivals, and thus in 1890, in an Today capoeira is played by members of
effort to eliminate lawlessness and gang all sectors of Brazilian society and by men

and women of all racial backgrounds, and bound within agreed lines but in a manner
increasingly capoeira schools are located impossible for one’s opponent to return.
in modern shopping malls and charge high The difference, however, is in the manner
enrollment fees. Schools in poorer neigh- of propulsion: in jai alai a curved basket,
borhoods are becoming less and less com- or cesta, is used to catch the ball and im-
mon. The popularity of capoeira extends mediately whip it with a speed and force
far beyond Brazil, with groups of practi- impossible in squash. Indeed, jai alai is
tioners in the United States, Europe, and claimed to be the world’s fastest ball sport;
Japan. Street performances can be seen in the handmade rubber and goatskin projec-
London’s Covent Garden plaza, as well as tile (pelota) travels as fast as 180 miles per
in capoeira’s traditional home, the city of hour. Jai alai was brought to Cuba from
Salvador, Bahia, the heart of Afro-Brazilian the Basque country at the end of the nine-
culture. In 2003 the BBC used a short se- teenth century, and it spread to other coun-
quence of capoeira to entertain viewers in tries from there. Minor differences from
the brief time slot between its television the original game have evolved, including
programs. the use of protective helmets and reviewed
—Lisa Shaw scoring methods. A variation using bare
hands, called frontón, is played in other ar-
See also: Popular Religion and Festivals: eas of Latin America.
Candomblé —Keith Richards

Bibliography Bibliography
Almeida, Bira. 1986. Capoeira, a Brazilian Art Codden, Hal. 1978. Jai Alai: Walls and Balls.
Form: History, Philosophy, and Practice. Amsterdam: Gamblers Book Club.
Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. Taylor, Richard. 1987. Jai Alai. New York:
Capoeira, Nestor. 2002. Capoeira: Roots of the Doubleday.
Dance-Fight-Game. Berkeley: North Atlantic
———. 2003. The Little Capoeira Book. Jogo do Bicho
Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
Jogo do bicho (literally, the “animal game”)
Howell, Lloyd. 2000. Capoeira: Martial Art of
Brazil. London: Warriors Dreams. is a very popular illegal lottery in Brazil.
Lewis, John Lowell. 1992. Ring of Liberation: The jogo do bicho dates from 1892, when
Deceptive Discourse in Brazilian Capoeira. Baron João Baptista Vianna Drummond
Urbana: University of Chicago Press. (1835–1897), desperate to raise funds for
his privately owned Zoological Gardens in
Jai Alai Vila Isabel, Rio de Janeiro, dreamed up a
The sport known in Mexico, Cuba, Florida, scheme to attract visitors. With the over-
and other areas as jai alai is very similar throw of the Brazilian Empire and the
to the game called pelota originally played proclamation of the Republic in 1889, fi-
in the Basque country. In fact the name “jai nancial support from the local government
alai” means “merry festival” in Basque. for the baron’s enterprise had ended, since
Similar in principle to squash, jai alai in- it would have been seen as favoritism. In-
volves propelling a small ball against a wall stead, Drummond was given permission to
(known as a fronton) so that it will re- boost revenue by promoting “legal gam-
96 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

bling” at the zoo. The jogo do bicho was in- most of whom were organized by the wily
spired in part by the jogo das flores (flower baron himself. These bookmakers would
game), which a businessman in downtown stand in line at the zoo, buy up large quanti-
Rio was running (without much success). ties of tickets, and sell them elsewhere in
In the jogo das flores, customers would the city. Rio’s bourgeoisie could gamble
guess which out of a list of twenty-five from the comfort of their own homes (they
flowers would come up trumps each day. always sent a servant out, thus avoiding di-
Drummond adapted the format to include rect dealings with the bookmakers and
twenty-five of the animals found at his zoo. their runners). The game even caught on in
When customers entered the zoo, they other states, inspired by the original lottery
would receive a ticket with a picture of an but with localized results. Newsletters
animal, and they would win a prize if that were soon published just on the subject of
animal was the one randomly chosen and the game, containing tips on how to choose
placed on display at the end of the day. The an animal and number on a given day. To-
first animal to be drawn was an ostrich. day, a number of Websites offer similar bet-
The twenty-five animals remain in the jogo ting tips, for example showing ways for
do bicho as it is played in Rio de Janeiro to- punters to analyze their dreams in order to
day (there are some regional differences to choose the right animal.
the game), but now each animal is linked The authorities banned the jogo do bicho
to four numbers, which in turn are linked at the zoo in 1895: the federal lottery was
to the official lottery results in a given suffering as a result of the game’s popular-
week. The game has thus become more ity, so pressure was exerted on local police
complicated over time, and there are a and the justice system to take action. At
number of ways to bet and win. this point the prototype of the modern ban-
Drummond’s scheme caught on almost queiros, or lottery bankers, rapidly began
immediately. Within weeks local newspa- to appear in order to keep the game going,
pers had gotten into the habit of reporting albeit clandestinely. Most of the ban-
which animal had won the draw. And queiros came from Rio’s very large immi-
within a matter of days, Rio’s chief of po- grant population (Arabs, Spanish, Por-
lice had written to Drummond ordering tuguese, and so on) because they had less
him to stop the game because gambling to lose from brushes with the law.
was prohibited. This was the first in a long Roberto DaMatta has argued that the
line of futile attempts to halt the popular reason gamblers have been and continue
lottery. The jogo do bicho in its original to be happy to hand over their money to
form did not constitute gambling because rather shady characters who are ulti-
punters did not bet on animals as such: mately part of a vast illegal network is
they were randomly assigned on entrance that, since its inception, jogo do bicho has
tickets. Soon the game was adapted so that been associated with honesty, in the form
punters could choose which animals to bet of the nobleman Drummond and his insis-
on, and therefore the act of attending the tence on displaying the result of the draw
zoo became separated from the game it- at the zoo for all to see. Another of Brazil’s
self. With this phase, it was only a matter of foremost sociologists, Gilberto Freyre, ar-
time before bookmakers began to appear, gued in 1933 that the game had caught the

Brazilian public’s imagination because of 1980s and the arrival on scene of the noto-
its totemic nature, linking it to Brazil’s in- rious drugs barons, that the figure of the
digenous population and lending it a cer- bicheiro has entered into Brazilian urban
tain cachet. mythology, witnessed, for example, in Nel-
According to Robert Levine, the jogo do son Rodrigues’s creation Boca de Ouro
bicho turns over approximately 1.4 billion (Gold Mouth), in the famous and very pop-
dollars annually and provides 100,000 jobs ular 1959 play of the same name. Both the
in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In 1999 bicheiros and the jogo do bicho itself are
there were more than 3,000 pontos, or examples of Brazil’s flexible attitude to
places (shops, homes, and the most popu- laws and official policy.
lar place: street corners) where bets were —Stephanie Dennison
taken on the game. Because the game is il-
legal, no tax is paid by punters or book- See also: Popular Religion and Festivals:
makers, and state and federal governments Popular Festivals (Carnival in Brazil)

lose an inordinate amount of revenue as a

result. Bibliography
DaMatta, Roberto, and Elena Soárez. 1999.
By the mid-twentieth century the jogo do
Aguias, burros, e borboletas: Um estudo
bicho had become an organized crime antropológico do jogo do bicho. Rio de
practice based on an unofficial partnership Janeiro: Rocco.
among police, bankers, and dealers of the Freyre, Gilberto. 1956. The Masters and the
game. The jogo do bicho falls into a gray Slaves: A Study in the Development of
zone between clearly legal and clearly ille- Brazilian Civilization. Translated from the
Portuguese by Samuel Putnam. New York
gal. It has been associated with money
and London: Knopf.
laundering, for example through support of Levine, Robert M. 1997. Brazilian Legacies.
Rio’s samba schools and the annual Carni- Armonk, NY, and London: M. E. Sharpe.
val parade. Over the last twenty years or so O Jogo do Bicho Website. http://www.
the game has developed a problematic con- ojogodobicho.com (consulted 1 February
nection to drug trafficking: bicheiros, as 2004).

the organizers of the game are known, are

blamed for establishing Brazil as a base for Consumerism and Fashion
exportation of cocaine from Colombia to
Europe. The extent to which bicheiros Consumer behavior in the capitalist coun-
have access to powerful figures in Brazil- tries of Latin America is very similar to that
ian society was clear during a recent jogo of the United States: consumers through-
do bicho scandal, involving impeached out the continent desire the latest fashions
president Fernando Collor de Mello, the and electronic equipment and have an un-
mayor of São Paulo, the governor of Rio, fortunate habit of spending on frivolous
civil rights activist Herbert de Souza, po- items beyond their means and occasionally
lice officers, and even João Havelange, ex- at the expense of such basic goods as food.
president of FIFA (International Federa- In Latin America anything imported—cars,
tion of Football [Soccer] Associations). whisky, sound systems, and so on—is tra-
Such has been the fascination with the ditionally seen as lending status to the con-
lottery organizers, particularly before the sumer and as being of better quality. For
98 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

those Latin Americans who can find the Consumerism

money to do so, a yearly shopping trip to
Miami is de rigueur. This seemingly uncon- Colombia. The huge urban centers in
trollable need to buy up as many modern Colombia, such as Bogota, Cali, and Medel-
items as possible when abroad was magnif- lín among others, have over recent years
icently illustrated by Brazil’s soccer World attracted large numbers of internal mi-
Cup–winning squad of 1994: on their return grants. Although figures are imprecise, Bo-
from the finals in the United States, the jet gota’s population was estimated at close to
chartered to fly the players home was filled ten million in the year 2000. While many of
with eleven tons of electrical products. these new arrivals live in poor conditions,
Consumerism and fashion in Latin Amer- cities such as Bogota have also seen an ex-
ica are greatly inspired by such globalized plosion of capital for certain sectors and
phenomena as the importance of the shop- the rise of consumer-driven recreational
ping mall in the lives of the urban popula- centers such as shopping malls, multi-
tion and a fascination with European cat- plexes, and theme parks.
walks. However, as in other areas, Latin The so-called Centro Internacional (In-
Americans appropriate these trends and ternational Center) of Bogota, which
make them their own, as witnessed, for ex- houses the major banking, actuarial, and
ample, by the more important role that management consultancy firms among
food and entertainment play in shopping others, is typified by immense skyscrap-
malls in Brazil than in North America and ers, the majority of which were con-
Europe. structed during the boom of the mid-1980s
Individuals often use fashion to identify to the mid-1990s, giving this part of the
themselves as being part of a particular so- city what Raymond Leslie Williams has
cial or ethnic group or from a particular re- termed a “postmodern glitter and glaze”
gion. In Brazil members of the pop nobility (1999, p. 130). Alongside these office
(musicians) from the state of Bahia, for ex- blocks, in recent years several vast shop-
ample, often wear African-inspired outfits ping malls, such as Metropolis and Uni-
as a mark of their racial and cultural her- centro, have emerged. Unicentro, with
itage, and young gaúchos (inhabitants of one shopping center in Bogota and an-
Brazil’s southernmost states) are fond of other in Calí, is a huge mall and entertain-
wearing alpargatas (espadrilles), the tradi- ment multiplex containing a myriad of
tional footwear of their southern region. shops—including smaller boutiques and
Fashion and other lifestyle choices are ubiquitous national department stores
greatly influenced by urban life, particu- such as Ley—game areas for children, an
larly by Latin America’s megacities, such as eight-screen cinema, a bowling alley, a
Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Rio de casino, and several food outlets, including
Janeiro, and São Paulo. El Corral, a Colombian chain serving ham-
—Stephanie Dennison burgers.
In addition to shopping centers, the past
See also: Sport and Leisure: Food; Soccer; two decades have seen the growth of such
Cultural Icons: Regional and Ethnic Types modern tourist attractions as the Parque
(The Gaúcho in Brazil) Jaime Duque (Jaime Duque Park), which

Metropolis shopping center in Bogota, Colombia. (Courtesy of Edwin Moyano)

opened in 1983 in Tocancipá, near Bogota. biggest interactive center for science and
This theme park includes both cultural technology in the whole of South Amer-
events geared toward children and rides ica. It came about in 1989 as an initiative
such as Fantasía las Mil y Una Noches of the Asociación Colombiana para el
(1,001 Nights Fantasy), bumper cars, a Avance de la Ciencia (Colombian Associa-
carousel, a mini-train, go-carts, the Palacio tion for the Advancement of Science). An
de Cristal (Hall of Mirrors), and a monorail. immense visitor and attraction center,
Other similar parks within Bogota itself in- Maloka was designed by a group of scien-
clude Camelot, Mundo Aventura (Adven- tists, designers, and educators. Spread
ture World), and the new Salitre Mágico over several floors, it has a series of inter-
(Magical Salitre; Salitre is the district in active games; a wide-screen cinema; a mu-
Bogota where the park is located), all of sic, water, and light display; and a variety
which attract large numbers of visitors, of different scientific exhibits covering
mostly domestic tourists, each year. subjects such as the human being, biodi-
Alongside these standard theme parks versity, the city, and telecommunications.
Bogota has recently developed hi-tech The name “Maloka” is a play on the indige-
tourist attractions, such as Maloka. Ma- nous Amazonian word maloca, meaning
loka, according to its own publicity, is the dwelling place or meeting place, while
Camelot theme park, Colombia. (Courtesy of Edwin Moyano)

also conveying the notion of a place for shoppings. There are 253 malls in total in
transmitting knowledge. Brazil, with the largest number found in
—Claire Taylor the state of São Paulo (91). Consumers’
preference for shoppings is understand-
Bibliography able, given their free parking, air-condition-
Gilbert, Alan. 1994. The Latin American City. ing, and, most important, increased safety.
London: Latin American Bureau. Shopping malls are popular spaces for din-
Harding, Colin. 1995. Colombia: A Guide to the ing out, and the fare on offer is not always
People, Politics, and Culture. London: Latin
limited to fast-food outlets such as McDon-
American Bureau.
Pérgolis, Juan Carlos. 1998. Bogotá
ald’s or the homegrown burger chain Bob’s.
fragmentada: Cultura y espacio urbano a Like their counterparts in Europe and the
fines del siglo XX. Bogota: TM Editores. United States, they often house cinemas
Williams, Raymond Leslie. 1999. Culture and (1,038 in total) and nightclubs, and some
Customs of Colombia. Westport, CT: even have ice rinks and ten-pin bowling al-
leys. The Shopping Eldorado in São Paulo
is home to an amusement park: the Parque
Brazil. Brazilians from many different da Mônica, based on Brazil’s most popular
walks of life are known for their remark- children’s comic books.
able capacity for consumption. The expres- Many states also have at least one large
sion “meu sonho de consumo,” which theme park or water park. For example,
roughly translates as “my dream pur- Rio’s Wet ’n’ Wild is a new addition to the
chase,” is frequently used in Brazil. It is international water park chain, also found
perhaps not a coincidence that Brazil’s ad- in Mexico. São Paulo has a number of large
vertising agencies are renowned the world and very popular parks, including the
over for their sophisticated ad campaigns. country’s first and still best theme park,
Brazilians crave the latest goods, both na- Playcenter, built in 1973. Another favorite
tional and especially imported goods, and park, Beto Carrero World in Santa Cata-
those with the economic means to do so rina, is inspired and run by the popular
will use the Internet and take advantage of rodeo performer of the same name.
cut-rate flights to the United States in their One of the most striking examples of
desire to shop for the latest products. For Brazilians’ fascination with U.S. lifestyle
those less well off, camelôs, or street ven- and with imitating it as a marker of success
dors, many of whom work illegal pitches is the beachfront neighborhood known as
and sell fake or illegal items (without a li- Barra da Tijuca, to the west of Rio de
cense in public venues), offer a cheaper al- Janeiro. Expanding rapidly since the early
ternative to buying in shops. Camelôs buy 1980s, Barra is known as the rather soul-
their wares from sacolões (literally, “large less home of the emergentes, Rio’s nou-
bags”), vendors who make regular bus veaux riches. The layout of the neighbor-
trips to the tax-free and fake-goods shop- hood, the names of commercial complexes
ping haven of Paraguay and bring back (New York City Center, Downtown, São
huge bags full of goods to sell at home. Conrado Fashion Mall), and the activities
Most state capitals have at least one being offered (extra-large shopping cen-
large modern shopping mall, known as ters, Pizza Hut, Hard Rock Café, power
102 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

walking on the promenade, and so on) re- grew from four in 1988 to fifty-two in 2002.
mind both its fans and its critics more of Most shopping malls are situated in the
Miami than of a Brazilian city. capital and surrounding districts, such as
—Stephanie Dennison the important Galerías Pacífico, on the once
trendy but now slightly faded downtown
See also: Popular Literature: Comic Books
Calle Florida, and the Alto Palermo Shop-
ping Center in one of the elegant middle-
Allen, Roger M. 1999. “Cultural Imperialism at class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. The
Its Most Fashionable.” Pp. 447–453 in The Patio Bullrich shopping center and the sur-
Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics, rounding streets in the exclusive Recoleta
edited by Robert M. Levine and John J. neighborhood are the destination of shop-
Crocitti. Durham, NC, and London: Duke pers looking for more upmarket fashions
University Press.
and purchases, while consumers with lim-
Banck, Geert A. 1994. “Mass Consumption and
Urban Contest in Brazil: Some Reflections on ited buying power rely on cheap imports
Lifestyle and Class.” Bulletin of Latin from China that have been swamping the
American Research 13, no. 1: 45–60. Argentine market of late, which are sold in
Beto Carrero World Website. http://www. shops in more distant and less fashionable
betocarrero.com.br (consulted 13 March areas of the city.
Buenos Aires and other large cities in
Brazilian Association of Shopping Centers
Website. http://www.abrasce.com.br Argentina follow the trends seen else-
(consulted 13 March 2004). where in the world of building cinema
Parque da Mônica Website. http://www.monica. multiplexes, often within shopping centers
com.br/parques (consulted 13 March 2004). and generally in middle-class neighbor-
Playcenter Website. http://www.playcenter. hoods. Buenos Aires and surrounding ar-
com.br (consulted 13 March 2004).
eas also have their fair share of modern
theme parks, such as the Showcenter, the
Argentina. Any discussion of con- Parque de Diversiones Spadalandia, and
sumerism in Argentina has to recognize the Parque de la Costa.
sheer dominance of the capital, Buenos As in other countries in Latin America,
Aires, over the rest of the country. Buenos such as Brazil, those who can afford it will
Aires is by far the biggest of Argentina’s often invest in a second home away from
cities and is home to most of the country’s the bustle and stress of the city, where
middle-class population, which is surpris- most of the population lives. These retreats
ingly large in Latin American terms. range from small apartments in the rural
Buenos Aires, perhaps better than any suburbs, to beach houses in the popular
other Latin American city, meets the needs Mar del Plata or chalets in the ski resort of
of the modern consumer, providing exclu- Bariloche, to estancias, huge farms in the
sive boutiques, shopping centers, theme countryside, to which the truly wealthy tra-
parks, multiplexes and recreational spaces, ditionally disappear for the whole of the
social life, and so on. summer.
—Stephanie Dennison
Argentine consumers enjoy their shop-
ping malls as much as any other consumers See also: Sport and Leisure: Fashion
in the West: the number of retail centers (Argentina)

Bibliography hundred-outlet-strong Centro Sambil in

Argentine Association of Shopping Centers
Caracas, Venezuela). Opened in 1993, the
Website. http://www.casc.org.ar (consulted
13 March 2004).
Santa Fe mall boasts 285 different shops
Parque de la Costa Website. http://www. and fourteen movie theaters. It prides itself
parquedelacosta.com.ar (consulted 13 March on offering a safe shopping environment:
2004). once patrons enter its doors, they no
Showcenter Website. http://www.showcenter. longer see any trace of the inequalities in
com.ar (consulted 13 March 2004).
wealth distribution so typical of Latin
Spalandia Website. http://www.spadalandia.
com.ar (consulted 13 March 2004).
America. Shoppers can feel as if they are in
Houston or Los Angeles, with only a few
postmodern architectural reminders of
Mexico. Although a substantial propor- their Latin American location (the odd
tion of the Mexican population does not frieze, mural, or pyramid-shaped fountain,
even participate in the market economy for example). The city of Guadalajara is
and although even larger numbers of Mexi- dominated by two huge shopping malls:
cans find themselves suffering from the the Plaza Tapatía in the old downtown
downside of global capitalism, exploited area, near the cathedral, and the Plaza del
in their labor in maquiladoras (large-scale Sol on the southwest side of the city.
sweatshops owned by foreign companies) Whereas the latter can boast that it was the
and bombarded in their scant leisure time first big out-of-town shopping mall of its
by images of products they can ill afford, kind to be built in Latin America (it was
over the last couple of decades, particu- constructed from scratch in only nine
larly during the presidential administra- months in 1969) and that it is home to
tion of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988– countless transnational companies, the for-
1994), a consumerist lifestyle on a scale mer actually marries old and new architec-
comparable to that of the United States ture in innovative ways and helps keep the
has become very much a reality in Mex- old heart of the town alive.
ico’s largest urban centers, for those who Other key neighborhoods in these cities
can afford it. also cater to the consumerist lifestyle in a
Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey less “enclosed” manner. In Mexico City
all boast a substantial number of upscale some of the most upscale hotels, restau-
shopping malls, complete with department rants, and designer outlets, including inter-
stores (such as Liverpool and the Palacio nationally renowned venues such as Habita
de Hierro), banks, travel agencies, bars, and the newly opened W Hotel, are found in
restaurants (transnational fast-food chains, the streets of Polanco. The neighborhood
Mexican chains such as Sanborn’s, and has even become synonymous with the
more upmarket, individualized options), concept of Mexican consumerism—the so-
and leisure facilities such as multiplex cin- called reinas de Polanco (queens of
emas. The Centro Santa Fe, on the western Polanco) are those women who can afford
edge of Mexico City, is hailed by the guide- to live the consumerist lifestyle. Writer
books as being the biggest mall of its kind Guadalupe Loaeza has immortalized these
in Latin America (although the award women and their lives in her books on the
should probably go to the five-story, five- subject of consumerism in Mexico, such as
104 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Las reinas de Polanco (1988) and Compro, ———. 2000. Debo, luego sufro. Mexico City:
luego existo (I Buy, Therefore I Am, 1992). Planeta.
Although she is critical of this kind of Puchet Angel, Martin, and Lionello F. Punzo.
2001. Mexico beyond NAFTA. London:
lifestyle, the loving detail with which she
reconstructs the lives and daily concerns of Roux, Caroline. 2003. “The Whimsy of W.”
such women does detract from her critical London Guardian, 6 December, “Travel”
edge. section.
In addition to urban consumerism,
since the 1970s Mexico has vigorously
promoted its tourist industry to a national Fashion
market. Key locations like Cancún, Zihu-
atanejo, and La Paz have been developed Brazil. Brazilian fashion is inspired in
to offer the same sorts of amenities as are great part by the carioca (Rio de Janeiro)
available in the big cities to those seeking way of life, which is itself influenced by
to indulge in Mexican beach tourism. Fur- high temperatures all year round and the
thermore, on the outskirts of such loca- importance of beach culture. Clothes are
tions, Disney-style adventure parks, spas, thus designed both to keep the wearer cool
water parks, safari parks for animals both and to reveal as much as possible of
imported and indigenous to the Americas, tanned, fit bodies. In terms of beachwear,
behind-the-scenes moviemaking parks, although some trends, such as sarongs and
and even eco-theme parks, such as Xcaret Capri pants, come and go, both surfwear
near Cancún, have all sprung up in re- and the famous fio dental, or “dental floss”
sponse to the need for entertainment at bikini, with its two tiny triangles covering
the beach in addition to shopping oppor- the typically small Brazilian breasts and its
tunities. Nevertheless, aware of the dan- ultra-revealing panties (Brazilian men are
gers of runaway consumerism, the Mexi- widely reputed to be fond of rear ends),
can government now runs a federal seem to be here to stay. Bikini and beach
program (PROFECO) to warn consumers accessory designers such as Rosa Chá, Sali-
of the dangers of debt. It was under the nas, and Bum Bum, associated with
auspices of this program that Loaeza’s lat- Ipanema, Rio’s fashionable beachfront
est novel, Debo, luego sufro (I Am in neighborhood, are starting to make inroads
Debt, Therefore I Suffer, 2000), was pub- into the international fashion market.
lished. Brazil’s footwear industry has long been ex-
—Thea Pitman porting cheap leather shoes en masse. Now
Constança Basto, a designer relatively new
See also: Travel and Tourism: Beach Tourism to the footwear market, is taking more ex-
clusive Brazilian shoe design to the United
Bibliography States: she already has two stores in New
Gilbert, Alan. 1994. The Latin American City. York, in Soho and on the Upper East Side.
London: Latin America Bureau.
And remarkably, Havaianas, Brazil’s most
Loaeza, Guadalupe. 1988. Las reinas de
Polanco. Mexico City: Cal y Arena. popular brand of cheap rubber flip-flops,
———. 1992. Compro, luego existo. Mexico are currently highly sought-after items in
City: Alianza Editorial. Europe and the United States.

The ubiquitous Havaianas, cheap Brazilian footwear that is now a high-fashion item both at home and
abroad. (Courtesy of Alex Nield)

Although a number of international high- less) São Paulo is a more work-oriented

street chains can be found in Brazil’s cities, city. Brazil’s only Armani store is in São
such as Benetton and the increasingly pop- Paulo rather than Rio. São Paulo has re-
ular Spanish chain Zara, young urban cently been stealing the fashion limelight in
Brazilians often prefer their own (regional) Brazil thanks to the success of the annual
chains, such as Company, Cantão, and São Paulo Fashion Week. The world domi-
Chocolate in Rio de Janeiro, and domestic nation of Brazilian supermodel Gisele
labels such as Osklen and Ellus. For those Bundchen (1980– ) has not done the Brazil-
who cannot afford to buy ready-made ian fashion industry any harm either.
clothing, cheap labor and inexpensive A number of talented homegrown de-
cloth mean that one can dress more eco- signers have emerged in Brazil in the last
nomically either by paying a seamstress or few years, including the husband-and-wife
by convincing a family member to make an team Glória Coelho and Ronaldo Fraga,
outfit. In terms of business wear, paulistas whose precocious twelve-year-old son re-
(the inhabitants of São Paulo) believe they cently produced a fashion collection for
dress more elegantly than their carioca São Paulo Fashion Week. Other important
counterparts, given the fact that (beach- designers are Reinaldo Lourenço, Lino
106 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Vilaventura, André Lima, Fause Haten, and ple from Buenos Aires) are polo-playing,
Alexandre Herchcovitch. High-society English-speaking, French-dressing conser-
women of a certain age put their trust in vatives with carefully coiffured hair. The
such established haute couture names as stereotype denies the existence, for exam-
Mara Mac of the Mariazinha label and An- ple, of youth culture, with its budding club
dréa Saleto, but many prefer to dress in scene and attendant “alternative” music
French brands, such as Chanel and Yves and dress codes, and of the mass of the
Saint Laurent, often purchased on shop- population, predominantly poor and living
ping trips to Europe and the United States. in tenements often carefully removed from
Because pedestrians will often be re- view of the fashionable areas of the city.
lieved of expensive-looking jewelry and ath- Nevertheless, the stereotype does seem to
letic shoes by opportunistic thieves, young hold true for a sizable part of the popula-
people going out socially tend to dress casu- tion. Mature women who cannot claim
ally and discreetly. All over Brazil, a mock- links with the Old World are still conserva-
hippie dress code seems to exist for the left- tive in their dress. Whereas middle-aged
wing student contingent: tie-dye T-shirts, a lower-middle- and working-class women
rejection of labels, natural leather sandals, can frequently be seen in tight jeans and
bags bought at the local hippie market or on skimpy tops in Brazil, for example, many in
a backpacking trip to the northeast, and, in Argentina continue to mimic the Jackie
the case of young men, long hair and beards Kennedy–esque elegance of Evita Perón
à la Che Guevara. (1919–1952). Evita, during her time as wife
—Stephanie Dennison of populist president Juan Perón (1895–
1974) and role model to the poor, was
See also: Cultural Icons: Political Icons (Che dressed by local designers Paula Naletoff
Guevara) and Henriette.
The well-heeled of Buenos Aires are very
Bibliography fond of foreign labels, from Armani and
“Big in Brazil—from Plastic Surgery to Sex
Louis Vuitton to Chanel, and in most cases
Motels: Your Guide to the Hottest Country on
Earth.” 2004. Sunday Times (London) Style they can buy what they need in Argentina.
Magazine, 11 April. When they cannot find what they are look-
Kalil, Glória. 2003. Chic: Um guia básico de ing for at home, they often travel to the
moda e estilo. São Paulo: Senac. United States, but with European rather
Rodrigues, Iesa. 2001. 30 estilistas: A moda do than U.S. labels in their sights. Although a
Rio. Rio de Janeiro: Senac.
number of homegrown fashion chains exist
Santa Catarina Fashion Website. http://www.
santamoda.com.br (consulted 14 March 2004). that cater to a younger clientele, such as
Paula Cahen D’Anvers and Vitamina,
younger and older alike prefer European
Argentina. The stereotype of the Buenos styles of dress, meaning that many com-
Aires elite is one of impeccable imitation of mentators find it difficult to speak of an Ar-
European tastes and fashions, betraying gentine fashion, certainly one comparable,
centuries-old cultural links to the aristo- say, to Brazil’s distinctive style. That said,
cratic traditions of the Old World. Accord- there are a number of successful fashion
ing to the same stereotype, porteños (peo- houses in Argentina, including the ultra-

trendy Martín Churba, Gino Bogani, and public—tourists who are only too willing
Roberto Piazza. to exchange a T-shirt for a locally produced
—Stephanie Dennison artifact—has given those traditionally ex-
cluded from the market economy access to
See also: Cultural Icons: Political Icons (Evita) Western clothing. Furthermore, the rela-
tively recent appearance of maquiladoras,
Bibliography the sweatshops and factories producing
Gina Bogani Website. http://www.ginobogani.
cheap fashion items for U.S. and European
com.ar (consulted 14 March 2004).
Roberto Piazza Website. http://www.
markets by taking advantage of the piti-
robertopiazza.com.ar (consulted 14 March ifully low labor costs in Mexico, has also
2004). increased the demand for similar products
Saulquin, Susana. 1991. La moda en la in Mexico itself, either via legitimate chan-
Argentina. Buenos Aires: Emecé. nels or via the black market in seconds.
Despite the facts that the Mexican cloth-
ing industry is much more geared to the
Mexico. Mexico is known throughout maquila (assembly) of imported designs
the world for the colorful and varied tradi- and that little space is afforded to design-
tional dress of its numerous indigenous ers from the national community (certainly
communities. These images are promoted this is the view of those currently trying to
by the government and the tourist industry work as fashion designers in Mexico), a
as icons of the Republic’s distinctive cul- concept of Latin American haute couture
tural history. Nevertheless, few present- has been fostered across the continent in
day urban Mexicans of any social class as- the last decade by such events as the Mi-
pire to copy such dress (despite the ami Fashion Week and, specifically in Mex-
endorsement earlier in the century of the ico, by the Expo-Fashion Mexicana. Rep-
artist Frida Kahlo), and even in areas utable fashion design schools are now
where traditional dress still prevails there open in both Mexico City and Guadalajara.
is a clear tendency among the younger gen- Perhaps the only market for homegrown
erations to adopt the ubiquitous Western haute couture is the urban middle and up-
jeans and T-shirt, reverting to traditional per classes, the so-called reinas de
dress only for special occasions if at all. Polanco (literally, the “queens of Polanco,”
In the twentieth century, North American who patronize and often reside in an up-
fashions have become more popular than per-class shopping area in Mexico City),
those of Spain (influential from the time of who have the disposable income and
the Conquest until the early nineteenth leisure time to spend on such luxuries.
century) or France (influential in the latter However, the existence of such fashions
half of the nineteenth century) across all does also demonstrate the concern of
strata of society in Mexico. There are a those working in the industry in Mexico to
number of reasons for this. The inroads offer creative alternatives, often inflected
made by U.S. film and television have pro- with a certain national spirit, to the hegem-
moted U.S. dress codes as the norm, and ony of U.S. fashions.
the ever-increasing number of backpacking Three Mexican designers have stood out
tourists in the far-flung corners of the Re- in the last ten years: Armando Mafud, Héc-
108 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tor Terrones, and Sarah Bustani. Mafud, seventeen of her own shops across the
the eldest of the three, deliberately creates Mexican Republic by 2000 and has sales
clothing that makes a statement about outlets in Spain, Latin America, and the
Mexico in its use of color and motifs (much United States. She also dresses Latin pop
of his work is inspired by the paintings of and soap stars, for example Thalía. Finally,
artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino the most recent and most promising names
Tamayo, and Rodolfo Morales) or in its cut on the Mexican fashion circuit are those of
(copying the traditional huipiles, or sisters Julia and Renata Franco, whose
smocks, and wraparound skirts of the low-budget casual line, Julia Y Renata, was
women of the Tehuantepec Peninsula, for a runaway success at the 2002 Mexican
example). The overall effect is a conscious Fashion Fair.
nod to the deliberately nationalist image of —Thea Pitman
painter Frida Kahlo. Terrones, like Mafud,
opts for designs that lie somewhere be- See also: Popular Music: Transnational Pop
tween art and fashion, taking inspiration Icons; Visual Arts and Architecture: Art
(Frida Kahlo; Diego Rivera)
from historical models (medieval and Vic-
torian in his case), yet he does not aspire to
capture anything specifically Mexican in
Gillespie, Judi. 2000. “Sarah Bustani: Mexico’s
his work, instead seeking to respond to in- Sun Goddess.” Lifewise, 2 June.
ternational trends in haute couture and to http://www.canoe.ca/LifewiseMirrors
provide “practical solutions for special oc- Friday00/0602_sarah.html (consulted 10
casions” (Hofman n.d.) such as weddings November 2003).
(although he does also have a ready-to- Hofman, Nina. n.d. “Héctor Terrones.” www.
wear line). Bustani, perhaps the most ac-
cessible and most contemporary of the html. (consulted 10 November 2003).
three designers, designs clothes for Loaeza, Guadalupe. 1988. Las reinas de
teenagers and young adults, making great Polanco. Mexico City: Cal y Arena.
use of modern synthetic fabrics such as Ly- ———. 1992. Compro, luego existo. Mexico
cra. Her clothes are designed to be easy to City: Alianza Editorial.
Takahasi, Masako. 2003. Mexican Textiles.
wear (but still stylish) and affordable. They
Introduction by Tony Cohan. San Francisco:
are inspired by her appreciation of film and Chronicle Books.
television and by her visits to high schools
both in Mexico and abroad to see what
young people actually want to wear. In her Indigenous Dress and Its Influences.
designs for women, she focuses on making The question of dress in Latin American
comfortable clothes specifically for the countries with a strong indigenous presence
physique of Mexican women. Thus, she is indeed vexed. European and other out-
bases her fashions on the needs and aspira- side interference in native dress is as old as
tions of her target market rather than seek- colonialism itself, particularly in hotter
ing to impose a sense of “Mexican” fashion climes where indigenous people were en-
on Mexicans or on the international com- couraged, at considerable detriment to their
munity. Bustani has had remarkable suc- health, to cover up. Spanish colonizers in
cess in her career so far; she had opened more temperate zones also Europeanized

Aymara women drink beer at a wedding celebration on the main Floating Island on Lake Titicaca,
c. 1997. (Craig Lovell/Corbis)

indigenous dress, but as in many areas of a downside, as traditional motifs are aban-
pre-Columbian organization, they were doned in favor of what locals imagine, cor-
happy to continue the practice of dressing rectly or otherwise, tourists will want to
according to geographical or ethnic origin. buy. Another destructive practice is that of
This “traditional” dress can still be seen in cutting up woven items so they can be in-
many areas of Latin and Central America to- cluded as decorative panels in leather bags
day, although inevitably it is under threat. and satchels.
Any influence by indigenous dress on Traditional indigenous dress has been
European styles has been demonstrated far losing ground over recent decades to
more among European and North Ameri- cheap mass-produced clothing originating
can tourists than among the Latin Ameri- particularly in the United States. It is com-
can white or mestizo populations, which mon to see men in baseball caps and
are still at pains to distance themselves bomber jackets in Andean cities or even in
from stigmatized native customs. Ironi- the Andean countryside. Women, however,
cally, these foreign visitors are the ones have remained closer to their ethnic her-
who take the keenest interest in indige- itage, guardians both of native language
nous textiles, whether for academic re- and of dress styles. Indigenous dress is, of
search, for business, or simply as sou- course, not a static phenomenon, as is evi-
venirs. This interest at least helps such denced by Bolivian Aymara women’s adop-
practices to survive, but there is inevitably tion of the British bowler hat during colo-
110 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

nial times. Much has been made of the Grassroots Development in the Andes and
adoption of jeans and other stock items Amazon of Bolivia. Notre Dame, IN:
from Western culture, but little has been University of Notre Dame Press.
Jackson, Jean E., and Kay B. Warren, eds. 2003.
said about the reverse: Latin American na-
Indigenous Movements, Self-
tive styles can be seen particularly among Representation, and the State in Latin
younger tourists and travelers in the re- America. Austin: University of Texas Press.
gion, where local communities have turned “Minorities at Risk: Indigenous Peoples of
to making clothing that uses their own ma- Guatemala.” n.d. http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/
terials but that is adapted to outsiders’ inscr/mar/data/indguat.htm (consulted
10 December 2003).
needs and tastes. The growth of “ethnic”
Sieder, Rachel, ed. 2002. Multiculturalism in
shops in European and North American Latin America: Indigenous Rights,
cities has also brought an awareness of the Diversity, and Democracy. Basingstoke,
beauty of indigenous aesthetics, reinforced Hampshire, UK: Houndmills.
by widespread sympathy for the plight of
threatened cultures and peoples.
There are thus indications that pride in Food
indigenous dress is not irrevocably waning. Food and drink is a key theme in any dis-
In Ecuador native peoples have stubbornly cussion of popular culture in Latin Amer-
refused to submit to modern society’s de- ica, for it lies at the heart of so many other
mands that they conform. Native men serv- popular cultural practices, from the spiri-
ing in the nation’s military are now not even tual (the all-important consumption of tea
required to cut off their braids, known as in the Santo Daime religion, for example)
shimba. In Guatemala legislation passed in to the profane (sociologist Gilberto Freyre
1999 to protect indigenous dress has won has written extensively on the link be-
international praise, although many areas tween food and sex in Brazil, for instance).
of provision for native welfare are lacking. It is also one of the main ways in which
Some enterprises exist to promote and many Latin American countries are identi-
conserve indigenous weaving traditions, fied by those from outside. The average
such as ASUR (Anthropologists of the American’s or Briton’s knowledge of Mex-
Southern Andes), run by the Chilean an- ico is largely based on his or her experi-
thropologist Verónica Cereceda in Sucre, ence of eating Mexican food, either at a lo-
Bolivia. Other “fair trade” groups, such as cal restaurant or, increasingly, purchased
Crossroads Trade, deal directly with ready-made in supermarkets.
weavers and artisans, encouraging them to Given the strong link between the local
maintain ecologically viable practices and environment and the development of tradi-
ancient styles and selling the finished arti- tional cuisine, food in Latin America can-
cles in the United States. not always be easily divided into nations
—Keith Richards and regions within nations. There is more
in common, for example, between the high-
See also: Language: Indigenous Languages
land cooking of, say, Peru and Ecuador
Bibliography than between regional cuisines within na-
Healy, Kevin. 2001. Llamas, Weavings, and tional boundaries. The traditional food of
Organic Chocolate: Multicultural the gaúcho of southern Brazil (churrasco,

for example) has more in common with the product of over five centuries of cross-cul-
cuisine of Uruguay and Argentina than it tural exchange, and that is still an ongoing
does with food from the northeast of process.
Brazil. Similarities can be drawn between —Stephanie Dennison,
the traditional dish of Brazil, feijoada, and Thea Pitman, and Keith Richards
food found in other regions with a slave-
holding past, including the southern United See also: Cultural Icons: Regional and Ethnic
States. Types (The Gaúcho in Brazil); Popular
Religion and Festivals: Santo Daime
It is worth considering the products that
have crossed in both directions between
Latin America and Europe or Asia. For ex-
ample, from the Andes, Central America, Indigenous, African, and Immigrant
and Mexico came the potato and maize; Influences (the Andean Countries).
from the Old World came coffee, rice, The rich culinary tradition of the Andean
sugar, and such livestock as sheep, pigs, countries is the product of over five cen-
and cattle. Wine production, especially in turies of demographic flux and cultural in-
Chile, is a prime example of a product be- teraction. An already long-established pre-
ing imported into Latin America, devel- Columbian indigenous cuisine has been
oped there, and successfully exported augmented by European, African, and
back to the Old World. As well as being Asian influences. These elements are not
clearly influenced by indigenous peoples only readily discernible to the eye and
and Africans brought to the subcontinent palate but are often evident from the very
as slaves, Latin American cuisine has been names of the dishes. However, there are
greatly affected by the arrival of immigrant considerable regional differences among
groups from Asia and Europe in the nine- coast, mountains, and jungle, three distinct
teenth and twentieth centuries, as wit- environments that, in cultural terms,
nessed, for example, in Peru’s own brand largely supersede nationality. All these re-
of Chinese cuisine and the popularity of gions, naturally, base their cuisine on local
Italian cooking and restaurants in Ar- produce: in coastal areas, fish and rice; in
gentina and Brazil. the mountains, maize and potato; in the
Without doubt, the Latin American cui- Amazon basin, yucca, palm, cassava, man-
sine that is best known outside of the re- ioc, rice, and fish as well as elements less
gion is Mexican. It is a common quip that readily adapted by the Europeans, such as
the main type of homesickness Mexicans larvae, peccary meat, and drinks made
traveling abroad experience is for their na- from fermented vegetable juices.
tional cuisine, and even non-Mexicans per- Despite this interchange of foodstuffs be-
ceive Mexican food to be as distinctive and tween the Andean countries and Europe,
delectable a national cuisine as that of certain dishes have changed little since be-
China, Italy, or India. Today, Mexican salsa fore the Conquest. A prime example is
has even overtaken ketchup as the most pachamanka, whose Quechua name means
popular condiment on the dining tables of earth (pacha) oven (manka), in which
the United States. Yet what is currently rec- heated stones are placed at the bottom of a
ognized as typical Mexican food is the pit, followed by layers of meat, potatoes,
112 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

sweet potato, maize, and other vegetables. The Asian influence is represented
The cuy (guinea pig) is a source of protein mainly in the Peruvian brand of Chinese
in the region and also serves medicinal pur- cuisine known as chifa, also popular in
poses. An important dish in the Bolivian Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, and elsewhere.
Andes is chairo, a soup made using the Such dishes as wan ton, noodles, and fried
black potato known as chuño, which is nat- rice are served in a way not much different
urally freeze-dried by exposing it to the from the methods traditional in China. The
fierce extremes of temperature found at the wok first appeared in Peru in the mid-nine-
high elevations of the altiplano, or high teenth century, and garlic soon kept com-
plain. In the Andes, cereals such as quinua pany with ginger and soy sauce in many
(quinoa) and maize have long been of huge chifa dishes. By the early twentieth cen-
importance to the human diet. tury most comfortably off Peruvian house-
Given the massive differences in topogra- holds boasted a Chinese chef. A dish that
phy and demographic patterns, the cuisines reflects the Chinese influence is lomo
of western Latin America vary considerably. saltado, a sautéed beef dish cooked with
Unlike Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, where soy, tomato, and onion and served with
the first Europeans were met by relative fried potatoes.
abundance and an established cuisine, Chile Drinks reflect a similar range of social
had an early colonial history characterized and historical processes. Chicha, made
by hunger and frustration as the newcomers from maize and popular throughout the re-
gradually came to terms with the inhos- gion, is a pre-Columbian recipe made dur-
pitable nature of their surroundings and the ing Incan times by the Acllakuna, or cho-
indigenous cultures they encountered. In sen Virgins of the Sun, for strictly
Colombia it is perhaps the African influence controlled consumption. Today it is widely
that was felt most strongly, and that influ- available both as a soft drink (usually made
ence is evidenced by arepas and other from purple maize and known as chicha
forms of pancakes as well as sauces, and by morada) and as an alcoholic drink (called
the use of yams and plantains. chicha jora). Another maize-based bever-
Ceviche, a dish common to most na- age, ideal for warming the body against the
tional cuisines along the Pacific seaboard bitter Andean cold, is api, a nonalcoholic
from Chile to Mexico, is white fish or shell- drink on sale at highland market stalls.
fish quickly marinated in lime juice and European settlement brought the
served with yucca and sweet potato. It can grapevine, first to the Ica desert, which had
also be adapted as a vegetarian dish. Ce- an irrigation infrastructure already put in
viche has its origins in pre-Columbian place by the Incas. Peruvian wine produc-
times, when it was prepared using chicha tion was decimated as the result of a
(maize-based liquid or beverage). It was plague in the nineteenth century, and in-
transformed by the advent of citrus fruits stead high-quality red wines began to ap-
brought by the Spaniards, followed by the pear in Chile, northern Argentina, and
influence upon fish preparation exerted by southern Bolivia. Another product of the
the Japanese, who crossed the Pacific in vine is pisco, a variant of grappa also origi-
great numbers to settle in the late nine- nating in Peru and developed largely by the
teenth and early twentieth centuries. Italians in that country. Italians have also

been influential in developing the choco- Suárez Araúz, Nicomedes. 2002. Edible
late and ice cream industries in Peru, with Amazonia: Twenty-One Poems from God’s
the prominent D’Onofrio company (bought Amazonian Recipe Book. Fayetteville, NY:
Bitter Oleander.
out in the 1990s by Nestlé) and the soft
Van Aken, Norman. 2003. New World Cuisine:
drink company Salvietti. Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine.
The other important European influence New York: Ecco.
in the Andean countries, affecting above all
the production of beer, is that of Germany.
Breweries as far afield as the Andwanter in Mexican Food. Essentially, Mexican
Validivia, Chile; the Paceña in La Paz; and food is a mixture of Spanish products and
the Alemana on the outskirts of Caracas, traditions with indigenous ones. The in-
Venezuela, are all testaments to the quality digenous contribution consists of maize,
of this contribution by German immi- beans, tomatoes, cocoa, and, above all, a
grants. large variety of chili peppers (a predomi-
A noteworthy aspect of the study of gas- nantly vegetarian diet), together with the
tronomy in the Andean countries is the ex- tradition of accompanying and serving
ploitation of food and drink to illustrate foodstuffs with corn tortillas. The
broader social, demographic, ecological, Spaniards brought wheat, cows (and hence
political, and even ideological themes. The dairy products), pigs, sheep, chickens,
work of Isabel Álvarez, a Peruvian sociolo- sugar, and a whole range of spices stem-
gist, chef, and restaurant owner, investi- ming from the Arab influence in the Iberian
gates myriad aspects of her country’s his- Peninsula. They also brought with them the
tory and cultural identity through its art of baking (with wheat flour) and a pref-
cuisine, suggesting the maintenance of a erence for thick stews and sauces. The
rich regional variety as a means of resisting combination of the two produced such na-
the standardizing effects of globalization. In tional dishes as mole de guajolote (indige-
an Amazonian context, the U.S.-based Boli- nous turkey served with a thick sauce com-
vian poet and cultural theorist Nicomedes bining the flavors of a traditional, Arab-
Suárez Araúz has adapted a collection of influenced Spanish stew with indigenous
recipes left by his mother into a set of strik- smoky-flavored chili peppers and cocoa).
ing and universally recognizable metaphors Even today, it is rumored that immigration
for the continuing destruction and con- officials ask interviewees what mole de
sumption of his native rain forest. guajolote is as a quick proof of Mexican
—Keith Richards identity!
Yet what is considered “Mexican” today
Bibliography was not always considered to be so. Inde-
Álvarez, Isabel. 1997. Huellas y sabores del pendence in the early nineteenth century
Perú. Lima: Universidad de San Martín de brought with it a concern to identify na-
Porres. tional characteristics in all aspects of life.
Pereira-Salas, Eugenio. 1943. Apuntes para la
In Mexican cookery, this national charac-
historia de la cocina chilena. Santiago,
Chile: Editorial Universitaria. teristic was found in the use of chili pep-
Peruvian Cookery Website. http://www. pers at a time when European, especially
yanuq.com (consulted 15 November 2003). French, cookery had moved away from
114 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

spicy foods. Yet such more clearly indige- Mexican cuisine continues to evolve, as-
nous dishes as pozole (a kind of thick stew similating influences from new immigrant
with boiled corn) and atole (a corn-based groups (hence the growing preference for
drink), together with tortillas and other the meat for tacos to be cooked on an up-
corn-based antojitos (snacks) such as right spit, kebab-style; tacos made this way
tacos, quesadillas, sopes, gorditas, and are known as tacos al pastor, or tacos
tamales, no matter how mixed-origin they árabes, when served with a kind of pita
were in their ingredients (using pork fat or bread) or even forcing concessions from the
cheese, for example), were considered in- ubiquitous multinational fast-food chains
ferior and even immoral up until the time (McDonald’s now sells a McMuffin à la
of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920). It mexicana in the Republic). Some snobbery
was the post-Revolutionary reevaluation of is still found in Mexico with respect to Mex-
the indigenous contribution to Mexican ican cuisine: many among the upper classes
identity that confirmed such dishes as an still prefer the less spicy, more prestigious
essential part of contemporary Mexican cuisine of France, for example. Neverthe-
national cuisine—see, for example, the less, in the last few years a nueva cocina
menus of fiestas thrown by Frida Kahlo mexicana (Mexican nouvelle cuisine)
and Diego Rivera in Frida’s Fiestas movement has come about that uses the
(Rivera Marín and Colle Corcuera 1994)— more humble and idiosyncratic indigenous
together with a growing tradition of cook- products, such as huitlacoche (a fungus that
ery books published by women writers grows on maize in the rainy season and that
who chose not to follow the standard divi- is cooked with fresh Italian pasta), to create
sions between acceptable food of Spanish dishes that will tempt and surprise even the
origin and unacceptable indigenous cook- most refined palates. Furthermore, a num-
ery (Pilcher 1997). (Interestingly, as Pilcher ber of restaurants specialize in cooking
notes, cookery has been one of the few ar- specifically pre-Columbian food, again mak-
eas where Mexican women have tradition- ing acceptable some of the Republic’s more
ally been most free to imagine a distinctive unusual and wonderful foodstuffs, such as
national identity for themselves.) Changes chapulines (grasshoppers) and gusanitos
in lifestyle in urban areas (longer com- (worms, traditionally those that live in and
mutes to work) have also meant that Mexi- off the maguey cactus and that can be found
cans now have an entrenched restaurant in the bottom of bottles of mezcal and
culture that caters to all wallets: from itin- tequila). Finally, Mexican national dishes
erant taco vendors on street corners, to such as chiles en nogada (green bell pep-
down-home eateries serving comida cor- pers covered in walnut sauce and decorated
rida (set lunches), to middle- and even with pomegranate seeds to reflect the col-
high-class restaurants that specialize in na- ors of the national flag) have also had a
tional dishes or in the distinctive variations boost in popularity since the publication in
that stem from the different regions of the 1989 of post-Boom writer Laura Esquivel’s
Republic, such as the Yucatan peninsula. magical-realist international bestseller Like
This tradition of eating out has helped ce- Water for Chocolate, and the even more
ment ideas concerning what constitutes popular film of the book made in 1992.
Mexican national cuisine. —Thea Pitman

See also: Popular Literature: The Post-Boom; white masters in colonial times. Feijoada
Visual Arts and Architecture: Art (Frida for lunch on Saturdays has become some-
Kahlo; Diego Rivera) thing of an institution in Rio de Janeiro,
where it is served with white rice, finely
Bibliography shredded kale, and farofa (manioc root
Esquivel, Laura. 1993. Like Water for
meal toasted with butter). It is frequently
Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Instalments
with Recipes, Romances, and Home accompanied by the ubiquitous caipir-
Remedies. London: Black Swan. inha, a cocktail made from cachaça (sug-
Kennedy, Diana. 2000. The Essential Cuisines arcane alcohol), limes, and sugar.
of Mexico. New York: Potter. In colonial times Afro-Brazilian slave
Pilcher, Jeffrey M. 1997. “Cuisine.” Pp. 385–389 women worked as cooks for their mas-
in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 1, edited by
ters, and thus many of their culinary prac-
Michael S. Werner. Chicago: Fitzroy
Dearborn. tices and influences became central to
———. 1998. Qué vivan los tamales: Food and Brazilian cuisine. New ingredients, such
the Making of the Mexican Identity. as dendê palm oil and okra, also arrived in
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Brazil on the trans-Atlantic slave ships.
Press. The African influence is most apparent in
Quintana, Patricia. 1986. The Taste of Mexico.
the state of Bahia, particularly in the city
New York: Stewart, Tabori and Chang.
Rivera Marín, Guadalupe, and Marie-Pierre of Salvador, the main port of entry for
Colle Corcuera. 1994. Frida’s Fiestas: African slaves. Two common ingredients
Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with of the local specialties are coconut milk
Frida Kahlo. New York: Potter. and dendê palm oil. Some of the most pop-
ular dishes of this region include vatapá
Brazilian Food. A country as vast as (fresh and dried shrimp, fish, ground raw
Brazil naturally has lots of regional special- peanuts, coconut milk, dendê oil, and sea-
ties, many of which are linked historically sonings thickened with bread to form a
to particular ethnic or immigrant groups or creamy texture), moqueca (fish, shrimp,
to the local environment. The staples of crab, or a mixture of seafood in a dendê
Brazilian cuisine are rice, beans, and man- oil and coconut milk sauce), caruru (a
ioc (the meal of a root vegetable also gumbo of shrimp and okra with dendê
known as cassava, contributed by indige- oil), and acarajé (a patty made of ground
nous tribes), and some of the most tradi- beans fried in dendê oil and filled with
tional Brazilian dishes are adaptations of vatapá, dried shrimp, and hot pepper).
Portuguese or African foods. Two Por- Acarajé is commonly sold on the streets
tuguese dishes popular in Brazil are bacal- of Salvador by baianas (literally, “Bahian
hau (imported dried, salted codfish) and women,” always of Afro-Brazilian origin),
cozido (a meat and vegetable stew). Fei- who wear the traditional dress of a white
joada (a stew made of black beans with a lace blouse and turban. This outfit is
variety of dried, salted, or smoked meats) closely linked to the costumes worn by
is the equivalent of soul food in the United the priestesses of the Afro-Brazilian reli-
States and is considered Brazil’s “national gion Candomblé, and Carmen Miranda
dish.” It was created by African slaves us- adopted a stylized version of it for her
ing the scraps of meat discarded by their screen roles in Hollywood.
116 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

arid interior of the northeast, dried salted

beef (known as carne seca or carne de sol)
is a local favorite. Tapioca (the starch pro-
duced from the manioc root when it is
ground into meal) is widely eaten in the
form of beijus, similar to tortillas and usu-
ally stuffed with shredded coconut, or in
cuscuz, a stiff pudding made with coconut
milk. The state of Minas Gerais, with its
cooler climate, has a celebrated local cui-
sine, based on pork, vegetables (especially
couve, or spring greens), and tutu, a kind
of refried bean cooked with manioc flour
and used as a thick sauce.
The contributions of various immigrant
communities to national cuisine are in evi-
dence in most large towns and cities in
Brazil. The city of Belém, at the mouth of
the Amazon River, for example, has several
Japanese restaurants, the legacy of a
Japanese colony founded over fifty years
ago in the interior of the northern state of
Bahian woman prepares acarajé. Pará. Nowhere is the eclectic mix of eating
(Jan Butchofsky-Houser/Corbis) establishments more apparent than in the
city of São Paulo. The influx of migrant la-
bor to work on the coffee plantations of
The churrasco, or barbecue, is popular the surrounding state at the turn of the
all over Brazil, but its origins lie in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has led
southern region, where the gaúchos, or to the creation of one of the most cosmo-
cowboys, traditionally roasted meat over politan cuisines in the world. The city’s
an open fire. In the Amazon region the na- restaurants rival those of New York for
tive Indian influence is naturally most their sheer variety and quality. They range
prevalent, and the rivers produce a great from Japanese establishments in the dis-
variety of edible fish, including various trict of Liberdade (and more recently their
members of the piranha family. Tucupi is a Korean neighbors) to Italian trattorias and
common ingredient, often served with Middle Eastern fast-food chains. German
duck (pato no tucupi). It is made from immigrants who settled in the south of
manioc leaves and has a slightly numbing Brazil in the nineteenth century also
effect on the tongue. Amazonian fruits, brought with them their culinary traditions
such as acerola and cupuaçú, form the ba- and skills, such as the production of
sis of an exotic range of desserts, ice sausages, cheeses, and specialty breads
creams, and juices in the towns and cities and biscuits. The city of Blumenau, in the
of the states of Amazonas and Pará. In the southern state of Santa Catarina and home

to an annual Oktoberfest, has several Ger- Ethnic Types (The Gaúcho in Brazil);
man restaurants, and the nearby city of Popular Religion and Festivals: Candomblé
Pomerode, which arguably has the best
claim to being the most “German” city in Bibliography
Brazil, every year hosts a celebration of lo- Botafogo, Dolores. 1993. The Art of Brazilian
Cookery. New York: Hippocrene Books.
cal industry, culture, and, not least, food.
Idone, Christopher. 1995. Brazil: A Cook’s Tour.
—Lisa Shaw New York: Potter.
Ortiz, Elisabeth Lambert. 1992. A Little
See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in Brazilian Cookbook. Belfast, Northern
Hollywood (Carmen Miranda); Regional and Ireland: Appletree.
Popular Theater
and Performance

In the cultural arenas of Latin American theater and performance the

impact of German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and his informal, moderniz-
ing approaches is clear, as is the political climate in which are devel-
oped and staged the various plays and acts dealt with in this chapter.
For example, Brazil’s well-known Brecht-inspired dramatist and creator
of the Theater of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal, has his counterparts in
Chile’s José R Morales, Colombia’s Enrique Buenaventura (a practi-
tioner of so-called Nuevo Teatro, or New Theater), and Alan Bolt, a San-
dinista from Nicaragua who is involved in the communitarian theater
movement. This chapter reveals the extent to which Latin American
theater has been politically committed throughout times of dictatorship
and beyond.
But Latin America also has a very strong music-hall tradition that con-
tinues to influence the stage and screen in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.
Such traditions are little known outside their countries of origin, given
that international audiences tend to be more interested in avant-garde
and politically motivated Latin American theater and performance. For
example, the work of Nelson Rodrigues, one of Brazil’s most prolific
playwrights of the twentieth century, was inspired by the teatro de re-
vista, or Brazilian music-hall tradition. Rodrigues’s work has enjoyed a
revival since the early 1990s. As a result, his plays dominate both ama-
teur and professional productions to such an extent that it is currently
difficult for any new work to be staged in Brazil.
In addition to the productions discussed in this chapter, Latin America
inevitably contains examples of real performance creativity that do not
fit neatly into a “scene,” for example the avant-garde circus troupe from
Buenos Aires, De la Guarda, whose high-energy circus act Villa Villa,
performed to a trendy drum and bass soundtrack, has wowed audiences
over the last few years at home and in London, Mexico City, and New
—Stephanie Dennison
120 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Bibliography believed that while some people make

Weiss, J. 1993. Latin American Popular theater, others are theater.
Theater. Albuquerque: University of New Workshops usually begin by explaining
Mexico Press.
the background of the Theater of the Op-
pressed to those taking part. This is fol-
Theater of the Oppressed lowed by game playing that is normally
very physical. There are over two hundred
The Theater of the Oppressed, the cre- possible games listed in Boal’s seminal
ation of Brazilian theater practitioner Au- work Games for Actors and Non-Actors
gusto Boal (1931– ), is highly influential in (2002). The purpose of these games is to
experimental theater groups throughout heighten participants’ senses, de-mecha-
the world. Boal developed his Theater of nize the body, develop relationships and
the Oppressed in 1974, during the heady trust, and have a good time. The workshop
days of the Brazilian dictatorship. The then proceeds with exercises. The exercise
very title of this new theatrical style was most associated with the Theater of the
bound to create problems with the cen- Oppressed is “forum theater,” whereby ac-
sors in Brazil, as were Boal’s leftist politi- tors play out a situation describing some
cal credentials, for which he had already kind of oppression that the audience can
been imprisoned and tortured for three relate to, and at the end the audience is
months in 1972. On his release from asked to intervene and offer alternative so-
prison he went into self-imposed exile in lutions or actions for the oppressed char-
Argentina, Peru, Portugal, and Paris until acter. The workshop usually ends with a
the late 1980s, and therefore the Theater lively debate involving all participants.
of the Oppressed was devised outside Such is the impact of Boal’s method that
of Brazil but as a result of Brazilian op- over twenty books have been written on
pression. the subject and official Theater of the Op-
Boal is closely associated with the edu- pressed centers can be found in seventy
cator Paulo Freire, a fellow Brazilian, par- countries. The first center was set up in
ticularly with regard to his use of con- Paris, where Boal’s work is more popular
sciousness-raising techniques. Boal’s than anywhere else in the world, including
motivation behind developing new ap- Brazil. Recent Theater of the Oppressed
proaches to the theater was to set up a di- projects in the United States and the
alogue with the audience and to encour- United Kingdom have involved working
age a sense of empowerment among with the homeless, and in Brazil, Boal and
people on the margins of traditional deci- his proponents work with groups in pris-
sion-making processes. So in a perfor- ons, the MST (Landless People’s Move-
mance based on Boal’s techniques, the ment), maids, the unemployed, and so on.
clear divisions between stage and audi- Most recently Boal has turned his attention
ence, performers and spectators, are re- to reworking more conventional theatrical
placed by a free-flowing interaction be- genres, such as a version in 2002 of Verdi’s
tween the two. Workshops replace plays, La Traviata set to samba music, which
and the traditional middle-class audience Boal called a “sambópera.”
is replaced by marginalized groups. Boal —Stephanie Dennison
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 121

See also: Popular Music: Samba; Popular The term “apagón cultural,” or cultural
Social Movements and Politics: MST blackout, soon became the governing
metaphor for the arts in Chile. For theater
Bibliography the situation was exacerbated by the fact
Boal, Augusto. 1989. Theatre of the Oppressed.
that drama had long had connections with
London: Pluto.
———. 1994. The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal
universities, which in turn were associated
Method of Theatre and Therapy. London and with radical politics of the Left. The most
New York: Routledge. famous examples of this were the experi-
———. 1998. Legislative Theatre: Using mental groups founded at the University of
Performance to Make Politics. London and Chile and the Catholic University in the
New York: Routledge.
early 1940s, during the Marxist coalition
———. 2001. Hamlet and the Baker’s Son: My
Life in Theatre and Politics. London and
Frente Popular (Popular Front) govern-
New York: Routledge. ment. These groups were temporarily
———. 2002. Games for Actors and Non- closed and afterward were stringently con-
Actors. London and New York: Routledge. trolled, allowed during the first years of
Brown, Ray. 2002. “Bums off Seats.” London military rule to stage little other than clas-
Guardian, 24 July.
sics. During the 1960s playwrights pro-
Cardboard Citizens—The Homeless People’s
Theatre Group Official Website. http://www.
duced by the university environment, such
cardboardcitizens.co.uk (consulted 1 August as Jorge Díaz, Sergio Vodánovic, and Egon
2003). Wolff, had criticized bourgeois society but
Theater of the Oppressed Center—Rio de presaged social changes feared by the mid-
Janeiro. Website. http://www.ctorio.com.br dle classes rather than offering revolution-
(consulted 1 August 2003).
ary alternatives.
Those who continued to work on the
Theater under Dictatorship stage in Chile after 1973 found that express-
ing defiance to Pinochet’s regime had to be
Chile a process of evolution and gradual advance-
Late twentieth-century Chilean popular ment. Poor judgment could prove costly: a
culture was indelibly marked by the experi- satire on the coup by Grupo Aleph, Al prin-
ence of military dictatorship, beginning cipio existía la vida (And in the Beginning
with the coup led by General Augusto Was Life,1974), was summarily repressed,
Pinochet in 1973 that overthrew the social- and the group’s members were jailed before
ist Popular Unity government of Salvador being sent into exile. In contrast Grupo Ic-
Allende and ended with a plebiscite in tus was sufficiently established and well
1990. The blow of authoritarianism was all known abroad to be tolerated, the govern-
the heavier for having been inflicted upon a ment allowing its productions to continue
society that had known considerable civil as a demonstration to the outside world of
liberty. The savagery of the military action the absence of repression.
taken against real or supposed Marxists, A series of plays gradually emerged that
which included summary executions, dis- avoided censorship by making their politi-
appearances, and forced exile, was fol- cal content nonconfrontational or coded.
lowed by a period of extended terror as the José R. Morales’s 1974 comment on con-
regime sought to consolidate its position. sumerism, Orfeu y el desodorante, o El úl-
122 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

timo viaje a los infiernos (Orpheus and diences. The title plays on the surname of
the Deodorant, or The Last Journey to the poet Nicanor Parra (parra means
Hell), was tolerated, but, perhaps due to its “vine”), on whose work the piece is based.
subtlety in an era of polarization, it made However, its central metaphor, a cemetery’s
little impact. The watershed year 1976 saw encroachment upon a city, was too close to
considerable success for Marco Antonio de reality for some critics, and the marquee in
la Parra with Lo crudo, lo cocido, y lo po- which it was performed mysteriously
drido (The Raw, the Cooked, and the Rot- burned down. Another Feria creation, Una
ten), a political allegory set in a moribund pena y un cariño (Sadness and Joy, 1978),
café whose clients are dying off along with satirized the idyllic official image of Chile.
their outmoded beliefs. In the same year One of the most significant develop-
Luis Rivano’s Te llamabas Rosicler (You ments in theater in Chile resulting from the
Were Called Rosicler) presented a similar dictatorship was that of grassroots per-
image of decay, a house in a once aristo- formance. A product and expression of
cratic neighborhood whose inhabitants’ at- popular movements throughout the coun-
tempts to restore it are doomed. Pedro, try’s poorer areas, this type of theater con-
Juan, y Diego (Tom, Dick, and Harry, tinues to respond to all manner of social
1976), by Julio Benaventes and Grupo Ic- and political challenges. The movement re-
tus, was one of several plays that took up ceived a new impetus in the mid-1980s, es-
the theme of unemployment and its humili- pecially outside the capital city, Santiago,
ating effects. Tres Marías y una Rosa with the political gains made against the
(Three Marias and one Rosa, 1979), which dictatorship. Repression has given rise to a
Benaventes created along with the Taller de heightened creativity in grassroots commu-
Investigación Teatral (Theater Research nication, which has also had its effects on
Workshop), gives a complementary view- mainstream theater. Many people from es-
point of women’s experience. The play is tablished theater groups have collaborated
set among makers of arpilleras, the famous with the grassroots movements, enabling a
patchwork tapestries depicting everyday mutual influence to take place.
scenes. The playwright Isidora Aguirre, This process continues in current Chilean
who had begun to write socially critical theater: the nation’s ongoing debate still sets
plays well before the coup, continued to the option of reconciliation (collective am-
produce work that clearly allegorized the nesia for some) against that of a full and un-
dictatorship, such as Retablo de Yumbel blinking examination of the Pinochet legacy.
(Yumbel Altarpiece, 1987), a work that A group of dramatists called La Academia
marked the discovery of a mass grave, dat- Imaginaria (The Imaginary Academy), which
ing from just after the coup, by establishing seeks to maintain an atmosphere of inquiry
a parallel with Christian martyrdom. into the country’s history through theater,
Another group that evolved with the certainly favors the latter option.
times, seeking a measure of success while —Keith Richards
avoiding overt censure, was Grupo Feria. Its
1977 production of Hojas de Parra (Leaves Bibliography
from Parra’s Book), by José Manuel Sal- Albuquerque, Severino João. 1991. Violent Acts:
cedo and Jaime Vadell, attracted sizable au- A Study of Contemporary Latin American
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 123

Theatre. Detroit: Wayne State University nevertheless one of extraordinary brutality.

Press. An estimated 35,000 people were seized by
Boyle, Catherine M. 1992. Chilean Theatre, the military during this time. Many of these
1973–1985: Marginality, Power, Selfhood.
“disappeared” (a verb that began, in this
London: Associated University Presses.
Ochsenius, Carlos. 1991. “Popular Theater and context, to be used transitively). This pe-
Popular Movements.” Pp. 173–188 in Popular riod, which revealed the profound divi-
Culture in Chile: Resistance and Survival, sions in Argentine society, at least saw a
edited by Kenneth Aman and Cristián Parker. temporary détente in the realm of drama;
Oxford: Westview. the hostilities between realism and experi-
Versenyi, Adam. 1998. “Social Critique and
mentation or between naturalism and the
Theatrical Power in the Plays of Isidora
Aguirre.” Pp. 159–177 in Latin American avant-garde were shelved as the theatrical
Women Dramatists: Theater, Texts, and response to dictatorship blossomed into
Theories, edited by Catherine Larson and Teatro Abierto (Open Theater). This move-
Margarita Vargas. Bloomington: Indiana ment was known not only for the audacity
University Press. of its political and aesthetic stance but also
for its role in uniting the above-mentioned
Argentina tendencies. Despite its brevity (1981 to
The period of military dictatorship in Ar- 1985), Teatro Abierto is still considered
gentina commonly known as the Guerra one of the most influential of Argentina’s
Sucia (Dirty War) began in 1976 and theatrical movements.
reached its squalid demise with defeat in Argentina had long been accustomed to
the Falklands/Malvinas War of 1982. The periods of authoritarian rule, and interfer-
Dirty War was an assault on all individuals, ence in artistic production was not uncom-
groups, and institutions that could be con- mon even during spells of formal democ-
sidered left-wing or liberal under practi- racy. The country’s theater had developed
cally any definition. Also known as the means of dealing with such conditions by
Process of National Reorganization (el anticipating and precluding right-wing
Proceso), it was conceived as a complete backlashes. However, the first years of the
restructuring of Argentine society that Proceso were particularly severe. Some of
would eliminate all forms of resistance to the country’s most established playwrights,
the extreme Right and reestablish the such as Griselda Gambaro, Osvaldo
Catholic Church’s authority, male su- Dragún, and Roberto Cossa, were excluded
premacy, and the most stringently conser- from the state-run theaters during this pe-
vative codes of behavior. Diana Taylor riod. Gambaro, Eduardo Pavlovsky, and
(1997) has argued that the military rule had many others among the theatrical commu-
its distinctly theatrical element, on the part nity were exiled. Some dramatists, such as
of both the perpetrators and the civilian re- Rodolfo Walsh and Fernando Urondo,
sistance. Within this ambiance the material were even “disappeared.” Performances of
potential for social comment in the theater plays considered subversive were often at-
increased just as the conditions for such tacked and the theaters housing them were
content were severely diminished. burned down. All these measures had long
Considerably shorter than the dictator- been employed, albeit more sparingly, but
ship in Chile, the Argentine experience was they intensified in 1976.
124 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Controversial plays were treated particu- Susana Torres Molina’s Extraño juguete
larly severely in 1976 and 1977. For in- (Strange Plaything, 1977) uses a meta-the-
stance, the premiere of Pavlovsky’s atrical device in the cathartic enactment of
Telarañas (Spider-Webs, 1976) was first the characters’ fantasies. The possibility of
postponed due to problems with the cen- multiple interpretations and the self-con-
sor and then banned by decree. David tained nature of game and ritual meant
Viñas’s Dorrego (1974) was also banned, these plays largely escaped the attention of
and neither of these plays would be per- the censors.
formed until the end of military rule. Playwrights also exercised self-censor-
Dramatists were forced into indirect so- ship. This painful by-product of repression
cial comment, such as metaphorical explo- led many to question their own writing and
rations of the murkier areas of family life the degree to which they had bowed to pres-
and personal relationships. Such ostensi- sure. María Elena Walsh, in her influential
bly neutral themes nevertheless offered article “Desventuras en el País-Jardín-de-
possibilities for political and social anal- Infantes” (“Misadventures in Kindergarten-
ogy. Telarañas was a prime example, with Land,” 1986), was one of many writers to
its image of domestic dictatorship and vic- lament the effects of this climate of terror
timization within the nuclear family. upon national intellectual life, even after the
Cossa’s plays La nona (Granny, 1977) and transition to formal democracy.
No hay que llorar (No Need to Cry, 1979) The dictatorship gradually lost its grip
both criticized the Argentine middle class on theater, as with society in general, dur-
through allegorical visions of the family, ing its final three years, with divided au-
rendered dysfunctional by social circum- thorities now outwitted by the dramatists’
stances that it had helped to create. La facility in attacking the political situation
nona, with its grotesque central figure of with increasing force and subtlety. In July
the ancient grandmother whose voracious 1981, a little over halfway through the Pro-
eating creates hunger all around her, was a ceso years, Teatro Abierto arose as a for-
particularly vivid depiction of uncon- mal movement. Credit for resistance
sciously brutal inequality, entrenched and should be given not only to those involved
intractable. in production but also to critics, such as
Another thematic area fruitful for drama- Osvaldo Pellettieri and Jorge Dubatti, who
tists seeking to avoid censorship was that not only interpreted plays but also helped
of games and rituals, often depicted in bru- playwrights, in tacit collusion against the
tal excess of their normal conditions and authorities, to avoid censure.
rules. The title of Cossa’s Tute cabrero The effects of the Proceso are still being
(1981) is the name of the card game felt and discussed in theater as in the other
through which one of the three players, all arts. The playwrights mentioned above
workers at a factory, is to lose his job. Jue- continue to probe the causes and effects of
gos a la hora de siesta (Games during dictatorship, but they also need to respond
Nap Time, 1977), by Roma Mahieu, exam- to Argentina’s present-day condition: the
ined childhood cruelty in an allegory of catastrophic economic collapse in 2000–
adult sadomasochism, suggesting that the 2001 and the comprehensive loss of faith in
oppressed had a responsibility to resist. formal politics. These themes have been
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 125

taken up not only by the more established of popular theater was dedicated to repre-
Argentine theater but also by the fringe. senting the common people, and authori-
Circuito Off, a Buenos Aires movement ties viewed it with suspicion. They closed
whose central figure is the theatrical direc- down many carpas in the 1940s and 1950s
tor Ricardo Bartís, resists orthodox poli- to make way for movie theaters.
tics as nonrepresentative and rejects both The stock character of the carpa, as in
state and corporate funding in its efforts to Brazil’s teatro de revista, was the country
avoid being forced into a space contrived bumpkin who is bewildered by the big city
by political authority. but far wiser than the supposedly urbane
—Keith Richards people around him. In common with popu-
lar theater all over the world, the carpa’s
Bibliography typical cast included city slickers, police-
Graham-Jones, Jean. 2000. Exorcising History: men, effeminate males, harlots, and
Argentine Theatre under Dictatorship.
shrews. A carpa show, known as a tanda,
London: Associated University Presses.
Larson, Catherine, and Margarita Vargas, eds.
was very cheap to attend and consisted of
1998. Latin American Women Dramatists: four acts, including comic monologues,
Theater, Texts, and Theories. Bloomington: lewd songs and dances, acrobatic stunts,
Indiana University Press. and romantic skits. Audience participation,
Taylor, Diana. 1996. “Rewriting the Classics: in the form of applause, comments, and
Antígona furiosa and the Madres de la Plaza
heckling, was very much part of the experi-
de Mayo.” Pp. 77–93 in Perspectives on
Contemporary Spanish American Theatre,
ence. The carpa relied on improvisation
edited by Frank Dauster. London: Associated rather than scripts and thus on the skills of
University Presses. individual artists in bringing the stock
———. 1997. Disappearing Acts. Durham, NC, characters to life.
and London: Duke University Press. The modern carpa is thought to have be-
Versényi, Adam. 1993. Theatre in Latin
gun in the 1870s with temporary theaters
America: Religion, Politics, and Culture
from Cortés to the 1980s. Cambridge:
set up for the holiday season beginning on
Cambridge University Press. the Day of the Dead (1 November) and
continuing throughout Christmas, when
pastoral plays were performed. The city
Popular Theater and Music Hall council of Mexico City then began to issue
permits, giving rise to circuses, novelty the-
Carpa aters, variety salons, and jacalones (liter-
Carpa (literally “tent” theater) is a popular ally “big shacks”). By 1922 these popular
Mexican theatrical tradition based on theaters had been given the name of
vaudeville and improvisation. Carpa the- carpas. The facilities were poor, such as
aters flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in unpredictable stage lights and uncomfort-
the working-class districts of Mexico City able seats for the audience. Only about one
and many provincial cities, especially in in ten carpas had toilets. Stagehands
the old Barrio Latino, a brothel district on would hang the canvas big top from any
the west side of the Mexican capital, an available pole, including streetlights.
area that was demolished during urban re- Performances relied on what has been
newals of the contemporary era. This form called a carnivalesque aesthetics, which
126 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

demanded that those on stage establish an Teatro de Revista

immediate rapport with the poorly edu- Teatro de revista, Brazil’s version of music-
cated audience. The early shows were hall theater, had taken shape by the 1880s
based on the medieval popular culture of and continued to flourish between the 1920s
feast days and marketplaces, but they al- and 1940s. This form of popular theater re-
ready reflected elements of modern indus- lied heavily on circus humor, sociopolitical
trial society. A favorite theme was the cul- critique, and musical numbers, and it was a
ture clash between rural and urban society, particularly carioca (Rio de Janeiro–based)
often in the form of an encounter between phenomenon. It is most closely associated
a city slicker and a country bumpkin. The with Artur Azevedo (1855–1908), the most
carpa highlighted the negative effects of prolific and highly regarded popular play-
modern life on the family, masculinity, and wright of the late nineteenth century.
patriarchy. In the teatro de revista, sketches and
The comic film star Cantinflas (Mario jokes that hinged on saucy humor and satir-
Moreno, 1911–1993) began his acting ca- ical commentary, and an eclectic range of
reer in the carpa around 1930. In that year music ranging from Afro-Brazilian rhythms
he began working regularly at the Carpa to imported genres like the fox-trot, took
Sotelo in a suburb of Mexico City, and precedence over choreography, although
three years later he joined the Carpa the tradition gave center stage to scantily
Valentina, a troupe that belonged to Rus- clad dancing girls. Carnival provided the
sian circus performers who had fled the teatro de revista with enduring subject
chaos of the civil war in Russia in 1919. matter and was often combined with politi-
After he made the transition to the big cal satire. From the second decade of the
screen, many less successful carpa per- twentieth century onward, the revista car-
formers accused Cantinflas of stealing navalesca (carnival revue) came into its
their characters, costumes, mannerisms, own. The revista carnavalesca was
and skits. His success at the box office ul- launched a few months before Carnival
timately dealt a fatal blow to the carpa each year, and in the 1930s it vied with the
theater. chanchada films as the mouthpiece for pro-
—Lisa Shaw moting the music destined for the annual
celebration. The inversions so intrinsic to
See also: Popular Theater and Performance:
Carnival were reflected in the title of the
Popular Theater and Music Hall (Teatro de
Revista); Popular Cinema: Comedy Film 1915 revista, De pernas pro ar (Topsy-
(Cantinflas); Popular Religion and Turvy). Many future film stars, such as Os-
Festivals: Popular Festivals (Mexico) carito and Carmen Miranda, established
their acting careers in the teatro de revista.
Bibliography The first of the revistas de año (revues
Covarrubias, Miguel. 1938. “Slapstick and of the year) premiered in 1859. At the end
Venom: Politics, Tent Shows, and of each year, they provided good-humored
Comedians.” Theater Arts 22 (August):
commentary on political events and fo-
Pilcher, Jeffrey M. 2001. Cantinflas and the cused on daily life through a comic lens.
Chaos of Mexican Modernity. Wilmington, Like the early chanchadas of the 1930s and
DE: Scholarly Resources. 1940s, they referred to everyday problems
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 127

with which the audience could identify, tending to be black, which would become
such as faulty telephone connections, the synonymous with Carmen Miranda’s screen
failings of public transport, and dirty persona and later with the chanchadas of
streets. The revue O Rio de Janeiro em the 1950s. The male performers in these the-
1877 (Rio de Janeiro in 1877), written by atrical shows also often appeared in drag,
Artur Azevedo, poked fun at the stupidity such as in the revue Silêncio, Rio! (Shut up,
of the police force and politicians. It also Rio! 1941), in which five well-known female
highlighted problems faced by ordinary artists were impersonated by male stars.
people during the previous year, ranging —Lisa Shaw
from flooding in the then capital and the
terrible drought that afflicted the northeast See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in
to the yellow fever epidemic that was a reg- Hollywood (Carmen Miranda); Popular
Cinema: Comedy Film (Chanchada);
ular summer occurrence in the city.
Popular Religion and Festivals: Popular
Another dominant theme of these theatri- Festivals (Carnival in Brazil)
cal revues was the culture clash between
rural and urban lifestyles, as symbolized by Bibliography
the arrival of an illiterate hick, known as Cavalcanti de Paiva, Salvyano. 1991. Viva o
the caipira, in the big city. In the revista rebolado! Vida e morte do teatro de revista
Abacaxi (Pineapple, 1893), for example, brasileiro. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira.
Dennison, Stephanie, and Lisa Shaw. 2004.
the actor João Colás played a character re-
Popular Cinema in Brazil. Manchester, UK:
ferred to simply as “o caipira do Ceará,” Manchester University Press.
literally “the hick from Ceará,” a drought- Süssekind, Flora. 1986. As revistas de año e a
ridden state in northeastern Brazil. In O invenção do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro:
meu boi morreu (My Ox Has Died, 1916), Nova Fronteira—Fundação Casa de Rui
an identical character from Ceará arrives in Barbosa.
Rio and is overwhelmed by the marvels and
pitfalls of city life; he is finally reassured Circus and Cabaret
that his rural existence, however humble, is
infinitely preferable. This character became Astrid Hadad (1954– )
synonymous with the Jeca, who appeared The Lebanese-Mexican performance artist
in the eponymous revue Jeca Tatu (1919). and cabaret singer Astrid Hadad undertook
The stereotypes of the urban landscape professional training in the 1970s first as an
that provided the stock characters of the actress and subsequently as a singer. Never-
teatro de revista ranged from the unedu- theless, she has rebelled against the solem-
cated migrant to the indolent civil servant, nity of traditional theater and opera, prefer-
from the wily mulata (mixed-race woman ring to focus her work on the most eclectic
of African and white European descent) elements of Mexican popular culture, on
and wide-boy malandro, or spiv (similar to ad-lib political satire, and on a revision of
the term “zoot-suiter”), to the Portuguese women’s place in Mexican culture. Her per-
immigrant. Furthermore, these revues often formances demonstrate the influence of
featured stylized, white-skinned baianas early twentieth-century German cabaret,
(the caricature of the Afro-Brazilian female early Mexican cinema, and the post-revolu-
street vendors of the city of Salvador), pre- tionary Mexican carpa and the teatro de re-
128 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Astrid Hadad performs at “La Bodega,” Mexico City, August 2001. (Lynsey

vista traditions (the latter a marginal prac- and highly entertaining form of postmodern
tice in Mexico that blended conservative cabaret. She has worked with other alterna-
Spanish operetta with the remnants of the tive Mexican actresses and singers, such as
Mexican circus and with sexual license). Jesusa Rodríguez (1955– ), but in 1985 she
Her shows are a breathtaking, disturbing, went solo and subsequently formed her
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 129

own group, Los Tarzanes (an old name used hance her ironic approach and to incorpo-
to denominate pachucos). Her records in- rate references to contemporary popular
clude ¡Ay! (Woe Is Me! 1990), Corazón san- culture and topical events such as the AIDS
grante (Bleeding Heart, 1995), and epidemic, the North American Free Trade
Pecadora (Sinner, 2003). Agreement (NAFTA), and the uses of the
In the early 1990s, Hadad’s work resulted Internet in Mexico. Her “alternative” views
in the creation of a new style of popular on sexual preference are also increasingly
music called “heavy nopal” (nopal is the apparent.
iconic edible cactus that figures on the Hadad’s work has been compared to that
Mexican flag). Heavy nopal is an ironic re- of fellow Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as well
working of the style and themes typical of as to that of the Spanish film director Pedro
the Mexican popular music known as Almodóvar. Although she denies any direct
ranchera. Hadad took as her inspiration the influence on her work by these artists, she,
early twentieth-century ranchera singer like Kahlo and Almodóvar, is producing
Lucha Reyes (1908–1944). Reyes was the work that has garnered a certain interna-
first woman to adopt the raw, belligerent tional reputation. Indeed, Hadad is more
style of singing that male ranchera singers popular in the United States and Great
used, and her sexuality also clearly lay be- Britain than in Mexico. This is perhaps due
yond the bounds of officially sanctioned to her irreverent, even sacrilegious, attitude
heterosexuality. Although this subversive to official Mexican culture. For example,
edge had been eroded with time and Reyes her use of the image of the Virgin of
had been assimilated into the official pan- Guadalupe on her skirt in the early 1990s
theon of heroes and heroines of Mexican was censored on Mexican television. Nev-
popular culture, Hadad revived Reyes’s ertheless, heavy nopal has had some influ-
repertoire and delivery with a view to re- ence on young Mexican rock musicians,
claiming the singer for her own revisionist and Hadad continues to provide a healthy
approach to official culture. Furthermore, counterweight to the myopia of the regime.
Hadad upped the ante by performing tradi- —Thea Pitman
tional ranchera songs with costumes,
props, and gestures that treated the songs’ See also: Popular Music: Mariachi, Ranchera,
Norteña, Tex-Mex; Popular Theater and
lyrics ironically. Purists of ranchera music
Performance: Popular Theater and Music
were scandalized, calling her “malinchista” Hall (Carpa); Cultural Icons: Religious and
(a reference to Hernán Cortés’s lover La Mythical Figures (La Malinche; Virgin of
Malinche, who is synonymous with betrayal Guadalupe); Visual Arts and Architecture:
in Mexico). Art (Frida Kahlo)
After the initial heavy nopal phase,
Hadad moved on to a repertoire based on Bibliography
Cuban rumbas and sones, together with el- Alzate, Gastón. 1997. “Expandiendo los límites
del teatro: Una entrevista con Astrid Hadad.”
ements of traditional Spanish and Por-
Latin American Theater Review 30, no. 2:
tuguese popular music. She has also 153–163.
moved from literal but ironic interpreta- Constantino, Roselyn. 2000. “And She Wears It
tions of traditional songs to irreverent Well: Feminist and Cultural Debates in the
adaptations of such lyrics intended to en- Work of Astrid Hadad.” Pp. 398–421 in Latinas
130 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

on Stage, edited by Alicia Arrizón and Lillian gal immigrant, complete with bushy mus-
Manzor. Berkeley: Third Woman Press. tache). Furthermore, since he is not really
Guillermoprieto, Alma. 1995. The Heart That Chicano by birth he is not fully integrated
Bleeds: Latin America Now. New York:
into that cultural group either. He uses his
Hadad, Astrid. n.d. “Astrid Hadad.” Astrid experiences of not fitting into these various
Hadad Website. http://www.astridhadad.com cultures as the subject of his art in order to
(consulted 13 June 2003). criticize them. It is his intention to explode
such stable, discrete concepts of national
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (1955– ) identity in favor of the much more fluid re-
The work of notorious contemporary Mexi- ality of life in the borderlands.
can/Chicano performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña tends to work in collabora-
Gómez-Peña has included such extreme tion with other performance artists, often
acts as trying to crucify himself on a beach Latino, such as the Chicano Roberto Si-
outside San Francisco one Easter to see fuentes and the Cuban-American Coco
the reaction of passersby (on the assump- Fusco. Activities include setting up “living
tion that passersby would intervene and dioramas” in museums, where they pose as
save him from death). The wider context of postmodern “saints” in Plexiglas boxes for
this work was an exploration of U.S. citi- days on end. Museum visitors can confess
zens’ reactions to “Latino immigrants.” He their sins via a computer terminal and re-
was within hours of dying by the time he quest that Gómez-Peña and colleagues per-
was taken down from his cross. form various acts to exorcise the visitors’
Gómez-Peña’s main aim in his perfor- cross-racial fears and desires. He is also
mance art is to disturb people’s precon- known for the videos of his performances,
ceived ideas about racial and national iden- such as Border Brujo (1988, 1990), in
tity and about self and other. Much of his which he plays the role of an extravagantly
work depends on the physical reality of the attired cross-cultural shaman who again of-
U.S.-Mexican border to give it coherence. fers to confront and exorcise racial fears.
Since 1992, however, the border has be- In the same performance he also incar-
come a much more flexible metaphor that nates a wide array of border personae such
enables him to explore many of the more as the pachuco, the upper-class Latino, and
conceptual borders of the postmodern the redneck to exemplify racial tensions.
world. He often uses his own body and per- More recently he has also published a num-
sonal experiences as a source of inspiration ber of books to accompany or supplement
and as a site for the incarnation of his per- his performances, for example the comic
formances. He was born and raised in Mex- books Friendly Cannibals (1996) and
ico City, although since 1978 he has lived Codex Espangliensis (2000), produced in
and worked in the United States and now conjunction with artist Enrique Chagoya,
has dual nationality. Yet he fits neither na- and Dangerous Border Crossers (2000), a
tional culture: he is too pocho (Anglicized) genre-defying account of some of his per-
and too antinationalist for Mexican culture, formances, performance personae, and ex-
and he is too Hispanic to blend into main- tra-performance autobiographical experi-
stream U.S. Anglo culture (he deliberately ences. His work is undoubtedly both
cultivates the look of a brown-skinned, ille- entertaining and effective in disturbing the
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 131

audience. Gómez-Peña has met with in- creates apparently absurd situations that
creasing success in recent years and has nonetheless present an essential truth, cre-
taken his performances as far afield as ating public awareness of some inherently
Wales and Russia. vicious treatment of those without formal
—Thea Pitman rights or representation. Often the targets
of her work are damaging and iniquitous
Bibliography cultural prejudices and stereotypes. As a
Aldama, Frederick Luis. 1999. “The New U.S. citizen of Cuban origin, she is able to
Millennial Xicano: An Interview with
inform such performances with personal
Guillermo Gómez-Peña.” XCP: Cross-
Cultural Poetics 5: 7–11.
Drake, Jennifer. 2001. “The Theater of the New Perhaps her most famous piece of per-
World (B)Orders: Performing Cultural formance art is the 1992 Two Undiscovered
Criticism with Coco Fusco, Guillermo Amerindians Visit the West, which Fusco
Gómez-Peña, and Anna Deavere Smith.” Pp. cocreated with Guillermo Gómez-Peña and
159–173 in Women of Color: Defining the
which was performed during the highly
Issues, Hearing the Voices, edited by Diane
Long Hoeveler and Janet K Boles. Westport,
controversial celebrations marking the
CT: Greenwood. fifth centenary of Columbus’s voyages to
Fox, Claire F. 1996. “Mass Media, Site the Americas. It sought to lampoon the no-
Specificity, and the U.S.-Mexico Border: tion of European “discovery” of the Ameri-
Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s Border Brujo.” Pp. cas and the ethnographic exhibition of peo-
228–243 in The Ethnic Eye: Latino Media
ples during the colonial era. Fusco’s and
Arts, edited by Chon A. Noriega and Ana M.
López. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Gómez-Peña’s three-day sojourns in a
Press. golden cage as inhabitants of Guatinau, a
Gómez-Peña, Guillermo. 2000. Dangerous fictional island in the Gulf of Mexico, had
Border Crossers. London: Routledge. unexpected consequences. First, even
Gómez-Peña, Guillermo, Enrique Chagoya, and though the authors intended the piece to
Felicia Rice. 2000. Codex Espangliensis:
be transparently satirical, numerous mem-
From Columbus to the Border Patrol. San
Francisco: City Lights; Santa Cruz, CA:
bers of the public believed the story was
Moving Parts. true. Second, the artists were criticized on
moral grounds (chiefly that of misleading
the public) by individuals either unable to
Coco Fusco (1960– ) comprehend the spirit of the performance
Since the late 1980s the writer, perfor- or else disingenuously sidestepping its po-
mance artist, and academic Coco Fusco litical implications.
has produced a body of work that is at the Another collaboration with Gómez-
same time accessible, experimental, and Peña, Mexarcane International (1994–
fiercely polemical. She can be considered a 1995), was performed in shopping malls
popular artist at least as regards the sub- and presented a sham agency offering
ject matter, intended audience, and benefi- “ethnic talent for export.” Again the per-
ciaries of her work: her performances are formance was not announced as such, an
usually staged in public spaces where they omission intended to heighten the satire of
are more immediate, avoid the label “art,” the mall’s sterile atmosphere: a safe
and achieve maximum impact. She often (white) haven where the exotic may be
132 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

sampled without risk. Mexarcane Interna- Coco Fusco has demonstrated that her
tional was performed in Scotland, En- work is not driven merely by political ide-
gland, and Canada, but did not appear in ology. A series of writings and perfor-
the United States. mances focusing on Cuba, her mother’s
Stuff (1996), created by Fusco and the homeland, highlights some of the contra-
Mexican-American Nao Bustamante, deals dictions experienced by its people. She has
with the mythology feeding the phenomena developed links with Havana’s best-known
of sex tourism and cultural tourism independent gallery, Espacio Aglutinador,
through enactments of visits to the per- where her performance El evento sus-
formers’ countries of origin. Despite their pendido (The Suspended Event, 2000)
obvious differences, Cuban prostitution, or marked her own experience of accidental
jineterismo, and the Maya liberation strug- exile from the island and solidarity with
gle of the supporters of Zapatismo in Chia- those unable to leave.
pas are shown as attractions linked by Dolores from 10 to 10 (2002), performed
globalization and its attendant processing, with Ricardo Domínguez in 2000, enacts
in the Western mind, of the exotic. Stuff the experience of a worker in a
uses material collected from conversations maquiladora, one of the many assembly
with women in both Cuba and southern plants situated just inside Mexico that al-
Mexico, and the show includes members of low U.S. companies to avoid high labor
the audience brought on stage and given costs and other responsibilities. Shut in a
roles as foreign visitors, sampling foods room for twelve hours by her boss on sus-
and repeating lines of dialogue. Stuff flouts picion of planning to start a union, the
political correctness in exploring the dubi- woman resisted efforts to force her to re-
ously patronizing motives behind New Age sign before taking the company to court.
exoticism, bogus radicalism, and the ra- The situation of maquila workers was also
tionalization of sex tourism. the subject of the performance ACCESS
Sudaca Enterprises (1997) was created DENIED in 1998.
and performed with Juan Pablo Ballester The 2001 video Els Segadors, whose title
and María Elena Escalona during the is taken from a hymn to Catalonia, features
ARCO international contemporary art fair inhabitants of Barcelona singing in “tradi-
in Madrid in 1997. The target of this per- tional” Catalan, coached in the language by
formance was the hypocrisy of selling a Cuban immigrant. This project aimed to
Latin American art at a time when people expose the contradictions in Catalan na-
from the former Spanish colonies (suda- tionalism, long oppressed under the regime
cas, in derogatory Iberian Spanish slang) of Francisco Franco but intolerant, in to-
were subject to new, stringent immigration day’s more prosperous climate, of the cul-
laws. In Sudaca Enterprises the partici- tural diversity brought by immigration.
pants, clad in Zapatista-style masks and —Keith Richards
Andean hats, were illicitly selling T-shirts
See also: Popular Social Movements and
with messages contrasting the prices of the
Politics: Zapatismo; Popular Theater and
artwork with the cost to a Latin American Performance: Circus and Cabaret (Guillermo
immigrant of entering and surviving in Gómez-Peña); Travel and Tourism: Cultural
Spain. Tourism; Sex Tourism
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 133

Bibliography cess of such a format was and is evident

Fusco, Coco. 1995. English Is Broken Here: in the continued popularity of the week-
Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas. end television staple in Brazil, the so-
New York: New Press.
called programa de auditório, or variety
———, ed. 2000. Corpus Delecti: Performance
Art of the Americas. London: Routledge. show. The programa de auditório also
———. 2001. The Bodies That Were Not Ours: has its roots in popular theater and the
And Other Writings. London: Routledge. circus and was popularized on television
by the legendary variety show host
Circo-Teatro Chacrinha and media mogul Sílvio Santos,
Circo-teatro is a popular twentieth-century whose personal style of locution in turn
Brazilian “theater-circus” that grew out of influenced the animadores, or ringmas-
the traditional circus (which originated in ters, in the circuses.
Renaissance Europe) in the second half of Circus audiences were free to voice
the nineteenth century, partly inspired by their opinions during the shows (talking
developments in the circus in Argentina at loudly, booing and heckling actors depict-
the same time. In most cases these small ing greedy landowners, and so on), which
and inexpensively run circuses functioned created a sense of community spectator-
like traveling variety shows; they offered ship. The audience could even influence
clowns, magic acts, plenty of musical inter- the performances, as long as it did not
ludes, and one-act plays, often set to mu- show disrespect for the artists them-
sic. The inclusion of these plays in the cir- selves. In the circo-teatro this sense of au-
cus program may have been inspired by the dience participation was reinforced on a
entremez, the tradition of short comedic practical level by the help offered by the
plays set to music that had been brought local population, and children in particu-
over from Portugal to Brazil in the first half lar, in setting up the circus tent. Most of
of the nineteenth century. The popularity the circus members came from poor
of the circo-teatro was such that they were neighborhoods similar to those where
said to have dealt a fatal blow to the tradi- they perform. Those who were “discov-
tional theater outside of Brazil’s large ered” in the circus and went on to become
cities. radio, television, and film stars often re-
The circo-teatro kept diversifying turned to their communities and made
throughout the twentieth century in order guest appearances in these small circuses,
to survive competition from radio, cin- in much the same way that they would ap-
ema, and, later, television. Despite the in- pear on Sílvio Santos’s variety television
famous proliferation of television sets in program, for example.
Brazil, there were between 100 and 150 One of the most significant elements of
circo-teatros in the suburbs of São Paulo the circus in Brazil was the clown, who in
in 1980. By the 1980s the shows included the late nineteenth century played a piv-
dancing competitions, groups playing otal role in the development of circus the-
samba and northeastern music, lengthy in- atrics. The so-called palhaço-ator, or ac-
terviews with contestants for prizes of- tor-clown, is regarded as unique to Brazil.
fered in between acts, and pop hits from These clowns were also responsible for in-
television and radio. The guaranteed suc- creasing the importance of music in the
134 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

circus, often by setting plays to music or Street Theater

singing slightly rude modinhas, the popu-
lar musical form of the time, presumably Mexico
under pressure of competition from the in- In the southern Mexican state of Chiapas
creasingly popular teatro de revista, or the very existence of Mayan ethnicity and
music-hall theater, in cities such as Rio de culture has long been under insidious
Janeiro. A number of successful palhaços- threat from landowning concerns, tacitly
atores at the turn of the century went on to supported by political authority. The the-
have careers in the music industry, thus re- ater group Lo’il Maxil (Monkey Business)
inforcing the link among clowning, was formed in 1985, two years after the
singing, and musicality. Eduardo Sebastião founding of the Mayan cultural center of
das Neves was one such palhaço-ator who which it forms a part: Sna Jtz’ibajom
found success as a musical performer. (House of the Writer) in San Cristóbal de
Like many singing clowns, he was black las Casas. Lo’il Maxil comprises members
and he had ginga, or swing, considered es- of communities speaking the indigenous
sential in black entertainers for successful Tzeltal and Tzotzil languages, although
comedic performances. In the popular cin- plays are performed only in Tzotzil and
ema, four such “clowns” who started out Spanish. The group aims at nothing less
in the circus are Mazzaropi, who would than salvaging Mayan cultural heritage in
also burst into song in his films; Oscarito the area, redressing the erosion caused by
and Grande Otelo, the well-known double centuries of oppression. Taking as a model
act of the Atlântida chanchadas, both the Chiapaneca poet and novelist Rosario
renowned for their facial expressions; and Castellanos (1925–1974), who incorpo-
Mussum, the black member of the Trapal- rated the indigenous oral tradition into her
hões, who combines a background in mu- work and insisted upon its value, the group
sic (samba) with humor based on facial became a workshop for writers keen to de-
expressions. velop their craft. Building up from small-
—Stephanie Dennison scale grassroots publishing and needing to
overcome initial suspicion of their inten-
See also: Popular Music: Samba; Popular tions from all sides, Sna Jtz’ibajom
Theater and Performance: Popular Theater mounted a literacy project in the early
and Music Hall (Teatro de Revista); Mass
1980s, funded by the Smithsonian Institu-
Media: Radio (Brazil); Television (Brazil);
Popular Cinema: Comedy Film (Chanchada)
tion. It has become a well-respected insti-
tution supported by several major interna-
Bibliography tional bodies.
Dennison, Stephanie, and Lisa Shaw. 2004. The group has a repertoire of twelve
Popular Cinema in Brazil. Manchester, plays, some of which are available on video
UK: Manchester University Press. in Spanish, written and developed collec-
Tinhorão, José Ramos. 2000. “Circo brasileiro: tively by the group’s members. Lo’il Maxil
O local no universal.” Pp. 193–214 in Entre
also benefits from North American collabo-
Europa e África: A invenção do carioca,
edited by Antonio Herculano Lopes. Rio de ration: ten of its plays were directed by
Janeiro: Topbooks/Edições Casa de Rui Ralph Lee of New York’s Mettawee River
Barbosa. Company, and Robert Laughlin acts as im-
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 135

presario in several essential areas. Diego Pp. 71–84 in Imperialism and Theatre,
Méndez Guzmán, current director of Sna edited by Ellen Gainor. London: Routledge.
Jtz’ibajom, is Mexico’s first Mayan novelist Laughlin, Robert. 1995. “From All for All: A
Tzotzil-Tzeltal Tragicomedy.” American
and provided the basic idea for the play
Anthropologist 97, no. 3: 528–542.
Herencia fatal (Deadly Inheritance, 1993). Sna Jtz’ibajom, the House of the Mayan Writer
This is a true story of sibling jealousy over Website. http://www.laneta.apc.org/
a disputed inheritance resulting in fratri- snajtzibaj/theatre.htm (consulted 1 August
cide, a crime dealt with by the local com- 2003).
munity according to Mayan tradition, by- Steele, Cynthia. 1994. “‘A Woman Fell into the
River’: Negotiating Female Subjects in
passing central authority. On a different
Contemporary Mayan Theatre.” Pp. 239–258
note the comedy ¿A poco hay cimarrones? in Negotiating Performance: Gender,
(Who Believes in Spooks?, 1990) lampoons Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o
irrational fears by revisiting the Mayan leg- America, edited by Diana Taylor and Juan
ends that in colonial times grew up around Villegas. Durham, NC, and London: Duke
the phenomenon of runaway African University Press.

slaves, who were seen as supernatural be-

ings. Other Lo’il Maxil productions are The Andes
more directly political, such as De todos The Peruvian theater collective Yuyachkani
para todos (From All for All, 1994). Based Cultural Group was founded in 1971, and
on the Zapatista rebellion, this work has since then it has remained one of the most
been performed for Mayan immigrants in innovative and politically committed in the
the United States as well as on television in country. Its focus has remained upon native
Mexico. Andean culture and the Andean indigenous
The growing international reputation of experience of twentieth-century social up-
Lo’il Maxil led in 1995 to their involvement heaval. This can be seen from the Quechua
and participation in the John Sayles film name (meaning “I am thinking” or “I am re-
Men with Guns, set in Central America in membering”), which hints at the power of
the 1980s at the height of the persecution reflection and historical memory in the
of native peoples under the banner of anti- process of resistance. This identification is
communism. Shot in Chiapas, this film evident too from the group’s aesthetic, that
owes its sense of authenticity to Sayles’s is, its use of dance, masks, and ritual, an
insistence on using indigenous actors, as eclecticism reflected in the title “Cultural
well as to the fact that such strife was and Group.” Despite its chosen subject matter,
still is unresolved. Yuyachkani has generally used humor as a
—Keith Richards common element in its repertoire.
The presentation of Encuentro de zorros
See also: Popular Social Movements and (Meeting of Foxes, 1985) confirmed the
Politics: Zapatismo; Language: Indigenous
group’s tendency to see Peruvian nation-
hood as inevitably and inexorably multicul-
tural. The piece was based on the posthu-
Frischmann, Donald. 1995. “Contemporary mously published novel by José María
Mayan Theater and Ethnic Conflict: The Arguedas, El zorro de arriba y el zorro de
Recovery and (Re) Interpretation of History.” abajo (The Fox from Up Above and the
136 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Dancers perform during an annual street festival in the small fishing village of Eten along Peru’s
northern coast, 30 July 1988. (Nathan Benn/Corbis)

Fox from Down Below, first published in Santiago (St. James, 2000) reflects the
1971), which examines the extraordinary hemorrhaging population of many Andean
demographics of Peru in the 1960s and the areas as a result of unrest and economic
massive migration from the rural Andes to decline. It depicts a long-neglected reli-
the coastal cities. gious ceremony revived, in desperation, by
Adiós Ayacucho (1990) was based on the three remaining inhabitants of a remote
Julio Ortega’s novel of the same name village. Antigone (2000) is another devel-
(which was translated as Ayacucho, Good- opment of a literary text, this time José
bye) and speaks for the inhabitants of the Watanabe’s transposition of the Sophocles
region most ravaged by Peru’s political vio- play to an Andean context.
lence. Its protagonist, after being tortured Yuyachkani has at times been criticized
and killed by soldiers, travels to Lima in for softening or even abandoning its politi-
search of the soul and body parts he has cal stance; at others it has been charged
lost. The displacement and victimization of with excessive militancy and pessimism.
indigenous peasantry caught in the cross However, the group has never compro-
fire between the Peruvian military and the mised its commitment to the culture from
Maoist Shining Path guerrillas occurred which it draws.
again and again, and to some extent still In Ecuador a number of groups perform
occurs, in the Peruvian Andes. theater that explores political themes,
P O P U L A R T H E AT E R A N D P E R F O R M A N C E 137

though not necessarily using Andean na- Sandals of Time, 1995) and political re-
tive tradition. Malayerba (Weed), founded pression in Ubu en Bolivia (1994), a trans-
in Quito in 1979, has a repertory of social position of the Alfred Jarry play Ubu roi.
allegory that includes Pluma y la tempes- —Keith Richards
tad (Feather and the Storm, 1997). This
See also: Popular Social Movements and
play adapts a rural tale to the context of a
Politics: Shining Path
modern city, transforming the original
woodland setting into a dangerous barrio.
The play warns against disenchantment Arguedas, José María. 2000. The Fox from Up
and cynicism and the tendency toward soli- Above and the Fox from Down Below
tude and alienation in contemporary life. (1971). Translated by Frances Horning
Another Ecuadorian group is Zero No Zero. Barraclough. Pittsburgh: University of
Its iconoclastic director and writer is Peky Pittsburgh Press.
Muguercia, Magali. “Cuerpo y política en la
Andino, whose Ulises y la máquina de
dramaturgia de Yuyachkani.” http://www.
perdices (Ulysses and the Pheasant Ma- magarte.com/ensayos/cuerpo_politica_
chine (1998) is an exercise in virtuoso yuyachkani.html (consulted 4 September
wordplay in monologue. 2003).
The Bolivian group Teatro los Andes, Soberón, Santiago. 2001. “Treinta años de
based in Sucre, also reworks a Greek clas- Yuyachkani.” Babab, no. 10 (September).
sic with implicit references to national pol-
(consulted 4 September 2003).
itics. The group explores themes concern- Teatro de Los Andes Website. http://www.
ing Andean culture, such as the acceptance utopos.org/LosAndes/andesp.htm (consulted
of death, in Los abarcas del tiempo (The 4 September 2003).
Travel and Tourism

Latin America continues to grow in popularity as a tourist destination for

the American and British traveler, and perhaps one of the main reasons
for this is the variety of holiday experiences that the region offers. These
range from traditional beach tourism holidays, such as those found in
the immensely popular Cancún resort in Mexico, to the trendy adventure
tourism and gap-year travel undertaken predominantly by American and
European students. But despite the steady growth in tourism to the re-
gion, a number of factors deter potential tourists. The fluctuation in
value of local currency can affect tourists’ interest in traveling to Latin
America as well as Latin Americans’ capacity to travel at home or
abroad. In 1998, for example, when the Brazilian currency was strong,
many Brazilians rushed to get a passport for the first time and travel to
the United States and Europe. As a result of this trend, and of foreign
travelers such as Argentines being scared off by comparably high prices
in Brazil and choosing cheaper destinations, the domestic tourist market
in Brazil suffered greatly. During the political and economic crisis in Ar-
gentina in 2000–2001, many tourists stayed away, afraid of high prices,
difficulty in obtaining money within the country, and popular unrest.
A number of Central American countries, such as Nicaragua and El
Salvador, continue to be no-go areas in the minds of prospective tourists,
given their history of political turmoil. Others are avoided because of
well-known terrorist organizations, such as Shining Path in Peru and the
Zapatistas in the Chiapas region of Mexico—even though neither move-
ment is a serious threat to tourists. In Colombia, however, domestic rev-
olutionary groups such as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army) pose a real threat to
foreign visitors: the fact that 28 Americans have been kidnapped since
2000 explains the U.S. State Department’s harsh warnings of the dangers
posed by “narcoterrorist groups” in Colombia.
Although neither the State Department nor the British Foreign Office,
at the time of this printing, has named any Latin American countries as
no-go areas, their Websites do instruct their citizens to enter some re-
gions only as part of organized tours (in particular, the border areas sur-
140 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

rounding Colombia), and to proceed into consumption of resources. In Latin Amer-

others with care (Rio de Janeiro and Mexico ica, ecotourism is flourishing, to differing
City, for example). The State Department degrees, in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and
discourages all holiday and nonessential Brazil.
travel to a small number of destinations, in- Costa Rica has the most developed eco-
cluding Haiti, the North Atlantic Au- tourism sector, primarily for two reasons.
tonomous Region (RAAN) in Nicaragua, the The country contains an estimated 500,000
northern border areas of Ecuador and plant and animal species, making it one of
Paraguay, and a number of rural and border the most biodiverse countries in the world.
areas in Colombia. In these regions, travel- Furthermore, Costa Rica’s strategies for
ers are warned, policing is often at a mini- protecting and conserving its natural envi-
mum and gangs of drug traffickers have ronment are well developed, with an esti-
been active. mated 27 percent of its landmass desig-
The other no-go area for U.S. citizens is nated as national parks. As a result, tourism
Cuba. Since the socialist revolution of has become Costa Rica’s main source of
1959, fear of communism in their backyard foreign income, surpassing even the banana
has led the United States to enact a series trade by 1992.
of embargoes against Fidel Castro’s gov- One of the best-known and most fre-
ernment, which are still in place today with quently visited of Costa Rica’s ecotourism
no signs of improved relations between the sites is Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve,
two nations for the foreseeable future. One situated in the Tilaran mountains of central
of the results of this troubled relationship Costa Rica. The term “cloud forest” refers
is that it is very difficult for U.S. citizens to to a rare type of tropical ecosystem that
travel to Cuba, at least for the pure and has nearly constant clouds and high humid-
simple purpose of tourism. ity, which produce a rich and unique vege-
—Stephanie Dennison tation. Monteverde’s popularity is due, on
the one hand, to its rare and impressive an-
See also: Popular Social Movements and imal and plant life, and on the other, to its
Politics: Castrismo; Shining Path; Zapatismo
relatively well-developed accommodations
for tourists.
The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ecuador is also well known for its biodi-
official Website. www.fco.gov.uk (consulted versity, and ecotourism is growing there,
22 June 2004). too. The main ecotourism destination in
U.S. Department of State homepage. www. Ecuador is the famous archipelago of the
state.gov (consulted 22 June 2004). Galapagos Islands, designated Galapagos
National Park in 1959. On these remote is-
lands, tourists can follow in the footsteps
Ecotourism of naturalist Charles Darwin and glimpse
species, such as giant tortoises and rare
A relatively recent term, ecotourism de- lizards, that have lived in virtual isolation
scribes tourism that is environmentally for centuries. The number of visitors to the
friendly, in terms of both the experience of park is restricted; it currently stands at
the tourists who visit natural sites and the 25,000 per year.

Diver and barberfish, Galapagos Islands, March 1994. (Stephen Frink/Corbis)

Though the Galapagos Islands are Achuar Indian style, making use of local,
Ecuador’s most striking ecotourist attrac- renewable materials such as twine to bind
tion, mainland Ecuador has also been suc- the roofs, and solar energy to provide both
cessful in developing ecotourism on a power and hot water. In this way, tourists
smaller scale. Kapawi Ecolodge, located in have a chance to observe nature, while
Ecuador’s Amazonian region, is typical of their impact, in terms of consumption of
many ecotourism projects. It accommo- resources, is minimal—a key feature of
dates visitors in huts built in traditional ecotourism.
142 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Brazil, the other country with a strong tion. Research on other locations has noted
ecotourism sector based on the Amazon- similar problems, as well as the erosion of
ian region, is counted among the ten paths due to the number of visitors. Never-
“megadiversity countries” in the world. It theless, ecotourism is an important devel-
not only contains vast numbers of species, opment within tourism in Latin America
it also boasts one-third of the entire rain- and within these countries’ economies.
forest on the planet. The most popular —Claire Taylor and
ecotourism destination here is the Ama- Stephanie Dennison
zon, the rainforest that runs alongside
much of the famous river and covers mil- See also: Travel and Tourism: Beach Tourism;
lions of square kilometers. Though the Sex Tourism
Amazonian region is the best known of
Brazil’s ecological sites, ecotourism has Bibliography
also recently taken root in the wetland Damon, Thomas A., and Christopher Vaughan.
ecosystem of Pantanal, located in south- 1995. “Ecotourism and Wildlife Conservation
in Costa Rica: Potential for a Sustainable
west Brazil. Although small in comparison
Partnership?” Pp. 211–216 in Integrating
to the Amazon, the Pantanal hosts wildlife People and Wildlife for a Sustainable
species such as caiman and capybara. Future, edited by John A. Bissonette and
To prove its commitment to new forms Paul Krausman. Bethesda, MD: Wildlife
of tourism, Brazil hosted the World Society.
Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Hamilton, Dominic. 2003. “Pocket-Sized
Paradise.” Geographical: Royal
Development in 2003. During the event,
Geographical Society Magazine 75, no. 4:
President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva stated 96–101.
that the kind of tourists he wanted to en- Menkhaus, Susan, and Douglas J. Lober. 1996.
courage were pacifists and environmental- “International Ecotourism and the Valuation
ists. Ecotourism in Brazil rose 15 percent of Tropical Rainforests in Costa Rica.”
during 2003, compared with a 3 percent Journal of Environmental Management 47:
rise in tourism overall. Nevertheless, Lula
Pearson, David L., and Les Beletsky. 2002.
has a battle on his hands if he wants to see Brazil: Amazon and Pantanal, The
more ecotourists in the country, since only Ecotravelers’ Wildlife Guide. San Diego:
50,000 people visited the Amazon, Brazil’s Academic Press.
most attractive ecotourist destination, “Planeta: Global Journal of Practical Ecotourism.”
compared with the millions that flood to www.planeta.com (consulted 13 March 2004).
Stem, Caroline J., James P. Lassoie, David R.
Rio de Janeiro in pursuit of beach tourism,
Lee, and David J. Deshler. 2003. “How ‘Eco’
and occasionally, sex tourism. Is Ecotourism? A Comparative Case Study of
Ecotourism is a growing sector in several Ecotourism in Costa Rica.” Journal of
countries in Latin America. However, as a Sustainable Tourism 11, no. 4: 322–347.
number of researchers have noted, eco- Wallace, George N., and Susan M. Pierce. 1996.
tourism has its drawbacks. For instance, “An Evaluation of Ecotourism in Amazonas,
Brazil.” Annals of Tourism Research 23, no.
the limit that the Galapagos National Park
4: 843–873.
Management Plan imposes on tourists each Weaver, David B. “Magnitude of Ecotourism in
year is always exceeded, and the result is Costa Rica and Kenya.” Annals of Tourism
disturbance of the animal life and vegeta- Research 26, no. 4: 792–816.

Sex Tourism the working girls tend to sit in pairs and

flirt with anyone who is interested, then
In this form of tourism, mostly concentrated strike up a conversation and arrange a ren-
around the Caribbean and Brazil, tourists dezvous in a nearby hotel or apartment.
travel abroad in order to engage in sex with Streetwalkers tend to come out only very
locals, whether paid or in exchange for late at night. At the far end of Copacabana,
goods. The term has, in recent years, be- on the edge of the Ipanema district, poten-
come synonymous for many with the pro- tial customers run the risk of getting a sur-
curement of child prostitutes abroad. prise if they take one of the beautiful
With cheaper charter flights available young “ladies” on display on street corners
from the United States and Europe direct back to their hotel: they are the notorious
to many countries in Latin America, and travestis, Brazil’s uncannily feminine-look-
with many traditional sex tourism destina- ing pre-op transvestites, popular with both
tions such as Thailand and the Philippines hetero- and homosexual clients.
clamping down on illegal activities by for- In 1994, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution,
eign visitors, the sex tourist (more often Child Pornography, and the Trafficking of
than not, a male from the United States) is Children for Sexual Purposes) estimated
increasingly turning his attention to desti- that 500,000 children in Brazil were in-
nations such as Costa Rica and Brazil. In volved in the sex trade. The domestic mar-
Costa Rica a network of hotels, bars, mas- ket for child prostitutes in Brazil is very
sage parlors, along with airport staff and large, and reports of outrageous abuses of
taxi drivers, makes the procurement of sex children appear in the press almost daily.
relatively easy. Adult prostitution is legal, In the Amazon region, for example, an esti-
and paying a child for sex has only recently mated 10,000 children work as prostitutes.
been made illegal, although it continues to Organized fishing trips from São Paulo to
be a common practice. the Pantanal were recently exposed as a
A host of Internet sites make the pro- front for child sex tourist excursions, and
curement of paid sex easy for foreign trav- a UNICEF study recently identified sixty-
elers. These sites rarely use the term “pros- five lodgings in the Pantanal that are
titution.” Men are invited to meet “new fronts for whorehouses. Ironically, the
friends,” “special ladies,” and “escorts.” Pantanal and the Amazon, Brazil’s two ma-
The friendliness, coy flirting, and perceived jor ecotourism regions, are popular sex
exoticism of the women, many of whom tourist destinations.
are of mixed race, along with the flattery Cuba’s relationship to the global sex
they offer their new foreign “friends,” tourism trade has been ambivalent over the
make it easy for many tourists to indulge in years. In the 1950s, prior to the revolution,
prostitution in places like Brazil, even when tourism provided the second largest
though they would not use the services of a influx of hard currency to the island, Cuba
prostitute back home. In Rio de Janeiro was termed the “brothel of the Caribbean.”
many of the beachfront bars, particularly The revolution aimed to eradicate prostitu-
those around a block known as Prado tion and, along with it, sex tourism—and
Júnior, are well-known meeting places for was largely successful for many years. But
prostitutes and their tourist clients. There the collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-
144 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

sultant loss of income for Cuba meant that ing. But unlike some of the more estab-
the country had to look for new sources of lished sex tourist destinations, Cuba has
foreign currency. From 1989 onward, the no network of brothels. Instead, the sex
Cuban government turned once again to tourist in Cuba deals with individual prosti-
tourism as a source of income. Tourism has tutes—a system that represents a financial
grown by roughly 20 percent per year. Fig- saving for the client and, as a result, has
ures from 1998 show an estimated 1.4 mil- encouraged the rise in sex tourism.
lion tourists, the majority from Europe or Despite the fact that it provides an influx
Canada. However, the revival of tourism in of needed cash to some Latin American
Cuba is not without its problems. In addi- countries, sex tourism is clearly a problem.
tion to intensifying the societal divisions be- It not only contributes to the spread of HIV
tween Cubans and foreign tourists, tourism and AIDS, it encourages the exploitation of
has led to a resurgence of the sex trade, vulnerable women and girls, who earn
since Cubans desperate for hard currency meager sums of money. Furthermore, com-
turn to prostitution to earn dollars. plex issues of race are implicated in the
Though exact data are hard to come by sex tourism trade—for example, maintain-
due to the unregulated nature of this busi- ing the dangerous myth of the lascivious
ness, researchers generally agree that by dark-skinned Latin woman. While tourism
the 1990s Cuba had become one of the ma- in general has therefore provided eco-
jor sex tourism destinations, alongside es- nomic benefits for countries such as Cuba,
tablished locations such as Thailand and the accompanying rise in sex tourism is of
the Philippines. Most prostitution within concern.
Cuba takes place around the tourist cen- —Claire Taylor and
ters of Havana, Varadero, Santiago de Stephanie Dennison
Cuba, and Santa Lucia. The vast majority of
See also: Travel and Tourism: Ecotourism
sex tourists who visit Cuba are men, while
the prostitutes are predominantly women
or girls, although there are some male
Clancy, Michael. 2002. “The Globalization of
prostitutes. Sex Tourism and Cuba: A Commodity Chains
O’Connell Davidson’s research into sex Approach.” Studies in Comparative
tourism in Cuba provides one of the clear- International Development 36, no. 4: 63–88.
est studies of this phenomenon. She notes “EPCAT International.” www.epcat.com
that the women and girls who work as (consulted 13 March 2004).
Fernandez, Nadine. 1999. “Back to the Future?
prostitutes catering to tourists—known in
Women, Race, and Tourism in Cuba.” Pp.
Cuba as jineteras (literally, jockeys)—ex- 81–89 in Sun, Sex, and Gold: Tourism and
change sex not only for cash but also for Sex Work in the Caribbean, edited by
goods, drinks, or meals. In looser arrange- Kamala Kempadoo. Lanham, MD: Rowman &
ments, the woman or girl supplies not only Littlefield.
sex, but a range of additional services: she Kempadoo, Kamala, and Jo Doezema, eds. 1998.
Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance and
serves as guide or translator, she provides
Redefinition. New York: Routledge.
lodging, and she cooks, in exchange for “Libertad Latina—Defending Latina and
which the man pays for food, drinks, and Indigenous Women’s Rights.” www.
luxury items such as cosmetics and cloth- libertadlatina.org (consulted 13 March 2004).

O’Connell Davidson, Julia. 1996. “Sex Tourism tourist. The “adventure” lies in the innova-
in Cuba.” Race & Class 38, no. 1: 39–48. tive nature of the undertaking and the chal-
Patullo, Polly. 1996. Last Resorts: The Cost of lenge it provides for individuals to break
Tourism in the Caribbean. London: Cassell.
personal barriers or records. World-famous
Schwartz, Rosalie. 1997. Pleasure Island:
Tourism and Temptation in Cuba. Lincoln: geographical features such as the Andes
University of Nebraska Press. and the Amazon guarantee Latin America’s
Trafficking of Brazilian Prostitutes to Work popularity with adventure tourists.
Abroad—Argentina, Portugal, United States, Chile and Argentina are key destinations
and United Kingdom. Online brochure. for the region’s best mountaineering,
“UCSB’s SexInfo—Sex Tourism.” University
trekking, and skiing, while boat trips up
of California at Santa Barbara. www.soc.
ucsb.edu/sexinfo/ (consulted 13 March and down the Amazon and its tributaries
2004). are well-established routes for the adven-
ture tourist. The highlands of Central
America are a popular destination for cy-
cling, mountain biking, and, at slightly
Adventure Tourism and
lower elevations, whitewater rafting. Costa
Gap-Year Travel
Rica also offers locations where zip-lining
(zipping across the top of the jungle
Latin America is fast becoming one of the canopy on a wire, or flying fox) can be
top destinations for both adventure practiced. This concept of “adventure,”
tourists and students taking a “gap year” however, does not include the results of
between school and university. political instability or poor hygiene, even
Adventure tourism has been booming though being kidnapped or catching dysen-
since the 1980s, most notably in the United tery might constitute an adventure and are
States and Australia, largely as a reaction the realities that still face the independent
to the increasingly urban and sedentary na- traveler in many parts of Latin America.
ture of many people’s lives in these coun- For young adults from English-speaking
tries. Given the proximity of Latin America nations, the custom of taking a year off be-
to the United States, it is no surprise that tween school and university (the “gap
many of the top adventure tourism destina- year”) has become popular in recent years.
tions are found in that region. Three of the Although accurate statistics are hard to
top ten scuba-diving destinations in the come by, it is estimated that around 25,000
world, for example, are located in Mexico gap-year travelers from the English-speak-
and Honduras. ing world are traveling in Latin America at
Adventure tourism generally involves any one time.
the practice of noncompetitive sports that Gap-year travelers tend to be more lim-
involve some degree of risk—rafting, ited by tight budgets than adventure
mountaineering, caving, and modes of tourists but less limited by time constraints.
travel that require physical effort and even Thus, although adventure tourism does fea-
privation (trekking, sailing, cycling). All ture substantially among the activities that
this adventure is set against the backdrop attract gap-year travelers to Latin America,
of stunning landscapes and remote loca- activities such as work (teaching English,
tions, previously the preserve of the eco- volunteering for conservation work or com-
146 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Patagonian Andes and Lake Pehoe in Torres del Paine National Park, 1995. (Pablo Corral Vega/

munity projects) and study (primarily lan- west side of South America toward Patago-
guage courses) also figure into their moti- nia and Tierra del Fuego in the far south of
vations, not to mention the rich cultural Argentina—or he or she undertakes the
heritage and traditional tourist attractions same journey in reverse. This route is used
that the region has to offer (museums, an- so often it has been nicknamed “The
cient ruins, beaches, national parks, and so Gringo Trail.” Other popular routes include
on). Latin America is popular with this type La Ruta Maya (the Mayan Route) through
of traveler because it combines so many southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and
different types of attractions in one place, Honduras and The Inca Trail in Peru. Both
and because it is generally an affordable routes allow the traveler to focus on the
destination for budget travelers, especially pre-Columbian culture that these regions
once they are off the beaten track. have to offer. Many gap-year travelers also
The gap-year traveler tends to move plan their routes to coincide with key festi-
around the region in an effort to experi- vals, such as Carnival in Brazil or the Day
ence the greatest diversity of attractions, of the Dead in Mexico.
even combining the visit to Latin America
—Thea Pitman
with a trip around the world. Most often,
the gap-year traveler enters Latin America See also: Popular Religion and Festivals:
at Mexico’s northern border and travels Popular Festivals (Carnival in Brazil;
south through Central America and the Mexico)

Bibliography stantial economic support to Cuba, there

Gifford, Nigel, and Richard Madden. 2004. The have been concerted efforts in Cuba to ex-
Adventurous Traveller: The One-Stop Guide pand the tourism industry. According to
to Travel with a Challenge. London:
Lumsdon and Swift, this expansion has
Hall, Colin Michael. 1992. “Adventure, Sport entailed a change in government policy:
and Health Tourism.” Pp. 141–158 in Special Cuba has had to make alliances with capi-
Interest Tourism, edited by Betty Weiler and talist tourism enterprises. They note
Colin Michael Hall. London: Belhaven Press. that Cubanacan, the official government
Hindle, Charlotte, et al. 2003. The Gap Year tourism organization, has engaged in joint
Book. Hawthorn, Australia: Lonely Planet.
ventures with a variety of multinational ho-
Lumsdon, Les, and Jonathan Swift. 2001.
Tourism in Latin America. London: tel companies, including Grupo Sol from
Continuum. Spain and Golden Tulip International. To-
Plomin, Joe. 2001. “Gap Year Popularity Soars.” day, Cuba’s principal beach tourism desti-
London Guardian, 13 September. www. nation is the major resort of Varadero, al-
education.gardian.co.uk/print/ though there are over fourteen kilometers
of beaches to the east of the capital, Ha-
(consulted 22 April 2004).
Tabata, Raymond S. 1992. “Scuba Diving vana, and a variety of other resorts, includ-
Holidays.” Pp. 171–184 in Special Interest ing the Isla de la Juventud (Island of Youth)
Tourism, edited by Betty Weiler and Colin and the islet Cayo Largo del Sur.
Michael Hall. London: Belhaven Press. Among the Latin American countries
that rely on tourism as a source of foreign
income, the Dominican Republic is a
Beach Tourism leader. With a population of a mere 7.3 mil-
lion, it welcomes 2.2 million tourists per
A common type of tourism within Latin year. As early as the 1960s, the country had
America, particularly in those countries sit- set up its ministry of tourism. Tourism de-
uated in the Caribbean or having a velopment initially came from local in-
Caribbean coast. Beach tourism, which in- vestors, although by the late 1970s and
cludes several subcategories, usually re- early 1980s, foreign companies such as
lates to holidays taken in hotels or all- Radisson, Sheraton, and Club Med began
inclusive resorts, frequently involving to invest in Dominican tourism.
minimal contact with the host community. One of the main developments in beach
Cuba remains one of the principal desti- tourism in the Dominican Republic in re-
nations for beach tourism within Latin cent years—as in several other Caribbean
America, and what are frequently termed countries—has been the creation of so-
“sun and sand” holidays dominate there. called all-inclusive resorts. For a sojourn at
Cuba had a strong tourist industry in the one of these resorts, the tourist pays one
early to mid-twentieth century, with its price to the travel agent that covers all
heyday in the 1950s, but after the Cuban costs—accommodation, meals, drinks, and
Revolution, foreign tourism declined pre- leisure activities. These types of resorts are
cipitously. In the late 1980s and early becoming increasingly common throughout
1990s, though, as a result of the collapse of the main beach tourism destinations in
the Soviet Union and the loss of its sub- Latin America; in the Dominican Republic
148 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

The northwest coast of the Dominican Republic at Playa Sosua with hotels in the background, 2003.
(Danny Lehman/Corbis)

such resorts can be found in locations such mestic/international destination resort,”

as Boca Chica, Playa Dorada, and Puerto and the “interactive enclave resort” to the
Plata, among others. Though such all-inclu- “self-contained enclave resort.”
sive deals are marketed as advantageous for Of all the developing countries, Mexico
the tourist, providing one set price for the tops the list in revenue earned from
holiday, they reduce the amount tourists tourism over the last twenty-five years,
spend in local markets, since they no longer with tourism now the country’s second
spend money outside the resort. As a result, largest employer. Mexico’s beach tourism
these resorts have been dubbed “enclave re- provision is found both along its extensive
sorts.” The bulk of the profits goes to the Pacific coastline and throughout the Gulf
multinationals that own the resorts rather of Mexico and its Caribbean coastline. The
than remaining in the country itself. established beach resorts in Mexico will be
But beach tourism in the Dominican Re- familiar names to many—places such as
public is far from homogenous. K. J. Meyer- Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta on the cen-
arendt and colleagues have provided a ty- tral Pacific Coast. By the late 1980s, how-
pology of the Dominican Republic’s coastal ever, Cancún, a resort in Mexico’s Yucatan
resorts, identifying five types of beach peninsula, had surpassed all other sites in
tourism ranging from the “urban Mexico to become the single largest tourist
balneario” (“seaside resort”), the “domes- destination in the country, attracting an es-
tic destination resort,” the “integrated do- timated four million tourists per year.

The statue of Christ the Redeemer that towers over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and attracts hundreds of
thousands of tourists each year. (Courtesy of Alex Nield)

In Brazil, despite the growing popularity one million people live in Copacabana
of beaches on the country’s unspoiled and alone.)
relatively safe northeastern coast, and de- Rio has the advantage of offering beach
spite the new flights from the United States and urban tourism simultaneously, with its
and Europe to northeastern cities such as downtown colonial architecture, important
Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza and south- national and tourist museums (including
ern cities in and around Florianópolis, Rio the Fine Arts Museum and the Carmen Mi-
de Janeiro remains Brazil’s most popular randa Museum), and some of the most fa-
beach tourism destination. Like Havana, mous scenery in the world (including Sug-
Rio de Janeiro is a name that has been as- arloaf Mountain, with its dramatic cable-car
sociated with glamorous and exotic holi- ride to the summit, and the 30-meter-high
days since the first half of the twentieth Christ statue, built in 1931 atop Corcovado
century. The city’s most famous beaches Mountain, both offering breathtaking views
are Copacabana and Ipanema, and it is to of the city).
these bairros (neighborhoods) that most However, the well-publicized incidents
tourists head. (Bairros has become some- of tourist muggings in Rio de Janeiro, to-
what of a misnomer for these areas, since gether with the city’s association with sex
150 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

tourism, have resulted in the growth of all- Urban Tourism

inclusive resorts that are removed from the
city. These range from the sophisticated Urban tourism is not a popular kind of
Club Med resorts down the coast from Rio tourism in Latin America. For most foreign
and near Salvador in the northeast, to the tourists, large cities function primarily as
cut-price package deals, to specially built gateways to the more exotic, ethnic, and
resorts offered by the British travel agency exciting destinations, and tourists gener-
Going Places. ally avoid spending time in the cities, wor-
Although Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican ried about the dangers to their health and
Republic, and Brazil are the leaders in personal safety. Generally the tourists who
beach tourism in Latin America, other coun- visit cities in their own right are interna-
tries such as Venezuela have a smaller but tional and national business travelers, and
growing beach tourism sector. Venezuela nationals visiting friends and relatives.
has an extensive coastline along the Atlantic Nevertheless, a few big cities constitute at-
Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with a variety tractions to tourists in themselves, despite
of resorts, the majority of which are located checkered histories of crime and pollu-
to the west of the capital, Caracas. In addi- tion. Factors that influence a city’s appeal
tion to these mainland resorts, Isla Mar- to tourists include its cultural life (muse-
garita, situated in the Caribbean Sea off the ums, galleries, festivals); its social life
north coast of Venezuela, is an increasingly (restaurants, café culture, nightlife); its
popular beach resort. architecture, monuments, parks, and pub-
—Claire Taylor and Stephanie Dennison lic spaces; the shopping opportunities it
affords the visitor; and its proximity to
See also: Travel and Tourism: Beach Tourism; other tourist attractions (volcanoes,
Sex Tourism; Cultural Icons: Latin beaches, pyramids).
Americans in Hollywood (Carmen Miranda)
Buenos Aires ranks as one of the most
attractive urban destinations in Latin
America, despite its less-than-ideal loca-
Clancy, Michael J. 1999. “Tourism and
Development: Evidence from Mexico.” tion as a gateway city for the rest of Ar-
Annals of Tourism Research 26, no. 1: 1–20. gentina. Indeed, trips to estancias
Freitag, Tilman G. 1994. “Enclave Tourism (ranches) in the flat and seemingly endless
Development: For Whom the Benefits Roll?” pampas (grasslands) surrounding the city
Annals of Tourism Research 21, no. 3: constitute the most touted local excur-
sions. Other highlights—Patagonia, the An-
Lumsdon, Les, and Jonathan Swift. 2002.
Tourism in Latin America. London: des, and even the Iguazú Falls—are all too
Continuum, pp. 84–98. far off to visit easily. Another popular day
Martin de Holan, Pablo, and Nelson Phillips. trip—a ferry ride across the River Plate to
1997. “Sun, Sand, and Hard Currency: Uruguay—takes tourists out of Argentina
Tourism in Cuba.” Annals of Tourism altogether. Nevertheless, the city scores
Research 24, no 4: 777–795.
highly for its cultural and social life, its ar-
Meyerarendt, K. J., R. A. Sambrook, and B. M.
Kermath. 1992. “Seaside Resorts in the chitecture and parks, and its tourist facili-
Dominican Republic: A Typology.” Journal of ties, and it is considered relatively safe in
Geography 91, no. 5 (Sept.–Oct.): 219–225. terms of street crime and pollution.

Though the city has no pre-Columbian grimages” organized by the local authori-
archeology to offer, it has some colonial ar- ties and commercial enterprises include
chitecture and a vast array of nineteenth- trips to the Casa Rosada (presidential
century French-style buildings. The city palace), to the Museo Evita in the barrio of
used to be nicknamed “the Paris of the Palermo, and to her grave in Recoleta
South,” and it is this elegant and refined cemetery. (Similar tours also follow the
ambience that the local authorities market footsteps of other local cultural icons such
to the tourist. Tourists concentrate on the as tango singer Carlos Gardel and Jorge
sights of the downtown area, the micro- Luis Borges, poet, short-story writer, and
centro, and the upper- and middle-class leading figure in the so-called Boom in
barrios to the north. In these areas are a Latin American literature.
number of excellent museums and art gal- Although the “beaches and pyramids”
leries, including the Museo Nacional de model is now the focus of Mexico’s
Bellas Artes (National Fine Arts Museum) tourism promotion, Mexico City was the
and the Malba-Colección Constantini (the nation’s star tourist attraction until the
Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American 1940s. It still attracts tourists interested in
Art), which opened in 2001 and contains culture and history, though crime and pol-
the largest and most important collection lution are sources of concern for visitors
of Latin American art anywhere in the con- to Mexico City today. The city was built on
tinent. top of pre-Columbian ruins—the exca-
Despite the city’s outstanding museums vated foundations of the Aztec Templo
and galleries, tango and the bohemian Mayor (Great Temple) lie just to one side
café culture in which it thrives are the of the Metropolitan Cathedral and next to
major draw of the city for foreign the Palacio Nacional (National Palace) in
tourists, particularly the working-class the Historical Center of the city. It also has
barrios of San Telmo and La Boca in the a wealth of beautifully preserved colonial
south of the city. San Telmo is known for buildings in both the Historical Center and
its tanguerías, cafés furnished with many of the outlying districts (former vil-
faded elegance, where visitors and locals lages), such as Coyoacán and San Angel,
alike go to hear and see tango performed. now incorporated into the conurbation of
The antique shops of San Telmo are an- the Federal District, as the city is known
other popular attraction, along with the locally.
Sunday flea market in the central square, Mexico City also houses some of the
brimming with even more antiques and most important museums and art galleries
street entertainment. La Boca is the name in the whole of Latin America. In the huge
given to the port area founded by poor Museo Nacional de Antropología (National
Italian immigrants in the nineteenth cen- Anthropology Museum) in Chapultepec
tury, the home of Argentina’s largest soc- Park, for example, cultural artifacts from
cer club, Boca Juniors, and their stadium, around the republic are on permanent dis-
La Bombonera. play, leaving only replicas in their places of
Finally, Buenos Aires also attracts origin. Other key cultural sites include the
tourists who are captivated by the mys- (Modern Art Museum) Museo de Arte Mod-
tique of cultural icon Evita Perón—“pil- erno and the murals painted by the great
152 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, David Al- Bibliography

faro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco Caistor, Nick. 2000. Mexico City: A Cultural and
in public buildings around the city, such as Literary Companion. Oxford: Signal Books.
Garasa, Delfín Leocadio. 1987. La otra Buenos
the Palacio de Bellas Artes (the city opera
Aires: Paseos literarios por barrios y calles
house) and the Museo de las Culturas Pop- de la ciudad. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana-
ulares (Museum of Popular Culture) in Planeta.
Coyoacán. Even the tourist who views Lumsdon, Les, and Jonathan Swift. 2001.
Mexico City as primarily a gateway to more Tourism in Latin America. London:
tranquil parts of the country often visits at Continuum.
Saragoza, Alex M. 1997. “Tourism.” Pp. 1413–
least some of these features.
1416 in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 2,
Furthermore, in terms of contemporary edited by Michale S. Werner. Chicago:
popular culture, the city is home to the Fitzroy Dearborn.
shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s Wilson, Jason. 1999. Buenos Aires: A Cultural
patron saint, and tourists can join with the and Literary Companion. Oxford: Signal
thousands of pilgrims who come to pay Books.

homage to the Virgin on 12 December every

year. The Plaza Garibaldi is the most
renowned place in Mexico to see mariachis Cultural Tourism
performing their music. Huge arts and crafts
markets dot the city, and a vibrant restau- The term covers a wide range of activities,
rant culture caters to all budgets and including visits to heritage attractions (ar-
palates. The city is also strategically located chaeological sites and old buildings, muse-
for visiting the great pyramids at Teoti- ums and art galleries) and trips to see in-
huacán and the archaeological site of Tula digenous peoples in their “native”
to the north, and the striking volcanoes environment and to experience their way
Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl to the south. of life, traditional festivities, and rituals.
In recent years, the governments of both Cultural tourism means sampling the con-
Argentina and Mexico have also invested temporary popular culture in the broadest
substantially in improving the infrastruc- sense—everything that has been written
ture and attractions of both cities in order about in the other chapters of this book:
to preserve their places in the urban carnival, tango, tequila, and so on.
tourism market. Cultural tourism has been the most en-
—Thea Pitman and Stephanie Dennison during form of tourism practiced in Latin
America, if not the most popular. Indepen-
See also: Popular Music: Mariachi, Ranchera, dent leisure travelers to the region in the
Norteña, Tex-Mex; Tango; Sport and early twentieth century (that is, the pio-
Leisure: Soccer; Food (Mexican Food); neers of contemporary tourism) were typi-
Cultural Icons: Political Icons (Evita); cally attracted by the mystique of the in-
Legends of Popular Music and Film (Carlos digenous cultures of the Latin American
Gardel); Religious and Mythical Figures
nations. Latin American nations, in turn,
(Virgin of Guadalupe); Popular Literature:
The Boom; Visual Arts and Architecture: capitalized on their cultural attractions in
Art (José Clemente Orozco; Diego Rivera; order to profit from tourist revenues. In
David Alfaro Siqueiros) Mexico beginning in the 1920s, for exam-

ple, coincident with the flourishing cultural the National Institute of Anthropology and
nationalism of the post-revolutionary era, History) since its founding in 1938. Key
the government promoted Mexican folk- sites include the enormous pyramids at
lore and colonial architecture to attract Teotihuacán; the numerous Mayan pyra-
tourists from the United States and Eu- mids of the Yucatan peninsula and the
rope. southeast, such as Chichén Itzá and
In the 1970s, Latin American nations Palenque; as well as the Museo Nacional de
shifted the focus of their tourism promo- Antropología in Mexico City, which houses
tion to their natural attractions, particu- many of the most famous pre-Columbian
larly their beaches, but cultural tourism re- artifacts from across the nation, such as
mains on the itineraries of even the most the huge statue of the goddess Coatlícue
deckchair-bound tourist. A typical image of and the Piedra de Sol (Sun Stone), or Aztec
Mexico in tourist literature is that of the Calendar.
archeological ruins at Tulúm, perched on For the Peruvian tourist board (FOPTUR),
the edge of cliffs overlooking the white Machu Picchu, the “lost city” of the Incas
sands and azure seas of the Caribbean— perched on a mountaintop in the Andes,
visitors can thus effortlessly combine the constitutes a tourist attraction par excel-
Mayan heritage with the leisure of the lence. Rediscovered in 1911, the ruins have
beach. Indeed, the current trend in Latin been a popular attraction since the 1950s.
America is for tourists to take holidays that Currently they are the most important
combine several specialized types of tourist destination in Peru, attracting up to
tourism—ecotourism, adventure travel, 300,000 visitors a year. Peru also success-
and cultural tourism—with the traditional fully promotes its pre-Incan heritage, par-
beach package. As a result, cultural ticularly the mysterious Nazca Lines, huge
tourism has increasingly become part of earthworks depicting animals and other
tourists’ motivations for visiting Latin symbols that can only properly be viewed
America since the 1960s. from the air and whose construction re-
Latin American nations offer cultural mains a mystery. Other countries active in
tourists a chance to explore a wide variety the promotion of their pre-Columbian her-
of cultural heritages. The countries that itage include Guatemala (Mayan ruins) and
most actively promote their pre-Columbian Chile (the Moaias or giant heads of Easter
cultures are Mexico and Peru, the crucible Island).
of Aztec and Mayan civilizations in the first Although it is a less important draw for
case, and of the Inca Empire in the second. visitors than pre-Columbian culture, colo-
The Mexican government has invested nial culture is also successfully exploited
heavily in making its pre-Columbian her- as a tourist attraction by many Latin Amer-
itage accessible to tourists since the 1920s, ican countries. Colonial culture comprises
sponsoring extensive excavations and re- architecture and artifacts that date from
habilitation of key sites, improvements to the time of the Spanish Conquest (the very
roads and facilities at such sites, and con- late fifteenth and the sixteenth century) to
struction of museums. Much of this work the Era of Independence (the early nine-
has been coordinated by the INAH (Insti- teenth century). The Mexican tourist in-
tuto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, dustry actively promotes such cities as
154 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Machu Picchu, Peru, 2000. (Jim Erickson/Corbis)

Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Za- an area that is expanding rapidly. The at-
catecas on the basis of their colonial archi- traction of real live Mayans lies behind cur-
tecture rather than their proximity to any rent marketing strategies for La Ruta Maya
ruins, beaches, or other tourist attractions. (the Mayan Route), a tourist itinerary that
Countries with less to offer in archeologi- encompasses southern Mexico, Guatemala,
cal sites emphasize their colonial heritage Belize, and Honduras. The governments of
in their promotional literature. Paraguay the Latin American nations that have the
promotes its seven misiones (missionary greatest concentrations of indigenous com-
settlements). munities are now actively involved in pre-
Although pre-Columbian and colonial serving the folkloric charm of traditional
cultural attractions are a long-established festivals, dances, and rituals for the
wing of the tourism industry in Latin Amer- tourist’s gaze—this is the focus of officially
ica, national tourist boards have only re- sponsored tourist enterprises in the states
cently grasped the attractiveness to the in- of Puno in Peru and Oaxaca in Mexico. For
ternational tourist of the real live Mayans the tourist who wishes to engage more fully
living in the shadow of the grand pyramids with the real political situations of indige-
built by their ancestors. The ethnographic nous communities, tours are also run by
dimension of cultural tourism is currently nongovernmental organizations and local

indigenous groups themselves. The Zapatis- that Westerners will find useful, such as the
tas of southern Mexico, for example, have ubiquitous Guatemalan purses. García Can-
organized Zapaturs since the mid-1990s, clini also notes the success of the potters of
taking tourists to isolated rebel communi- Ocumichu in Michoacán state, Mexico, in
ties and even into prisons where Zapatistas adapting their traditional iconography to in-
were being held. corporate images and themes that tourists
The attraction of contemporary popular might like to see represented. Thus indige-
culture (of a less indigenous and often ur- nous communities may benefit from the
ban variety) is also a major focus of cul- revenues of tourism without wholly sacri-
tural tourism. For example, Buenos Aires ficing their cultural identity and traditions.
markets itself as the home of tango, —Thea Pitman
whereas Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a key
date on many tourists’ itineraries (the four See also: Popular Music: Tango; Popular
days preceding Ash Wednesday). Even typ- Social Movements and Politics: Zapatismo;
Sport and Leisure: Food; Popular Religion
ical food is part of the cultural attraction of
and Festivals: Popular Festivals (Carnival in
some nations, particularly Mexico and Ar- Brazil)
gentina. Furthermore, all the above forms
of cultural tourism (the historical, the Bibliography
ethnographic, and the popular cultural) Cooper Alarcón, Daniel. 1997. The Aztec
can be found coexisting dynamically Palimpsest: Mexico in the Modern
across Latin America to produce a particu- Imagination. Tucson: University of Arizona
larly attractive product to the tourist.
García Canclini, Néstor. 1995. Hybrid Cultures:
Despite the value of cultural tourism to Strategies for Entering and Leaving
Latin America, serious dangers accompany Modernity. Trans. by Christopher L.
its unregulated expansion. Many archaeo- Chiappari and Silvia L. López. Minneapolis:
logical sites have been irreparably damaged University of Minnesota Press.
by too many visitors, and the effect of Lumsdon, Les, and Jonathan Swift. 2001.
Tourism in Latin America. London:
tourists on indigenous communities could
either fossilize their traditional way of life Moreno, J. M., and M. A. Littrell. 1996.
in an unnatural way or mold it to fit foreign “Marketing Culture to Tourists: Interpreting
conceptions of what indigenous traditions and Translating Textile Traditions in
should look like. Though most govern- Antigua, Guatemala.” Pp. 138–144
ments have now taken some measures to in Tourism and Culture, edited by
M. Robinson, N. Evans, and P. Callaghan.
curb the damaging effects of cultural
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: University of
tourism (and thus protect their revenues), Northumbria Press.
the dangers still persist, particularly with Van den Berghe, P. 1995. “Marketing Mayas:
regard to the lives of indigenous peoples. Ethnic Tourism Promotion in Mexico.”
However, evidence suggests that a balance Annals of Tourism Research 22, no. 3:
is being established between the demands 568–588.
Zeppel, Heather, and Colin Michael Hall. 1992.
of the tourist market for souvenirs and the
“Arts and Heritage Tourism.” Pp. 47–68 in
traditions of the indigenous producers. For Special Interest Tourism, edited by Betty
example, textiles are being produced in the Weiler and Colin Michael Hall. London:
traditional way but then made into items Belhaven Press.
Popular Literature

This chapter highlights a number of fictional works that have made an

impact on domestic markets in Latin America. Internationally, the region
is perhaps best known for the so-called Boom novels, but the range of
literary forms in Latin America goes beyond the more traditional genres
of the novel, the poem, and the play. The chapter discusses some of the
more popular of these alternative forms, such as comic books and liter-
atura de cordel (chapbooks), and their successors, the fotonovela. Also
worthy of mention is the so-called testimonio or testimonial literature of
the region, which is currently enjoying a high profile abroad. The most
famous example is Rigoberta Menchú’s 1983 work, Me llamo Rigoberta
Menchú y así me nació la conciencia (literally: My name is Rigoberta
Menchú and this is how I developed a conscience), translated in 1984 as
I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. The work of
Menchú, a Nobel peace prize winner, partly inspired the infamous canon
debates of the 1980s, when works of “fiction” such as hers were replac-
ing those of Cervantes, for instance, in university courses, much to the
chagrin of academic traditionalists.
Popular literature is an area of Latin American culture where consid-
erable cultural cross-fertilization takes place; the most obvious example
is the large number of fictional works that have been transformed into
television serials and films. The work of Chico Buarque is an interesting
case in point. A singer-songwriter associated with the Brazilian protest
music of the period of dictatorship, Buarque has also written plays, mu-
sicals, and two best-selling novels. His first novel, Estorvo (Turbulence,
1991), was transformed into a feature film by Ruy Guerra in 1998. But it
is not just traditional literary forms that have been given the celluloid
treatment: comic strips, particularly in Brazil, have proved successful at
the box office, such as Miguel Paiva’s comic detective character Ed Mort
(1997). The Argentine Quino, one of Latin America’s best-known car-
toonists internationally, produced a series of short films in the 1980s for
the ICAIC (The Cuban Film Institute) called “Quinoscopios.” The new
wave of television comedians in Brazil, such as the team who produce
and star in Casseta e planeta urgente!, have clearly been influenced sty-
158 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

listically and in terms of humor by their ods in Europe; Vargas Llosa lived in Eu-
own roots in comic strips. rope for more than twenty years; while
—Stephanie Dennison Fuentes lives what has been described as a
“nomadic” lifestyle, never remaining fixed
See also: Popular Music: Brazilian Protest within any one country.
Music Critics have debated the defining charac-
teristics of Boom writing at length, and the
synopsis provided by Donald Shaw gives a
The Boom good indication of their work. Shaw sug-
gests that Boom novels tend to subordinate
The Boom is a term for the explosive reality to mystification; they tend to em-
growth in the popularity of Latin American phasize the ambiguous and the irrational
fiction that took place during the 1960s. and to abandon the linear, logical structure
The Boom was not restricted to a local or typical of the realist novel. They also tend
even Latin American readership, but signi- to subvert the notion of chronological time
fied an international profile and a world- and to replace the omniscient third-person
wide reputation. It was centered on a group narrator with multiple or ambiguous narra-
of talented male writers that included the tors. The Boom writers all engage in exper-
Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (born imentation with fiction, although the em-
1928), the Argentine Julio Cortázar phasis differs within the work of each
(1914–1984), the Peruvian Mario Vargas writer.
Llosa (born 1936), and the Mexican Carlos The Colombian author Gabriel García
Fuentes (born 1928). Critics have also Márquez is the most popular author of
linked to this literary phenomenon the Latin American literature, and his 1967
Chilean José Donoso (1924–1996) and the work Cien años de soledad (One Hundred
Cubans Guillermo Cabrera Infante (born Years of Solitude) universalized the con-
1929) and Alejo Carpentier (1904–1980), cept of magical realism broadly under-
among others. Critics generally agree that stood as a mode of writing in which im-
three main impulses were responsible for probable, fantastical occurrences are
the phenomenon of the Boom: the political narrated in a dead-pan, realistic style.
circumstances of the period, especially the Much of the success of García Márquez’s
Cuban Revolution; the unprecedented qual- novel can be attributed to the fact that it
ity of writing occurring at the time; and the skillfully blends a depiction of local color
key role played by the rise of publishing with a manipulation of worldwide myths in
houses, both in Latin America and in Spain. its examination of a variety of themes in-
The Boom writers were a cosmopolitan cluding the family, the advent of modernity,
group, in terms of both their life experi- and the concept of fate. Set in the mythical
ences and the universal appeal of their town of Macondo, the novel follows the
writing. They enjoyed considerable pub- rise and fall of the Buendía family, and the
lishing success as their works were read story can be read as both a national and
around the world. Several of them also pan-Latin-American allegory. In the story
resided abroad: Cortázar lived for thirty of the Buendía family, García Márquez
years in Paris; García Márquez spent peri- combined a high level of literary achieve-
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 159

ment with popular appeal, and Cien años received many prizes for his fictional
de soledad remains one of the bestsellers works. La muerte de Artemio Cruz (The
within literature written in Spanish. In 1982 Death of Artemio Cruz, 1962) is consid-
García Márquez was awarded the Nobel ered Fuentes’s first major novel and a mile-
Prize for literature, an indication of both stone in the development of the Latin
the quality of his work and the impact of American Boom. In this novel, Fuentes ex-
his fiction on an international stage. plores the legacy of the Mexican Revolu-
After García Márquez, Vargas Llosa is tion and engages in innovative literary
perhaps the best known of the Boom writ- techniques, such as the extensive use of
ers, for both his literary and his political flashbacks and the reworking of history
careers. Vargas Llosa’s fiction combines an that exemplify his conviction that politics
analysis of Latin American history with his and writing go together. His other works of
own life experiences and those of Peru- particular note include Zona sagrada
vians in general. One of his most famous (Holy Place, 1967) and Cambio de piel (A
works is the 1963 novel La ciudad y los Change of Skin, 1967), as well as a re-
perros (literally, The City and the Dogs, al- spected study of the Boom novels entitled
though it was published in English transla- La nueva novela hispanoamericana (The
tion as The Time of the Hero). The book is New Spanish-American Novel, 1969).
a harsh condemnation of the Peruvian mili- The Argentine Julio Cortázar is perhaps
tary, specifically the Leoncio Prado mili- the most cosmopolitan of the group. Born
tary school, and it gained him international in 1914 in Brussels, where his father was
attention as thousands of copies of the an attaché at the embassy, Cortázar spent
book were burned in protest on the patio much of his life living abroad and in Paris
of the military school that he criticized. from 1951 onward. Cortázar’s most impor-
Following this, Vargas Llosa’s second tant contribution to the Boom and to Latin
novel, La casa verde (The Green House), American literature as a whole was his
published in 1965, was a highly complex 1963 novel, Rayuela (Hopscotch), in which
play of what critics have termed “tele- he draws on a variety of influences includ-
scoped dialogs,” in which what initially ap- ing surrealism to produce a truly original
pears to be one conversation taking place work of fiction. True to its title, Rayuela
in the present in fact has several previous functions as a type of hopscotch, in that
conversations interwoven within it; his the reader is offered the choice of skipping
third novel, Conversación en La Catedral onto the optional “capítulos prescindibles”
(Conversation in the Cathedral) is consid- (“dispensable chapters”) in addition to
ered his masterpiece. The title of this 1970 reading the linear story, thus providing
work indicates the subversion Vargas Llosa multiple ways of reading the novel and sub-
undertakes within the novel: though the ti- verting the traditional novelistic structure.
tle apparently refers to a cathedral, the Later works of note by Cortázar include 62
reader learns that “The Cathedral” is in fact modelo para armar (62, a Model Kit) of
the name of a bar. 1968, which follows on from Rayuela, and
Carlos Fuentes is Mexico’s most com- Libro de Manuel (A Manual for Manuel)
mercially successful writer. One of the of 1973, which engages with Latin Ameri-
most prolific of the Boom writers, he has can political reality.
160 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Although the Boom is strongly associ- country, so his work has had considerable
ated with the Spanish-speaking countries impact on how northeastern culture is per-
of Latin America, popular Brazilian writers ceived in other parts of Brazil. Amado’s fas-
of the period are occasionally included in cination with popular culture—for exam-
anthologies of Boom writers, as much by a ple, the magical qualities associated with
kind of token gesture toward Brazilian popular religions such as Candomblé in
writers as by the features they share with Dona flor e seus dois maridos (Dona Flor
their Spanish-American counterparts. One and Her Two Husbands,1966) and Tenda
such writer is Jorge Amado (1912–2001), dos milagres (Tent of Miracles,1969)—has
one of Latin America’s most prolific liter- resulted in his work being labeled magical
ary exports and closely associated with the realist.
international view of Brazil as a cultural Several significant films have been based
and sexual melting pot. on this second phase of Amado’s writing,
Amado was born in northeastern Brazil including the box-office success Dona Flor
and wrote his first novel when he was nine- e seus dois maridos (Dona Flor and Her
teen. His most critically acclaimed novel is Two Husbands, 1976), Tenda dos milagres
Terras do sem fim (The Violent Lands, (Tent of Miracles, 1977), Gabriela (1983),
1942). The novel describes the creation of and most recently Tieta do Agreste (Tieta,
the town of Itabuna in the heartland of 1996). The latter two works were also very
Bahia’s cacao lands. Amado’s father was a successfully adapted as telenovelas (tele-
cacao planter, so while he is critical of the vized soap operas) in the early 1970s and
exploitation by landowners of the landless late 1980s respectively. In the United States
indentured workers who sacrificed so Dona Flor was made into a film entitled
much for the economic good of the nation, Kiss Me Goodbye (1982), starring Sally
he admires self-made men like his father, Field and James Caan.
whose ruthless instinct for survival and ca- From the 1970s onward, Amado’s work
pacity to forge new communities are has been the target of considerable criti-
praised in the book. cism from feminist academics such as Wal-
Most critics agree that a change in nice Nogueira Galvão and Daphne Patai,
Amado’s writing occurred around 1958, who condemn his 1972 novel Teresa
with the publication of Gabriela, cravo e Batista cansada de guerra (Teresa Batista
canela (Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon). Home from the Wars) for its voyeuristic
In this novel, the depiction of colorful, ex- depictions of sexual abuse. Others have
otic locations and characters, particularly drawn attention to the naïveté of his atti-
the lascivious dark-skinned Bahian tude to race relations in Brazil. In Amado’s
woman, takes precedence over sociopoliti- obituary in the Guardian, Branford and
cal discussion and critique. Gabriela, Treece wrote that his work was “a dish
which sold over 800,000 copies, is one of which all too easily corresponded to offi-
Amado’s most commercially successful cial Brazilian and international expecta-
novels. A remarkable seventy-six editions tions of a prepackaged, stereotypical im-
were printed in Brazil from 1958 to 1984. age of an exotic third world culture able to
Amado’s novels are read predominantly by dance, sing and love its way out of misery.”
Brazilians in the southern states of the But Amado had defended himself from ear-
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 161

lier accusations of sexism and racial Swanson, Philip, ed. 1990. Landmarks in
stereotyping by stating: “I consider myself Modern Latin American Fiction. London:
more of a journalist than a novelist be- Routledge.

cause I do not add anything to my writing

about the people of Bahia that does not al-
ready exist in their lives. I simply transfer The Post-Boom
the reality of their lives to a literary plane
and recreate the ambience of Bahia, and By the start of the 1970s, the Boom was
that is all.” waning, and a new generation of Latin
In 1961 Amado was voted into the ranks American writers, designated “post-Boom,”
of the “immortals” of the Brazilian Acad- was calling for changes to the concept of
emy of Letters, and in 1999 he was nomi- fiction. One of the features of this new type
nated for the Nobel Prize for literature. His of writing was its attempt to bridge the di-
contribution to Brazilian letters is also rec- vide between “high” and “low” culture by
ognized in the Casa de Jorge Amado, an im- introducing a variety of popular cultural
portant center of Afro-Brazilian culture in features into the novel form. As critics
the city of Salvador, Bahia. have noted, post-Boom works employ a
—Claire Taylor and Stephanie Dennison more reader-friendly technique, rely more
on humor, and frequently integrate mass
See also: Mass Media: Telenovela; Popular media and popular cultural forms into their
Cinema: The Brazilian Film Industry (Box-
Office Successes and Contemporary Film in
Brazil); Popular Religion and Festivals: The Argentine Manuel Puig (1932–1990)
Candomblé was one of the first writers to successfully
integrate into the novel a variety of tradi-
Bibliography tionally popular forms, including tango,
Armstrong, Piers. 1999. Third World Literary bolero, detective fiction, popular romance,
Fortunes: Brazilian Culture and Its and Hollywood B-movies. Although his ear-
International Reception. Lewisburg:
lier works are contemporaneous with
Bucknell University Press.
Branford, Sue, and David Treece. 2001. “Obituary: those of the Boom writers, Puig is gener-
Jorge Amado.” London Guardian, 9 August. ally seen as the instigator of the post-
King, John, ed. 1987. Modern Latin American Boom, and his incorporation of popular,
Fiction: A Survey. London: Faber. “low” culture into the novel format chal-
Lindstrom, Naomi. 1994. Twentieth-Century lenged the notion of “high” literature. Sig-
Spanish American Fiction. Austin:
nificantly, Puig does not merely make ref-
University of Texas Press.
Martin, Gerald. 1989. Journeys through the erence to popular culture in his novels; he
Labyrinth: Latin American Fiction in the adopts several of its stylistic features into
Twentieth Century. London: Verso. the telling of the story. For example, Puig
Patai, Daphne. 1983. “Jorge Amado: Morals and titled his 1969 novel Boquitas pintadas
Marvels.” Pp. 111–140 in Myth and Ideology (literally, “painted mouths,” although re-
in Contemporary Brazilian Fiction.
leased in English translation as Heartbreak
London: Associated Presses.
Shaw, Donald L. 2002. A Companion to Modern Tango) and subtitled it folletín (serialized
Spanish American Fiction. Woodbridge: novel). He structured the novel to give it
Tamesis. the appearance of a serialized romance and
162 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Chilean writer Isabel Allende, 1994. (Ed Kashi/Corbis)

used lines from popular tango lyrics as male lineage of the del Valle family. Similari-
epigraphs to the novel. In common with ties have often been noted between this
the rest of Puig’s works, this novel was work and García Márquez’s Cien años de
highly accessible to a popular readership soledad, and Allende’s novel is often read as
and sold in large numbers. The majority of a copy of, or a critical parody of, García
Puig’s work continues this integration of Márquez’s earlier work. A more overt ma-
popular discourses into the novel format. nipulation of popular cultural forms comes
His most famous novel, El beso de la mujer in Allende’s 1987 novel Eva Luna. Here she
araña (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1976), takes up the format of the telenovela, as the
along with its cinematic adaptation by Héc- narrative of the protagonist Eva merges
tor Babenco in 1985, gave Puig a high pro- with the soap opera script she is writing.
file and international recognition. Following on the heels of Allende’s most
Another key figure in the post-Boom is famous work was the resounding interna-
the Chilean writer Isabel Allende (born tional success of the first novel by Mexican
1942), one of the first female Latin Ameri- author Laura Esquivel (born 1950), Como
can writers to win worldwide recognition agua para chocolate: Novela de entregas
and popularity. Sales of her work equal mensuales, con recetas, amores y reme-
those of García Márquez, and her first and dios caseros (Like Water for Chocolate,
most famous novel, La casa de los espíritus 1989). According to the most recent tally,
(The House of the Spirits, 1982) was an in- over 4.5 million copies of the book have
ternational bestseller. In this novel, Allende been printed worldwide. The novel is a pop-
blends magical elements with a plot dealing ular romance, depicting the passion of the
with Chile’s social and political situation in protagonist, Tita, for her true love, Pedro.
the twentieth century, focusing on the fe- But Esquivel also integrates another popu-
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 163

lar cultural form: the recipe book. Each ship that spans 150 countries. Born into a
chapter opens not with an introductory middle-class family in Brazil and best
paragraph but with a recipe and its manera known for his novel O alquimista (The Al-
de hacerse (instructions). Moreover, as the chemist, 1988), which sold over 27 million
title of the novel indicates, this work also copies worldwide, Paulo Coelho (1947– ) is
takes the form of the novela por entregas the bestselling Latin American writer of all
(serialized fiction). Each chapter ends with time. His work is characterized by a spiri-
continuará (“to be continued”), the tradi- tual dimension and encourages contempla-
tional “cliff-hanger” of this type of popular tion and self-discovery. He counts
fiction. Coming soon after the novel was Madonna, Julia Roberts, and Sinéad O’Con-
the 1992 film version, Como agua para nor among his self-confessed fans.
chocolate, directed and produced by Al- The Alchemist sold more copies than
fonso Arau, itself a box-office hit. Esquivel’s any other book in the history of Brazilian
later works have failed to achieve the same letters and even made it into the Guinness
runaway success as her first novel, al- Book of Records. In May 1993, Harper-
though her second novel, La ley del amor Collins published 50,000 copies of the
(The Law of Love, 1995), attempts a further novel, the largest-ever initial print run of a
crossing of literary boundaries with the in- Brazilian book in the United States. In 2002
clusion of popular music on CD and draw- the Portuguese literary review Jornal de
ings alongside the written word. Letras declared that The Alchemist had
—Claire Taylor sold more copies than any other book writ-
ten in Portuguese in the entire history of
See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Tango; the language. A film version of the book
Popular Literature: The Boom; Mass Media:
starring British actor Jeremy Irons is cur-
rently being planned in Hollywood.
Bibliography Coelho’s latest book, Onze minutos
Lindstrom, Naomi. 1994. Twentieth-Century (Eleven Minutes), published by Harper-
Spanish American Fiction. Austin: Collins in the USA and Canada in 2004 and
University of Texas Press. in the United Kingdom the previous year, is
Shaw, Donald L. 1998. The Post-Boom in billed as an odyssey of self-discovery and
Spanish American Fiction. Albany: State
an exploration of the nature of sex and
University of New York Press.
———. 2002. A Companion to Modern Spanish love. It tells the story of Maria, who, after a
American Fiction. Woodbridge: Tamesis. chance encounter in Rio de Janeiro, travels
Swanson, Philip. 1985. The New Novel in Latin to Geneva, where she dreams of finding
America: Politics and Popular Culture after fame and fortune yet ends up working the
the Boom. Manchester: Manchester streets as a prostitute. On 25 July, 2002,
University Press.
Paulo Coelho was elected to the presti-
gious Academia Brasileira de Letras
“New-Age” Fiction—Paulo Coelho (Brazilian Academy of Letters), the aim of
which is to safeguard the language and cul-
Paul Coelho is a literary phenomenon ture of Brazil. This was a significant event,
whose fable-like novels have been trans- since his work has been dismissed by many
lated into over fifty languages for a reader- literary critics. His loyal fans greeted the
164 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho looks on as his fans reach for his autograph after a press conference in
Kiev, 15 September 2004. (Mykhailo Markiv/Reuters/Corbis)

news with widespread enthusiasm and de- when Paulo was seventeen his father twice
light, and Coelho became the focus of me- had him committed to a psychiatric hospi-
dia attention throughout Brazil. tal, where he underwent several sessions
At the age of seven, Coelho entered the of electric shock therapy. Soon afterward,
Jesuit school of São Ignácio in Rio de Paulo joined a theater group and began
Janeiro but soon came to hate the obliga- working as a journalist. Viewing the the-
tory nature of religious practice. It was ater as a hotbed of immorality, his parents
there that he discovered his true voca- had him committed to a hospital for a third
tion—he won his first literary prize in a time. His experiences in this period of his
school poetry competition. His sister, So- life provided the inspiration for his novel
nia, tells of how she won an essay prize by Veronika decide morrer (Veronika De-
entering a composition that her brother cides to Die).
had relegated to a wastepaper bin. His fa- According to Coelho: “Veronika Decides
ther, Pedro, an engineer, wanted his son to to Die was published in Brazil in 1998. By
follow in his footsteps professionally, September I had received more than 1,200
which caused the young Paulo to rebel e-mails and letters describing similar expe-
against his family. His father interpreted riences. In October some of the subjects he
his rebellion as a sign of mental illness, and discussed in the book—depression, panic
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 165

attacks, suicide—were addressed at a con- pitals three times. He began to physically

ference that went on to have national harm himself in front of his captors, and in
repercussions. On January 22 of the follow- the end they stopped torturing him and let
ing year, Senator Eduardo Suplicy read out him go.
some extracts from my book at a plenary Coelho then pursued a more conven-
session [in Congress] and managed to get tional life, going on to work for the record
approval for a law that had been doing the companies Polygram and CBS. In 1977 he
rounds of the Brazilian Congress for ten moved to London with his then wife and
years—a law prohibiting arbitrary hospital- began writing, without much success. In
ization.” 1979, after they separated, he met up with
In the 1960s, despite the fact that Brazil an old friend, Christina Oiticica, whom he
was ruled by a repressive military regime, later married and with whom he still lives.
established in 1964, the hippie movement The couple traveled to Europe and visited
took root there, and Coelho lived the alter- the former concentration camp in Dachau,
native lifestyle to the full, growing his hair Germany. Coelho claims that there he had
long, making a point of never carrying his a vision in which a man appeared to him, a
identity card, and taking drugs. He started man whom he actually met later in a café
a magazine, but only two issues were ever in Amsterdam. This man, whose identity
published. Coelho has never revealed, suggested that
Coelho also became half of a songwrit- he should return to Catholicism, so he then
ing partnership with Brazilian singer Raul began to study the symbolic language of
Seixas. He wrote the lyrics to more than Christianity. The man also advised Coelho
sixty songs produced by the duo up to to walk the medieval pilgrims’ route known
1976. In 1973 they both became members as the “Road to Santiago,” between France
of the “Alternative Society,” an organiza- and Spain. In 1987, a year after completing
tion that opposed capitalist ideology, de- that pilgrimage, Coelho wrote his first
fended the individual’s right to do as he or book, O diário de um mago (The Pilgrim-
she pleased, and practiced black magic. age), which recounted his experiences dur-
Coelho later described these experiences ing the trip and his discovery that extraor-
in his book As valkírias (The Valkyries, dinary things happen in the lives of
1992). During this period Coelho and ordinary people. In 1988 he wrote another,
Seixas began publishing a series of comic very different book, The Alchemist, which
strips that called for greater individual eventually went to the top of the bestseller
freedom. Considered subversive by the lists, along with The Pilgrimage.
military dictatorship, they were both ar- —Lisa Shaw
rested; Coelho, deemed to be the “brains” Bibliography:
behind the creative partnership, was de- Coelho, Paulo. 2000. The Pilgrimage. San
tained for several days. Upon his release Franscisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
he was re-arrested while walking down the ———. 2001. Veronika Decides to Die. New
street and taken to a military torture cen- York: Perennial.
———. 2003. The Alchemist: A Fable about
ter, where he remained for several days.
Following Your Dream. San Francisco:
Coelho recounts that he escaped death by HarperSanFrancisco.
telling his torturers that he was insane and ———. 2003. Warrior of the Light: A Manual.
had already been admitted to mental hos- New York: HarperCollins.
166 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

———. 2004. Eleven Minutes. New York: worlds and technologically enhanced reali-
HarperCollins. ties. In Borges’s native Argentina, his friend
Paulo Coelho Official Website. www.paulocoelho. Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914–1999) was an-
com (consulted 1 August 2003). other key exponent of early science fiction.
Bioy Casares’s novela La invención de
Morel (The Invention of Morel, 1941) is an
Science Fiction overt response to H. G. Wells’s famous
novel The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896). It
Although not immediately associated describes a simulation machine invented
with Latin America, this genre has been by the scientist Morel, and ultimately re-
growing in force throughout the twenti- veals that the inhabitants of the island are
eth century, and the writings of Latin merely holograms produced by the ma-
American authors have revitalized the chine.
paradigms coming from European and Writing in the science fiction vein can
U.S. writing. On the whole, Latin Ameri- also be found in some of the short stories of
can science fiction is generally seen as Julio Cortázar (1914–1984) and his compa-
“soft” rather than “hard”—–that is, it triot Eduardo Goligorsky (born 1931), par-
deals more with philosophical possibili- ticularly in Goligorsky’s short stories in the
ties than with physics. collection Memorias del futuro (Memories
The work of the Argentine writer Jorge of the Future, 1966). It also occurs, notably,
Luis Borges (1899–1986) has often been de- in the novels and short stories of Angélica
scribed as one of the forerunners of sci- Gorodischer (born 1928), who, some would
ence fiction in Latin America. Though his argue, is Argentina’s only committed female
well-known short stories, written over sev- science fiction writer. Gorodischer’s works,
eral years and brought together in the col- such as her 1967 novel Opus 2 and her 1979
lection Ficciones (Fictions, 1944), do not short story collection Trafalgar, include a
classify as “hard” science fiction, since no variety of science fiction scenarios such as
spaceships or intergalactic battles appear intergalactic travels and the disruption of
in these tales, they nevertheless disrupt a timescales. More recently, Argentine writer
variety of philosophical and scientific Ricardo Piglia (born 1941) has continued
norms. His experiments with time, space, this tendency toward the futuristic with the
and parallel existence in stories in these publication of his novel La ciudad ausente
collections, such as “El jardín de senderos (The Absent City, 1992), set in 2004–2005
que se bifurcan” (“The Garden of Forking and described by Avelar as a “futurist/cy-
Paths,” 1944) and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Ter- berpunk detective story.”
tius” (1944, the title of which is the name of Though science fiction in the Southern
an imaginary universe and its regions), as Cone (the countries in the south of Latin
well as in the longer 1949 work El aleph America, comprising Argentina, Brazil,
(The Aleph), are evidence of Borges’s Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay) is domi-
affinities with the science fiction tradition. nated by Argentina, the case for a Chilean
Borges’s groundwork in experimental science fiction is made by critic Remi-
fiction inspired an array of writers to take Maure, who details a variety of works in
up the challenge of proposing alternative this genre. Remi-Maure dates the start of
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 167

Chilean science fiction as 1959, with the

publication of Hugo Correa’s (born 1926)
now classic novel Los altísimos (The
Highest), although he sees Chile’s “golden
age” of science fiction as lasting only until
the mid-1970s.
In Colombia, two of the best-known
names in the science fiction genre are An-
tonio Mora Vélez (b. 1942) and René Re-
betéz (b. 1933). Rebetéz’s 1996 collection
of short stories, Ellos lo llaman amanecer
y otros relatos (They Call It Dawn, and
Other Tales), provides a good introduction
to his work and includes a brief opening
essay on science fiction as a genre. Mora
Vélez is considered one of the pioneers of
science fiction in Colombia and has written Mexican writer Laura Esquivel, 2001. (James
both fiction, such as his 1982 collection of Leynse/Corbis)
short stories, El juicio de los dioses (The
Judgement of the Gods), and critical es-
says on science fiction, such as Ciencia forms of fiction. Juan B. Gutiérrez’s Condi-
ficción: El humanismo de hoy (Science ciones extremas (Extreme Conditions,
Fiction: The Humanism of Today, 1996). 1998) is described as an example of “hyper-
In recent years the genre of science fic- fiction,” a work that includes both the writ-
tion has witnessed a transformation at the ten word and images within a hypertext.
hands of women writers. In particular, the The story, which revolves around three
Mexicans Carmen Boullosa (b. 1954) and protagonists, Índigo Cavalera, Miranda
Laura Esquivel (b. 1950), the latter more fa- Macedonia, and Equinoccio Deunamor,
mous for her novel Como agua para starts out in the year 2090, and, like many
chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), have other science fiction works, involves time
experimented with this genre. Esquivel’s travel as the characters move backward
La ley del amor (The Law of Love, 1995), and forward in time to change the course
billed as a “novela multimedia,” engages of events. Structurally, the work is orga-
with some of science fiction’s conventions nized into numerous short chapters, each
to produce a parodic take on the genre, containing generally two hyperlinks, one to
while Boullosa’s Cielos de la tierra (Heav- the following chapter and the other to the
ens of the Earth, 1997) is a more pes- previous chapter. In this way, the story still
simistic account of the futuristic destruc- remains conventionally linear, but the
tion of bodily integrity. reader has the option to revisit previous
At the close of the twentieth century, chapters, a strategy that mimics the char-
one of the most interesting developments acters’ revisiting of the past. The work was
in science fiction in Latin America was the initially available in book and CD-ROM for-
use of new technologies to create new mat, and is now freely available on the
168 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Internet and can be read at http://www. hand) on street stands throughout Mexico
condicionesextremas.com. and beyond. Many are marketed simultane-
Overall, the observations that Pérez and ously in other Latin American countries
Pérez offer about Argentine science fiction such as Colombia and Venezuela. Individ-
can be applied to science fiction through- ual weekly titles can have print runs of up
out Latin America. They note that it is used to a million copies. Since most cost less
for satirical purposes within Latin Amer- than fifty cents new, they are accessible to
ica; they also note that this genre, because even the poorest sectors of society, and
it reaches a wide readership, can be used with their combination of images and
to attract readers and then engage them in words, their colloquial language, and their
political or philosophical debates. simple grammar, they cater to those who
—Claire Taylor are poorly educated. Indeed, comic books
are one of the few sources of accessible
See also: Mass Media: The Internet reading matter for the poor and semiliter-
ate sectors of society and, as such, they not
Bibliography only offer entertainment but also play a
Avelar, Idelber. 1999. The Untimely Present.
crucial role in the dissemination of infor-
Durham: Duke University Press.
Fernández Delgado, Miguel Ángel. 1996. “A
mation and ideology. On a superficial level,
Brief History of Continuity and Change in they tell stories of action and adventure,
Mexican Science Fiction.” The New York love and sex (there is a substantial market
Review of Science Fiction 9, no. 3: 18–19. for X-rated historietas). Nevertheless,
Kreksch, Ingrid. 1997. “Reality Transfigured: most include some form of social com-
The Latin American Situation as Reflected in
ment, and some are frankly didactic, telling
Its Science Fiction.” Pp. 173–182 in Political
Science Fiction, edited by Donald M. Hassler
tales of Mexican history and fostering a
and Clyde Wilcox. Columbia: University of sense of national identity.
South Carolina Press. Comic books are a post-revolutionary
Pajares Tosca, Susana. 2001. “Condiciones phenomenon, having made their first ap-
Extremas: Digital Science Fiction from pearance in the early 1930s. As Rubenstein
Colombia.” Hispanic Issues 22: 270–287.
notes, these early comics, by commenting
Pérez, Janet, and Genaro J. Pérez. 1987.
“Foreword: Hispanic Science Fiction/
on contemporary issues, helped guide
Fantasy and the Thriller.” Monographic Mexicans through the turbulent post-revo-
Review/Revista Monográfica 3: 1–2. lutionary era with its modernization and
Remi-Maure. 1984. “Science Fiction in Chile.” urbanization. However, the contemporary,
Science Fiction Studies 11: 181–189. risqué approach to life that characterized
these comics did not go unchallenged by
conservative, often devoutly Catholic
Comic Books forces, who tried to have them banned out-
right in the early 1940s. They did not suc-
Mexico ceed, but in 1944 the government began
Mexican comic books, or historietas, are a censoring the most outrageous publica-
booming mass cultural phenomenon. Mil- tions. Although this had little impact on the
lions of copies are published every week comics themselves (because of the cen-
and are sold (or frequently resold second- sors’ limited ability to enforce their own
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 169

rulings), it was successful in limiting the who works in conjunction with Guillermo
dissemination in Mexico of U.S. comic Gómez-Peña.
books considered racist toward Mexicans —Thea Pitman
(for example, in their stories of the Wild
See also: Popular Theater and Performance:
West). Thus the national market was pro-
Circus and Cabaret (Guillermo Gómez-Peña)
Many Mexican comic book series and/or Bibliography
comic book characters have lasted for Hinds, Harold E., and Charles M. Tatum. 1992.
decades. For example, the comic Pepín ran Not Just for Children: The Mexican Comic
for fifteen years from 1936, and at its most Book in the Late 1960s and 70s. Westport,
popular it was published eight times a CT: Greenwood Press.
Palacios, Julia Emilia. 1986. “Torbellino:
week and sold over a million copies per
Toward an Alternative Comic Book.” Studies
edition. The word pepín even entered Mex- in Latin American Popular Culture 5:
ican Spanish as a synonym for comic 186–195.
books. This kind of long-running comic Rubenstein, Anne. 1998. Bad Language, Naked
book molded itself somewhat to changes in Ladies and Other Threats to the Nation: A
contemporary society, but generally mixed Political History of Comic Books in Mexico.
Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
topical references into more eternal story
lines. Other comic books appeared at spe-
cific moments in history and pursued spe- Argentina
cific agendas. Such is the case of the 1970s Comic books in Argentina are dominated
comic Torbellino (Whirlwind), written by by the internationally known Mafalda, the
Orlando Ortiz and drawn by Antonio Car- creation of Quino (Joaquín Salvador
doso. This comic responded to the more Lavado), a fine arts graduate born in 1932
open political environment provoked by in Mendoza. Mafalda was devised in 1963
the 1968 massacre of students at Tlatelolco to promote a new line of kitchen equip-
Square in Mexico City and was much more ment that was never in fact marketed.
pointedly critical of the Mexican establish- Quino then took his finished comic strip to
ment than previous publications had been. the Primera plana newspaper in 1964 and
It also attracted a heterogeneous audience by 1966 he had published the first of many
for its weekly installments, appealing to Mafalda annuals. The strip was published
middle-class students and the poor. This in Italy in 1968 and in 1970 in Spain, where
was due to the quality of the text and draw- the Franco government insisted that the
ings as well as the social content. Today, al- publishers make clear that it was for adults
though the market for comic books in gen- only. By 1971 the strip had already been
eral has declined since the 1990s, probably translated into seven languages.
because of the influence of television, this The central, eponymous character in
kind of historieta de arte (art-house comic Mafalda is a young middle-class girl from
book), which presents social critique Buenos Aires who thinks and speaks like a
alongside a highly eclectic, creative sam- worldly-wise adult, much like Charles M.
pling of visual and textual sources, is still Schulz’s Peanuts characters, which were
thriving in the work of Edgar Clément (Op- Quino’s main inspiration. Most of the short
eración Bolívar) and Enrique Chagoya, strips in which Mafalda appears make ironic
170 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

comments on Argentine society and national ers at home, since the milieu in which he
idiosyncrasies. Quino has a good ear for the gives vent to his prejudices is the United
affected way that the capital’s bourgeoisie States. He also helps to explode the myths
speaks, and his strips include a certain associated with the Colossus of the North.
amount of inevitable stereotyping. Quino’s Boogie is the product of satirical cartoonist
strip was popular in Argentina because it of- Roberto Fontanarrosa, who enjoyed suc-
fered the population a humorous opportu- cess earlier in his career with Inodoro
nity for self-recognition in a market domi- Pereyra, about a backward and rather in-
nated by U.S. comics. In fact, the reason dolent gaucho type.
Mafaldo traveled so successfully throughout —Stephanie Dennison
Latin America, David William Foster writes,
is that most of Latin Americans also see the See also: Cultural Icons: Regional and Ethnic
Argentines as idiosyncratic. Types (The Gaucho in Argentina and Uruguay)

Quino stopped producing the Mafalda

strip in 1973 and moved to Italy in 1976. Al-
Evora, José Antonio. 2000. “Quinoscopios.” P.
though he was not censored by the Argen- 1229 in Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin
tine dictatorship, he had grown tired of the American and Caribbean Cultures, vol. 3,
constant criticism of his work: the Left edited by Dan Balderston, Mike González,
thought he was too tame and the Right and Ana M. López. London: Routledge.
thought he was too critical of national Fernández L’Hoeste, Hector D. 1998. “From
Mafalda to Boogie: The City in Argentine
characteristics. Since that time, Mafalda
Humor.” Pp. 81–106 in Imagination Beyond
has made occasional reappearances as part Nation: Latin American Popular Culture,
of public information campaigns, as, for edited by Eva P. Bueno and Terry Caesar.
example, in a 1977 UNICEF publicity exer- Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
cise. The strip, which had become a televi- Foster, David William. 1989. From Mafalda to
sion series as early as 1965, was adapted the Supermachos: Latin American Graphic
Humor as Popular Culture. Boulder, CO,
for the big screen in 1982.
and London: Lynne Rienner.
A more recent comic strip craze in Ar- Peiretti, Rodrigo. 2000. “Mafalda.” Pp. 890–891
gentina is Boogie, el aceitoso (Boogie the in Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin
Greaser). Unlike Mafalda, Boogie is a thor- American and Caribbean Cultures, vol. 2,
oughly unpleasant, mean-spirited individ- edited by Dan Balderston, Mike González,
ual. An Argentine based in New York, Boo- and Ana M. López. London: Routledge.
gie earns his living in a number of
distasteful professions: mercenary, body- Brazil
guard, hit man. One reason that has been Along with the United States and Japan,
suggested for the strip’s popularity is that Brazil is one of the world’s three largest
the Argentine bourgeoisie can identify with markets for comics, known in Brazil as
Boogie’s contempt for minority groups in histórias em quadrinhos or gibis. Most of
New York (blacks, feminists, Jews, liberals, Brazil’s commercially successful comics are
gays, and Asians), his sidestepping of the imported, with the notable exception of A
law, and his ignoring the rules of the sys- Turma da Mônica, the creation of Maurício
tem. Despite his meanness of spirit and vi- de Sousa. Sousa was born in 1935 in São
olence, Boogie poses no threat to his read- Paulo. He began publishing his famous
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 171

comic strip in the daily broadsheets in the magazine Pasquim, including the much ad-
late 1950s, and by 1970 A Turma da Mônica mired Henfil and Ziraldo: the latter has
was a very popular comic book. Sousa soon achieved success recently within the chil-
set up his own production company, and dren’s market with the comic strip O
now Maurício de Sousa Produções owns menino maluquinho (The Nutty Boy).
not only a successful publisher of comics With the loosening of censorship laws in
but also amusement parks based on Monica the late 1970s, the content of comic strips
and her gang and the fourth largest anima- became more sexual than political, and
tion studio in the world. most young cartoonists were obliged to
The toothy main character, Mônica, was work for hardcore “adult comics” such as
based on one of Sousa’s daughters, as was those produced in the 1980s by Editora
one of her gang, Magali. Other well-known Gafipar. This generation, still influential to-
members of Mônica’s gang (there are 300 in day, was inspired graphically by Japanese
all) are Cebolinha (“scallion”), who has a comics and pop art.
speech impediment, Cascão, who smells As comics once again become trendy
bad, and Chico Bento, the country bump- among Brazil’s young urban bourgeoisie,
kin. Such is A Turma da Mônica’s success new cartoonists and comics have begun to
within the children’s market that these appear. The Editora Fluminense series, for
homegrown comics outsell Disney titles. example, deals with Brazilian historical
The teenage comic market was domi- themes such as the slave leader Zumbi dos
nated until recently by the Brazilian version Palmares (2002), illustrated by the talented
of the anarchic U.S. comic Mad, which was Allan Alex.
also rewritten and published in Argentina, —Stephanie Dennison
Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Although the
comic is no longer published, the style of See also: Popular Cinema: The Brazilian Film
humor of Mad, established in Brazil by the Industry (Box-Office Successes and
well-known satirical cartoonist Ota in 1974, Contemporary Film in Brazil); Coffin Joe

has been influential in homegrown under-

ground comics and the alternative comedy
“Brazilian comic-book encyclopedia.” www.
scene on Brazilian television. gibindex.com. (consulted 1 August 2003).
Domestic comic production has been in- Moya, Alvaro de. 1988. “Comics in Brazil.”
fluenced by cinema and television: for ex- Studies in Latin American Popular Culture
ample, in the 1960s and 1970s the notori- 6: 227–239.
ous horror film director Mojica Marins Rinka, Marcie D. 2000. “Comics.” Pp. 387–388 in
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin
produced his own popular comics based
American and Caribbean Cultures, vol. 1,
on his film character Zé do Caixão (Coffin edited by Dan Balderston, Mike González,
Joe), while the Trapalhões comedy quartet, and Ana M. López. London: Routledge.
at the height of their popularity in the
1970s and 1980s, appeared in a series of
children’s comics. Literatura de Cordel
During the dictatorship a number of
satirical cartoonists rose to fame through Cheaply produced chapbooks popular in
the politically committed and oft-censored the northeast of Brazil, these publications
172 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

a way that reflected the popular speech of

the rural poor, with their own colloqui-
alisms and flexible attitude to grammatical
rules. From the early twentieth century on-
ward, professional cordel writers or fol-
heteiros would travel the interior selling
their printed poetry. They read their work
aloud in marketplaces but omit the ending
of their stories in order to entice literate
representatives of small communities to
buy them.
In the late nineteenth century, these sto-
ries began to be sold in the form of chap-
books. At first they dealt with themes com-
mon to the Romanceiro or medieval poetic
tradition that inspired them, such as tales
of knights, symbolic battles between good
and evil, and Christian parables. But by the
mid-twentieth century, at the height of
their popularity, themes in the chapbooks
had broadened to include popular history,
Brazilian chapbook (literatura de cordel) on anecdotes about modern life, and critical
the life of the infamous social bandit Lampião,
commentary. Many chapbooks told of the
illustrated using traditional woodcut
adventures of Lampião, the legendary can-
techniques. (Courtesy of Mark Dineen; photo by
gaceiro or social bandit who terrorized the
Alex Nield)
lawless northeastern interior in the first
are also known as folhetos. Literatura de decades of the twentieth century. Padre
cordel, which literally means “literature on Cícero (1844–1934), one of many messianic
a string,” in reference to the way the loose priests from the northeast, also features
sheets are tied together and displayed on widely in the chapbooks from this time.
stands at rural markets, can be traced as From the 1940s onward, the tradition trav-
far back as the sixteenth century. In the eled along with the northeasterners who
Iberian Peninsula, popular verse, inspired headed south to cities such as São Paulo in
by the epic poetry in vogue among the no- search of work. At this point, chapbooks
bility, began to be transcribed at that time, began to incorporate themes connected to
and the trend was taken to the New World the experiences of urban life, such as
by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. The strikes and safety at work. They reputedly
popular poetic tradition took root particu- played an important role in the conscious-
larly among Brazil’s rural population, per- ness-raising of the Ligas Camponesas or
haps because these verses were written to Peasant Leagues of the 1950s, which de-
be recited aloud or sung and therefore manded land reform and better treatment
were accessible to the country’s large illit- of landless workers. One of the most popu-
erate population. They were also written in lar stories incorporated into cordel litera-
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 173

ture was the suicide of the populist presi- and predominantly targeted at a female
dent Getúlio Vargas in 1954, bringing cordel readership. The fotonovela arose out of the
readers and listeners in touch with the go- romance fiction market. Originally it was
ings-on of central government. associated with the Spanish author Corin
With the spread of radio and television Tellado, a prolific writer of romance fiction
and the decline of open-air markets, the re- whose work was published not only in the
lationship between literatura de cordel form of traditional novels and magazine se-
and the public changed. Remote communi- rials, but also as fotonovela. Tellado’s writ-
ties no longer relied on the chapbooks as a ing perhaps equates most closely to Harle-
source of contact with the outside world. quin romances in the United States, or to
Since the early 1960s, scholars have ceased Mills and Boon in the United Kingdom. The
treating them with disdain, and today fotonovela continues this tradition of ro-
cordel literature is popular with an edu- mantic fiction, although it provides the
cated middle-class readership for its folk story in a new format: that of photographic
curiosity and its monetary value: like images accompanied by thought or speech
comics, many older chapbooks change bubbles, or brief written glosses. Given
hands for considerable sums of money. that it relies on minimal text and leaves
Large comic-book publishers have also much of the action to be explained by vi-
reinvented the genre, selling neatly pack- sual cues, it offers easy access to a reader-
aged printed versions with colorful covers. ship with lower levels of literacy. As late as
The few genuine folheteiros that remain the end of the 1980s, it was noted that
frequently rely on contracts from advertis- more people read fotonovelas than read
ing agencies and the propaganda machines daily newspapers in many countries of
of politicians. Latin America.
—Stephanie Dennison Although the fotonovela had its roots in
the Spanish tradition of romantic fiction
See also: Popular Religion and Festivals: and was initially produced in Spain for dis-
Popular Catholicism (Brazil) tribution in Latin America, a flourishing na-
tional fotonovela industry quickly estab-
lished itself in Brazil, Mexico, and
Dineen, Mark. 1996. Listening to the People’s
Voice: Erudite and Popular Literature in
Argentina. Some differences can be seen
North East Brazil. London: Kegan Paul among the products of these three coun-
International. tries: Brazil and Argentina produced a
Slater, Candace. 1982. Stories on a String: more “literary” type of fiction, while the
The Brazilian Literatura de Cordel. Los Mexican fotonovela took its inspiration
Angeles: University of California Press.
from the historieta or comic books. In Ar-
gentina the fotonovela had gone into de-
Fotonovela cline by the 1970s, while in Mexico it main-
tained its popularity and became a major
Literally, a “photonovel,” that is, a story force within the area of popular literature.
consisting primarily of still photographs In terms of theme, the fotonovela ini-
with balloon captions or brief written leg- tially concentrated on romantic love. A typ-
ends, widely read in much of Latin America ically sentimental and melodramatic sce-
174 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

nario would involve the heroine triumph- rate, and the setting often a poorer part of
ing over circumstances to gain the heart of town. Today this “red” version of the
the wealthy hero. Usually the heroine was fotonovela sells much better than the ro-
poor but virtuous, and these stories tended mantic “soft” and “pink” versions.
to convey a chaste romantic ideal. This Though these works were most popular
early type of fotonovela has been termed in Mexico, readership was widespread
the fotonovela rosa (“pink fotonovela”); the throughout Latin America. Chile saw in-
term rosa refers to the concept of the nov- creased sales of fotonovelas during the
ela rosa or romantic novel. This type of Popular Unity government of Salvador Al-
fotonovela, according to Butler Flora, lende from 1970 to 1973. Though most of
spans the period from the 1950s to the these fotonovelas were produced in Spain,
1970s. a new format was introduced by
Though the early fotonovelas were senti- Quimantú, Chile’s state publishing com-
mental, romantic, and stereotypical, over pany. In Argentina, fotonovela production
time they began to incorporate more mod- ended in the 1970s, but the demand for
ern plots and characters. Butler Flora these works continued and readership re-
notes that the heroes of the fotonovela mained relatively high. During this time
gradually descended in social class, be- many Argentine companies moved their
coming middle- and even working-class in production to Colombia, where costs were
their origin. This led to an increase in the cheaper. In Colombia, the fotonovela also
fotonovela’s popularity, as readers were had a wide national readership. By the
able to identify more readily with the situa- 1980s, however, the majority of the
tion of the protagonists. Thus, the fotono- fotonovelas on sale there were from Mex-
vela branched out into different forms, ico, though many had been “Colombia-
moving in the course of the 1970s from the nized” by the replacement of some of the
initial fotonovela rosa to what Butler Flora more obvious Mexicanisms with Colom-
has called the fotonovela suave (“soft bian expressions, and by the changing of
fotonovela”), in which the implausible ro- location—for instance, the Mexican resort
mance stories of the earlier versions are of Acapulco became the Colombian town
toned down, namely, more realistic. of Cartagena.
The fotonovela underwent another While these works are aimed predomi-
change at the end of the 1970s, when the nantly at a female readership, the recent
fotonovela roja (“red fotonovela”) emerged. growth of a further subgenre, what Butler
These later works broke with the tradition Flora terms the fotonovela picaresca
of idealized romantic situations and instead (“picaresque fotonovela”), is aimed at the
dealt with the harshness of daily life, in- adolescent male and is sexually explicit,
cluding issues such as social deprivation, frequently centering on the story of a
prostitution, rape, money problems, and young man whose sexual powers drive
drug addiction. The characters were fre- women to the heights of passion. This rela-
quently poor, and as the plots became more tively new incarnation of the fotonovela,
realistic, the visual aspect of the fotonovela though seen by some as conservative and
changed: the models used in the photo- sexist in its content, is an example of the
graphs are darker, their clothes less elabo- adaptation of the genre to different reader-
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 175

ships and an attempt to corner the male Quiché language, it was nevertheless pro-
market. duced after the Conquest. The Quiché orig-
—Claire Taylor inal is now lost, with only a Spanish trans-
lation made by a priest during the
See also: Popular Literature: Comic Books eighteenth century remaining. In addition
to this important Mayan source, several
books of this period were discovered in Yu-
Butler Flora, Cornelia. 1973. “The Passive
Female and Social Change: A Cross-Cultural catan, which have come to be known col-
Comparison of Women’s Magazine Fiction.” lectively as the books of Chilam Balam.
Pp. 59–85 in Female and Male in Latin These, too, were written down after the
America: Essays, edited by Ann Pescatello. Conquest.
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. In more modern times, attempts have
———. 1980. “Women in Latin American
been made to record current popular
Fotonovelas: From Cinderella to Mata Hari.”
Women’s Studies International Quarterly 3, myths, legends, and stories in written form.
no. 1: 95–104. Key in this enterprise within Mexico has
———. 1982. “The Fotonovela in America.” been the collection of works published by
Studies in Latin American Popular Culture the Instituto Nacional Indigenista (Na-
1: 15–26. tional Indigenist Institute) during the 1990s
———. 1989. “The Political Economy of
and edited by Carlos Montemayor. These
Fotonovela Production in Latin America.”
Studies in Latin American Popular Culture works, forming the series Letras Mayas
8: 215–230. Contemporáneas (Contemporary Mayan
Franco, Jean. 1986. “The Incorporation of Letters), are a collection of tales, poems,
Women: A Comparison of North American and indigenous beliefs, and are published
and Mexican Popular Narrative.” Pp. 119–138 in parallel text with the original language
in Studies in Entertainment: Critical
accompanied by a Spanish translation. Fre-
Approaches to Mass Culture, edited by Tania
Modleski. Bloomington: Indiana University quently, these works took their impetus
Press. from a series of workshops held within in-
digenous communities during which the
members of these communities were en-
Oral “Literature” in Mexico couraged to relate their stories and record
and Guatemala them in written form. The texts are avail-
able in an inexpensive paperback format,
Though the term “oral literature” is to a with the intention of disseminating them to
certain extent an oxymoron, it is the term a wide readership and preserving them for
closest to describing the oral folktales, leg- posterity.
ends, and myths of pre-Hispanic cultures In addition, Speck’s Zapotec Oral Litera-
within Mesoamerica. ture brings together in a single collection
The forerunner of modern-day oral liter- several tales from the oral literature of the
ature is the Popul Vuh, also known as the Zapotecs living southwest of Oaxaca City,
Maya Bible, which contains a series of cre- translated into both Spanish and English.
ation myths, stories of gods and heroes, The book contains thirteen folktales and a
and some historical records. Although this chapter of Zapotec proverbs, and along
work was originally written down in the with the translations, includes the original
176 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Zapotec text, with the stated aim of making Testimonio

the tales accessible to the Zapotec people.
Speck’s book forms part of a series, Folk- Literally “testimony,” testimonio is a grow-
lore Texts in Mexican Indian Languages, ing genre of Latin American writing that at-
that attempts to record and recuperate a tempts to convey a first-person, frequently
variety of oral tales in different native lan- oral account through the written word. Of-
guages. ten associated with the voice of the
Dennis Tedlock’s book, Breath on the masses, testimonio aims to give voice to
Mirror, represents a similar project in those whose voices are traditionally ex-
Guatemala. It brings together in English cluded from the written word and the liter-
translation a series of Mayan myths and ary canon.
tales as they are told today, mostly by Testimonio as a form of writing has sev-
the Quiché Maya in the highlands of eral key features. First, it is an account told
Guatemala. The book includes several by a first-person narrator who was an eye-
transcriptions of tales told orally and witness or real protagonist in the events
recorded by tape recorder, with the result- described. In this way, testimonio differs
ing text including a variety of features to from the novel in that it is based on real-
indicate changes in pace, emphasis, and life events and derives its impact from
tone of voice. These features, such as the what has been termed the “truth effect”
use of bold type to indicate a loud voice, or (Beverley, p. 74). Testimonio does not ex-
spaced-out typing to indicate words that ist in isolation as a work of literature but is
are pronounced slowly, are an attempt to inextricably linked to the social conditions
bring the reader as close as possible to the that produced it and a part of social prac-
way these tales were told and to convey tice in itself.
their oral, popular nature. Second, the voice of the narrator, that of
one individual, is also seen as representa-
—Claire Taylor
tive of an entire social class, frequently the
See also: Language: Indigenous Languages lower classes or oppressed social groups.
Thus the most famous of testimonios, that
Bibliography of the Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchú,
Brotherston, Gordon. 1992. Book of the Fourth deals with Menchú’s experience of vio-
World: Reading the Native Americas lence and oppression, but is expressly set
through Their Literature. Cambridge: out in terms of the collective. Menchú’s
Cambridge University Press.
memorable opening paragraph includes
Burns, Allan. 1982. An Epoch of Miracles:
Oral Literature of the Yucatán Maya. the lines “it’s not only my life, it’s also the
Austin: University of Texas Press. testimony of my people. . . . My story is the
Speck, Charles H. 1998. Zapotec Oral story of all poor Guatemalans” (p. 1). This
Literature: El folklore de San Lorenzo opening makes clear that her book is
Texmelucan. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of much more than a personal story or auto-
Tedlock, Dennis. 1993. Breath on the Mirror:
Mythic Voices and Visions of the Living A third issue that has raised much de-
Maya. Albuquerque: University of New bate regarding testimonio is its challenge
Mexico Press. to the conventions of authorship. Since the
P O P U L A R L I T E R AT U R E 177

Guatemalan Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum (left) with Brazilian singer and Minister of
Culture Gilberto Gil (background) in Barcelona, 14 May 2004. (Victor Fraile/Reuters/Corbis)

testimonio is an attempt at transcribing an tionship between the narrator and the com-
oral, first-person account told by an illiter- piler has engendered considerable debate,
ate subject, what is recounted orally must in terms of the tensions involved in the
be subsequently transcribed and edited by conveying of the experiences of an illiter-
a writer. Thus, rather than the standard, ate, rural, usually indigenous subject
single author as source of the text, this through an educated, frequently metropoli-
type of writing is a form of cooperative au- tan, and white compiler.
thorship between narrator and transcriber, Though the rise of the testimonio began
and the term “author” is replaced with in the 1960s, it gained prominence in the
“compiler” (Beverley, p. 77). Thus Testimo- 1980s and 1990s and is still a growing genre
nio challenges the conventions of bour- today. In addition to Menchú’s seminal ac-
geois literature with its reliance on the no- count, other recent figures associated with
tion of the elite author as the source of the the testimonio include the Mexican writer
text; it has been described by Sklodowska and intellectual Elena Poniatowska, who
as a type of “‘solidarity pact’ forged be- has brought out several works based on
tween intellectuals and the common peo- testimonial accounts narrated to her, and
ple” (p. 103). At the same time, this rela- the Colombian journalist Alonso J. Salazar,
178 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

known for his publication of accounts by Menchú, Rigoberta, with Elisabeth Burgos-
gang members in Medellín. Thus testimo- Debray. 1984. I, Rigoberta Menchú: An
nio is proving to be an important force Indian Woman in Guatemala, translated by
Ann White. London: Verso (originally
within Latin American writing, giving voice
published in Spanish, 1983).
to popular sectors of society. Randall, Margaret. 1985. Testimonios: A Guide
—Claire Taylor to Oral History. Toronto: Participatory
Research Group.
See also: Language: Parlache Sklodowska, Elzbieta. 2003. “Latin American
Literatures.” Pp. 86–106 in The Companion
Bibliography to Latin American Studies, edited by Philip
Beverley, John. 1993. Against Literature. Swanson. London: Arnold.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Latin American Perspectives. 1991. Special
Issue, Voices of the Voiceless in Testimonial
Literature 70 & 71 (Summer and Fall).
Cultural Icons

The image of Latin America and its people as seen from abroad has
tended to focus on photogenic individuals, ranging from the political fig-
ures of Che Guevara and Eva Perón (Evita) to movie stars Carmen Mi-
randa and, more recently, Salma Hayek. Their faces have reached iconic
status, largely thanks to the power of cinema and television screens.
These household names have in many cases given rise to often one-
dimensional archetypes, such as that of the fiery, hot-blooded Latina.
Throughout the twentieth century Hollywood depicted Latin America
and its people through a series of clichés and stock types. The cinema
sanitized the racial makeup of Latinos by foregrounding white-skinned
stars and relegating those with darker coloring to minor roles as extras.
During both world wars, however, the Hollywood images of Latinos im-
proved as a direct consequence of political events and commercial con-
siderations. During World War II in particular, the United States began to
exercise greater care in its portrayal of its Latin American neighbors in
an effort to unite the hemisphere against the threat posed by the Axis
It is only in the last few years that major changes have taken place in
the representation of Latin American identity on screen. U.S. film pro-
ducers have finally awakened to the fact that Hispanics are the “majority
minority” community in the United States today. What is now referred to
as “Latino power” in Hollywood has become such an issue that the cast-
ing of a non-Latino in the role of a Latin American would now be consid-
ered tantamount to casting a white actor in blackface as an African
American. But just a few years ago this was not the case. In 1996 Italian-
Americans with unconvincing Latino accents were cast in Baz
Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and Madonna played Eva Perón in Evita
(1996). In the forties and fifties the Mexican actor Anthony Quinn was
cast only in subordinate ethnic roles; today it is fashionable to look
Latino. Light brown skin and a curvaceous physique are portrayed on
screen as beautiful, epitomized by the phenomenally successful singer
and actor Jennifer Lopez, the first Latina ever to earn a salary in excess
of $1 million for a screen role.
180 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

In the United States today, Chicano the Spaniard Antonio Banderas and the
(Mexican-American) identity draws heavily Cuban-born Andy García often typecast as
on iconic figures and myths from that com- smoldering Romeos. Latina actors still
munity’s shared popular culture. The hy- have to struggle against a reemergence of
brid nature of Chicano identity, to which the spitfire stereotype.
concepts such as mestizaje, transcultura- In the 1930s and 1940s, major films fea-
tion, and the conceptualization of the bor- tured Latino and Latina stars with clearly
der are central, is reflected in such figures identifiable Hispanic names (Ramon No-
as La Llorona (literally, “The Weeping varro, Ricardo Montalban, Lupe Vélez, Car-
Woman”), who on migration to North men Miranda, Dolores Del Río), and these
America has come to symbolize the poor actors played a variety of roles. Today it is
migrant or “wetback.” Likewise, el pachuco, difficult to find their equivalent among fe-
or disenchanted Mexican-American youth, male actors. Even in films with Latino set-
personifies the mythical hybrid essence of tings and characters, such as The House of
Chicano identity. Despite some ongoing the Spirits (1993), The Perez Family
ambivalence about the meaning of el (1995), Evita (1996), and The Mask of
pachuco for Chicanos (for some, the word Zorro (1998), the lead female roles are
is still synonymous with gang violence and given to established non-Latina stars, re-
sacrificial, self-destructive urges), in Chi- flecting the overwhelming importance of
cano films such as Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit commercial considerations over “authen-
(1981) this figure is nevertheless a potent ticity.” Contemporary Hollywood film has
representation of the community’s place in toned down but not eliminated the Latin
U.S. society. lover stock type for male actors, and the
—Lisa Shaw and Thea Pitman Latino bandits that featured widely in early
Westerns have been transformed into ur-
See also: Introduction ban equivalents in films about the Latino
community that are increasingly being set
in crime-ridden and often violent inner-city
Latin Americans in Hollywood contexts. However, alternative filmmakers
from the Latino community in the United
Historically, Hollywood has portrayed States have produced creative responses to
Latin Americans via recurrent stereotypes. issues of exclusion, discrimination, and
In the first decades of sound cinema, fe- stereotyping.
male actors with Latin American back- The exclusion of Latinos from leading
grounds were obliged to take screen roles roles in mainstream films has been chal-
as fiery temptresses (Lupe Vélez, Carmen lenged recently by the hit movie Frida
Miranda) or virginal, aristocratic señoritas (2002), produced by Mexican-born Salma
(Dolores Del Río). Males were typically Hayek, who also starred in the leading role
cast as Latin lovers (Ramon Novarro, as avant-garde artist Frida Kahlo. Although
César Romero). Such clichéd and unflatter- some have criticized the choice of non-
ing depictions of Latino identity, which Latino actors for some of the major parts in
hinge on a mythical sexuality, have resur- this film, such as that of Ashley Judd to
faced in recent years with male stars like play the Italian-born Mexican photogra-
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 181

Hollywood’s Latino heartthrob, Andy Garcia. (Miramax/The Kobal Collection)

pher Tina Modotti, Hayek herself is being Los Angeles is Hispanic (including 5 mil-
hailed as the first Mexican Hollywood star lion Mexicans). Two major films have been
since Dolores Del Río. There seems to have released that contain a significant portion
been a slow awakening in recent years to of spoken Spanish (Before Night Falls
the fact that 47 percent of the population of [2000] and Traffic [2000]). In both cases a
182 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

came major actors (Dolores Del Río, Car-

men Miranda, Raul Roulien, César
Romero), and those with darker coloring
were destined to play small parts as ban-
dits or work as “native” extras. When a
character with darker pigmentation was
called for, brownface makeup was applied.
Myrtle Gonzalez, a native Mexican Cali-
fornian and the daughter of a Los Angeles
grocer, was Hollywood’s first Latin star.
She starred in more than forty silent
movies between 1911 and 1917. Dolores
Del Río is often referred to as “the first
Latina superstar,” and her fellow Mexican
Lupe Vélez became synonymous with the
fire-spitting vamp. Katy Jurado made the
journey from Mexico City to Hollywood in
1951 and starred in the critically acclaimed
Ricardo Montalban in 1953, one of many Western High Noon (1952) as a strong
successful Latinos in Hollywood. (Eric Latina character who had been the mis-
Carpenter/MGM/The Kobal Collection) tress of both leading men but was also the
feisty owner of the local saloon. In Mexi-
Spanish speaker not native to the country can films she usually played the role of
being portrayed made every effort to imi- glamour girl or wealthy socialite, whereas
tate a local accent. Both the Spaniard in U.S. films she was cast as a sultry Mexi-
Javier Bardem, as a Cuban in Before Night can beauty, Indian squaw, or long-suffering
Falls, and Puerto Rican American Benicio matriarch. Ricardo Montalban and Fer-
del Toro, as a Mexican in Traffic (who won nando Lamas both starred as romantic
the Oscar for best actor for his perfor- leads in Hollywood films from the 1950s.
mance), were entirely convincing. The pro- Montalban was instrumental in forming the
ducers of both films knew how many organization Nosotros (meaning “us” in
Cubans and Mexicans would be part of the Spanish) in 1969, which seeks to improve
audience for these films in the United opportunities for Latinos in the U.S. media.
States and realized that they could not be Others have forged their careers on the
fooled. Just a few years earlier, the film- big screen by turning their backs on their
makers would not have paid such attention Hispanic identities. Rita Hayworth, born to
to detail—in 1998 the Welsh actress an Irish mother and Spanish father, began
Catherine Zeta Jones was cast as a Mexi- her career as Margarita Carmen Cansino,
can in The Mask of Zorro. playing Mexican señoritas. By anglicizing
From the early days of cinema, Latino her name, raising her hairline off her face
actors were divided into two groups, in ac- through electrolysis, and dying her hair
cordance with their perceived color and auburn, she went on to become the “all-
class. Those with European “looks” be- American girl,” favorite pinup of the 1940s,
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 183

and the eponymous heroine of a movie nator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA) in

called The Strawberry Blonde (1941). Simi- 1940. Headed by Nelson Rockefeller, the
larly, Raquel Welch, born into an Anglo- CIAA sponsored newsreels and documen-
Bolivian family in Chicago as Raquel Te- taries for Latin American distribution and
jada, has become a movie icon whose encouraged the Hollywood studios to
ethnic roots are not emphasized, or even make films with Latin American themes.
well known, from the roles she has chosen. Between 1939 and 1947, Hollywood films
In the period just before and during the featuring Latin American stars, music, lo-
Second World War, large portions of the Eu- cations, and stories flooded U.S. and in-
ropean economy were closed to Holly- ternational markets. By 1943, thirty films
wood’s products, so the Latin American with Latin American themes or locales
market for movies became increasingly im- had been released and twenty-five more
portant. At the same time, the U.S. State De- were in production; by 1945 eighty-four
partment was concerned about hemispheric films with Latin American subjects had
unity in the face of the fascist threat in been produced. The CIAA’s motion picture
Europe. The United States implemented its section, directed by John Hay Whitney,
so-called Good Neighbor Policy in 1933, aimed to ensure that North Americans de-
aimed at achieving greater understanding veloped a better understanding of Latin
and cooperation between North and South America and to avoid causing offense to
America. Film was central in fostering a the neighbors to the south. When the war
spirit of Pan-Americanism. The year 1933 began, Hollywood’s Production Code Ad-
saw the release of RKO’s Flying Down to ministration (PCA) played a key role as
Rio, starring Brazilian Raul Roulien and “watchdog,” ensuring that no negative im-
Mexican Dolores Del Río (playing Belinha ages of Latin Americans reached the
Rezende, a member of Brazil’s white- screen. A Cuban-raised Latin American
skinned elite). This musical, like others that specialist, Addison Durland, was hired as
followed in its wake, aimed to create an im- part of the PCA staff in 1941 to monitor
pression of Latin identity that would be ac- Hollywood’s depiction of Latin America
ceptable to both North and Latin American and its people and to avoid the kind of er-
audiences while loosely enacting the diplo- rors that had previously been committed,
matic gestures toward Latin Americans re- such as depicting Brazil as a Spanish-
quired by the new foreign policy. However, speaking country.
in Flying Down to Rio, Brazilian/Latin —Lisa Shaw
American women are once again synony-
mous with powers of seduction and lascivi- See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in
ousness. When Belinha first dances with her Hollywood (Dolores Del Río; Salma Hayek;
Carmen Miranda; Lupe Vélez); Visual Arts
handsome Anglo suitor, one of her blonde
and Architecture: Art (Frida Kahlo);
female companions from the United States Photography (Tina Modotti)
complains, “What have the South Americans
got below the Equator that we haven’t?”
To more effectively implement the García Berumen, Frank Javier. 1995. The
“Good Neighbor Policy,” the U.S. govern- Chicano/Hispanic Image in American
ment established the Office of the Coordi- Film. New York: Vantage Press.
184 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

1928 she signed an exceptional contract

with United Artists to make seven films at
100,000 dollars apiece, her fee reportedly
including six months’ paid holiday per
year. Between 1925 and 1942 she partici-
pated in twenty-eight North American fea-
ture films. Although considered “exotic,”
she appeared in a variety of films and roles,
and she was not restricted to playing the
part of Latinas even though she was unde-
niably Latin American. Above all she
played ethnically ambiguous characters
with a potent sexuality and a penchant for
white, blond leading men. These included
South Seas princesses, Indian maidens,
Latin American señoritas (not only Mexi-
cans—in RKO’s Flying Down to Rio she
played an upper-class Brazilian), and a
Mexican beauty and Hollywood star Dolores range of other beauties with an aristocratic
Del Río. (Ernest Bachrach/RKO/The Kobal
air. Her status as a great Hollywood star
was undeniable and evidenced by the fact
that the Pullman company named three of
Richard, Alfred Charles Jr. 1993. Censorship its sleeper carriages in her honor: “Del
and Hollywood’s Hispanic Image: An Río,” “Dolores,” and “Ramona” (the latter is
Interpretive Filmography, 1936–1955. the title of one of her movies).
Westport, CT, and London: Greenwood In 1943, when opportunities began to dry
Press. up in the United States, Del Río returned to
Ríos-Bustamante, Antonio José. 1991. Latinos
Mexico to dedicate herself to the cinema
in Hollywood. Encino, CA: Floricanto Press.
Rodríguez, Clara E. 1998. Latin Looks: Images and theater of her homeland, where she
of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media. had become a focus for national pride.
Boulder, CO, and Oxford: Westview. There she went on to star in several box-
office successes, such as Flor Silvestre
Dolores Del Río (1905–1983) (Wild Flower, 1943) and María Candelaria
Mexican film star and legendary, glam- (1944), where she played an uneducated,
orous beauty who became famous as the barefoot Indian girl, totally transforming
face of the sophisticated Latina in Holly- her screen image.
wood. Born into a wealthy family in Du- Del Río divorced her first husband in
rango, Mexico, on 3 August 1905 (accord- 1928, and two years later married Cedric
ing to some accounts 1901), she died on 11 Gibbons, the well-known artistic director
April 1983. of MGM, a union that transported her into
Del Río arrived in Hollywood with her the Hollywood jet set. By 1941 she was in-
lawyer husband in 1925, and her career volved in a controversial relationship with
spanned the silent and early sound eras. In Orson Welles, who, after directing Citizen
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 185

Kane (1941), was Hollywood’s man of the height of her fame and success on 12 De-
moment. She attended the film’s premiere cember 1944, when she was five months’
on the arm of her lover. They had been pregnant out of wedlock.
planning to marry, but while Del Río was Vélez’s screen persona was the antithesis
waiting for her divorce to come through, of that of her compatriot, Dolores Del Río.
Welles found another Hispanic beauty to Together the pair personified the dualistic
take her place—Margarita Carmen Can- stereotypical Hollywood depiction of Latin
sino, better known as Rita Hayworth. American women as either earthy spitfires
—Lisa Shaw or cool señoritas. Unlike Del Río, Vélez’s
position in Hollywood was defined by her
See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in potent ethnicity and aggressive sexuality
Hollywood; Popular Cinema: Melodrama rather than her acting ability. Vélez is
sometimes compared unfavorably with Del
Río, but she had impressive comic skills,
López, Ana M. 1993. “Are All Latins from
Manhattan?: Hollywood, Ethnography and
shown off to perfection in RKO’s Mexican
Cultural Colonialism.” Pp. 67–80 in Spitfire series with her portrayal of the
Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic fiery, funny, and streetwise Carmelita, who
Encounters in the Americas, edited by John often outwitted other women to “get the
King, Ana M. López, and Manuel Alvarado. guy” in the end. On and off screen, she, like
London: BFI Publishing.
Del Río, was paired off with and married
Monsiváis, Carlos. 1997. “Dolores del Río: The
Face as Institution.” Pp. 71–87 in Mexican
North American men.
—Lisa Shaw
Postcards, edited and translated by John
Kraniauskas. London and New York: Verso.
See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in
Hollywood (Dolores Del Río)

Lupe Vélez (1908–1944)

Mexican film star who became synony- López, Ana M. 1993. “Are All Latins from
mous with the comic role of the hot- Manhattan?: Hollywood, Ethnography and
blooded, thickly accented, “fire-spitting Cultural Colonialism.” Pp. 67–80 in
vamp” in Hollywood movies of the 1930s, Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic
such as Hot Pepper (1933) and Strictly Dy- Encounters in the Americas, edited by John
King, Ana M. López, and Manuel Alvarado.
namite (1934). Born in San Luis Potosí,
London: BFI Publishing.
Mexico, on 6 July 1908, her first major role Rodríguez, Clara E. 1998. Latin Looks: Images
was opposite Douglas Fairbanks in the of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media.
silent movie The Gaucho (1928). A star of Boulder, CO, and Oxford: Westview.
the silent screen by the end of the 1920s,
she successfully made the transition to Carmen Miranda (1909–1955)
sound films in the 1930s as a result of her Singer and film star who came to embody
husky, almost “cartoon-like” voice. Her ca- Latin American music and identity in Holly-
reer was consolidated in 1939 when she be- wood films of the 1940s and 1950s. Born in
gan starring in the so-called Mexican Spit- Portugal in 1909, Miranda’s parents emi-
fire series. She made eight films in this grated to Brazil when she was a small
series before committing suicide at the child. She died in 1955, aged forty-six.
186 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

carnival group in Rio named after her. Her

characteristic tutti-frutti hats and neck-
laces, frilly sleeves, and multicolored skirts
are easily parodied.
Within the context of the so-called Good
Neighbor Policy toward the Latin American
subcontinent, Miranda’s success in the in-
ternational arena as the epitome of Latino
identity hinged on her acquiescence in dilut-
ing samba for the Anglo-Saxon palate. For
this reason she has remained a polemical
figure in Brazil, as was eloquently conveyed
in Helena Solberg’s biopic Carmen Mi-
randa: Bananas Is My Business (1994).
This film highlighted Miranda’s iconic status
among the ordinary people of Brazil, despite
the fact that elite intellectuals criticized her
for being a passive tool of North American
The “Brazilian Bombshell,” Carmen Miranda, cultural imperialism.
1939. (Bettmann/Corbis) President Getúlio Vargas of Brazil, in
power between 1930 and 1945, was a great
fan of Miranda, and he saw her 1939 trip to
Miranda’s career in Brazil as a singer of the United States as a public relations
samba was established in the 1920s and coup for his nation. For her part, Miranda
1930s, when she recorded gramophone took her role as Brazil’s “goodwill ambas-
records, performed regularly on the radio sador” quite seriously, and the ultimate
stations of Rio de Janeiro, and was fea- good neighbor was later drafted into the
tured in many of the first sound films or service of the Allied armed forces. News-
chanchadas made in Brazil. “Discovered” reel footage of her arrival in New York de-
in 1939 by U.S. show business impresario clared that the Depression was over when
Lee Schubert, Miranda was taken to Broad- Miranda came to town. For American audi-
way and subsequently to Hollywood, ences she would remain the archetypal
where she became the highest-paid female Latina bimbo. (In her first interview in the
star, best known for her performances in United States she famously claimed to
the Twentieth Century Fox “Good Neigh- know only the following words of English:
bor” musicals of the early 1940s, such as money and men.) When she returned to
That Night in Rio (1941) and Busby Berke- Brazil some eighteen months later, the Var-
ley’s The Gang’s All Here (1943). She also gas regime’s DIP (Press and Propaganda
became known for her flamboyant cos- Department) held an official reception in
tumes, and particularly her fruit-laden tur- her honor, and the masses clamored to
bans. Since the 1960s she has become greet her. This warm welcome could not
something of an international icon among have differed more from the frosty recep-
gay men and transvestites, not least for a tion she received from the elite audience
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 187

at her homecoming show at the Urca both the role of the blonde Mademoiselle
casino, organized by Brazil’s first lady, Fifi and that of the archetypal Latin
Darcy Vargas. temptress, a Brazilian singer named Car-
Carmen Miranda soon returned to the men Navarro. In the context of a postwar
United States and to a contract with Twenti- America, where the neighbors to the
eth Century Fox, and her immense popular- south of the border ceased to be a press-
ity ensured that she was the studio’s great- ing concern, Miranda was destined to be-
est asset. Consequently, Fox insisted that come merely a novelty act, particularly on
she play stereotypical roles in similar musi- television.
cals, which reproduced the image of the ex- By the mid-1930s Miranda was relatively
aggerated and caricatured Latina, despite well established as a singer in Brazil. In
her desire to play more varied roles. In Car- 1936, she was one of the many Brazilian ra-
men Miranda: Bananas Is My Business, dio stars to appear in the film Alô, alô,
Helena Solberg comments on Miranda’s carnaval! (Hello, Hello, Carnival!), often
poignant attempts to reaffirm her own called the first example of the chanchada
Brazilian identity, often by merely speaking musical genre. Though successful in Brazil,
a few words of Portuguese in a film, and by the film achieved no critical or popular at-
poking fun at her poor English. Solberg also tention when shown in the United States.
focuses on the inconsistencies and para- In 1939 she made her final film in Brazil,
doxes in Miranda’s screen image; her outfits Banana da terra (Banana of the Land),
and the music she danced to (samba) were set on the fictitious Pacific island of Ba-
symbols of black Brazil, yet she was the nanolândia. It was in this film that Miranda
daughter of white Portuguese immigrants. first appeared dressed as a baiana, in a
She was the most potent symbol of Latin stylized version of the costume worn by
America in the Hollywood musical, yet was the Afro-Brazilian street vendors of the city
fiercely attacked back in Brazil for acquiesc- of Salvador in the state of Bahia, which
ing to this cultural stereotyping. She be- transformed the baskets of fruit that these
came the highest-paid woman in the United women carried on their heads into an exu-
States, and although she acknowledged her berant, edible turban.
debt of gratitude to her iconic status, In the 1940s the image of Carmen Mi-
singing “I make my money with bananas” randa became central to both Hollywood’s
and stating “bananas is my business,” she “Good Neighbor” films and Pan-American-
was clearly uneasy in the cultural strait- ism itself. She made nine films with Twenti-
jacket she had been forced to wear. eth Century Fox between 1940 and 1946
Her attempts to free herself from her and was also a key figure in advertising
image are reflected in her decision to buy campaigns of the time, promoting clothing
herself out of her contract with Twentieth based on her own exotic style for Saks
Century Fox, and the fact that in her first Fifth Avenue, along with various beauty
movie with another studio, Copacabana products.
of 1947 with Groucho Marx, she appears —Lisa Shaw
for the first time as a blonde. Neverthe- See also: Popular Music: Samba; Mass Media:
less, fragments of her old caricature were Radio (Brazil); Popular Cinema: Comedy
retained in this film, in which she played Film (Chanchada)
188 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Augusto, Sérgio. 1995. “Hollywood Looks at
Brazil: From Carmen Miranda to
Moonraker.” Pp. 351–361 in Brazilian
Cinema, edited by Randal Johnson and
Robert Stam. New York: Columbia University
Gil-Montero, Martha. 1989. Brazilian
Bombshell: The Biography of Carmen
Miranda. New York: Donald I. Fine.
López, Ana M. 1993. “Are All Latins from
Manhattan?: Hollywood, Ethnography and
Cultural Colonialism.” Pp. 67–80 in
Mediating Two Worlds: Cinematic
Encounters in the Americas, edited by John
King, Ana M. López, and Manuel Alvarado.
London: BFI Publishing.

Salma Hayek (1966– )

Actor born in southeast Mexico to a father
of Lebanese origin and a Mexican mother,
often referred to as the first Mexican Holly-
wood star since Dolores Del Río. She be-
Mexican actress and Hollywood star Salma
gan her career in telenovelas or soap op- Hayek. (Mitchell Gerber/Corbis)
eras on Mexican television in the late
1980s, then moved to Hollywood, where
she played several minor roles before re- “Being Mexican was considered so uncool.
ceiving critical acclaim for her work in People in Hollywood only know Mexicans
Desperado (1995) alongside the Spaniard as maids.” She has espoused the Latino
Antonio Banderas. She then returned to cause in the United States, running through
Mexico to film El Callejón de los Milagros the streets of Washington, D.C., wearing a
(Midaq Alley, 1995), for which she was wedding dress in 2002 to protest domestic
nominated for an Ariel, the Mexican equiv- violence. In an interview with Latina maga-
alent of the Oscar. She was the creative zine in October 2002 she tackled the sub-
force behind the latest film based on the ject of the marginalization of Latino actors
life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, copro- in Hollywood, saying: “You can’t wait for
ducing and starring in the title role of things to change, so I don’t wait; I try to cre-
Frida (2002). ate jobs for myself and for other Latins and
In the late 1980s, Hayek was perhaps tell our stories. That’s the best we can do.”
Mexico’s biggest television star. She ap- It took Hayek eight years to get her
peared in soap operas such as Un nuevo beloved Frida Kahlo project off the ground,
amanecer (A New Dawn, 1988) and Teresa fighting off fierce competition from
(1989). When she arrived in Los Angeles, Madonna, who had long been campaigning
however, she found that it was hard to to play the role. Since then she has di-
carve out an acting career. She once said: rected the television film The Maldonado
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 189

Miracle (2003) and has starred in the political context of the U.S. “Good Neigh-
Roberto Rodriguez movie Once Upon a bor Policy” toward its neighbors to the
Time in Mexico (2003). south. On returning from his fact-finding
There is evidence that Hayek is some- trip to South America in 1941, Disney was
times stereotyped as the fiery Mexican, fol- keen to emphasize that attention to authen-
lowing in the footsteps of Lupe Vélez. As tic detail would be a principal feature of
recently as 22 July 2003, the admittedly his “Good Neighbor” projects.
low-brow National Enquirer described Saludos Amigos was a combination of a
Hayek as “the 5-foot-2 spitfire.” travelogue that documented a trip carried
—Lisa Shaw out by Disney and his creative team to
Latin America and an animated cartoon.
See also: Cultural Icons: Latin Americans in The latter was divided into four discrete
Hollywood (Dolores Del Río; Lupe Vélez); shorts, the first set in Bolivia, the second in
Mass Media: Telenovelas (Mexico); Visual
Chile, the third in Argentina, and the fourth
Arts and Architecture: Art (Frida Kahlo)
in Brazil. The first short begins with Don-
ald Duck arriving in Lake Titicaca, suffer-
Duncan, Patricia J. 1999. Salma Hayek. New ing from altitude sickness and encounter-
York: St. Martin’s Press. ing a friendly indigenous boy and his llama.
Menard, Valerie. 1999. Salma Hayek: A Real- The second shows Pedro the plane trans-
Life Reader Biography. Elkton, MD: Mitchell porting the mail over the Andes between
the cities of Santiago in Chile and Mendoza
Scott, Kieran. 2001. Salma Hayek: Latinos in
the Limelight. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House.
in Argentina when his “papa” (the official
mail plane) falls ill. The third segment is
set in Argentina, with location shots of so-
Walt Disney’s Latino phisticated Buenos Aires and an animated
Cartoon Characters sequence set in the rural pampas. In the fi-
The animated character of Joe Carioca (Zé nal sequence, entitled “Aquarela do Brasil”
Carioca in Brazil), a Brazilian parrot, (“Watercolor of Brazil”), the streetwise, ci-
starred in two feature-length films in the gar-smoking Joe Carioca introduces Don-
1940s, Saludos Amigos (RKO-Disney, 1943) ald Duck to the wonders of Rio de Janeiro,
and The Three Caballeros (RKO-Disney, more specifically samba, cachaça (sugar-
1945). Saludos Amigos also featured Pe- cane brandy), and the nightspots of the
dro, a “baby” Chilean airplane that trans- Urca casino and Copacabana. Disney’s
ported mail between Chile and Argentina; Brazil combines natural and exotic trea-
Goofy dressed as an Argentine gaucho; and sures with cosmopolitan sophistication,
Donald Duck as a U.S. tourist visiting the and the foreign tourist (Donald) is made
Andes. In The Three Caballeros, Joe Cari- most welcome. The documentary footage
oca starred alongside Donald Duck, a that precedes this fourth animated seg-
Uruguayan flying donkey called Burrito, ment opens with picture-postcard shots of
and a Mexican bird named Panchito. Rio, as Disney narrates: “This time we
These cartoon representations of Latin planned to stay a little longer and get a bet-
American identity were central to Holly- ter look at some of the famous sights, such
wood’s depiction of the subcontinent in the as Sugarloaf overlooking the bay, and Co-
190 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

pacabana beach, the playground of Rio, 1940s as a source of pure spectacle, rhyth-
and Corcovado overlooking Rio itself. This mic exuberance, and carnal spontaneity.
is the kind of city that always appeals to —Lisa Shaw
artists, picturesque little outdoor cafes,
See also: Popular Music: Samba; Sport and
colorful mosaic sidewalks.”
Leisure: Food (Brazilian Food); Cultural
The Three Caballeros mixed live action Icons: Latin Americans in Hollywood (Carmen
with animation and was viewed in the mo- Miranda); Regional and Ethnic Types (The
tion picture press as a remarkable techni- Gaucho in Argentina and Uruguay)
cal achievement. Aurora Miranda, Car-
men Miranda’s younger sister, appears Bibliography
dancing alongside Joe Carioca. Beautiful Burton-Carvajal, Julianne. 1994. “‘Surprise
Package’: Looking Southward with Disney.”
young girls such as Miranda, the Mexican
Pp. 131–147 in Disney Discourse: Producing
singer Dora Luz, and dancer Carmen the Magic Kingdom, edited by Eric
Molina feature prominently in this Techni- Smoodin. New York and London: Routledge.
color visit by Donald Duck to Mexico and Conde, Maite, and Lisa Shaw. In press. “Brazil
Brazil. In Mexico, Donald flirts with Luz through Hollywood’s Gaze: From the Silent
and Molina on the beaches of Acapulco Screen to the Good Neighbor Policy Era.” In
Latin American Cinema: Essays on
and later visits Mexico City. The Brazilian
Modernity, Gender and National Identity.
section is authenticated by the incorpora- Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
tion of songs by the Brazilian samba com-
poser Ari Barroso (“Bahia” and “Os
quindins de Yayá”—“Missy’s Coconut Political Icons
Cakes”). Promotional material for the pic-
ture describes it as “a miracle-world of Evita (1919–1952)
rhythm and fun!” (Variety, 3 January, The affectionate nickname of Eva Duarte
1945), an epithet that encapsulates Dis- de Perón, the one-time actress of lowly ori-
ney’s view of Latin America. In this film gin who rose to a position of considerable
the spectator visits Bahia (Salvador), not power within Argentine society and whose
Rio, but the two cities are barely distin- political life was tragically cut short by
guishable and the choice of Bahia would cancer.
appear to stem, in part at least, from the Eva María Duarte Ibarguren was born in
themes of Barroso’s two songs, one of Los Toldos, in the province of Buenos
which is a hyperbolic anthem to Salvador, Aires, the illegitimate child of a failed
the other a tribute to the Afro-Brazilian landowner. According to popular mythol-
food sellers of the city (represented on ogy, Eva from an early age was determined
screen by the very white Aurora Miranda to drag herself out of the penury into
in the traditional dress of the Afro-Brazil- which she had been born. At age fifteen
ian baiana street vendors). she seduced a tango singer and convinced
In both Saludos Amigos and The Three him to take her with him to the Argentine
Caballeros, Brazil and its “representative,” capital, where she embarked on a series of
Joe Carioca, epitomize, more than any romances. She survived financially by tak-
other nation depicted, the essence of Hol- ing small parts in theatrical and radio pro-
lywood’s vision of Latin America in the ductions. Some of her biographers have
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 191

Argentina’s former first lady Eva Perón, better known as Evita, gives an election speech at a mass
labor meeting, Buenos Aires, 1951. (Bettmann/Corbis)

suggested that when acting work was thin Eva Perón’s supporters (a wide majority
on the ground, Eva turned to prostitution. of the population at the time) viewed her
Eva’s fortunes took a turn for the better with great affection because, as they saw
when she met and married Colonel Juan it, her welfare work helped bring the so-
Domingo Perón, the minister for labor, in called descamisados (literally “the shirt-
1945. Perón became president of the Re- less” poor, partly made up of Argentina’s
public in 1946 on a populist ticket and was previously invisible mixed-race peasants)
reelected in 1951. Eva’s role in Perón’s gov- to the center of political discussion. She
ernment was to offer a softer, more humane also provided a strong role model for many
face to what was ultimately an authoritar- of the women (the new breed of female
ian regime. Taking the role of first lady far factory worker, for example) who had
beyond its traditional limits of dutiful sup- been granted suffrage under Perón’s gov-
port and companionship, Eva became di- ernment and who felt included in political
rectly involved in her husband’s welfare culture for the first time. Her enemies, the
policies, heading the charity foundation conservative elite and radical Left, accused
Fundación Eva Perón, which was responsi- her and her husband of the worst excesses
ble for the distribution of vast quantities of of populist politics and “clientelism.”
foodstuffs and material goods, including Evita’s perceived generosity was not the
cookers, bicycles, and toys. only reason for her remarkable popularity.
192 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

She was a highly charismatic figure whose trend set by Evita for peroxide-blond hair
stage presence and melodramatic speeches continues in Argentina among upper-class
captivated the masses. Through her charity women in northern Buenos Aires, those
work and the time she took to visit and talk working at the grassroots political level,
to the poor, she successfully projected mes- and among the wives of governors.
sages of hope and empathy to the Argentine During her lifetime Eva Perón enjoyed a
people, whom she frequently described as high profile throughout much of the Span-
her family. In 1951 she was matron of ish-speaking world, but it was not until the
honor at the wedding ceremony of 1,608 1970s that she became known to a wider,
couples. The love for Evita was so powerful English-speaking public, when lyricist Tim
that she was likened to the caring Virgin. Rice, having heard a radio broadcast on
Many believed that she was capable of Eva Perón in his car, decided to transform
miraculous acts. On her death, tens of thou- the story of her life into a musical. With
sands of letters were sent to the Vatican at- music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Evita the
tributing miracles to her and demanding musical premiered in London’s West End at
that she be canonized. When Evita was di- the Prince Edward Theatre in 1978 and en-
agnosed with cancer, many of her fans joyed a run of over 2,900 performances. It
made ambitious promises to God to have hit Broadway in 1979, where it ran for
her restored to good health. Also, large 1,567 performances and garnered seven
numbers of people attempted to make the Tony awards. Since then it has been staged
headlines, in the hope that they would be in in twenty-eight countries in fourteen differ-
her thoughts when she passed on, for ex- ent languages, making it one of the most
ample, the tango dancer who danced for successful musicals of all time. The show,
127 hours with 127 different partners. which questions Eva’s morality in earlier
The official mourning of Evita’s death years and emphasizes her ruthlessness in
lasted for four days. Juan Perón set to acquiring an important husband, was
building a mausoleum in which to display banned in the Philippines because of al-
her embalmed body, but in 1955 the mili- leged parallels between the life of Eva
tary regime buried her in a Milanese ceme- Perón and President Marcos’s wife, Imelda.
tery to prevent her grave from becoming a In 1996 a film version of the musical was
symbol of resistance. It was not until 1976 released. Alan Parker’s practically dialogue-
that Eva Perón was finally accepted by the free movie was a bold attempt at a modern
Argentine elite, when she was laid to rest reworking of the musical form. Starring
in Recoleta, the Buenos Aires cemetery for Madonna in the title role (another love/hate
the rich and powerful. figure with iconic status), with Antonio
Evita still enjoys iconic status in Ar- Banderas playing Che, the everyman char-
gentina, similar to that of the tragic figure acter, it was shot on location in Argentina,
of Princess Diana in the United Kingdom. sparking controversy among Evita’s many
Like Diana, she was a trendsetter. Young fans for its seemingly irreverent treatment
people would copy her attire, in particular of their heroine. Despite the film’s hype,
her penchant for wearing flared skirts and Evita the movie received a lukewarm re-
strappy shoes, as well as her hair swept ception by critics and the public.
back in plaited chignons. To this day, the —Stephanie Dennison
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 193

See also: Popular Music: Tango; Popular

Social Movements and Politics: Peronismo

Auyero, Javier. 2000. Poor People’s Politics:
Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy
of Evita. Durham: Duke University Press.
Evita (video recording). 1996. Directed by Alan
Fraser, Nicholas, and Marysa Navarro. 1996.
Evita: The Real Lives of Eva Perón. London:
André Deutsch.
Martínez, Tomás Eloy. 2002. “Saint Evita.” Pp.
296–303 in The Argentina Reader: History,
Culture, Politics, edited by Gabriela
Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo. Durham
and London: Duke University Press.
Perón, Eva. 1953. My Mission in Life. New
York: Vantage.

Che Guevara (1928–1967)

The most romantic and photogenic of all
Latin American revolutionaries, Ernesto
“Che” Guevara has, ever since his death, Che, Hoy y Siempre movie poster (1983).
been associated primarily with a single im- (Swim Ink/Corbis)
age. The famous picture of Che, gazing into
the distance from beneath the star on his
beret, became the single most potent ele- Colombia (the famous motorcycle trip in
ment of his iconic status in the 1960s and 1951–1952) brought him to an increasingly
early 1970s. Since then, images of him in militant position and the renunciation of
the West have become increasingly di- a comfortable bourgeois existence. Having
vorced from his political and historical completed his studies, he was in Guate-
context and, ironically, have been ex- mala in 1954 during the CIA-led overthrow
ploited as a radical-chic commercial icon. of the Arbenz government. By now a har-
In Latin America, however, awareness of dened foe of U.S. imperialism, he traveled
the value of Guevara’s thought and exam- to Mexico and his fateful encounter with
ple has largely been maintained. Fidel Castro.
Ernesto Guevara Lynch de la Serna was After the success of the armed struggle
born into a comfortable but politically ac- in the Cuban Sierra Maestra mountains,
tive family and spent his childhood in the during which he rose to second in com-
Argentine city of Córdoba. He showed few mand, Guevara’s writings and actions com-
early signs of the political activity to come pounded his immense popularity and iden-
and appeared destined for a medical ca- tification with the Cuban Revolution.
reer. Journeys into deprived areas of Ar- Granted Cuban citizenship, he coined the
gentina (1949) and into Chile, Peru, and notion of a new humanity, which had to
194 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

arise from the socialist experiment in order torcycle Diaries (2004), directed by the
for the latter to make any sense. Idealistic Brazilian Walter Salles and featuring Mexi-
and even anarchic, he was in many ways can actor Gael García Bernal as Che, may
the antithesis to Fidel Castro’s pragmatism, further enhance the Argentine revolution-
and the two tendencies could not coexist ary’s reputation.
indefinitely. After briefly filling an ambas- —Keith Richards
sadorial role, he criticized the Soviet Union
in 1965 as an accomplice of imperialism See also: Popular Social Movements and
and was sidelined from formal politics. Politics: Castrismo

Progressively less involved with Cuban in-

ternal affairs and more with revolutionary
Anderson, Jon Lee. 1997. Che Guevara:
activity elsewhere, Che went to Africa and A Revolutionary Life. New York: Grove
took part in efforts to end the Belgian colo- Press.
nial presence in the Congo. After returning Guevara, Ernesto. 1995. The Motorcycle
to Cuba for training, he embarked upon the Diaries: A Journey around South America.
ill-advised incursion into eastern Bolivia London: Verso.
James, Daniel, ed. 2000. The Complete Bolivian
that was to prove his downfall.
Diaries of Che Guevara and Other Captured
Many of the peasants he had hoped Documents. New York: Cooper Square Press.
would support and even join the cause Suárez Salazar, Luis, ed. 2001. Che Guevara
proved to be mistrustful, susceptible to and the Latin American Revolutionary
government propaganda demonizing for- Movements. New York: Ocean Press.
eign Communists. Having expected to find
the same degree of political awareness in
the sparsely populated east as in the mili- Regional and Ethnic Types
tant mining areas of western Bolivia, Gue-
vara’s forces were left hopelessly depleted The Gaucho in Argentina
and outflanked, and their leader was finally and Uruguay
shot dead without trial on express instruc- A figure that has long held a central place
tions from Washington in December 1967. in the national imaginations of both Ar-
As a grisly postscript, Che’s hands were gentina and Uruguay. From the eighteenth
severed from his corpse by the military for to twentieth centuries, metropolitan views
reasons of identification. Having been hid- of this “cowboy of the pampas” were trans-
den in a house in La Paz, they were eventu- formed from initial contempt to grudging
ally smuggled to Cuba for burial. Publica- admiration to an eventual nostalgia for the
tion of the diaries of Guevara’s motorcycle loss of a way of life seen as quintessentially
journey through South America in Argentine or Uruguayan.
1950–1951 was greeted by attempts to dis- The origins of the gaucho are unclear,
credit him through an anachronistic appli- and debate on the subject is divided into
cation of 1990s “political correctness.” “Hispanist” and “Americanist” schools.
However, this book brought to light the These hold that the gaucho’s crucial forma-
self-abnegation and identification with the tive factors are, respectively, the Arabic-
Latin American poor that characterized Iberian influence crystallized in Andalusia,
Guevara. A new film of the book, The Mo- and the frontier experience of the New
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 195

World. What is beyond doubt is that these digenous populations in order to win con-
people were the result of a cultural and trol of the pampa, did much to eliminate
ethnic mixture (mestizaje in Spanish) dis- all these “undesirable” elements.
cernible from their speech, accoutrements, Sarmiento’s eventual return and election
and lifestyle. An example is the hunting in- as president in 1868 meant that such ideas
strument known as the boleadora; of in- could be fully implemented. One of the
digenous origin, it consists of stone balls most eloquent voices of opposition to
strung together and thrown to entwine the Sarmiento’s brutal “civilizing” project came
legs of a running animal. The gaucho’s mu- in literary form. José Hernández’s epic
sic also took native and African forms and poem El Gaucho Martín Fierro (1872) is
blended them with Spanish verse patterns, still hugely popular in Argentina. The finest
resulting most notably in the milonga song example of the gauchesco poetic genre that
form that would later metamorphose into drew on the speech, song, and mythology
the tango. Even the etymology of the term of the pampa, it has been the source of nu-
“gaucho,” a possible corruption of the merous adaptations and imitations. The
Quechua guacho (orphan), suggests an in- success of the first part, La Ida or outward
digenous element. journey, seems due to the transparency
A crucial dimension of gaucho life was and fallibility of the protagonist, a gaucho
their almost uncanny empathy with their enlisted in the wars, and his predicament.
horses and understanding of their natural Torn from his family, he deserts and then
environment, the vast pampa or open kills a man in a duel, becoming a pariah.
plains. This is conceded even by some of The less convincing Vuelta, or return
those people least sympathetic to gaucho (1879), sees the gaucho rehabilitated, Fer-
existence, particularly the writer (and later nández having partly accepted the new so-
statesman) Domingo Faustino Sarmiento cial climate.
(1811–1888). Even though his project for The passing of the gaucho into folklore
the Argentine nation was the elimination of represents the abandonment of a kind of
such apparent obstacles to progress, primeval innocence and adoption of the
Sarmiento records his awe at the feats of new rationalism that entered the region
gaucho trackers in his seminal Civiliza- along with British commercial interests af-
tion and Barbarism. This work, written ter the industrial revolution. The theme has
while he was in exile in Chile in the 1840s, often been revisited, albeit more obliquely,
set out the positivist dichotomy that would in the work of Jorge Luis Borges.
prove to be the gaucho’s death-knell: “civi- —Keith Richards
lization,” synonymous with private capital
and modernization, and “barbarism,” the See also: Popular Music: Tango; Popular
brush with which all non-Europeans would Literature: Science Fiction; Language:
Indigenous Languages
be tarred. Ironically, much of Sarmiento’s
work was done for him by his bitterest en-
emy, the tyrant Juan Manuel de Rosas
Fuente, Ariel Eugenio de la. 2000. “Facundo
(1793–1877). The frontier wars waged by and Chacho in Songs and Stories: Oral
Rosas in the 1820s, pitting mostly press- Culture and the Representations of Caudillos
ganged gauchos and Negroes against in- in the Nineteenth-Century Argentine
196 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Interior.” Hispanic American Historical refilled with hot water and passed on to the
Review, 80, no. 3: 503–535. next drinker. The origins of drinking hot,
Lynch, John. 2000. Massacre in the Pampas, green tea can be traced back to the six-
1872: Britain and Argentina in the Age of
teenth century, when Spanish soldiers bor-
Migration. Norman: University of Oklahoma
Press. rowed its use from Guarani Indians as a
Rivas Rojas, Raquel. 1998. “The ‘Gaucho’ and much-needed hangover cure. Gaúchos
the ‘Llanero’: Settling Scores with the Past.” strongly deny both the unhygienic aspect
Travesía: Journal of Latin American of the method of consuming this commu-
Cultural Studies 7, no. 2 (November): nal beverage and its alleged carcinogenic
Slatta, Richard W. 1983. Gauchos and the
Vanishing Frontier. London: University of In addition to their own style of music
Nebraska Press. and dance (for example, the fandango with
its Hispanic roots) and speech that is pep-
pered with phrases borrowed from their
The Gaúcho in Brazil Spanish-speaking neighbors, Brazilian gaú-
Traditional mixed-race inhabitant of the chos have their own traditional attire, which
pampas of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio relates to their cattle-herding past: black
Grande do Sul, and now a term used to de- boots or espadrilles, neck scarf, and cow-
scribe Brazilians of any ethnic origin who boy hat. The Turkish-style pants or bom-
hail from the south of the country. bachas that they wear were inherited from
The press that the Brazilian gaúcho re- English soldiers, who reportedly brought
ceived was never as bad as that of gauchos them from the Ottoman Empire as spoils of
elsewhere in the Southern Cone. In Brazil, war and dumped them in Paraguay during
the brunt of the criticism from Brazil’s the War of the Triple Alliance (1865–1870).
white, sophisticated elite was aimed not at The stereotypical gaúcho man is one
the gaúchos of the south, but at the mixed- who refuses to mince his words, and who
race, landless poor of the northeastern is notoriously sexist and racist. He was
states (the caboclos), famously portrayed brilliantly portrayed by comic writer Luis
by Euclides da Cunha in Rebellion in the Fernando Veríssimo in O analista de Bagé
Backlands and later by Colombian Boom (The Analyst from Bagé), which imagines
novelist Gabriel García Márquez in The the kind of politically incorrect advice that
War of the End of the World. would be dished out by a psychoanalyst
Like his Argentine and Uruguayan coun- from the pampas.
terparts, the Brazilian gaúcho as a social In the 1940s, when rural workers poured
type has clearly defined (and widely mim- into the towns and cities on the southern
icked) characteristics. He is associated coast in search of jobs in the blossoming
with eating barbecued meat (churrasco) industrial sector, a gaúcho traditionalist
and drinking green tea (chimarrão or movement began, with the purpose of com-
mate). According to social etiquette, chi- bating the influence of culture from Rio de
marrão is consumed informally by groups Janeiro and North America. This Movi-
of gaúchos in a cuia or small wooden basin mento Tradicionalista Gaúcho claims to
and is sucked through a heavy metal straw be the largest popular cultural organization
or bomba. The cuia is drained before being in the Western world. The 35 Centros de
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 197

Tradições Gaúchas or 35 Centers of Gaú- down Mexican-American barrios of U.S.

cho Traditions were set up at this time as a cities, particularly in the Southwest. The
space to celebrate gaúcho culture. There term pachuco is most probably a slang
are now over 1,500 such centers in the term for a resident of El Paso. Pachucos
state of Rio Grande do Sul, as well as large distinguished themselves as alienated
numbers in the two other southern states youths who did not identify with the cul-
of Santa Catarina and Paraná. They can tural values of their Mexican or Mexican-
also be found as far afield as Paraguay and American parents or with those of their
Boston. Critics of the movement argue that new Anglo-American cultural context. In-
poor gaúcho peasants, on whom the mod- stead, they created a whole subculture for
ern cultural stereotype is based, were ex- themselves, with a particular form of slang
cluded from participating in the movement (Caló) and a distinctive, exaggerated fash-
because of the costly joining fee. They also ion sense, epitomized by the zoot suit. This
argue that at meetings the traditionalists consisted of very baggy trousers with
take pride in dressing up in the clothes of tightly tapered bottoms, and a long jacket
these poor cowboys, but they adhere to the with padded shoulders. Typically pachucos
ideology of the rural elite. Such organiza- also wore a long watch chain, slicked back
tions are frequently seen from outside Rio hair, and a fedora hat. Even their gait was
Grande do Sul as being potentially politi- an exaggerated lope, with their shoulders
cally conservative, separatist, and socially pulled back and their hands deep in their
exclusive. pockets. What they were doing with this
—Stephanie Dennison image was appropriating and exaggerating
eclectic aspects of mainstream U.S. cul-
See also: Popular Literature: The Boom
ture. In other, less visible respects, particu-
larly in their perceived alienation, they
Oliven, Ruben George. 1996. Tradition Matters: could be seen as exaggerating facets of
Modern Gaúcho Identity in Brazil. New Mexican identity.
York: Columbia University Press. In wartime USA, the pachuco was demo-
Veríssimo, Erico. 1951. Time and the Wind, vol. nized by the Anglo-American press, aggres-
1. Translated by. L. L. Barrett. New York: sively pursued by Anglo-American youths
(in the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, for exam-
ple), and shunned by the more conserva-
El Pachuco tive, assimilationist factions of the Mexi-
Although the pachuco was the early twenti- can-American community. Nevertheless,
eth-century predecessor of the contempo- he laid the cornerstone for contemporary
rary Chicano vato loco or gang member (lit- Chicano identity as a hybrid of two differ-
erally, a “crazy guy”), the image has not ent cultures that seeks to create a third,
disappeared from contemporary popular distinctive culture for itself. Over the
culture. Since the Chicano movement of course of time this negative, hostile image
the 1960s the pachuco has become an icon has been sanitized and reappropriated by
of Chicano “national” identity. both mainstream U.S. and Mexican culture
The figure of the pachuco first became (see, for example, the fashions worn by
visible in the 1930s and 1940s in the run- The Fonz in the television series Happy
198 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Days or the characters in the blockbuster

movie Grease [1977] in the United States,
and the film comedies of Tin Tan in Mex-
ico). The figure of the pachuco continues
to be a powerful embodiment of the Chi-
cano community’s place in U.S. society.
—Thea Pitman

See also: Language: Chicano Spanish; Popular

Cinema: Comedy Film (Tin Tan)

Babcock, Granger. 1995. “Looking for a Third
Space: El Pachuco and Chicano Nationalism
in Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit.” Pp. 215–225 in
Staging Cultural Difference: Cultural
Pluralism in American Theatre and
Drama, edited by Marc Maufort. New York:
Sánchez, Rosaura. 1994. Chicano Discourse:
Socio-historic Perspectives. Houston, TX: Carlos Gardel, Argentine tango singer, movie
Arte Público Press. star, and heartthrob. (Bettmann/Corbis)
Sánchez-Tranquilino, Marcos, and John Tagg.
1992. “The Pachuco’s Flayed Hide: Mobility,
Identity, and Buenas Garras.” Pp. 556–570 in Gardel’s exact origins are something of a
Cultural Studies, edited by Lawrence
mystery. He was probably born Charles
Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A.
Treichler. London: Routledge.
Gardès in Toulouse, France, in 1890, the il-
Webb, Simon. 1998. “Masculinities at the legitimate son of a French woman; Gardel’s
Margins: Representations of the Malandro preferred version of the story has him born
and the Pachuco.” Pp. 227–264 in in Uruguay (or occasionally Argentina).
Imagination beyond Nation: Latin But regardless of his exact place of birth,
American Popular Culture, edited by Eva P.
he grew up in the poor barrios or districts
Bueno and Terry Caesar. Pittsburgh, PA:
University of Pittsburgh Press.
of Buenos Aires, where he started to make
a living as a folk singer before he became
the supreme icon of the new, rather risqué
tango songs in the 1920s and 1930s. Some
Legends of Popular Music and Film of his most famous hits include “Volver”
(“Return”) and “Mi Buenos Aires querido”
Carlos Gardel (1890–1935) (“My Lovely Buenos Aires”).
Argentine singer and film star who died By the late 1920s, after achieving suc-
tragically in a plane crash in 1935 at the age cess in Argentina and in other parts of
of forty-five but is even now, nearly sev- South America, Gardel became a hit in Eu-
enty years after his death, still a household rope, especially France, and later in the
name in Argentina, across Latin America, United States as well. In fact, most of the
and beyond. films that he would star in during the latter
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 199

half of his career were made by either Domingo Perón, in an attempt to harness
French or, more often, U.S. companies. the people’s support. Several state-spon-
Films such as El día que me quieras sored films were made about Gardel during
(When You Fall in Love with Me, 1935) Perón’s regime. Today, tangos and Gardel
were largely vehicles for Gardel’s songs—a himself are seen by both the Argentine peo-
tango equivalent of the immensely popular ple and their successive governments as
Hollywood musicals of the day. Another the purest expression of their national
factor in Gardel’s international presence identity.
was that his songs suffered at the hands of —Thea Pitman
the censors in Argentina in the early 1930s,
and he left his “homeland” for a kind of See also: Popular Music: Tango; Popular
self-imposed exile in Europe and the Social Movements and Politics: Peronismo;
Language: Lunfardo
United States in 1933. His body was later
returned for his funeral—an event of im-
mense public interest—in late 1935. Castro, Donald. 1991. The Argentine Tango as
While Gardel’s debonair appearance and Social History, 1880–1955: The Soul of the
appealing, husky voice (he had a bullet People. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter:
lodged in his lung for much of his life) may Edwin Mellen Press.
partially account for his massive appeal to ———. 1998. “Carlos Gardel and the Argentine
Tango: The Lyric of Social Irresponsibility
the Argentine public, it was the lyrics and
and Male Inadequacy.” Pp. 63–78 in The
vocabulary of the tango-songs, penned by Passion of Music and Dance: Body, Gender
songwriters such as Alfredo Le Pera for and Sexuality, edited by William
Gardel, that made him the icon of popular Washabaugh. Oxford: Berg.
Argentine identity. Gardel was a poor boy, Collier, Simon. 1986. The Life, Music and
probably an immigrant, as were so many Times of Carlos Gardel. Pittsburgh, PA:
University of Pittsburgh Press.
Argentines, and he expressed their feelings
and concerns in their language, lunfardo,
the working-class slang of Buenos Aires. Pedro Infante (1917–1957)
Furthermore, the character that he pro- Mexican singer and film star who, nearly
jected in his songs exemplified perfectly fifty years after his death, remains one of
the psychology of the porteño (Buenos the nation’s most enduring icons and idols,
Aires) working-class male: he was macho, along with other famous names from the
loyal, materially successful, and haughty— “golden age” of Mexican cinema, such as
often something of a malevo (a bad guy) María Felix and Jorge Negrete.
but also alienated and vulnerable in some Infante was born in 1917 into humble
senses, particularly where women were surroundings in the northern Mexican state
concerned. of Sinaloa, where he quickly developed an
Gardel was not only enormously suc- interest in the kind of popular music
cessful with the Argentine working classes, played by mariachis and ranchera singers.
whom he represented. Despite the censor- Set on trying his luck in the big city, he
ship of Gardel’s work, tangos—particularly moved to Mexico City in his early twenties
the music—have been appropriated by suc- and started making a living as a radio actor
cessive populist leaders, most notably Juan and performer of popular music in the con-
200 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

famous films include Los tres García (The

Three García Cousins, 1946), Nosotros los
pobres (We Poor People, 1947), Angelitos
negros (Little Black Angels, 1948), and La
vida no vale nada (Life Is Cheap, 1954).
Many of the films that he starred in fall
within the bounds of the comedia
ranchera genre, a very popular type of
“golden-age” Mexican film that blends
comedy, often with an amorous theme,
with the setting of the northern Mexican
ranches, one of the most iconic locations
of a sense of Mexican national identity in
the post-revolutionary era. Later in his ca-
reer, Infante would appear in films with
more urban locations, helping to create the
myth of modern Mexico City. He met an
untimely end in 1957 when the plane that
he was flying crashed on the Yucatan
peninsula. Ironically, at the time of his
death, he was preparing to make a film
Lupita Infante (right), daughter of Pedro
Infante, and Amparito, the president of the
based on the theme of air travel entitled
Pedro Infante fan club, stand next to the star’s Ando volando bajo (Flying Low).
grave to mark the 47th anniversary of his By the time of his death, Infante had be-
death in Mexico City. (Daniel Aguilar/ come an icon of national proportions in
Reuters/Corbis) Mexico—so much so that the day of his
death was declared a national day of
mourning across the Republic. His success
cert halls of the day. He rapidly became a was due not only to his good looks and his
big hit. In the period from 1943 until his particular style of singing, but also to the
death in 1957, he is reputed to have fact that, as an actor, he frequently played
recorded over 200 albums. One of his most the part of the poor boy he had once been,
famous numbers is the bolero “Amorcito and despite his fame and fortune, he still
Corazón” (“Little Darling”), and his remained very much one of the people.
ranchera inflection of boleros in general is Furthermore, through his songs and film
still a popular approach to the genre in roles he epitomized the macho Mexican
Mexico. male that lies at the heart of the traditional,
At almost the same time that his career popular concept of Mexican identity. Like
as a singer took off, Infante started to act Carlos Gardel in Argentina, Infante became
in films, and over the course of his movie the most visible icon of Mexican identity
career he appeared in sixty films, starring and was co-opted by the state into repre-
in up to five different feature films in the senting this role after his death. Infante’s
course of any one year. Some of his most iconic status has not diminished with time.
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 201

In Mexico today, young stars such as Luis

Miguel still record hits with old Infante
songs and, in popularity contests, Infante is
still likely to win hands down against these
younger heartthrobs.
Infante’s success has not only been lim-
ited to Mexico. In his lifetime, he toured
both North and South America and re-
ceived prizes and awards in many coun-
tries. At the time of his death, he was also
on the cusp of breaking into the U.S. film
industry. Even today, he remains an icon of
Mexico in the international arena.
—Thea Pitman

See also: Popular Music: Bolero; Mariachi,

Ranchera, Norteña, Tex-Mex; Cultural Icons:
Legends of Popular Music and Film (Carlos
Gardel); Popular Cinema: Melodrama; The
Mexican Film Industry

Bibliography Mexico’s revered Virgin of Guadalupe. (Mireille

Fein, Seth. 1997. “Pedro Infante.” Pp. 702–704 Vautier/The Art Archive)
in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 1, edited by
Michael S. Werner. Chicago: Fitzroy
the village of Teyepac near what is now
Mora, Carl J. 1989. The Mexican Cinema:
Reflections of a Society, 1896–1988.
Mexico City. Legend tells that she ordered
Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. the man to have the local bishop Zumar-
157–174 (passim). raga build a church upon the site and pro-
Rojas, Raymundo Eli. 2002. “It’s Been 40 Years.” vided proof when Diego’s story was ques-
www.geocities.com/Broadway/ 2626/ tioned. What is beyond doubt is that
pedro.html (consulted 1 July 2003).
Guadalupe has become a source of com-
Wilson, Rita Lynn, and Xicotencatl Fernández.
2001. “Pedro Infante.” www.lonestar.utsa
fort and sustenance for the poorest of Mex-
.edu/rlwilson/PedroInfante.html (search on icans, and indeed she is now recognized
Pedro Infante) (consulted 1 July 2003). throughout Latin America.
The extraordinary persuasiveness of the
image surely has much to do with its het-
erogeneity. Even the original document de-
Religious and Mythical Figures
scribing the apparition, produced by an in-
terpreter since Diego spoke no Spanish
Virgin of Guadalupe and Zumarraga no Nahuatl, is of uncertain
Mexico’s patron saint, Guadalupe, is said to veracity; the perpetual bugbear of mutual
have appeared to an indigenous peasant incomprehension, rife in most stories of
named Juan Diego on 9 December 1531 at conquest in the Americas, also leaves its
202 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

mark here. There is also a Nahuatl-lan- Bibliography

guage document published in 1649 and of Anzaldúa, Gloria. 1996. “Coatlalopeuh, She Who
unknown authorship. Has Dominion over Serpents.” Pp. 52–55 in
Goddess of the Americas: Writings on the
Similarly the religious origins of the Vir-
Virgin of Guadalupe, edited by Ana Castillo.
gin have been traced to many sources New York: Riverhead Books.
other than Christian. The Aztec goddess Lafaye, Jacques. 1976. Quetzalcoatl and
Tonantzin, also a virgin mother, has been Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican
associated with Guadalupe, as has Quetzal- National Consciousness, 1531–1813.
cóatl, the winged serpent. For Gloria An- Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Poole, Stafford. 1995. Our Lady of Guadalupe:
zaldúa, she is derived from Coatlalopeuh,
The Origins and Sources of a Mexican
one of several Mesoamerican goddesses National Symbol, 1531–1797. Tuscon:
associated with creation and fertility, in University of Arizona Press.
turn an aspect of the figure of Tonantzin. Rodríguez, Jeanette. 1994. Our Lady of
Anzaldúa points out that for Chicanos, Guadalupe: Faith and Empowerment
Guadalupe is one of three mothers along- among Mexican-American Women. Austin:
University of Texas Press.
side the symbolic traitor, La Malinche, and
La Llorona, the weeping mother forlornly
seeking her lost children. The three are La Malinche
seen as complementary aspects of a com- A quasi-mythical figure distilled from the
plete figure. traumatic conquest of Mexico by Spaniards
A further possible interpretation of the led by Hernán Cortés, La Malinche is as
Virgin of Guadalupe’s origin is that soon af- much fictional as historical. She is in some
ter the devastation wrought by the Spanish ways typical of a select group (selected as
Conquest, indigenous peoples were in dire much by chance as by choice) of indige-
need of some form of moral sustenance. At nous people enlisted to assist the Spanish
the same time the Catholic Church would effort during the era of Conquest. Felipillo
have been eager to find a means with which in Peru, to cite just one other famous ex-
to convert and claim this spiritually disen- ample, was tutored in Spanish and used as
franchised people. Guadalupe, much as oc- an interpreter. Such figures were invalu-
curred in other Spanish colonies at key mo- able in forging alliances with outlying peo-
ments in the process of acculturation and ples colonized by the dominant Aztec and
consolidation of empire, proved an invalu- Incas. These peoples joined forces with the
able tool of empire as well as a source of Spaniards in the belief that they would rid
solace for the dispossessed. Guadalupe is themselves of oppression. Felipillo, whose
thus a classic example of transculturation testimony was manipulated by Pizarro’s
and mestizaje (cultural mixing) in Mexico men to justify executing the Inca
and throughout Latin America. Atawallpa, is despised by native Andean
—Keith Richards peoples as a symbol of collusion with the
invaders. La Malinche, too, represents the
See also: Introduction; Cultural Icons:
Religious and Mythical Figures (La Llorona;
“translator-traitor,” though with crucial dif-
La Malinche); Language: Indigenous ferences associated with her gender and
Languages nationality.
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 203

Little is known for certain about her ori- Writers and artists in the twentieth cen-
gins, but it seems indisputable that she was tury have been keen to review the adoring
from a noble indigenous family in the image presented by Bernal Díaz. Perhaps
Tabasco region of Mexico. Whether she the most famous is Octavio Paz, who made
was initially stolen or given away is un- La Malinche the focus of his chapter “Los
known, but she doubtless became a token hijos de la chingada” (“Sons of the Sexually
passed between powerful masters until she Abused”) in his seminal essay on the Mexi-
was given to Cortés’s men as part of a gift can national psyche, El laberinto de la
of twenty women. When her linguistic soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude, 1950).
skills came to light, she was swiftly ac- In exploring her image as mother of mixed-
corded far higher status than that of concu- race Mexico, Paz identifies a mestizo sense
bine, though she did become the lover of of abandonment and humiliation as the
Cortés and bore at least one child by him. product of a violation. This gels with the
However, her knowledge of several indige- central tenet of Mexican machismo that, in
nous languages, from both central and the final analysis, everything can be blamed
southern Mexico, was what made her in- upon women. It is a notion enshrined in
valuable to the invaders. She was able to countless popular songs and in the unflat-
speak to the envoys of Moctezuma, and tering 1926 depiction of La Malinche with
even to the emperor himself, in a highly Cortés above the body of a murdered na-
specialized and recondite form of Nahuatl. tive, painted by José Clemente Orozco
This, according to Frances Karttunen, (1883–1949). The surrealist-influenced
leaves no question as to her noble ancestry. painting El sueño de la Malinche (Mal-
The shifting focus on her personality and inche’s Dream, 1939) by Antonio Ruiz
role is reflected by the mutations of her (1892–1964) offers a more circumspect
name. Baptized “Marina” by the Spaniards view, with the sleeping woman seen against
when they received her as a gift in 1519, cracks in the walls resembling lightning
she became known by natives as “Mal- and thunderclouds, her bedclothes turned
intzin” through an adaptation to indigenous into a landscape with, at the highest point, a
phonetics and conventions, which in turn Christian church. Ruiz appears to suggest
was to be re-hispanicized into “Malinche.” that she was an unconscious harbinger of
The respectful “doña Marina” used by traumatic changes in her country, a view
chroniclers such as Bernal Díaz del Castillo that may gain further currency in forthcom-
reflects the status she enjoyed among the ing years.
Spaniards. Similarly, the Nahuatl suffix —Keith Richards
“-tzin” in Malintzin points to her high es-
teem in the eyes of contemporary fellow See also: Language: Indigenous Languages;
natives. The denigration of her name Visual Arts and Architecture: Art (José
Clemente Orozco)
seems to have come about following Mex-
ico’s independence from Spain, the conse-
quent search for an independent identity, Cypess, Sandra Messinger. 1991. La Malinche
and the need for scapegoats to exorcise the in Mexican Literature: From History to
sense of national humiliation. Myth. Austin: University of Texas Press.
204 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Díaz del Castillo, Bernal. 1632 (1995). True the case of young men, La Llorona is de-
History of the Conquest of New Spain. picted as a siren figure who will lure them
London: Penguin. into danger and an uncertain fate. Never-
Karttunen, Frances. 1997. “Rethinking
theless, in contemporary times, the “fright
Malinche.” Pp. 291–312 in Indian Women of
Early Mexico, edited by Susan Schroeder, value” of the tale has largely been sup-
Stephanie Wood, and Robert Haskett. planted by the association of La Llorona
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. with other familiar figures from the pan-
Paz, Octavio. 1950 (1990). The Labyrinth of theon of Halloween ghosts, now popular in
Solitude. London: Penguin. Mexico as well as the United States.
The origins of the tale are unclear. Some
La Llorona critics have found pre-Columbian echoes in
Literally “The Weeping Woman,” La the story, although empirical proof suggests
Llorona is an extremely popular figure in that it was first told in the late nineteenth
Mexican and Chicano folklore, though the century and that it is more clearly associ-
tale is told throughout Latin America. ated with European folkloric tradition.
There are several variants to the story, but More recently, some critics have been
in all versions La Llorona is the ghost of a tempted to find a resonance of the story of
woman who cries at night near lakes and La Malinche in that of La Llorona, in that
rivers for her child or children whom she both are bad women who betray their peo-
has drowned. The different versions of the ple/children. La Llorona has also enjoyed a
tale focus on the reasons she might have surge in “popularity” in contemporary Chi-
killed her own children before taking her cano culture, perhaps because of the poten-
own life—through jealousy and anger over tial for betrayal that the Chicano commu-
their father’s infidelities, his heartless re- nity faces as they try to balance Mexican
jection of her, her inferior social class or and Anglo-American cultures. Or, perhaps,
racial group, or her callous desire to obtain because her mourning along the banks of a
a new lover. One version exonerates her river reminds Chicanos of the experiences
completely by suggesting that her own fa- of so many “wetbacks” who lose their own
ther drowned her illegitimate baby (possi- lives, and those of their children, trying to
bly the fruit of a virgin birth) and that she cross the Río Grande/Bravo. Indeed, in
died from overwhelming grief. these newer interpretations of her story,
La Llorona is the equivalent of the “bo- she ceases to be associated with evil and
gey woman” for Mexican and Chicano chil- selfish behavior, and emphasis is placed, in-
dren. Although she is more often heard stead, on her grief and pain. Finally, some
than seen, she is imagined as dressed in of the contemporary interpretations of her
black, with long gleaming fingernails, and story also seek to draw parallels between
either a horse’s head or an empty space in her and other bad mother figures from
place of her face. Parents tell small children world folklore, such as Medea.
the story to warn them off staying out late —Thea Pitman
at night. For older girls, the story warns of
the dangers of falling for dashing young See also: Cultural Icons: Religious and
men with no intention of marrying them. In Mythical Figures (La Malinche)
C U LT U R A L I C O N S 205

Bibliography del Castillo, Adelaida R., ed. 1990. Between

Anaya, Rudolfo. 1984. The Legend of La Llorona. Borders: Essays on Mexican/Chicana
Berkeley, CA: Tonatiuh/Quinto Sol Press. History. Encino, CA: Floricanto Press.
Arora, Shirley L. 1997. “La Llorona.” Pp. Hayes, Joe. 1987. La Llorona: The Weeping
753–754 in Encyclopedia of Mexico, vol. 1, Woman. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press.
edited by Michael S. Werner. Chicago:
Fitzroy Dearborn.
Signs crowd the main street in Salta, Argentina, 1994. (Paolo Ragazzini/Corbis)

Spanish is the official language of all Spain’s former colonies in Latin

America. In Brazil the Portuguese arrived with their language in 1500
and they, too, left a permanent linguistic legacy. The European coloniz-
ers were keen to impose their respective languages on the indigenous
peoples that they encountered in the New World. But indigenous lan-
guages did not die out. In the Andes today, for example, the Quechua and
Aymara languages are still widely spoken, as is Guaraní in Paraguay and
Nahuatl in Mexico.
The Spanish and Portuguese spoken in Latin America today under-
standably differ from their European counterparts; they evolved inde-
pendently and were influenced by indigenous languages, the speech of
African slaves, and later the languages brought by different immigrant
groups, ranging from the Italians to the Japanese. As a consequence,
there are many significant differences in the Spanish spoken in the dif-
ferent Latin American countries. In Argentina, lunfardo is a combination
of Spanish and elements of various European languages brought over by
immigrants toward the end of the nineteenth century. In Cuba, the im-
pact of languages and dialects brought by African slaves is evident, par-
ticularly in vocabulary relating to Afro-Cuban culture. The same is true
of Brazilian Portuguese, where terms such as Candomblé, Umbanda,
caçula (the youngest sibling in a family), and capoeira have clear
African origins.
The Spanish and Portuguese languages share many similarities, since
both derive from Latin and have been influenced by Arabic. These simi-
larities have led native speakers of each to communicate with each other
in a pragmatic, invented tongue, referred to humorously in Brazil as
“portunhol”—literally a mixture of Portuguese (português) and Spanish
In general, Portuguese stays closer to the Latin than Spanish does. The
Latin verb fabulare (to speak) became falar in Portuguese but hablar in
Spanish. Similarly, the Latin verb facere (to do) became fazer in Por-
tuguese but hacer in Spanish. Other basic differences have a similar pat-
tern, making it easier for native speakers of one language to adapt to the
208 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Nobel Prize–winning author Gabriel García Márquez, with a copy of his most famous book, One
Hundred Years of Solitude. (Isabel Steva Hernandez/Colita/Corbis)

other. Words beginning with “ll” in Spanish, begun to study Spanish, and Spanish-
for example, tend to begin with “ch” in Por- speaking Latin Americans have enrolled in
tuguese: llave and chave (key), lleno and Portuguese courses. This trend has been
cheio (full), llorar and chorar (to cry), fuelled by the creation of the MERCOSUR
llover and chover (to rain), and so on. (known as the MERCOSUL in Portuguese)
Spanish and Portuguese are significantly in 1991, a free-trade area embracing Brazil,
different, of course, at the level of syntax, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
pronunciation, and vocabulary, so non- The Colombian writer Gabriel García
native speakers must proceed with caution Márquez once wrote: “We writers of Latin
to avoid upsetting their foreign neighbors. America and the Caribbean must recog-
For example, in spite of their similarity, the nize, with hand on heart, that reality is a
adjectives embaraçado/a (“embarrassed” better writer than we are. Our destiny, and
in Portuguese) and embarazado/a (“preg- perhaps our glory, is to try to imitate it with
nant” in Spanish) should not be confused. humility, to the best of our ability.” His
(This example was used in a recent adver- comment points out the fundamental sense
tising campaign in Brazil promoting Span- in Latin America that Spanish is an alien
ish language courses.) Perhaps for this rea- tongue that, as he goes on to assert, is inad-
son increasing numbers of Brazilians have equate to describe the region’s natural and

cultural phenomena. This sense of adapt-

ing an alien language to a new milieu was
compounded by a concerted program on
the part of Latin American intellectuals to
control the teaching and development of
the language to make it serve the purposes
of nation building and the creation of iden-
tity. As Castilian Spanish, enshrined by An-
tonio de Nebrija’s grammar of 1492, be-
came the linguistic cement of the Castile-
Aragon nation, so it was conceived as a ho-
mogenizing factor in the colonies–
turned–independent states.
One common misconception about Latin
American Spanish should be quickly dis-
pelled: the notion that it differs so dramati-
cally from country to country, or from Eu-
ropean Spanish, as to make communication
impossible. In fact, variations are never so
great as to hinder communication, and
Latin Americans and Spaniards have no
more problems with mutual intelligibility Business signs in Spanish near the Mexican
than the British and North Americans. It is border, El Paso, Texas, in the 1980s. (Owen
undeniable that words derived from Latin Franken/Corbis)
are more diverse in the Iberian Peninsula.
Nevertheless, Latin American Spanish, just
like its Iberian counterpart, is notorious for the seseo, or lack of the lisping sound
(or blessed with) a great regional variety (“c” and “z” are pronounced [s] in both
that stems from various factors. One of Latin America and Andalusia). The argu-
these lies in Latin America’s history of con- ment for Castilian is more historically and
quest and colonization, as settlers from dif- politically based, emphasizing the far
ferent provinces of Spain generally estab- greater prestige of this dialect that had
lished themselves in particular regions of come to embody Spanish power; the
the New World: for example, Galicians phonological differences can be attrib-
went to Cuba, Andalusians to Argentina. uted to mutations occurring over the span
The exact origin of the language taken of 500 years. Others have noted the dis-
originally to the Americas is still a matter crepancy between highland and lowland
of heated debate among linguists, who are Spanish in Latin America, the former re-
divided into two main camps: those who sembling Castilian and the latter Andalu-
argue for the Andalusian influence, and sian. This can be explained by the fact
those who maintain the legacy of Castile. that most sedentary pre-Columbian civi-
Numerous phonological similarities sup- lizations were based in highland areas,
port the Andalusian thesis, most notably and these were conquered mainly by
210 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

A sign in Spanish advertising a furniture store for the benefit of the Cuban community in Miami,
Florida, 1963. (Bettmann/Corbis)

Castilians, while Andalusians came later guages and cultural practices. As a result,
to farm the lowlands. African influence is particularly notable in
Another factor is the introduction of the Caribbean and coastal South America,
African slaves to many areas, particularly though not in the Central American coun-
those where large plantations were com- tries with a Caribbean coastline (Panama,
mon. In Cuba and Brazil, the slaves’ influ- Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Be-
ence on language was considerable in lexi- lize), where the black populations tend to
cal terms. The Yoruba language is still be English-speaking or bilingual in English
spoken in Cuba, chiefly in connection with and Spanish.
the Afro-Cuban religious practice of San- Finally, it is important to take into ac-
tería. In Latin America, Africans were al- count various forms of linguistic regional-
lowed to maintain aspects of their lan- ism, whether caused by natural topograph-

ical barriers between distant communities erally is conditioned by Italian, since large
or by local rivalries and conflicts. Natural numbers of Italian immigrants settled there.
features such as the Andean mountain All kinds of minor influences add to the di-
chain and the Amazonian rainforest made versity of Latin American Spanish due to the
communication far more difficult than in presence in the region of immigrants from
the relatively homogenous topography of parts of the Old World other than Spain,
North America. For instance, Chile, mostly Europe and Asia. Numerous Ger-
crammed between the twin barriers of the mans have settled in Chile and other South-
Andes and the Pacific, has the only dialect ern Cone countries since the mid-nineteenth
in the region limited to a single country. century, as well as Yugoslavs, Arabs, Scandi-
The tradition of large landholdings in Spain navians, French, and British. The
also contributed to the concentration of Paraguayan capital Asunción is home to a
land in the hands of small groups in Latin thriving Korean population, while coastal
America. This tradition created oligarchies Peru, São Paulo, and the Santa Cruz area of
and concentrations of power in regional Bolivia have significant Japanese communi-
centers that became divisive and corrosive, ties. Parts of Patagonia were until fairly re-
provoking wars and social unrest, particu- cently Welsh-speaking, and Mennonites
larly in Central America, and led to the from Germany and Central Europe have set-
maintenance of linguistic differences. tled in the Chaco region of central South
The conditions existing in Latin America America, an extensive lowland plain that ex-
and the nature of Iberian colonialism meant tends into Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.
that contact between languages and cul- —Lisa Shaw and Keith Richards
tures would continue to occur. In North
America, by contrast, American English See also: Sport and Leisure: Capoeira;
was exposed to much less intense contact Popular Literature: The Boom; Popular
Religion and Festivals: Candomblé;
with other languages, and due to the U.S.
Santería; Umbanda
policy of systematically acculturating
African slaves, did not come into contact
with African languages. The enrichment of García Márquez, Gabriel. 1991. “Something Else
the English language resulting from contact about Literature and Reality.” Pp. 119–121 in
with Spanish is noticeable mostly in certain Notas de Prensa 1980–1984. Madrid:
border areas with Mexico, New York, and Mondadori.
Miami, though this situation is changing at Penny, Ralph J. 2000. Variation and Change in
Spanish. Cambridge: Cambridge University
a precipitous rate due to Latino immigra-
tion to all areas. Conversely, Latin Ameri- Scavnicky, Gary E. A., ed. 1980. Dialectología
can Spanish is increasingly influenced by hispanoamericana: Estudios actuales.
proximity (real or virtual) to English. Washington, DC: Georgetown University
In contrast to North America, language Press.
contact in Latin America is kaleidoscopic, Silva-Corvalán, Carmen. 1995. Spanish in Four
Continents: Studies in Language Contact
even without taking into account the indige-
and Bilingualism. Washington, DC:
nous languages. Spanish in Uruguay, for in- Georgetown University Press.
stance, is affected by the Portuguese of Valle, José del, and Luis Gabriel-Stheeman.
neighboring Brazil. The River Plate area gen- 2002. The Battle over Spanish between 1800
212 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

and 2000: Language Ideologies and mon with several other Latin American
Hispanic Intellectuals. London: Routledge. countries, parts of Colombia use the voseo
form of address in place of the standard
tuteo (using the informal tú pronoun). Not
Regional Differences in as widespread as in Argentina, for exam-
Latin American Spanish ple, voseo usage in Colombia is mostly re-
stricted to the regions of Antioquia,
Certain pronunciation traits belonging to Chocó, and Caldas in the west of the coun-
specific regions are reasonably easy to rec- try. Also of interest is the fact that in the
ognize to an ear trained in Spanish. The Andean region of Boyacá, the third-person
River Plate area (Uruguay and greater term su merced (literally, “your grace”),
Buenos Aires) has a distinctive rendering now archaic in Spain and elsewhere in
of the “ll” as a /sh/ sound, as well as the ca- Latin America, is still in common usage
dence borrowed from Italian. Caribbean both as a term of respect and as a familiar
Spanish is notable for the aspiration or term among friends or family members,
deletion of the final “s,” and pronunciation frequently shortened to sumercé. In
of “n” at the ends of words as in the En- Colombia, usted, the formal form of ad-
glish “ng”. A feature of Andean speech is dress in Spain and much of Latin America,
the limited enunciation of vowel sounds, is imbued with much wider meaning and is
which are apt to be confused (making “e” used as an affectionate term of address
and “i,” “o” and “u” largely interchange- between friends and family members
able) due to the three-vowel systems used throughout the country. In Mexico the use
by native languages. Chileans usually pro- of vos occurs predominantly in the south
nounce “b” as “v,” an inversion of general of the country, in rural areas, and vos is of-
practice in Spanish, and they assibilate ten used today by indigenous people when
rather than roll the “r” as in English. Stan- they speak in Spanish. Traditionally, vos
dard Mexican Spanish, as spoken by edu- was the personal pronoun used by Mexi-
cated middle-class Mexicans, differs from cans of Spanish descent when they spoke
Castilian Spanish mainly in terms of pro- to their indigenous servants, with tú and
nunciation and vocabulary, although there usted reserved for use only within their
are a few grammatical differences, too. To- own racial group. Usted (“you,” polite, sin-
day there are still over fifty different in- gular) is also used much more frequently
digenous languages, such as Nahuatl, in Mexico than in Spain, and vosotros
Maya, and Tzeltal, that are spoken in Mex- (“you,” familiar, plural) is not used at all—
ico, and Mexican Spanish has been greatly even groups of friends are referred to as
enriched by borrowings from these lan- ustedes (“you,” polite, plural).
guages. Other grammatical differences between
Another feature of some areas is the so- Mexican Spanish and Castilian include the
called voseo, or use of the vos pronoun, preference in the former for the preterite
which has its own verb conjugations and is tense over the perfect tense and the con-
found in the River Plate area, southern Bo- cept of the preposition hasta as intrinsi-
livia, and some areas of Central America, cally negative, meaning “not until.” Thus a
as well as in parts of Colombia. In com- Mexican would say ¿Qué hiciste esta

mañana? (What did you do this morning?) Bibliography

rather than the more standard Castilian Bjarkman, Peter C., and Robert Matthew
¿Qué has hecho esta mañana? (What have Hammond, eds. 1989. American Spanish
Pronunciation: Theoretical and Applied
you done this morning?), and for a Mexi-
Perspectives. Washington, DC: Georgetown
can Abrimos hasta las diez means “We University Press.
don’t open until 10 o’clock (in the morn- Cotton, Eleanor Greet, and John M. Sharp.
ing),” rather than “We stay open until 10 (at 1988. Spanish in the Americas. Washington,
night),” which is what a Spaniard would DC: Georgetown University Press.
take it to mean. This last example can lead Lloyd, Paul M. 1987. From Latin to Spanish:
Historical Phonology and Morphology of the
to some frustrating experiences.
Spanish Language. Philadelphia: American
Vocabulary can present problems for the Philosophical Society.
speaker unaware of specific usage and can López Morales, Humberto. 1971. Estudios sobre
lead to embarrassment, particularly in the el español de Cuba. Long Island City, NY: Las
case of apparently innocent words with re- Americas.
gional sexual connotations, such as coger Santamaría, Francisco de, ed. 1991.
Diccionario de Mejicanismos. Mexico City:
(normally meaning to pick up) in Ar-
gentina, Mexico, and elsewhere, and tirarse
(generally to leap or dive) in Peru. There
are also some curiously diverse regional
meanings of ostensibly specific words, for Brazilian Portuguese
example guagua, which in Cuba and the
Canary Islands means a bus, in the Andes a The relationship between Brazilian Por-
baby, and in Chile a jug. tuguese and the language of Portugal could
Indigenous words that have been incor- be described as similar to that between U.S.
porated into Latin American Spanish in- English and the language of Great Britain. A
clude aguacate (avocado pear) from the Brazilian would certainly understand a Eu-
Nahuatl word ahuacatl, and chocolate from ropean Portuguese speaker, and vice versa,
the Maya words chokol (hot) and atl (wa- but each would instantly recognize the dis-
ter), referring to the way chocolate is typi- tinctive accent of the other. In addition,
cally drunk mixed with hot water in Mex- there are some important differences be-
ico. Even the Mexican spelling of the word tween the two varieties of the language in
México with an “x” (rather than the “j” of terms of vocabulary, spelling, and syntax.
Castilian Spanish [Méjico]) is a nod to the With regard to phonetics, the letter “r” is
Mexica (Aztec) origins of the country (al- usually pronounced as [x] in Brazil,
though, of course, the use of the letter “x” whereas speakers of European Portuguese
actually stems from archaic Castilian have the option of this pronunciation, or
spelling preferences, since the Mexica [rr]. The Brazilian “o” is more open than in
used an ideographic rather than alphabetic Portugal, and there is some variation in the
form of writing). quality of the oral vowels “a” and “e.” When
—Keith Richards, Thea Pitman, the letter “s” comes before certain conso-
and Claire Taylor nants, Brazilians produce a more sibilant
sound, while the Portuguese pronounce it
See also: Language: Indigenous Languages /sh/.
214 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

Some basic differences in vocabulary be- mente (commonly) and connosco (with
tween Brazilian and European Portuguese us), giving comumente and conosco.
often catch the foreign traveler off guard. The major difference between Brazilian
Brazilians call breakfast o café da manhã and European Portuguese in terms of syn-
(literally “morning coffee”), whereas the tax concerns forms of address. Whereas
Portuguese opt for o pequeno almoço (liter- the Portuguese address their loved ones
ally “small lunch,” like the French). In and friends with the tu pronoun, which
Brazil a train is an anglicized trem, while in takes a second-person singular verb end-
Portugal it is a comboio. Brazilians call the ing, Brazilians rarely use this form, except
bathroom o banheiro, but the Portuguese in certain regions, replacing it with the
call it a casa de banho (literally, “the house third-person singular form você, which has
of the bath”). In Brazil a fruit juice is a suco a more neutral function in Portugal. An-
and a menu a cardápio, but they are a other notable difference is that in Portugal
sumo and an ementa respectively in Portu- the possessive adjective is preceded by the
gal. Not only nouns but also verbs differ, definite article, giving o meu carro (my car,
with the Brazilian pegar replacing the Por- but literally “the my car,” and so on), while
tuguese apanhar (to catch). The verb to in Brazil the definite article is often omit-
put, pôr, is often rendered colloquially as ted in such cases, giving simply meu carro.
botar in Brazil. Speakers of European Por- Indigenous languages have made their
tuguese need to take care when in Brazil, impact on the vocabulary of Brazilian Por-
since several everyday terms used in Portu- tuguese, as have various African tongues
gal have quite different meanings. Confus- brought over to the New World by slaves.
ingly, the noun rapariga is the standard The Portuguese missionaries used the lan-
term for a girl in Portugal, but in Brazil it guage of the Tupi Indians of the Amazon
can mean a prostitute. The noun bicha in and coastal areas as a lingua franca in the
Portugal means a line or a queue, whereas sixteenth century. From then on, Tupi be-
in Brazil it is a slang term for a homosexual. came quite widely spoken in the interior by
In spite of efforts to standardize the African slaves, the Portuguese, and those
spelling of Brazilian and European Por- of mixed race. The Tupi heritage is particu-
tuguese, significant orthographic differ- larly prevalent in the names of plants, ani-
ences continue to exist. In Portugal a mals, and places. Tapioca and jacaré (alli-
choice exists between “oi” or “ou” in words gator) are two well-known examples. The
such as toiro/touro (bull) and loiro/louro linguistic influence of African slaves is
(blond), but Brazilians almost always pre- most apparent in Brazil’s northeast. Again,
fer the “ou” spelling and accompanying in terms of vocabulary, this legacy is
pronunciation. Whereas the letters “c” and strongest in areas most closely linked to
“p” are written but not pronounced in the cultural practices of the slaves, such as
nouns such as acção (action) and baptismo Candomblé, samba, and the martial art/
(baptism) in European Portuguese, in dance capoeira, the names and associated
Brazil they are neither pronounced nor terminology of which are clearly of African
written, giving ação and batismo. Brazilian origin.
Portuguese reduces the double “mm” and Not only do students of Brazilian Por-
“nn” of certain words such as comum- tuguese have to be aware of the language’s

marked differences from so-called conti- nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
nental or European Portuguese, they also Cariocas (people from Rio de Janeiro) like
have to deal with the seemingly enormous to promote the belief that their pronuncia-
gap that exists between spoken and written tion of the letter “r” at the end of words
language in Brazil. For example, in (infor- (coda r) came about from the impact of
mal) written Portuguese, Brazilians often French culture in and around Rio de
prefer to place object pronouns before the Janeiro from the seventeenth century on-
verb (as in Spanish), while in Portugal in ward (the French-sounding [x]). In the city
most instances these will be placed after of São Paulo, coda r is pronounced [r], as in
the verb and attached by a hyphen. Thus, Spanish. In the interior of the state of São
“you saw them” is rendered você os viu in Paulo, and in parts of the states of Minas
Brazil but você viu-os in Portugal. However, Gerais, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul,
in spoken language, Brazilians from nearly and Goiás, coda r is pronounced as in Stan-
all walks of life will often replace the object dard American English. To many Brazilians,
pronoun with a subject pronoun (giving this pronunciation sounds provincial and is
você viu eles, for example). This practice is associated with the speech of the caipira
much more widespread than, say, the use of or hillbilly. In much of the northeast, coda r
phrases deemed “incorrect” within certain is simply not pronounced at all. Although
English-speaking communities, such as the carioca accent is now regarded as stan-
“you was” rather than “you were.” Brazil dard in Brazil, the exaggerated final r ([x])
also has its share of “incorrect” grammar is often toned down by TV presenters, for
usage, even within the flexible tenets of example, who prefer the more neutral São
spoken language, which are often region- Paulo pronunciation. Likewise, the cario-
specific. For example, the second-person cas’ pronunciation of coda s (/sh/), render-
singular verb form (tu) is as good as redun- ing festas or parties as “feshtash,” as in Eu-
dant in Brazilian Portuguese, but gaúchos ropean Portuguese pronunciation, is
from the south of the country, a wide num- regarded by some as rather affected.
ber of nordestinos or northeasterners, and Brazilians, much more so than the Por-
streetwise urban young people can often be tuguese, who often prefer to create Por-
heard using the second-person singular tuguese equivalents of new and/or popular
subject pronoun tu with third-person singu- foreign words, have incorporated a large
lar verb forms, for example: Tu (instead of number of English terms into their lan-
você) foi ao cinema?, meaning “Did you go guage, sometimes with altered spelling to
to the cinema?” aid pronunciation. Words relating to infor-
The main regional differences in Brazil- mation technology are often borrowed
ian Portuguese have to do with vocabulary from English, such as Internet and mouse
and pronunciation, and the sources of these (the Portuguese often prefer rede and rato,
differences can generally be found in the the literal translations of these terms).
distinct communities that settled in the Words are sometimes borrowed from En-
country. For example, it is said that the glish and used in slightly “incorrect” ways,
paulista (São Paulo) accent and intonation such as the noun shopping, meaning
were influenced by the massive wave of “shopping mall,” and happy end, meaning
Italian immigration to the city in the late “a happy ending to a film.”
216 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

In 1998 the Comunidade dos Países de Martinez, Ron. 2003. How to Say Anything in
Língua Portuguesa (the Commonwealth Portuguese. Rio de Janeiro: Campus.
of Portuguese-speaking Countries) unani-
mously agreed to reform the spelling of
their language. The new Orthographic Lunfardo
Code, drawn up by prestigious grammari-
ans from Portugal and Brazil, is currently A linguistic phenomenon that is often asso-
awaiting ratification by national govern- ciated with the underworld of Buenos
ments. The code proposes certain linguis- Aires. This speech may, depending on the
tic standardizations designed to facilitate observer’s outlook, be termed a dialect of
communication among member countries, Spanish, a vernacular, or simply slang. The
potentially doing away, for example, with term lunfardo refers both to the idiom and
the current need/preference for distinct to its speakers, traditionally the marginal-
translations of bestsellers and film subti- ized immigrants to Argentina, specifically
tles for both the Portuguese and Brazilian the wave that entered the country during
markets. Detractors of the reform argue the final decades of the nineteenth century,
that the present difficulties experienced by many of whom were from Italy. Lunfardo
Portuguese speakers on both sides of the contains words from a wide range of lan-
Atlantic with each other’s language have guages and cultures, including Brazilian
much more to do with unfamiliar vocabu- Portuguese (bondi—bus) and Polish (pa-
lary and semantics than with trivial differ- pirusa—beautiful woman), and some
ences in orthography, such as the trema taken from Spanish dialects, such as the
(dierisis), currently used only in Brazilian gypsy Caló and the eighteenth-century
Portuguese (for example, in the verb thieves’ cant known as germanía. Words
agüentar, meaning “to put up with”), and such as pibe (kid, mate), cana (police), and
silent consonants in European Portuguese guita (cash) have become popular in an
(e.g., facto, meaning “fact” would, under area far beyond Buenos Aires and can now
the new proposals, become fato, in line be found in the dictionary of the Real Aca-
with Brazilian orthography). demia Española, Spain’s Royal Academy.
—Stephanie Dennison The metropolis of Buenos Aires saw
and Lisa Shaw massive immigration from Europe in the
latter half of the nineteenth century, mostly
See also: Popular Music: Samba; Sport and
from Italy, France, Great Britain, Ireland,
Leisure: Capoeira; Cultural Icons: Regional
and Ethnic Types (The Gaúcho in Brazil);
and a second wave from Spain. Some of
Language: Indigenous Languages; Popular the early immigrants were golosinas or
Religion and Festivals: Candomblé “swallows,” migrant workers who crossed
the Atlantic every year to work in the har-
Bibliography vests of both Argentina and Europe. How-
Doyle, Terry, ed. 1995. Discovering Portuguese: ever, factors such as European investment,
An Introduction to the Language and
Argentine prosperity, and the country’s de-
People. London: BBC Books.
Giangola, James P. 2001. The Pronunciation of sire to find a place within the First World—
Brazilian Portuguese. Munich: Lincom an aim it largely achieved in the nineteenth
Europa. century—made it an increasingly attractive

destination for migrants. Between the mid- ish. Although lunfardo acts as a way of ex-
nineteenth century and the beginning of cluding outsiders, preventing discourse
the First World War in 1914, the population and content from being overheard, it has as
of Buenos Aires swelled from some 90,000 much to do with creating a sense of be-
to over 1.5 million. Just as far-reaching was longing and identity as it does with hood-
the change in the nature of that populace; winking the police, many of whom are to-
instead of so-called criollos of Spanish de- day adequately versed in the idiom.
scent, it came to feature a bewildering ar- Whatever the true categorization of lun-
ray of cultures and languages that in- fardo, its elevation to the status of lan-
cluded, in addition to those nationalities guage is a matter of some controversy.
mentioned above, Arabs, Basques, Dutch, Some argue that its speakers simply use
Germans, Jews, Poles, Russians, Yu- the structure and syntax of Spanish but re-
goslavs, and Welsh. place nouns and verbs with their own
Some 38 percent of the newcomers to terms. Nonetheless, the Academia Porteña
Argentina during the latter decades of the del Lunfardo (Buenos Aires Academy of
nineteenth century were Italian, and their Lunfardo) was founded in 1962 to encour-
mark on Argentine Spanish would prove in- age formal study, and lunfardo continues
delible. As well as the unmistakable ca- to evolve as some words are discarded,
dence brought in by the so-called tanos, some are invented and adopted, and others
they introduced numerous words that de- change meaning.
rive from marginalized forms of Italian, Lunfardo made its way into main-
such as gergo and furbesco (from the Ital- stream culture and earned a degree of ac-
ian furbo, meaning “cunning”), as well as ceptance in wider society through its as-
regional dialects from Genoa, Naples, and sociation with the tango. But here again,
Milan. Lunfardo also incorporated ele- opinions differ. Scholars such as Donald
ments of German Gaunersprach and En- Castro hold the two to be brothers, while
glish (Cockney) slang; it was influenced by José Gobello sees them as products of en-
European languages spoken by those émi- tirely different traditions (the tango of es-
grés who, as in the United States, had to sentially African origin and lunfardo as
overcome prejudice and achieve social sta- European). For Gobello, lunfardo words
tus. The figure of the lunfardo, for many a were simply used to flavor the tango
synonym for “thief,” has also been associ- rather than being an essential ingredient
ated with that of the compadrito, a young of the lyrics. Moreover, the use of lun-
man from the outskirts who imitates the fardo is inconsistent among lyricists, with
fierce independence of the urbanized gau- some of the finest never straying from
cho or compadre. largely mainstream Spanish. Little lun-
The combination of mass immigration fardo has been used in literature, even in
from various countries and the tradition- writing that deals with the social margins
ally independent and self-reliant nature of of Buenos Aires. But this speech form is
the porteño (native of Buenos Aires), featured in the dialogue of contemporary
which was honed by decades of neglect by Argentine films, such as Pizza, birra,
the Spanish Crown, resulted in a city char- faso (Pizza, Beer, Smokes, 1996), a gritty
acterized by its own peculiar use of Span- tale of street life in the capital city di-
218 P O P C U LT U R E L A T I N A M E R I C A !

rected by two of Argentina’s up-and-com- Why this particular form of speech

ing young filmmakers, Bruno Stagnaro arose in Medellín rather than in another
and Adrián Caetano. urban center in Colombia is due to a range
—Keith Richards of social factors, including violence, drug
culture, and the accompanying social cri-
See also: Popular Music: Tango; Cultural sis that Medellín, more than any other city
Icons: Regional and Ethnic Types (The in Colombia, has suffered. As a result of
Gaucho in Argentina and Uruguay);
this dramatic shift in social circum-
Language: Brazilian Portuguese; Chicano
Spanish; Popular Cinema: The Film Industry stances, language, too, has evolved to re-
and Box-Office Successes in Argentina flect new social hierarchies. In parlache, a
high proportion of the words refer to vio-
Bibliography lence. Although this dialect began in the
Borges, Jorge Luis, and José Edmundo poor neighborhoods of the city, its use has
Clemente. 1963. El lenguaje de Buenos extended not only to other social groups,
Aires. Buenos Aires: Emece Editores.
but it has also appeared in press head-
Castro, Donald S. 1991. The Argentine Tango
as Social History, 1880–1955: The Soul of
lines, in telenovelas (soap operas), and in
the People. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press. other television programs. One example
Gobello, José. 1996. Aproximación al of parlache in context can be found in
lunfardo. Buenos Aires: EDUCA. Alonso J. Salazar’s book No nacimos pa’
Vélez, Wanda A. South American semilla: La cultura de las bandas juve-
Immigration: Argentina. www.yale.edu/
niles en Medellín (1990, published in En-
html#c (consulted 13 March 2004).
glish translation as Born to Die in Medel-
lín in 1992), a collection of eyewitness
reports and first-person testimonies by
Parlache members of the groups of hired killers
that operate in Medellín. The book in-
A term used to refer to the popular street cludes a glossary of common parlache
slang of the city of Medellín, Colombia, terms.
spoken primarily by the young. Parlache —Claire Taylor
was first spoken in the 1980s in the slum
See also: Popular Literature: Testimonio;
areas of the city, and then its use extended
Mass Media: Telenovela (Colombia)
to other sectors. The language itself is
formed through transformations of exist-
ing Spanish words. Some of the predomi- Castañeda, Luz Stella, and José Ignacio Henao.
nant transformations include the addition 2000. “El parlache: Historias de la ciudad.”
of phonemes, giving, for example, sisas in Pp. 509–542 in Literatura y cultura:
place of sí (“yes”), or conversely the sup- Narrativa colombiana del siglo xx, vol. 3,
pression of phonemes giving ñero instead Hibridez, alteridades, edited by María
Mercedes Jaramillo, Betty Osorio, and
of compañero (“mate”). Also prevalent is
Ángela Inés Robledo. Bogotá: Ministerio de
the use of syllabic inversion, where a com- Cultura.
mon word such as calle (“street”) becomes Lipski, John M. 1994. Latin American Spanish.
lleca and frío (“cold”) becomes ofri. London: Longman.

Montes Giraldo, José Joaquín. 1985. Estudios pressions (known as pachuquismos or

sobre el español de Colombia. Bogotá: Caló).
Instituto Caro y Cuervo. The term “standard Mexican Spanish”
Salazar, Alonso J. 1990. No nacimos pa’
refers to the language used by educated
semilla: La cultura de las bandas juveniles
en Medellín. Bogotá: CINEP. middle-class Mexicans, which is almost
———. 1992. Born to Die in Medellín. Trans. identical in terms of grammar to standard
by Nick Caistor. London: Latin America Castilian Spanish, even though it includes a
Bureau. large number of regionally specific words,
often derived from indigenous Mesoameri-
can languages. “Popular Mexican Spanish”
Chicano Spanish is the term used to refer to the language
(lexicon and grammatical variants) used by
The variety of Spanish spoken by the Chi- uneducated or poorly educated people of
cano (U.S. Mexican-American) community Mexican origin. The strong presence of ele-
is notable for its combination of Spanish ments of popular Mexican speech in Chi-
and Engli