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Did the First Act at the Latin Grammys Call President Obama a ‘Whore’?

Did the First Act at the Latin Grammys Call President Obama a ‘Whore’?

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The Latin Grammys, the most prestigious Spanish-language music awards presentation in the United States, delayed its ceremony last night to yield time to President Obama’s announcement of executive directives halting many deportations in the United States. While some artists used their time to praise President Obama, the act that immediately followed him may have cursed his name.

The first performance of the night–after President Obama’s–was by Puerto Rican group Calle 13, an electro-pop rap outfit that has become the most decorated act in the history of the Latin Grammys. Calle 13 is fronted by René Pérez, rap alias “Residente,” who has become a prominent member of the celebrity radical left, even collaborating with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Julian Assange on a music video that was condemned for glorifying Palestinian terrorism.

That is to say, unlike some of the artists who praised President Obama on Thursday night, including Enrique Iglesias and Colombian Vallenato legend Carlos Vives, Calle 13 is not a milquetoast liberal outfit. Their message is often one which echoes the “anti-imperialist” call of global communist leaders, anarchists, and your friendly neighborhood Occupy protesters.

Calle 13 performed a song called “El Aguante,” which roughly translates to “The Resistance” or “The Resilience,” in which the conceit of the rap is that most of its lines start with “we put up with…” Pérez wore a shirt referencing the 43 missing student protesters in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, and called for justice during the performance. The act resulted in many fans thanking him on Calle 13’s Facebook page and noting that many Mexican artists did not dare make the statement Pérez, a Puerto Rican, did.

Which brings us back to President Obama. Given that the lyrics of “El Aguante” are a list of the things that human beings have put up with throughout history to survive, many are claiming that the song was an apt companion to the President’s speech. “It was only appropriate that a performance of Calle 13’s hit song ‘El Aguante,’ which is an homage to humanity’s resilience, followed the president’s speech,” praised The Huffington Post. Fox News Latino called it “an appropriate theme for the night that had a sense of change and celebration.”

The song would have only been an appropriate follow-up to President Obama if its lyrics praised any ideology of government. Instead, among the list of things that the proverbial “we” put up with in the song is President Obama himself. From Calle 13’s website, a stanza of lyrics from the song (translation mine):

We put up with capitalism, communism, socialism, feudalism, even douche-ism [pendejismo, a neologism from the epithet pendejo, “douche” or “asshole”]

We put up with the guilty when they play innocent

Year after year we put up with our whore [censored as “pu…” in Spanish] president

Being Puerto Ricans, that president would be… President Obama.

The exact word Calle 13 use in this stanza is “puto,” which is a masculinization of the word “puta,” or “whore.” “Puto” is most commonly used in Mexico, though can often be found elsewhere, and is often used as a homophobic slur.

During the live broadcast, the entire sentence beginning with “year after year” is muted.

As the song is meant to be sung from the perspective of a global population, President Obama is likely not meant to be the exact, or at least only, target of the line. However, the attempts to make the core message of “El Aguante”–like all of Calle 13’s music, a fundamentally anti-government song–are wildly misguided, and the decision to follow the President’s announcement of an extension of his executive power with such an anarchist rallying call may have inadvertently brought down the otherwise submissive praise found elsewhere in the broadcast.


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