Xochipilli Magazine presenta este interesante ensayo en donde Maribel Cruz nos propone una lectura narrativa de la música regional Mexicana, relacionada específicamente al fenómeno migratorio.
Maribel Cruz is a first-generation recent graduate from NEIU with a degree in English Literature. As a Mexican-American bilingual writer, she advocates for the importance of representing underrepresented communities like her own through essay, fiction, and poetry form.
Representing the Immigration Corrido
Corridos represent a form of Latin American culture in that they evolved from Spanish ballads brought to the New World in the sixteenth century. This narrative song form usually speaks of a resistance to Anglo presence and of rising prominence in the U.S. Mexico border. It usually focuses on a misunderstanding that results in suffering and tragic consequences. Yet, there is also the implication that these misunderstandings can be corrected and that future ones can be avoided. It’s important to remember that its style/form and politics is critical to U.S Latin American culture—specifically Mexican American culture. For example, the “immigration” corridos, a subgenre of corridos, tell the tragedies of Mexican nationals crossing the U.S-Mexico border (either legally or illegally), while avoiding the U.S. authorities and working in labor, dishwashing, construction, and gardening. “El Deportado,” composed by an anonymous author in the early nineteen thirties, is about a young man who regrets leaving Mexico for the U.S. during the revolution. Despite the disillusionment and humiliation he experiences, it is the survival of enduring hardships through work that is worth commemorating as a self-representation of Latinidad both stylistically and politically.
The corrido style becomes adequate for articulating difficult conditions that can otherwise be trickier to decipher. “El Deportado” begins with addressing the audience that he will sing a song about all of his sufferings upon leaving his fatherland for “this nation.” The fact that he is mentioning singing in the song itself as well as addressing the audience as gentlemen shows a formal invitation to listen to his story. There is a humility to such an open invitation to whoever is listening, in hope to avoid and or remedy what he has experienced. Even the repetition of, for example, “I’m going to sing to you, gentlemen” goes with the idea of that invitation by hinting a sense of anticipation and urgency, which also occurs throughout the corrido as he often repeats himself. He hears his mother say, “there comes that ungrateful train that is going to take my son away,” and it’s important to note the distinction that the train is taking him away as opposed to him leaving by his own will. This represents the necessity of survival even if it means leaving your family and your land behind. It becomes instinctual in that it’s not up for debate. Thus, the train is ungrateful because it can never know the feeling of nostalgia or loss as he takes him away. The same survival mechanism is reflected in the next verse where he sings, “I’m going abroad where there is no revolution,” he finds himself being forced to run away for a better life. However, there is also a sense of nostalgia that is defined by where you come from.
His most obvious sense of longing is where he says goodbye to his mother and his friends, singing that he doesn’t want to see her cry for him nor does he want his buddies to cry because he will end up crying with them. The longing is further emphasized by the urgency of repetition in “Don’t cry my buddies.” The sense of nostalgia continues when he has already boarded the train and sings “My, how fast the train ran.” It can be said that the nostalgia intensifies as he is passing through several places and his heart beats fast to the point where it feels as if he is in several places at once that he starts to become torn both emotionally and perhaps culturally. The disillusionment is evident when he reaches the border and is interrogated by the customs inspector asking him where he is from, where he’s going and how much money he has to enter the nation. The problem with this is that there is already a sense of defensiveness as if the young man were plotting to steal or something alike. Not to mention that after the young man courteously tells the inspector that he has money, and the inspector says that his money isn’t worth anything, that he must be bathed. There is the implication that the young man carries nothing of value and that he is probably not even clean enough to enter, thus making him feel like returning to his homeland. Not feeling welcome also adds to the feeling of longing of having to leave your homeland because of its chaotic conditions, the fact that it is in such condition, as well as arriving to a new place that is potentially worse.
After being deported, he addresses his “paisanos queridos” and sings that they are not bandits, but merely came to the nation “to work like beasts.” Hence, there is pride in that sense of nostalgia, the pride in working hard, and further pride in returning to the homeland after the revolution. The corrido ends similarly as it begins, with an invitation of his “cuates queridos” to be well received by his beautiful homeland. Therefore, there is the commemoration of enduring the hardship of labor while also exposing the mistreatment of Mexicans, and challenging it through song form in hopes to progress the representation of U.S. Mexican culture.