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3.17.2021 – Lainey on Latin-American Punk Rock

Latino punk rockers sporting mohawk hairstyles

My first semester at UIC, I took a class called LALS 109: Introduction to Latino Cultures. The course examined the cultural and artistic productions of U.S. Latinos and Latin Americans through historical processes of mainstreaming, transculturation, and hybridity (the mixing of cultures). The course also taught me about the many subcultures of Latin American people, which I found increasingly interesting, one of those subcultures being punk rock. Punk music originated in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and was a symbol of antiestablishmentarianism. Antiestablishmentarianism is a policy or attitude that views a nation’s power structure and social norms as corrupt, repressive, exploitive, etc. Using short, fast-paced songs and hard-edged singing styles or shouting, punk was popular among angsty teens because it gave them a voice which allowed them to speak out about injustices in the world. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, punk exploded across Latin America, most notably in Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and especially Peru. Latino Punk songs often featured lyrics that described the political issues facing Latin Americans. These issues included the rise of dictatorship in certain Latin American countries, poverty, political oppression, discrimination, immigration, and the abuse of immigrant workers.

In the mid-1960s, Latin American rock started showing characteristics of punk music, most notably with the Peruvian band Los Saicos. Los Saicos pioneered Latino Punk, and by the late 1970s, Mexico and Argentina also had their own popular punk bands well-established. By the 80s, punk was widespread throughout multiple nations of Latin America. While in Argentina, teenagers used punk as a way to rebel against the military regime of the time, this genre of music was very popular amongst the working class in Mexico. In Colombia, punk rock emerged amid a national unrest in which there was a major war between drug traffickers and Colombian government. Punk was a form of resistance among the Latin American youth, and it was potentially incredibly politically powerful, because they were using it to speak out against authoritarian governments who saw the punk subculture as an opposing, rebellious power. Today, the Latino Punk movement only continues to grow, with bands like Los Intoxicados and Todos Tus Muertos, both based in Argentina.