How one band from Mexico addresses the violence in its hometown

The World
Los Aguas Aguas hail from Xalapa, the capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz.

Los Aguas Aguas hail from Xalapa, the capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz.

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Los Aguas Aguas first album, called Easy and Tropical Machine carried an upbeat “party-on” message, says bass player Danny Cruz. "Take it easy, just chill out, everything is going to be fine. Just dance and your problems will take care of themselves."

But in the past couple years, violence has increased around them and the band admits they became numb to all the bad news. Guitarist and singer Demiss Arenal says when he heard about a neighbor or someone’s friend being killed, all he’d say was “poor thing” and move on.

“We kind of turned cold," he says. "We don’t think about what happens to others. We just think it’s best to keep to yourself and your family. Suddenly, there’s an epidemic of fear.”

Arenal says one day he noticed the state police had set up a compound next door to his home.

“For the next two or three months," Arenal says, “they wouldn’t let me walk through my street or wouldn’t allow me to leave my house because they were doing some operation. They were harassing my wife and they almost killed my dogs because they barked at them, things like that. So I’d be inside the house, saying “how can I be a prisoner in my own home?"

That’s when he wrote the song, “El Sol" — The Sun.

The lyrics say:
“At night the gunshots wake me up
in the streets they fight, rocks against bazookas
the army arrived, grenade in hand…
‘everybody get out or you’ll end up in hell…’
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty dead for no reason
people are tired of seeing so much destruction."

Having the violence come to their door changed the band’s attitude. And their new album, Two, Three Karate Moves, reflects that, says Dany Cruz.

“Now, we take a stand and say ‘hey, we know how to fight, we’re a brave barrio. If you mess with our people we know how to respond, but not necessarily with violence. On the contrary, we created music to speak out, to show what’s happening to many people.”

They noticed things were quiet in Xalapa because people were scared to come out. So rather than try to hide behind closed doors, the band played in the streets. Demiss Arenal says “come on, nothing is going to happen. And if it happens, we have to keep on living.”