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Legislation Would Criminalize 'Narcocorridos'

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Musicians who perform songs glorifying the actions of drug cartels could face up to three years in prison under a measure recently proposed by Mexico's ruling National Action party, the Associated Press reported Jan. 22.

The penalties proposed for producting so-called “narcocorridos” ballads also would apply to films. The songs are popular with the public as well as cartel members.

“We cannot exalt these people because they themselves are distributing these materials among youths to lead them into a lifestyle where the bad guy wins,” said National Action party politician Oscar Martin Arce, who said the legislation was intended to prevent crime, not limit free speech.

Critics called the proposal censorship and political grandstanding. “It is very hard to stop the drug trafficking,” said Elijah Wald, the author of Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns and Guerrillas. “It is very easy to get your name in the papers by attacking famous musicians.” 

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