Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Minute Gifts: P.A.R.C.E.

Amigo, Compadre, Compañero, Compinche, Colega, and Amigote are just a few words that can be used to say FRIEND in Spanish. However in Colombia, and more specifically in Antioquia and its capital Medellín, the word of choice is PARCE (PAHR say). A PARCE is a good or close friend and the word is consistently used by most PAISAS (people from Antioquia and the surrounding coffee growing region) when referring to their friends.
This is why is should come as no shock that JUANES ( a.k.a. Juan Esteban Aristizabal), the world famous Colombian rocker and PAISA, might name his latest album P.A.R.C.E. A great stocking stuffer idea and a must for any Colombia lover's collection.
The album hit stores last week, and now that I have had a chance to hear it, I'd like to offer my opinion. First, it is a bit of a departure from his more upbeat rockero music of the past, and to me seems a little U2ish. Though this is not a negative, just unexpected.
You can tell JUANES is maturing and dealing with his own real life issues in the songs -- after all 40 is just around the corner for him and trust me on this one it can make anyone take pause and think. To illustrate, I point to the songs "La Soledad," "La Razón," "El Amor lo Cura Todo," "Todos los Días," "Y No Regresas" (the one that seems the most U2ish to me), "Lo Nuestro," and "Esta Noche."
The aforementioned songs are more ballady than hits of the past like "Camisa Negra", "A Dios Te Pido", and others. The only real rockero type song is YERBATERO, which you will remember from my post on the World Cup Kick Off Concert back in June.
I was happy to see that there is still an element of his "music can change the world" mentality. As evidence of this I point to the song "Segovia" which is about a massacre that occurred in Segovia, Antioquia on November 11, 1988.
Here is a little history lesson, so that you can better appreciate the song.
In 1985, as part of a peace initiative, the FARC (anti-government guerrillas -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and government of the then President Bellisario Betancourt {total side note, but I once flew on the same plane as this guy from Bogotá to Panama} formed a political party known as the Unión Patriotica. This political party won elections in several cities including Segovia.
Meanwhile, as the FARC expanded in Antioquia, they did not do so peacefully. Rather, they were threatening and extorting many of the large landowners. In reaction to this, the landowners formed PARAMILITARY (Paramilitares) groups (today affectionately known as Los Paras ;)) in order to protect their land and income. These "auto defense groups" were led by some really bad dudes that were associated with the Medellín Drug Cartel -- their names Fidel and Carlos Castaño and later Gonzálo Rodriguez Gacha a.k.a. el Méxicano. Gacha even went so far as to hire and ex-Israeli commando/mercenary, Yair Klein, to train the paramilitary forces, which under his tutelage became death squads. Alas, Yair deserves his own post, so you can look forward to one in the future.
Continuing on with Segovia....In the early evening of November 11, 1988, paramilitary forces occupied the city's main plaza. First, they launched an attack on the Mayor's office, killing the Mayor and everyone that was in her office. Then they went around the city looking for everyone that appeared on a list that they had. They did not stop until everyone on the list had been executed. In addition to the hit list, various 'innocents' that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, lost their lives. All told, 43 people were killed and 45 seriously injured.
The truly sad part is that no one has ever been brought to justice for the crimes.

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