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J Balvin and the national strike

The reggaeton singer has confused his audience with his statements about the Colombian national strike and his fans have demanded answers.

J Balvin during his concert in Medellín.

J Balvin during his concert in Medellín. / Photo: instagram.com/jbalvin

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez

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Leer en español: J Balvin y el paro nacional: de amores y odios

For many, the question about whether artists have a duty to give their opinion on matters of public life represents a dilemma. For some, artists must use their voice and power to defend social causes or to give international focus to issues in their country. For others, the political opinions of the artists can be part of their private life and they are not obliged to give their opinion or defend one thing or another.

Problematic has been the case J Balvin, who in his songs claims to be with the people and that within his marketing has exploited the Latinity of his music with his great motto #LatinoGang. One would say, then, that since he exploits both in his music and in his artist identity, he would be informed about Latin American problems. This is the case of his Puerto Rican colleagues, fervent organizers and defenders of the demonstrations in his country. How is the J Bavin case?

First statements

After calling for a national strike on November 21, several artists from the Colombian music scene expressed their support for the popular protest. In addition to becoming a hashtag to support unemployment from music (#elparosuena), musicians have been an important part of the strike that began that Thursday. There have been performances with local bands on 85th Street in the city of Bogotá and there was also a symphonic pan in the Hippies Park. Thus, not only small artists but also the most commercial ones such as Chocquibtown, Carlos Vives and Adriana Lucía, have supported the Colombian national strike.

Read also: Music and protest: these are the artists who supported demonstrations in 2019

In the midst of this supportive and music environment, nothing had been heard about the most internationally recognized artists. In fact, the absence of statements that most shone was that of Juanes and J Balvin, two artists who often sing about Colombianity and Latinity respectively. After much pressure from his fans, the reggaeton posted on his Instagram a Colombian flag with a phrase from the Dalai Lama.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“En la práctica de la tolerancia, nuestro enemigo es nuestro mejor maestro” Dalai Lama

Una publicación compartida de J Balvin (@jbalvin) el

 

Concerts in Colombia

The flag accompanied by the phrase was not enough for many of his protesting fans. Especially, now, that the strike has been going on for more than a week and that more sensitive issues have been touched on, such as the murder of Dilan Cruz, killed by the ESMAD, and that the demands of the dealers are becoming clearer. A generic phrase did not seem enough to make a direct statement about what is happening in the country.

The first weekend of protests, J Balvin said in a concert that he was "neither left nor right", which seemed a somewhat indolent statement because by then there had already been riots and injuries in the marches.

Read also: Latino presence at the American Music Awards

This weekend he had a concert in Medellin, in which he made statements about "being the voice of the people" and said that "if people are marching it is because the government is doing something wrong" and asked for a minute of silence for "the victims of this fucking bigotry".

Although this seems to be indirect support for the strike, some believe that it is not just a simple change in marketing strategy. In any case, it is very telling that the artist has decided to say something more concrete in a concert in Colombia, in which he was in a stadium full of people who are already were informed about protests, and not in his social networks, in which he has more than 34 million followers from around the world.