Column: Latin Grammy moment: Maná and Los Tigres del Norte on raising ‘Don’t vote for racists’ sign
Read an expanded version of this story with a full report on the winners and performances by Natalia Lafourcade, J Balvin, Will Smith with Bomba Estéreo and more at the Latin Grammy Awards here.
An hour and a half into the telecast, the Latin Grammy Awards was moving at a good clip. There were power ballads. There was smoke. There was cumbia and reggaeton. And there was Ricky Martin shaking his hips on “La Mordidita.”
Then Mexican rockers Maná took the stage and sang the immigrant anthem “Somos Más Americanos” (“We Are More American”), for which they were joined by norteño legends Los Tigres del Norte. At the end of the rousing performance, the two groups hoisted a sign that read, “Latinos unidos no voten por los racistas” — “Latinos united, don’t vote for racists” — injecting a dose of politics into a show that had been enjoyable, if generally devoid of hot topics.
Reached via telephone backstage in Las Vegas, Maná lead singer Fher Olvera told The Times that both bands wanted to send a message to U.S. Latinos about voting.
Ricky Martin surrounded by his backup dancers.(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
J Balvin, center, accepts the urban song award for “Ay Vamos.”(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)
From left, recording artists Juan Calleros, Fher Olvera, Alex Gonzalez and Sergio Vallin of music group Mana perform.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Camila Cabello of music group Fifth Harmony.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Recording artists OMI, left, and Nicky Jam.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Recording artists Joy Huerta, left, and Jesse Huerta of the music group Jesse y Joy.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Recording artists Miguel “Slow” Martinez, Gloria “Goyo” Martinez, and Carlos “Tostao” Valencia of music group ChocQuibTown.(Paul Buck / EPA)
Natalia Lafourcade, left, and Leonel Garcia, right, accept the award for song of the year for “Hasta La Raiz.”(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
The music group Recodo de Don Cruz Lizarraga.(Paul Buck / EPA)
Tego Calderon accepts the award for urban music album for “El Que Sabe, Sabe.”(Paul Buck / EPA)
Members of the music groups Mana and Los Tigres Del Norte.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)
Recording artist Pablo Alboran.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Roberto Carlos, recipient of the person of the year award.(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Nicky Jam.(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)
Julieta Venegas, left, and Diego Torres present the award for banda album.(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Members of the group Recodo de Don Cruz Lizarraga accept their award for banda album and regional song.(Paul Buck / EPA)
Actress Rita Moreno has some fun with radio/TV personality Enrique Santos.(Mark Ralston/ AFP/Getty Images)
Co-hosts Roselyn Sanchez and Jacqueline Bracamontes perform together onstage.(Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
Sergio Vallin, Juan Calleros, Fher Olvera and Alex Gonzalez of music group Mana accept the pop/rock album award.(Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images)
J Balvin takes the stage.(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Genesis Rodriguez, left, and Yandel present the award for record of the year.(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
From left, Andee Zeta, Juan Galeano and Daniel Alvarez of Diamante Electrico accept the award for rock album for “B.”(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Juan Luis Guerra accepts the award for contemporary tropical album for “Todo Tiene Su Hora.”(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Alejandro Sanz and Paula Fernandes perform a duet.(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)
Alex Cuba accepts the award for singer-songwriter album for “Healer.”(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Recording artist Raquel Sofia hits all the right notes.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Pedro Fernandez accepts the award for ranchero album.(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Musician Wisin, center, performs with members of Banda El Recodo onstage.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Recording artist MO busts out dance moves onstage.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for LARAS)
Co-host Roselyn Sanchez, center, poses for a selfie with fans.(Christopher Polk/Getty Images for LARAS)
Musician Ricky Martin makes his way down the red carpet.(Al Powers/Invision/AP)
Recording artists, from left, Lauren Jauregui, Normani Hamilton, Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello and Dinah-Jane Hansen of music group Fifth Harmony arrive on the red carpet.
Will Smith, left, and Trey Smith pose in the press room.(Powers Imagery/Invision/AP)
Mexican rock band Mana hits the red carpet.
Actress Zoe Saldana and artist Marco Perego walk the red carpet.(David Becker / Getty Images for LARAS)
Gabriel Orengo arrives on the carpet.
Venezuelan rock band Charliepapa hits the red carpet.
Singer Julieta Rada preps for the perfect shot.
Recording artist Jesse Huerta of the music group Jesse y Joy poses for a selfie with fans.(Christopher Polk/Getty Images for LARAS)
Actress Jessica Cediel hits the red carpet.
Diego Boneta arrives on the red carpet.(Al Powers/Invision/AP)
Recording artist Prince Royce and actress Emeraude Toubia attend the event.
“We wanted to send a proactive message,” he said. “And the message for Latinos — of which there are 50 million in the United States, in the No. 2 Spanish-speaking country in the world — was to send the message: Register, go out and vote, and vote for the candidate that will do positive things for Latinos.”
Jorge Hernández, the lead singer of Los Tigres del Norte, said it was important to instill the idea of voting at a time in which political candidates such as Donald Trump are referring to Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”
“We have so many people who need immigration reform,” he told The Times by phone from Las Vegas. “We have so many people who need other kinds of help. And for those of us who can vote, often we take it for granted. So we are here to say, ‘If you can do it, think of those in need.’”
“It’s a privilege to vote,” added Maná drummer Alex González. “In the United States, your vote counts. So Latinos need to vote for the candidate that will promote opportunities for Latinos, a candidate who will push for immigration reform, and fight for all the Latinos who works so hard.”
Both bands have teamed up with the voter registration group Voto Latino to launch a voter registration effort called SomosMas2016.com.
It’s not the first time immigrant rights have popped up at the Latin Grammy awards. In 2014, the Latin Grammy Awards started 20 minutes late when Univision delayed the telecast in order to broadcast a speech on immigration policy by President Obama.
Beyond the politics, Maná’s performance at this year’s awards, said González, was a success on a musical level too.
“When Fher announced Los Tigres, everyone stood and it was explosive,” he said. “People felt that Latino union. And then when we took out the sign, and everyone got even more excited. It was crazy.”
Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.
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