La Bestia: Pop meets propaganda courtesy of U.S. border agency

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency may be extraordinarily busy these days, but apparently it found time to dabble in the art of making records.

The Central American radio hit “La Bestia” (or “The Beast,” in English) is a cautionary tale about immigrants who take a perilous ride atop a freight train through Mexico in hopes of crossing over into the United States.

Sung by the N.Y.-based vocalist Eddie Ganz, the ballad is one of the more requested songs at more than 20 radio stations throughout El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

But unlike other hit tunes about love and tragedy that dominate radio in the region, the Caribbean-tinged “La Bestia” was commissioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to a recent story in the Daily Beast.

“Hanging on the railcars,” Ganz sings in Spanish.
“Of this iron beast
Migrants go as cattle
To the slaughterhouse
Taking hell’s route
Within a cloud of pain.”


“La Bestia” was released as part of CBP’s recently launched, multimillion dollar campaign to discourage illegal immigration into the United States. “The Beast” refers to a freight train that runs through a particularly dangerous corridor of Mexico known for its violent crimes, gangs and human trafficking.

Creative Director Rodolfo Hernandez from the D.C. advertising agency Elevation reportedly worked with CBP to create the song. Hernandez wrote the lyrics and Ganz, an established commercial jingle and voice-over artist, provided the vocals.

Does the success of this song mean there’s more propaganda-laden pop hits to come? If so, perhaps it’s only fair if Latin America turned the tables and handed it right back to us. Beware of the next Shakira hit.