Mexican protest singer-songwriter Oscar Chávez dies of COVID-19 at 85

Mexico Virus Outbreak Oscar Chavez Obit
Oscar Chávez, center, with masked Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos, left, in 2007. Chávez died Thursday of COVID-19.
(Eduardo Verudog / Associated Press)

One of Mexico’s best-known protest singers, Oscar Chávez, died Thursday at age 85 after being infected with the coronavirus.

Mexico’s culture secretary confirmed the singer’s death, and the State Workers’ Social Security Institute said he died of complications from COVID-19 after he was hospitalized Tuesday.

The institute said Chávez had “evident respiratory difficulty” and had a chronic lung condition. It said he tested positive for the coronavirus and succumbed to COVID-19-related pneumonia.

“I’ll play some songs, I won’t play others, but I absolutely will not play them at the same time!”

Chávez was best known for folk-style songs lampooning Mexico’s corrupt political elite. One such song was “La Casita” (The Little House), which described an imaginary politician’s mansion.

Culture Secretary Alejandra Frausto tweeted: “Thank you, Oscar Chávez, your life was a journey worthy of you! My deepest sympathy to your relatives, friends and companions in struggle and song.”

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez wrote: “I have learned to my deep regret that a voice of the struggle has been silenced. My deepest sympathy to the family of Oscar Chávez.”


Chávez sang ballads since the 1960s and played in public as recently as 2019.

Mexico has reported 19,224 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,859 deaths.

On Thursday, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, a former interior secretary and current senator for the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, tweeted that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would self-isolate at home.

“E.T.” and “Empire of the Sun” cinematographer Allen Daviau, jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz and music producer Hal Willner have all died from COVID-19.

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