Gabino Palomares: A History of Canto Nuevo in Mexico
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During the second half of the twentieth century, there were no spectacular events in Mexico—civil wars, military dictatorships, or revolutions—capable of fracturing the social, political, or cultural structures of the country. The absence of these culturally traumatic events positioned Mexican protest songs in the periphery of the affective narrative of the nation. The story of modern Mexican troubadours was, nevertheless, a story of resistance whose heroes—the singers, songwriters, and performers—spent the decades between 1960 and 1990 denouncing poverty and corruption, condemning governmental violence, marching side by side with students, activists, women, workers, and peasants, supporting civil rights and grassroots movements both nationally and internationally with their songs. The story of these musicians has remained unknown for too long. This article attempts to reignite academic interest in this story with the goal of encouraging future critical and theoretical studies regarding socially-engaged Mexican singers and songwriters from the 1960s through the 1990s. It focuses on the life and work of one of the main exponents of the Mexican protest song, singer-songwriter Gabino Palomares (b. 1950). It offers a brief historical analysis of the Mexican Canto Nuevo movement and establishes a much-needed chronology of Palomares’s work, essential to our understanding of the contemporary cultural history of Mexico.