Stars rally for diversity in US-Mexico border show

Take stand weeks ahead of divisive election

Image Credit: AP
Juan Fernando Fonseca, left and Debi Nova perform at RiseUp As One at Cross Border Xpress on Saturday, in San Diego.
Gulf News

San Diego: Top stars in Latin music pleaded on Saturday for tolerance in a concert from the US-Mexico border, taking a stand weeks ahead of a divisive US presidential election.

Thousands of people turned out in the walkway between San Diego and Tijuana for the show put together by Univision, the US Spanish-language network with a strong following among Hispanics, and its English-language, youth-oriented unit, Fusion.

Called “RiseUp As One”, the concert was officially non-partisan but came amid the heated rhetoric of Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has described Mexican immigrants as rapists and vowed to build a wall on the border.

Rene Perez of the Puerto Rican reggaeton group Calle 13 appealed for US voters to pick the “least worst” candidate, in a clear reference to Democrat Hillary Clinton, and closed the concert with the song Latinoamerica in a powerful duet with the Mexican singer Lila Downs.

Downs, one of the most energetic performers of the evening, appealed to Latinos to prove that the community is “stronger than hate.”

Los Tigres del Norte, a top act from the folksy Mexican-rooted genre of norteno music, opened the concert poignantly with the song Somos Mas Americanos, or We Are More American.

“I didn’t cross the border/The border crossed me,” runs one of song’s lyrics in Spanish, a reference to the US seizure of Mexican land in the 1840s.

While mostly consisting of Latin artists, the concert also drew Andra Day, the rising San Diego-born soul singer and protegee of Stevie Wonder.

Outside the music world, stars who appeared included the Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, whose films include Babel and the TV series Mozart in the Jungle.

“Migration is the reason that we’re here on this planet and the reason why humanity has survived,” Garcia Bernal told interviewer Jorge Ramos, the Univision anchor who has entered tense exchanges in covering Trump.

The veteran Panamanian-born singer Miguel Bose encouraged viewers to vote on November 8.

“We’re going to decide if we want progress and dignity or if we want regression and chaos,” Bose said.

“For me as a Latino, I’m very worried and I’ve come to tell you that you have a weapon, and that is your vote and our voice,” he said.

Other major acts included Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz, Colombian stars Carlos Vives and Juanes, and Mexican pop singer Natalia Lafourcade, who triumphed at last year’s Latin Grammys with five awards.

And Uruguayan star Jorge Drexler sang Al Otro Lado del Rio (The Other Side of the River), his Oscar-winning song from The Motorcycle Diaries, the 2004 biopic in which Garcia Bernal stars as revolutionary Che Guevara.

“I don’t know where I’m from/My house is on the border/And borders move like flags,” the song goes in Spanish.

Surveys have shown Clinton enjoying a major edge over Trump among Hispanics, who make up 17 per cent of the US population and — unless turnout spikes this year — around 12 per cent of the electorate.

Wilmer Valderrama, the Miami-born actor of Colombian and Venezuelan descent best known for That ‘70s Show, said that the United States was defined by immigrants.

“My family and I are the living proof that the American dream can come true,” he said.