10) Calle 13 on Emigration

Working with Orishas, the Cuban group who themselves know the pain of leaving their country, Residente wrote “Pa’l Norte” as a homage to all those immigrants in Latin America, and the world, who see themselves forced to search for a new start in the USA (or elsewhere in the economic North). In particular, there are clear references to crossing the Mexican border with the USA. While describing some of the feelings and experiences of a migrant, he also blames the need to migrate on exploitative employers, governments, and social elites.


“Un nómada sin rumbo,                                                               (A nomad with no exact course set)

La energía negativa yo la derrumbo…”                                   (I overthrow negative energy)


“Con historias empaquetadas en lata,                                   (With stories packed in cans)

Con los cuentos que la luna relata                                            (With tales told by the moon)

Aprendí a caminar sin mapa,                                                      (I learned to walk without a map)

A irme de caminata                                                                         (To set out on foot)

Sin comodidades, sin lujo,                                                            (Without home comforts or luxuries)

Protegido por los santos y los brujos…”                                 (Protected by the saints and sorcerers)


“Aprendí que mi pueblo todavía reza                                      (I learned that my people still pray)

Porque las “fucking” autoridades y la puta realeza,         (Because the fucking authorities and royalty)

Todavía se mueven por debajo de la mesa,                          (Still move under the table)

Aprendí a tragarme la depresión con cerveza…”                                (I learned to swallow depression with beer)


“Mis patronos yo lo escupo desde las montañas,              (I spit on my employers from the mountains)

Y con mi propia saliva enveneno su champaña…”             (& poison their champagne with my saliva)


“En tu sonrisa yo veo una guerrilla,                                          (I see a guerrilla in your smile,)

Una aventura un movimiento,                                                   (An adventure in action)

Tu lenguaje, tu acento. Yo quiero descubrir,                        (Your language & accent. I want to discover)

Lo que ya estaba descubierto.                                                    (What had already been discovered)

Ser un emigrante ese es mi deporte,                                        (Being a migrant is my sport)

Hoy me voy pal’ norte sin pasaporte, sin transporte…”   (I’m off north with no Passport or transport)


“Y llegarle tempranito temprano a la orilla,                          (I’ll arrive at the shore early on)

Por el desierto con los pies a la parrilla,                                  (Through the desert with grilled feet)

Por debajo de la tierra como las ardillas,                               (Under the earth like chipmunks)

Yo voy a cruzar la muralla…”                                                      (I’m going to cross the border fence)


“Yo soy un intruso con identidad de recluso,        (I’m an intruder with the identity of a prisoner)

Y por eso me convierto en buzo,                                                                (For that reason I become a diver)

Y buceo por debajo de la tierra…                                              (And I dive under the earth)

Pa’ que no me vean los guardias                                               (So the border patrol can’t see me)

Y los perros no me huelan…”                                                      (And the dogs can’t smell me)


Pa’l Norte – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBYO1ZfxxSM


About Ed Sykes

Independent journalist. Co-founder of Phoenix Media Co-operative. Author of Rojava: An Alternative. Ex-Canary editor and writer (2015-2020). Aka 'Oso Sabio' - see @ososabiouk on Twitter.
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1 Response to 10) Calle 13 on Emigration

  1. Pingback: Calle 13: The Ayotzinapa Case Is a Disgrace | Resistance Is Fertile

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