7) Calle 13 on Police Violence

A big part of bourgeois democracy is keeping the police armed and powerful in order to keep the people effectively powerless. And when the police are undereducated or underpaid, the potential for abuses is greater. In 2007, Residente attacked the police the politically-charged track ‘Tributo a la Policia’.


To add personal experience to his lyrics, Residente refers to the death of his childhood friend Christopher Rojas Miranda at the hands of the Puerto Rican police (after a supposed traffic infraction) in “Tributo a la Policía”. Rojas was arrested in 2007 and died the same night. Between the arrest and his death, he received 30 blows and his wrists, and other body parts, were broken. Calle 13 distributed 20 thousand copies of this track for free in San Juan after his death as a tribute.


Residente also speaks of the video-recorded death of unarmed citizen Miguel Cáceres (after an argument with police about how a motorbike was parked) and reminds listeners of the Cerro Maravilla massacre of 1978, in which the police pursued and killed independence activists.


“Por ahí va el policía analfabeta                      (There goes the illiterate policeman
repartiendo galletas…”                                    (Dealing out blows)


“A ti te dedico to’ lo que dice mi libreta…        (I dedícate all the words in my notebook to you)

Al que mató a mi hermano Christopher, ¡puñeta!” (Who killed my brother Christopher, bastard!)


“También mataron a Arnaldo Darío,                (They also killed Arnaldo Darío)

Y Santiago Mari Pesquera,                              (And Santiago Mari Pesquera)

A Carlos Enrique por estar agarrados,                        (And Carlos Enrique, for staying firm)

A una misma bandera,”                                   (In support of their nation’s sovereignty)


“A mí me aburre hablar del sistema                (I get bored talking about the system)

Pero me jode como enema… ¡el sistema!      (But it pisses me off how it fucks us over)

Así que le saco el dedo…. ¡al sistema!            (So I stick my middle finger up to the system)

Así que le escupo flema… ¡al sistema!”           (And spit phlegm at the system)


Estoy dispuesto a escupir saliva                                 (I’m prepared to spit saliva)

A hacer una huelga masiva                                         (Organise a mass rally)

Frente a la cabrona asamblea fucking legislativa (Outside the mother-fucking Senate)


Si yo fuera gobernador,                                                (If I were governor)

Les daria a los guardias pistolas de agua              (I would give the police water-guns)

Y en vez de una chaqueta a prueba de balas       (And instead of a bullet-proof vest)

¡Un paraguas!                                                                  (An umbrella!)



And at the end of the song, he even issues a warning to the police, saying “No se olviden que los celulares ahora tienen camaritas, los estamos grabando” (Don’t forget that phones now have cameras. We’re recording what you do!).


This is both a testament to the passion for humanity that Residente has and to his desire for justice in Puerto Rico – and the world. This kind of track is precisely why hip-hop can be such an incredibly revolutionary medium.


Tributo a la policía – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTwz4SqrOEY

Grupo de reggaetón Calle 13 denuncia crímenes policiales en Puerto Rico – http://www.aporrea.org/internacionales/n100148.html

La verdad de Cerro Maravilla – http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xk3vl7_la-verdad-de-cerro-maravilla_news

Voltio, Calle 13: New songs on police brutality in PR – http://reggaetonica.blogspot.mx/2007/08/voltio-calle-13-new-songs-on-police.html


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 7) Calle 13 on Police Violence

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

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