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Las Cafeteras in Conversation & Performance on Democracy Now!

Web ExclusiveAugust 01, 2017
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The Los Angeles-based Chicano band Las Cafeteras recently stopped by the Democracy Now! studio to perform and talk about their music. The Los Angeles Times has described them as “a uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock.” This year they released a new album called “Tastes Like L.A.”

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Video squareStoryAug 04, 2017“If I Was President”: Chicano Band Las Cafeteras on Pushing an Agenda of Migrant & Food Justice
Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re joined now in our New York studio by the Los Angeles-based Chicano band Las Cafeteras. The band has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “a uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock.” This year they released a new album called Tastes Like L.A. Here, they’re performing their hit single, “If I was President,” in our studio.

LAS CAFETERAS: [performing “If I was President”]

Señor Presidente le vengo avisar
No tengo papeles para trabajar
Señor Presidente le pido porque
Matan al Moreno con piel de café

Si fuera presidente
Honestamente
Si fuera Presidente
Para mi gente
Si fuera Presidente
Honestamente
Presidente
Para mi gente

Check, check, one, two
You see, if I was president
I’d roll up my sleeves
As I face the congregation
First thing I’d do
Is free education
And every third period
We’d practice meditation
Every third period
We’d practice meditation
Like a brown Robin Hood
I’d take from the rich
And I’d give to the poor
So my little sister
Ain’t got to be hungry no more
And my first lady
Would be my mom
Cause she’d slap me
At the first thought of drone strikes
And dropping bombs
And I’d free all my poor black and brown kids
That got caught up in three strikes
And when they get out
They’re gettin’ free bikes
So they can ride to their future
Not their past
Go to the store, get some chips
With no GMO ’cause my folks
We gotta right to know
And if you don’t know
Now you know

Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion

Si fuera presidente
Honestamente
Si fuera presidente
Para mi gente
Si fuera presidente
Honestamente
Presidente
Para mi gente

At my inauguration
I’d burn tobacco at the opening
Send thanks and prayers
To creator and all living beings
Then I’d sit you down with your abuelita
Rewrite history so our kids can see
Where we came from and a new destiny
From Flint to Cali water flowing pure and free
My department of peace
Would melt guns into bike racks
Budget cuts to corporate kickbacks
If I was president, well, there’d still be drama
Takes a village to heal our generational trauma
So, shake your spine,
Put your hands up high
We got a different kinda party in the White House tonight

If I was president
Hey, what would you do?
If I was president
Hey, I’d ask you
If you were president
Hey, what would you do?
If it was you, you or you

Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion

My people, it’s 2017. We can’t wait on no president, no governor, no city council to make it for us. It’s on each one of us, in our home, our families, our communities. Imagine how beautiful the world could be if we just all took that next step. Hey! So sing along, my people.

Si fuera presidente
Pa’ toda la gente
Si fuera presidente
Pa’ toda la gente
Si fuera presidente
Pa’ toda la gente

Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion
Me gusta la lima, me gusta limon
Pero no me gusta tanta corrupcion

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the Los Angeles-based Chicano band Las Cafeteras. Well, for more, we’re joined by two of its six members, two co-founders of the band, Hector Flores and Denise Carlos.

Welcome both to Democracy Now!

DENISE CARLOS: Thank you.

HECTOR FLORES: Thanks, Amy. Good to be here. Good to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about this song, this—talk about this hit song on your new album, Tastes Like L.A., Denise.

DENISE CARLOS: Well, you know, it’s—it’s hard to talk about leadership and presidency in these times. And oftentimes I think we’re able to do a lot of critique to folks who make the rules. And we just were sitting around one day and were like, “What would we really do, in our neighborhoods? If we can’t make big policy changes, how is it up to us? And how do we write these songs that really connect with the youth of our neighborhoods, with our families? And what do we have access to? What is the power that we have access to?”

HECTOR FLORES: Yeah, so we—it’s actually an old-school song, Jarocho song. There’s an old-school song called “Señor Presidente.” And so we would play that old-school jam, but, you know, we’re Chicano kids, Chicana kids, from L.A., and so we would mix in hip-hop and cumbia. And just like Denise said, like we—a lot of it’s like—I think, in the left, we’re always talking about what we’re against. And for us, we really want to reimagine and really think what we’re for, because the day is coming and the day is here where we need to push forward an agenda of what we’re for. And that’s what this song was really about, like what would I do? You know, what would I push for? And, actually, three months leading up to the recording, I went to like Food 4 Less, and every time I went to go buy food, I would ask the workers, I’d say, “Hey, if you were president for a day, what was the first thing you would do?” And basically, their responses are the lyrics to—the lyrics that I wrote for my piece. They always said education. They said, “Man, you know, I’d get my cousin out of jail, because he shouldn’t be in there for weed.” And like, things like that. And that’s sort of what we put into the song.

AMY GOODMAN: And Las Cafeteras, the name of your band, what does it mean? Denise?

DENISE CARLOS: It comes from a space called the Eastside Café in Northeast L.A. And it is a space that had this wild imagination about self-determination and creating a world where many worlds exist. And this is really the narrative and the teachings of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, of not responding to a government that doesn’t identify or recognize them, but really taking it upon themselves to govern themselves in a way that they find holds dignity. And so, for us, in those days, it was a space that really gave us, again, the imagination of more how do we build a world where we fit and where we’re powerful and where our voice is heard. And so, it’s a beautiful, beautiful root of how we, as Las Cafeteras, started playing music, where we never grew up playing music. And it was for many of us the first time that we even sang out loud in front of people.

HECTOR FLORES: Yeah.

DENISE CARLOS: And as Chicanas and Chicanos, you know, always being told to hush up, that we don’t deserve the resources that are out there, that we don’t belong in schools, and that we’re not beautiful and that we don’t deserve to love each other and ourselves, it was really radical at the time, but we really wanted to make it this mainstream idea of self-determination, of self-love, of being powerful in our communities.

HECTOR FLORES: And then they would call us Los Cafeteros—Cafeteros from the Eastside Café. But we had women. When we’d go out to play, they’d be, “Oh, here’s the Cafeteros from the Eastside Café.” But we had women in the crew, and so, you know, if you’re a—they’re Cafeteras. And so, when we decided to form this group, you know, we wanted to identify more with the feminine and challenge patriarchy in language. Like English and Spanish are very machista languages, very masculine languages that honor men. And so, we wanted to take on a name, where if we have women, then we should take on the feminine. And we’re called Las Cafeteras.

AMY GOODMAN: So, introduce this song for us, which everyone knows a form of, “This Land is Your Land,” and why you chose to put it on the album.

HECTOR FLORES: So, “This Land is Your Land” was written by Woody Guthrie, but it was actually a cover song. He actually wrote that song as a cover to a song called “God Bless America.” And so, he actually did it in response, to say no, like—it was a very right-wing song, and it was a very sort of patriotic song, and it didn’t really honor a lot of sort of people in the United States. So Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land is Your Land.” And when he wrote it, he actually omitted verses, because he wrote it during the McCarthy era. And so, we were asked to write a song, and I remember an organization asked us to write like an American song, like an old-school. And we said, “Well…” We didn’t really want to. And so we actually went back and said, “What songs exist, like traditional folk songs that really speak to our identity?” And we found “This Land is Your Land.” It was actually Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. We saw her. We saw her example, and it was beautiful. And then we said, “Well, why don’t we do it our own?” We did a Mexican Zapatista funk version.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Las Cafeteras singing “This Land is Your Land.”

LAS CAFETERAS: [performing “This Land is Your Land”]

This one goes out to indigenous people across the world and to everyone everywhere who protects the land and the water for the next seven generations to come.

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California to the Nueva York
Todo para todos
Nada pa’ nosotros
This land was made for you and me

La tierra es tuya
La tierra es mia
Desde California
Hasta Nueva York
Todo para todos
Nada pa’ nosotros
This land was made for you and me

Oh, this land (This land!)
This land (Which land?)
This land was made for you and me
Oh, this land (This land!)
This land (Whose land?)
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking, I saw a sign there
And on that sign it said “no crossing”
And on the other side, it said nothing
This land was made for you and me

Oh, this land (This land!)
This land (Which land?)
This land was made for you and me
Oh, this land (This land!)
This land (Whose land?)
This land was made for you and me

Mama tierra
This land was made for you and me
Todo para todos
This land was made for you and me

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Las Cafeteras in our Democracy Now! studios, singing “This Land is Your Land.” And it’s one of the songs in Tastes Like L.A. Denise Flores, why did you call the album Tastes Like L.A.? And why the cover, which is a food truck?

DENISE CARLOS: You know, a lot of places that we play ask, “What genre do you play?” And we don’t fit in any specific box. We don’t fit in a genre. We are so L.A.-flavored. And that’s the only way we would know how to describe it. We grew up listening to hip-hop, Norteño, rancheras, cumbia, punk, goth, you know? And all of us come from so many different traditions and experiences. We’re Chicanos. We’re Mexican. But as Hector always says, that just means that you’re mixed, and you come from all kinds of places. And so, for us, we really wanted to introduce ourselves back into the musical world as just a band from L.A. playing everything and anything and not fitting into a box, because, as people, we don’t fit into a box, right? So the census is really complicated for us.

And we have this food truck, because in L.A. it’s—you know, food justice and even vendor rights are a big deal. I think L.A. is one of the biggest cities in the country that don’t have established policies that protect street vendors. And so, it’s really important for us, who grew up eating food from vendors—

HECTOR FLORES: The Taco Train and the taco truck and lotero.

DENISE CARLOS: And like I—yeah, paletas.

HECTOR FLORES: The paletero, yeah.

DENISE CARLOS: You know, I don’t imagine my childhood and my home without it. And so, it’s important for us to be able to speak to that and to be allies to that struggle.

AMY GOODMAN: Hector, can you talk about the food truck that was turned over just a few days ago. The video went viral, when a guy turned over this man’s truck.

HECTOR FLORES: There’s this man who flipped over a corn truck, where a man was selling corn on the street, because he didn’t want to move. And I feel that speaks to how I think a lot of our communities feel about street vendors. But that’s really basically reflected in the fact that policies don’t—policies don’t protect street vendors. So, for us, like the ice cream truck, the elotero man, the peletera woman, folks who are making a living selling food, need to be protected. They’re trying to raise their families, live a life of dignity. And so, that’s why on the front of our CD it’s a ice cream truck. You know, that’s L.A. for us. It’s people working, doing what they have to, selling food to raise, you know, their families and have a life of dignity.

AMY GOODMAN: And that food truck, if you look carefully on the cover of your CD, says, “We have vegan options.”

HECTOR FLORES: Yeah, we do, because we—you know, most of the band, we’re vegetarian. Leah and David are vegan. We definitely—for many reasons. But, I mean, one if for health, spirituality. But it’s also just like—I think, for Raza, it’s really important that a lot of our people are dying from high cholesterol, from—

DENISE CARLOS: Diabetes.

HECTOR FLORES: —diabetes, and it’s from the food that we eat. And I feel like if we’re going to build healthy communities, it also has to start with how we eat. And so, that’s really important for us. And so, it’s part of our ethos, and we wanted it to be part of our music.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to “Tiempos de Amor.” Talk about this song, the origins of it, Denise.

DENISE CARLOS: So, “Tiempos de Amor,” when a certain person was up on a podium, as a candidate for president, speaking about Mexican people, saying that we are rapists and we’re drug dealers and we’re dangerous, and some of us are good—

AMY GOODMAN: You don’t like to say President Trump’s name?

DENISE CARLOS: I would rather not, although I’m OK other people saying it. It really struck a chord with me. It made me very emotional. I think, obviously, my first reaction was very defensive. But rather than just identifying him as the culprit, it was mostly the people’s reaction—right?—and understanding that the narrative around my people and my community is dehumanizing. And so, the lyrics that I wrote for “Tiempos de Amor,” I went back into my parents’ story, and I went back into my family’s story and everybody I know. Most of the people that I know are first generation born in the U.S. And the root of the reason why a lot of our parents left the comforts of their home and family was because of love. They loved the children that they didn’t have so much that they sacrificed really their lives. And I just wanted to remind people that the root of all this pain and the root of all this struggle is love. And we can’t live without it. And it’s so easy to criminalize people and to dehumanize because they’re breaking laws, and we forget that laws aren’t always, you know, dignified and compassionate and understanding.

HECTOR FLORES: And just.

DENISE CARLOS: And just. And so, we—I mean, we just had a truck full of people found in—

HECTOR FLORES: Texas.

DENISE CARLOS: In Texas, and 10 of those folks had passed away. And so, what I saw in the reaction to a lot of the article was: “Well, they were illegal. They deserve it.” And it breaks my heart that we are in a time where people care more about laws and policies than actual people and beating hearts.

AMY GOODMAN: “Tiempos de Amor” means “Times of Love”?

DENISE CARLOS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you share the first verse, the first verse with us in English, since you sing it in Spanish?

DENISE CARLOS: Of course. It says, “I would cross whichever—whatever river to be close to you, because I feel an emptiness beating in my heart.”

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to “Tiempos de Amor.” This is Las Cafeteras.

LAS CAFETERAS: [performing “Tiempos de Amor”]

Cruzaría cualquier río
Para estar cerca de ti
Porque siento un vacío
Palpitar dentro de mi
Dentro de me

No puedo seguir asi
Sueno estar junto a ti

En tiempo de dolor
Con frio o con calor
Yo cruzaria montanas
Para alcanzar tu amor
Ooooh la la la laaa

Moriria hasta de sed
En los campos y el desierto
No me puede detener
El sufrir ni el pensamiento

No puedo seguir asi
Sueno estar junto a ti

En tiempo de dolor
Con frio o con calor
Yo cruzaria montanas
Para alcanzar tu amor
Ooooh la la la laaa

Yo naci de mi madre
Yo naci de la flor
Yo naci de la tierra
Tengo el mismo color
Yo naci
Yo naci

Yo naci de mi madre
Yo naci de la flor
Yo naci de la tierra
Tengo el mismo color
Tengo el mismo color
La la la la la la la la la la

AMY GOODMAN: That’s “Tiempos de Amor,” Las Cafeteras, here in our Democracy Now! studios. Our guests are Denise Carlos and Hector Flores. Hector, the last paragraph was yours, the last verse. Talk about it.

HECTOR FLORES: It’s an homage to my family. My dad was born in Sonora. And it says, ”Yo naci de mi madre/Yo naci de la flor/Yo naci de la tierra/Tengo el mismo color. I was born from my mother. I was born from the flower. I was born from the earth. And I have the same color.” You know, it rhymes better in Spanish, but that’s the essence.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Hector, talk about your family. Talk about your mom. She was one of 14?

HECTOR FLORES: Yeah, my mom’s the oldest of 14 kids. She crossed the border and came here when she was 13 years old, with seven brothers and sisters. And so, seven were born there, the rest were born here. And my mom has an incredible story of resiliency, a beautiful woman. And I—you know, people say, “Where do you get your energy? Where do you get your—you know, that stride?” And I say, “That’s my mama. That’s my mama.” And my mama has always been a strong woman. And she’s living right now in Compton. And she’s—she went back to school. She got her master’s. My mom has an incredible story, and one day I’m going to write a book about her.

AMY GOODMAN: So, your mother has 14 brothers and sisters. A number of them are deaf?

HECTOR FLORES: Yes. So, my mama is the oldest of 14 kids. And six of her brothers and sisters are deaf. And so I grew up like signing and in the deaf world and learned at a very early age about power and privilege, that this world was not created for the deaf. This was a hearing world. And I understood at a very early age what it meant to have privilege and power and how I need to work with others and how to be compassionate. And that really led sort of an understanding of other parts of some injustices that I’ve seen in my life growing up with a single mom and, you know, in a working-class neighborhood and being a child of immigrants. And so, I give a lot of—I have a lot of love for my deaf community and my deaf family.

AMY GOODMAN: Hector, introduce the next song.

HECTOR FLORES: This song is called “El Zapateado.” And it’s an Afro-Mexican song that pays homage to the foot dance, the footwork. When Africans were taken from their land and brought to the States, what we know as Mexico, they would communicate with drums. And so they made drums illegal. So, many folks communicated with dance, their feet. And so, we reinterpreted this song and added an homage to black lives that have been taken. You know, we have to pay—like our music comes from Africa, and it comes from indigenous life and work. And so—and those lives are being taken now. And so, part of us is remembering the music, remembering people who have been taken too early. And so, this song right here is our reinterpretation of music to remember who we are and the people that have been taken from us too early.

AMY GOODMAN: The beginning is in Spanish. Tell us the words in English.

HECTOR FLORES: So, Mijangos does the first verse, and he actually does a verse talking about the pollution and the destruction of Mother Earth and the way, as people, we just—we basically are more for profit than for people. And that’s the first verse. And then Denise sings the second one, which is a beautiful verse about—do you want to—about being a butterfly.

DENISE CARLOS: Yeah, I talk about I’d love to be a butterfly so I can have—so I can be free. But then I say, “Why do I need wings when I’m free as I dance?” And I started dancing folklorico when I was 15. And at the time, I—I always say I wanted to disappear. I was battling a couple of eating disorders, and I was very quiet. And I kind of just didn’t want to exist. And then I started dancing. And all I knew is that everything was right when I danced. And my battles with my body and my body image, you know, would go away at that time. And so, for me, it’s a good reminder to love what my body does for me, but also I love this idea of being able to create joy in dance and in movement and that our bodies, as brown bodies, are not only utilized for labor, but also for joy and for creating the spaces of love and power. And as simple as the verse is, it’s very powerful for me, and I hope other women are able to embrace that, too.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Las Cafeteras.

LAS CAFETERAS: [performing “El Zapateado”]

Tener…
La humanidad, atareada
Pensando solo en riqueza
La humanidad, atareada
Pensando solo en riqueza
Y olvidando la grandeza
Del estarse [sic] enamorado
Vive solo, ensimismado
Queriendo lo material
Solo lo superficial que dan
El oro y la plata por petróleo
El hombre mata, volviendolo criminal
Por petróleo el hombre mata, volviendolo un animal

Lero Le
Quisiera ser mariposa
Quisiera ser mariposa
Para poder yo volar
Pero pa’ que quiero alas
Digo pa’ que quiero alas
Si vuelo al zapatear
Si vuelo al zapatear

I come from the sun and the moon
The sky is my father
Like the flowers I bloom
I look like my mother
Because her skin is dark brown
I look like my mother
Because I came from the ground
My heart beats in rhythms
Because it’s made like a drum
And when I spit rhymes
All my ancestors come
We sing songs about the past
About the present, about our pain
And when we get together
We say “Not in our name”
From Gaza to Honduras
Guatemala, Vietnam
Yo, I’m droppin’ this verse
For all them who droppin’ bombs
Those creating borders
And taking away my mom
For the children be rising
And we rise to this song

My name is Emmett Till
I ain’t do nothing wrong
I didn’t whistle at no white woman
I wasn’t causing no harm
You need to remember my name
Because it’s seven generations long
My name is Philando Castile
I ain’t do nothing wrong
I wasn’t causing no harm
I’m in a car with my girl
And I need you to remember my name
Because it’s seven generations long
My name is Sandra Bland
I ain’t do nothing wrong
I was just driving home
I wasn’t causing no harm
I need you to remember my name
Because it’s seven generations long

Say her name

Permiso pido a cantar
A todas las luchadoras
Permiso pido a cantar
A todas las luchadoras
En este jardín de flores
Yo le voy a regalar
Yo le voy a regalar
Yo le voy a regalar
La historia de mis amores

AMY GOODMAN: “El Zapateado.” That’s Las Cafeteras in the studios of Democracy Now! And we’re joined by two of its co-founders, Denise Carlos and Hector Flores. Denise, can you talk about a song that you played on a previous CD, “La Bamba,” and I also saw you at Lincoln Center, and you were playing it there, too.

DENISE CARLOS: Yes. So, “La Bamba” is actually a son jarocho song, and it’s a song that’s been embraced and recaptured throughout the ages. It’s about 400 years old, traditionally. And I know that I first heard it when Los Lobos did the rock 'n' roll version. And we wanted to be—you know, we wanted to utilize it for our own story, our own narrative. And so I started with saying this is a rebellious bamba, “La Bamba Rebelde,” which I will sing, because we are Chicanas from East L.A. I don’t believe in borders. I will cross.

AMY GOODMAN: Las Cafeteras, singing “La Bamba.”

LAS CAFETERAS: [performing “La Bamba Rebelde”]

Es la Bamba Rebelde
Es la Bamba Rebelde que cantare
Porque somos Chicanos
Porque somos Chicanos de East L.A.
Ay arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo no creo en fronteras
Yo no creo en fronteras
Yo cruzaré
Yo cruzaré
Yo cruzaré

Es la bamba senores
Es la bamba senores
La melodia
Que nos pone en el alma
Que nos pone en el alma
Mucho alegria
Ay arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Como Las Cafeteras
Como Las Cafeteras
Yo lucharé
Yo cantaré
Yo bailaré

Ya no llores llorona
Ya no llores llorona
Mi gente lucha contra leyes racista
Contra leyes racista
En Arizona
Ay arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo no so de la migra
Yo no so de la migra
Ni lo seré
Ni lo seré
Ni lo seré

Yo, si, vengo del valle
Yo si vengo del valle de San Gabriel
Porque alli nos creamos
Porque alli nos creamos
Nuestra familia
Ay arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo no soy marineo
Yo no soy marineo
Soy luchador
Soy luchador
Soy luchador

Que vivan las mujeres
Que vivan las mujeres de East L.A.
Porque bailan la bamba
Ay que bailan la bamba lere lere
Para arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Como Las Zapatistas
Como Las Zapatistas
Yo lucharé
Yo lucharé
Yo venceré

Yo sí soy por Mumia
Yo sí soy por Mumia
Encarcelado pero siempre luchando
Pero siempre luchando
Por la justicia
Y arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo no soy por la guerra
Yo no soy por la guerra
Ni apoyaré
Ni apoyaré
Ni apoyaré

El hombre que yo quierro
El hombre que yo quierro
Es un viajero
Y me toca la bamba
Y me toca la bamba
Con el requinto
Ay arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo como Las Cafeteras
Yo como Las Cafeteras
Yo lucharé
Yo cantaré
Yo bailaré

Thank you so much to Democracy Now! We’re Las Cafeteras. We’re rocking with y’all.

Ay le pido, le pido
Ay le pido, le pido
De corazón que se acabe la bamba
Que se acabe la bamba de corazón
Ay arriba y arriba
Ay arriba y arriba y arriba iré
Yo no creo en fronteras
Yo no creo en fronteras
Yo cruzaré
Yo cruzaré
Yo cruzaré

AMY GOODMAN: OK, “La Bamba Rebelde.”

DENISE CARLOS: Yes.

HECTOR FLORES: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! Before we end, when you came back into the United States from Canada on this tour, as you head off to London, then back to Canada, you came through New Haven. Talk about why?

HECTOR FLORES: We came through—we had a show in New Haven, Connecticut. And coming into New Haven, I received a text message from a—from the Connecticut Immigrant Rights organization saying there’s a woman in sanctuary, and her name was Nury Chavarria, and they were having a vigil that night for her. And we found out—and they asked us to come to the vigil and play. And we found out that there was a woman, Nury Chavarria, who was to be deported last Thursday, and instead of showing up for deportation, she went to sanctuary—she went into sanctuary in a church. And so, we went, and we met Nury. And we played at the vigil. And the next day, we were able to go to the church, meet her, hear her story.

AMY GOODMAN: She has four children.

HECTOR FLORES: She has four—

AMY GOODMAN: She’s been here for almost quarter of a century.

HECTOR FLORES: Four U.S.-born children. Four U.S.-born children.

AMY GOODMAN: Twenty-four years.

HECTOR FLORES: Over 20 years in the United States, no criminal record. And every years since 1999, she’s been going into court to get a year sort of relief.

AMY GOODMAN: Extension.

HECTOR FLORES: Extension. But last month, she went in, and instead of giving her a year extension, they put an ankle bracelet on her, and they told her, “You’re going to be deported in a month.”

AMY GOODMAN: A shackle on her ankle.

HECTOR FLORES: And they told her in front of her 9-year-old daughter. And instead of showing up to court to be deported, she went into sanctuary. And so, when we learned about that, we said we have to go, we have to make it happen. And we were able to meet her. And we actually did a video in support and asking people to call Department of Homeland Security. And I got a text message two days ago that she has been—she received—what is the word? Clemency? A stay of—a stay—relief from deportation.

AMY GOODMAN: For a year.

HECTOR FLORES: For a year.

AMY GOODMAN: A federal judge has asked ICE to re-examine her case.

HECTOR FLORES: Yes, yes. And that’s—and that is in part to the organizations in New Haven, Connecticut, doing that beautiful work. So when people say like—you know, when you’re asked to help and call ICE, it works.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you play outside of the church?

HECTOR FLORES: Outside of church, we played “Tiempos de Amor.”

DENISE CARLOS: Mm-hmm, “La Bamba Rebelde.”

HECTOR FLORES: “La Bamba Rebelde.”

DENISE CARLOS: And “If I was President.”

HECTOR FLORES: And “If I was President,” outside. And it was a banging show in an empty parking lot right next to the church.

AMY GOODMAN: So this is interesting, what you do when you go from city to city. Can you explain the kind of theme?

HECTOR FLORES: So, we’re movement organizers. We’re organizers before we’re musicians. So when we go into new towns, we identify who’s doing work in that town, who’s doing—what is—what is the issue that needs to be elevated. We went to Burlington, Vermont, and we met with a dairy—dairy farm workers.

AMY GOODMAN: The whole migrant justice group.

HECTOR FLORES: Migrant justice organizations. And we found out that there’s a lot of injustice against dairy farm workers. We had no idea. We invited them to our show. You know, they were able to table, share their work. And that’s the work that we do. And we do shows called Beats, Beats Not Borders or Beats and Bridges, where we go into different neighborhoods, different cities. We invite the local DJ. We invite the organizations, you know. And basically we have these banging parties, and we get down with justice, but we elevate and connect people in the neighborhood to the movements. And I think that’s the work we want to do as musicians.

AMY GOODMAN: Hector Flores and Denise Carlos, thanks so much for joining us, members of—founding members of Las Cafeteras. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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