Activism is not only about organizations and grassroots and lefty news media. It's basically about seizing the opportunity. Consider: On Thursday night in Los Angeles, Residente of Calle 13 (previously blogged here) hosted the MTV Latino awards. Sensing an opportunity, he used his platform -- millions of viewers up and down the Western Hemisphere -- to verbally assault just about every major free-market-friendly, authoritarian-leaning Latin American political figure currently sitting in power.
He called the (Republican) governor of Puerto Rico -- where fed-up workers staged a general strike the same day -- an "hijo de la gran puta." He said Cristina Kirchner of Argentina gets too much Botox. He ordered Mexican President Felipe Calderon to basically shut up and get to work, then added "¡Viva México cabrones!" Of his native island, Residente said that "Latin America is incomplete without a free Puerto Rico."
Between each performance and award, Residente changed his T-shirt, each one pushing a cutting new political message: "México nunca olvida, 2/oct/68" said one (Thank you), "Uribe paramiltar," said another.
Watch the punk-recorded clip above. When the camera seems to prepare to cut away from him, Residente stops the photographer, "Wait there, wait there, wait there!" He proclaims openly: "I say it here because I have power."
Wow. No wonder some of the thin-skinned Latin American politicians he (justly) skewered delivered public responses to René Pérez's on-air comments. "What are we teaching our children?" asked Marcos Rodríguez Ema, interior secretary of Puerto Rico, surely with appalled indignation. Colombia also responded, but ... come on, homie isn't making this shit up.
Fact is, René Pérez seems to me the sanest and most honest person on both our continents right now. He smartly wields his sex and pop appeal to speak truth to power, making him one of very few MTV-level figures in any language who recognize the urgency of the contemporary moment.
Needless to say, I'm a follower.