In 2014, the Latin Grammys telecast was delayed to show President Barack Obama delivering a speech on immigration. The socially conscious Puerto Rican band Calle 13, thereafter, belted a political anthem showing support for the 43 missing Mexican students from Ayotzinapa.
Following Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant speech in 2015, during which he alleged Mexicans were criminals and rapists, the Latin Grammys offered a bold performance of “Somos Más Americanos” (We Are More American) by Mexican bands Maná and Los Tigres del Norte. At the end of the song, both groups raised a large sign that read “Latinos Unidos, No Voten Por Racistas” (Latinos United, Don’t Vote for Racists), directly aimed at Trump’s xenophobic sentiments and future campaign.
This year’s fête, regarded annually as the most important night in Latin music, failed to echo any high moments of political awareness, even as it took place a week after Election Night—the results to greatly impact Latino communities around the country. An impassioned reunion of sorts between Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony was the most intense thing that happened inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. Mexican indie-pop singer and composer Carla Morrison addressed the election during her acceptance speech, only it was not broadcasted on live television.
And while it’s one thing to actively avoid politics by remaining mum or nixing any spectacles that might speak to the times, it’s another to censor journalists by asking us to refrain from troubling celebrities with political queries.
“I don’t think we should [be apologizing] to ask questions relating to politics one week after one of the most consequential elections in the history of the United States,” Emmy-winning journalist Gaby Natale told Remezcla, “and in an election that has the capability of having consequences that are very serious for the Latino community. And that’s what worried me. I don’t want to normalize the behavior of being told not to ask political questions.”
Natale went on to say she spoke with the Academy’s president, Gabriel Abaroa, who assured her the Academy itself did not ask to censor press, suggesting external forces (read: money) played a hand. “He explained that if the Latin Grammys started to be conceived as something political, because we start doing political questions, there might be financial consequences for them.”
President-elect Donald Trump has gone on record about his desires to implement a system that would weaken freedom of the press. If ever there was a time for political conversations to enter the arena of music, it was Thursday night (Nov. 17). Unfortunately, the Latin Grammys dropped the ball on that one.