This Latino Week

Top Mexican journalist shot dead, Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi hit Number One, Chapecoense claim state title
Jim McKenna

Javier Valdez, best known for his award-winning work on the drug trade, has been shot dead in the North-West of Sinaloa – one of the epicentres of the war on drugs within Mexico. He was gunned down by unidentified assailants outside his own news company, Ríodoce.

Valdez was one of the leading figures reporting on the organised crime within Mexico; with a particular focus on the infamous Sinaloa Cartel; widely considered to be one of the strongest organised crime and trafficking networks in the world. He is just one of several leading journalists who have been murdered this year, with most deaths considered to be the work of leading Mexican cartels, albeit without definitive evidence or convictions.

The murder was met with universal condemnation, with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto calling it an ‘outrageous crime’ on Twitter. Sinaloa State Attorney General Juan Jose Rios confirmed an ongoing investigation into the killing, and vowed to protect the family of Valdez from future violence. The move comes just a week after Nieto appointed a new prosecutor to investigate crimes against freedom of speech, which includes intimidation and violence against journalists. Valdez and his contemporaries had long reported such methods from cartels, with verbal threats, economic pressure and even a hand grenade thrown into Valdez’s office in 2009.

Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi hit Number One

‘Despacito’, a Reggaeton-pop song originally released in January this year, has moved to the top of the charts in the United Kingdom and United States; a rare case of a Latin American pop song dominating the charts in the English-speaking world. Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have declared their delight with the success of the song, claiming that ‘music unites us’ and that language is not a barrier to international success.

The song was initially a strong charter in Latin America and the United States Latin Pop charts, but rocketed in non-Latin charts following a remix featuring Justin Bieber. The song has largely spread virally, with mainstream music outlets often ignoring or underemphasising Despacito in their coverage. This is despite Daddy Yankee being one of the few Reggaeton-linked artists to have success in the British charts, with his 2005 tune ‘Gasolina’ also charting.

The success comes as English-speaking regions are increasingly listening to Reggaeton and other Latin American forms of music. Various clubs in London specialise in Latin music forms, and chart successes in Europe and North America have in recent times been increasingly connected to this music, with Lethal Bizzle, Clean Bandit and David Guetta all acknowledging the influence of Dancehall and Reggaeton. 

Chapecoense claim state title

Brazilian side Chapecoense, who had to rebuild their entire squad following a plane crash in Colombia, won the Santa Catarina State Championship for the second time, winning the final to Avai over two legs. The team lost the second leg but won due to their first-leg result, in combination with their superior record over the regular season.

The State Championships occur in Brazil between February and May, and serve as a warm-up to the main league season. Although it is generally considered a minor tournament, the victory is a positive sign for the club following their attempts to rebuild their squad. 25 new players were signed, many on favourable loan deals from fellow clubs in Brazil and Argentina, and 9 were promoted from the youth team.

Following the win, the club dedicated the title to those who perished in the disaster, and acknowledging the difficulties the club has encountered in rebuilding the entire club. The team is now preparing for the start of the regular season, which starts this week.