Home Puerto Rico Project ESSENTIAL LISTENING: “PUERTO RICO: COMO EL FILO DEL MACHETE”

ESSENTIAL LISTENING: “PUERTO RICO: COMO EL FILO DEL MACHETE”

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SONGS OF THE STRUGGLE FOR PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE
Sung by Andrés Jiménez

“Como el Filete del Machete” focuses on Puerto Rican independence. Disco Libre first released it in 1978 and later re-released by Paredon Records in 2004 under the Smithsonian Folkways Records label.
Andrés Jiménez, a singer, songwriter, and political activist, emphasized the importance of music and said that he uses traditional music forms to present new ideas of change more acceptably. He believes it is necessary to reject things alien to the Puerto Rican culture and become more conscious of national values and traditional forms. Jiménez believes it will help construct a Puerto Rican nation with a strong national identity.
The collection of songs includes a piece named “Despierta Boricua” (Wake Up, Puerto Rican) written by Guarionex Hidalgo Africano and Matos Paoli. This song is based on “El Grito de Lares” (The Cry of Lares) which was an attempted revolt against Spanish rule in Puerto Rico. Although the revolt was not successful, it showed the power of the masses.
“El Pobre Sigue Sufriendo” (The Poor Keep on Suffering) highlights the contrast between those who have and those who don’t. The lyrics request for justice, wealth redistribution, comprehensive reform, and an end to inequality.
“Canto Rebelde” (Rebel Song) was composed in the 1940s by the poet A. Pacheco. The song encourages political activists to display devotion, discipline, and unity in their fight against colonialism.
“A Puerto Rico” is a song composed by Lola Rodriguez del Tio and Andres Jimenez. Its lyrics express solidarity between Cuba and Puerto Rico, with Cuba offering its love and support without any conditions or distrust. In defense of Puerto Rico’s land, Cuba stands in solidarity and makes their vengeance its own. The song encourages hope that shines in the skies of Puerto Rico.
“La Miseria” (Misery) is a song composed by A. Pacheco in the 1920s. It sheds light on the crimes of inequality and the exploitation of the poor by the rich. Although the lyrics were written in the 1940s, they remind us that these conditions have existed for years and that the struggle to effect change has been ongoing.
Composed by Juan de Mata and Andres Jimenez, “Antonia Martínez” (Song for Antonia Martínez) pays tribute to the sixteen-year-old girl who was killed randomly by a National Guardsman at the University of Puerto Rico during a demonstration against the war in Vietnam and the drafting of young Puerto Rican men into the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s telling that Antonia’s murder went unnoticed, whereas the Kent State murders were brought to the world’s attention by a tremendous media barrage.
“Lo De Patria O Muerte Empieza” is a song that was composed in 1972 during significant worker strikes in Puerto Rico. The strikes were aimed at demanding better wages and working conditions for the workers. The lyrics of the song convey the message that as long as U.S. Imperialism exists in Puerto Rico, the labor force of Puerto Rico will never be utilized for the betterment of its people.
“Valle de Dolores,” meaning Valley of Colors, is an example of a long history of songs and poems that express the patriotic sentiment of the Puerto Rican people in the face of colonialism. More specifically, the song describes the feeling of displaced youth who are forced to move to cities for work and find themselves working under deplorable conditions, leading to a sense of alienation. Collores is the name of a small mountain village in Aibonito.
The song “Asi Es Mi Gallo” (Behold, My Fighting Cock) was written by Edwin Reyes and Luis Llorens Torrens. It uses the cockfight as a symbol of liberation, representing the final struggle between the Puerto Rican people and U.S. imperialism. The song’s last verse, “Long Live Free Puerto Rico!” is a powerful call for freedom.
“Como el Filete del Machete” trata sobre la independencia de Puerto Rico. Disco Libre lo grabó inicialmente en 1978 y lo reeditó Paredon Records en 2004 bajo el sello Smithsonian Folkways Records.
El cantante, compositor y activista político Andrés Jiménez dijo sobre la importancia de la música: “Utilizo formas musicales tradicionales porque creo que es más fácil aceptar nuevas ideas de cambio cuando se presentan en formas que la gente sabe que son propias. También es una respuesta al proceso de deculturación en Puerto Rico por parte del imperialismo estadounidense. Debemos rechazar cosas ajenas a nuestro país, que han sido introducidas por la potencia colonial para deformar la imagen que tenemos de nosotros mismos. Debemos tomar más conciencia de nuestros valores nacionales y formas tradicionales y comenzar a construir una nación puertorriqueña con esa conciencia”.
El repertorio incluye una canción llamada “Despierta Boricua”, la cual fue escrita por Guarionex Hidalgo Africano y Matos Paoli. Esta canción se inspiró en “El Grito de Lares”, que fue la primera y única revuelta importante contra el dominio español en Puerto Rico. Aunque la revuelta no tuvo éxito, demostró el poder de las masas.
“El Pobre Sigue Sufriendo” aborda la marcada contradicción entre los que tienen y los que no tienen. La letra pide justicia, redistribución de la riqueza, reforma integral y el fin de la desigualdad.
“Canto Rebelde” fue compuesto en la década de 1940 por el poeta A. Pacheco. La canción insta a los activistas políticos a mostrar dedicación, disciplina y unidad en su lucha contra el colonialismo.
“A Puerto Rico” es una canción compuesta por Lola Rodríguez del Tío y Andrés Jiménez. La letra expresa solidaridad entre Cuba y Puerto Rico, ofreciendo Cuba su amor y apoyo sin condiciones ni desconfianza. En defensa de la tierra de Puerto Rico, Cuba se solidariza y hace suya su venganza. La canción alienta la esperanza que brilla en los cielos de Puerto Rico.
“La Miseria” es una canción compuesta por A. Pacheco en los años 1920. Arroja luz sobre los crímenes de la desigualdad y la explotación de los pobres por los ricos. Aunque las letras fueron escritas en la década de 1940, nos recuerdan que estas condiciones han existido durante años y que la lucha para lograr el cambio ha estado en curso.
Compuesta por Juan de Mata y Andrés Jiménez, “Antonia Martínez” (Canción para Antonia Martínez) rinde homenaje a la joven de dieciséis años que fue asesinada al azar por un guardia nacional en la Universidad de Puerto Rico durante una manifestación contra la guerra de Vietnam y el reclutamiento de jóvenes puertorriqueños en las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos. Es revelador que el asesinato de Antonia haya pasado desapercibido, mientras que los asesinatos de Kent State llamaron la atención del mundo gracias a una tremenda avalancha mediática.
“Lo De Patria O Muerte Empieza” es una canción que fue compuesta en 1972 durante importantes huelgas de trabajadores en Puerto Rico. Las huelgas debían exigir mejores salarios y condiciones laborales para los trabajadores. La letra de la canción transmite el mensaje de que mientras exista el imperialismo estadounidense en Puerto Rico, la fuerza laboral de Puerto Rico nunca será utilizada para el mejoramiento de su pueblo.
“Valle de Dolores” es un ejemplo de una larga historia de canciones y poemas que expresan el sentimiento patriótico del pueblo puertorriqueño frente al colonialismo. Más específicamente, la canción describe el sentimiento de los jóvenes desplazados que se ven obligados a trasladarse a las ciudades en busca de trabajo y se encuentran alienados y trabajando en condiciones deplorables. Collores es el nombre de un pequeño pueblo de montaña en Aibonito.

La canción “Asi Es Mi Gallo” (He aquí mi gallo de pelea) fue escrita por Edwin Reyes y Luis Llorens Torrens. Utiliza la pelea de gallos como símbolo de liberación, representando la lucha final entre el pueblo puertorriqueño y el imperialismo estadounidense. El último verso de la canción, “¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!” Es un poderoso llamado a la libertad.

ABOUT ANDRÉS JIMENEZ

Andrés Jiménez, aka “El Jibaro,” was born in 1947 in the central mountain range of Puerto Rico, known as the Cordillera Central. He is the fourth child in a family of fifteen, all working on their father’s farm. Early on, his mother took Andres to ceremonies where folk music was performed and celebrated.
Shortly after moving to New York, Andres was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, where the recruits were segregated and baffled by the fact they were forced to serve in the army of the “occupier.”
When Andres was discharged, he returned to Puerto Rico. Shortly after that, he attended the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, where he encountered the antiwar movement and went on stage for the first time as part of the Grupo Taoné, which featured the legendary musicians Roy Brown, Antonio Cabán Vale, aka “El Topo,” Noel Hernandez, Carlos Lozada, and the duo Pepe y Flora. Andres continued to perform with Taoné for several years while developing a unique style that reaffirmed his commitment to Puerto Rico and its folkloric traditions. Moreover, he traveled to the United States and performed at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for Puerto Rican migrant communities in New York City, Chicago, Connecticut, Boston, and Los Angeles.
Steeped in the traditional music of the jibaro peasants and mountaineers, Andres decided to base his work on the form that eloquently expressed his people’s religious and social life: the Decima. Andres is one of the few people of his generation to take up this art from Spain and make it his own by filling it with contemporary relevance.  “My principal objective is to bring Puerto Rican music to the world’s attention,” explains Andres. “Because of the colonization, we have been isolated, and our traditional music and music have not been allowed to leave Puerto Rico. Instead, they have tried to make us feel that our traditions were inferior, unimportant, and without value. In many parts of the world, people don’t realize that Puerto Rico has a folkloric tradition, believing that we are assimilated into North American culture. I aim to take our music to Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. so that people may see that we have a culture, not only musically but also in other artistic manifestations.”
THE MUSICIANS Second guitar Pepe Sanchez, Cuatrista Nieves Quintero, Quinto and arrangements Miguel Poventud, Accordion Joe Gloro, Bass Pedro Nieves, Timbales Ramon Febre, Bongos Papi Andino, Guiro Flora Santiago.
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