Monday, January 10, 2011
"Desapariciones" (Disappearances) - Rubén Blades / Maná
¿A dónde van los desaparecidos?
Busca en el agua y en los matorrales.
¿Y por qué es que se desaparecen?
Porque no todos somos iguales.
¿Y cuándo vuelve el desaparecido?
Cada ves que lo trae el pensamiento.
¿Cómo se le habla al desaparecido?
Con la emoción apretando por dentro.
Where do the disappeared go?
Look in the water and in the bushes.
And why is it that they disappear?
Because we are not all equal.
And when does the disappeared come back?
Every time you have him in your thoughts.
How do you talk to the disappeared?
With emotion gripping you inside.
(Link to full lyrics in Spanish and English.)
Revulsion against the state-terror practices that "disappearances" typified contributed to a democratic uprising in the military dictatorships of South and Central America -- though because these were US client regimes, that story received far less attention than the fall of communism in Europe and elsewhere. Blades's anthem of this grim epoch in Latin American history can also serve as an anthem for the era of "extraordinary renditions." Perhaps more poetic translations can be made to English, French, and other languages, and sung to accompany petitions about detained and "disappeared" individuals in many parts of the world.
Rubén Blades's original recording of "Desapariciones" (1984):
A distant but warm-sounding bootleg of Blades's performance of the song in Santiago de Chile, October 2010:
The exquisite version of "Desapariciones" performed at one of the major concerts in Latin American pop history, Maná's 1999 MTV Unplugged show in Miami, later released on CD and DVD. Lead vocalist Fher's introduction states: "The next song is written by Mr. Rubén Blades, and it talks about all those people who have dedicated themselves to a more just world. They have been persecuted, and tortured, and disappeared, and some of them [have been] killed. This is called 'Disappearances.'"
Song available on:
Rubén Blades, Buscando América (Elektra, 1984), track 3
Mana, MTV Unplugged (WEA Latina, 1999), track 7
An extremely helpful Spanish/English dual translation of "Desapariciones" exists, with discussion and debate about the translation issues. What's needed for English-singing activists, as with every non-English song on this list, is a translation that preserves the poetry and rhyming structure of the original. Same, of course, for non-English singers wanting to adapt some of the great anthems on this list to their own languages. Surely as a global progressive community, we ought to be able to wiki that? Or maybe we already have, and no-one told me?