Puerto Rican urban band Calle 13 has been honoured by Argentina’s National University of La Plata for its contributions to popular communication and culture, the institution said.
“It’s a very big honour” to receive the “Rodolfo Walsh” prize, which “many musicians in Argentina and Latin America deserve as much or more than I do”, the band’s leader, Rene Perez, a.k.a. “Residente”, said after receiving the award in a ceremony at the university’s School of Journalism.
The 34-year-old Perez, who said he feels like an “Argentine at heart”, received the prize in the name of the band. Past winners of the award have included two leftist presidents in the region – Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (2011) and Bolivia’s Evo Morales (2008).
“Don’t be afraid. The social networks and a tonne of mechanisms now exist for getting the truth out. Like (slain writer) Rodolfo Walsh said: ‘Journalism is either free or it’s a farce’,” the artist said at the ceremony.
“We reward popular expression, popular culture, the defense of Latin America and therefore we’re acknowledging Calle 13, which is not just another band: it’s a group that stands up to the powerful with its rhythms and uses alterative communication channels,” the school’s dean, Florencia Saintout, said.
The band, which has won a record 19 Latin Grammy awards, is known for its outspokenness on socio-political issues and favours Puerto Rico’s full independence from the US, a minority position on the Caribbean island.
Rodolfo Walsh was an Argentine writer, leading critic of the country’s 1976-83 military regime and one-time militant who was killed March 25, 1977, in a shootout with government commandos who ambushed him on a street in Buenos Aires.
A journalist and mystery writer who belonged to the Montoneros, an armed leftist faction within the Peronist Party, Walsh was slain one day after publishing his bitter “Open Letter” to the military junta on the first anniversary of the armed forces’ seizing power.