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LATIN AMERICA

Mexican music video draws ire of public for its violence against women

Gerardo Ortiz sets fire to unfaithful girlfriend in promo, before shooting her lover in the head

Still photo from the music video Fuiste mía by Gerardo Ortiz.
Still photo from the music video Fuiste mía by Gerardo Ortiz.

In a country where seven women meet a violent death every day, playing around with the issue of femicide in a music video was always likely to court controversy. The singer Gerardo Ortiz – who is well known for his narcocorridos, ballads that celebrate the life and experiences of drug traffickers in Mexico – appears in a video for his song Fuiste mía where he sets fire to his fictional girlfriend for being unfaithful. Also, for good measure, he shoots her lover in the head at point-blank range.

Given that, unfortunately, this scene is not that unusual in real life in Mexico, nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org urging YouTube to take down the video. The clip has received more than 18 million views on its website since January.

There’s an urgent need to stop showing violence against women. It’s outrageous for artistic expressions to promote femicide

Given the lyrics there was no apparent need for such violent images in the video. The song is not about infidelity or femicide and it is definitely not about setting fire to a woman in the trunk of a car.

“There’s an urgent need to stop showing violence against women. It’s outrageous for artistic expressions to promote femicide as they do in this video by Gerardo Ortiz, who shows how he kills his partner over her infidelity,” Jovana Espinosa says on the petition on Change.org.

Ivan Jakes, the man who started the online initiative to remove the video from YouTube, warns against the normalization of such images in norteña – the genre of Mexican music into which such a song would fall. “The denigration of women is expressed as if it were natural in society...,” he writes. “It’s precisely why it is done with such acceptance and pleasure, even showing seductive and apparently happy faces. One of those seductive faces is created and recreated in most Mexican norteña/grupera music lyrics where the discrediting and oppression of women has become more and more of a constant.”

Ortiz’s publicist told the entertainment newspaper Basta! they will not remove the video. “There are worse videos and there is no reaction calling for any kind of veto,” he explained.

Between 2013 and 2014, seven women in Mexico died in violent circumstances every day, and the rate of such deaths has only increased over the last 15 years. The number of male homicides has been decreasing little by little while the rate of murders of women is becoming a structural problem.

Mexico’s National Statistics Institute published a report in November 2015 where it warned against the viciousness with which these murders are committed. “They use methods that produce more pain and prolong their death,” the report says. In 2013, 32 percent were hanged, strangled, drowned, burned or beaten with sharp objects or fists. A reality not so different from the Gerardo Ortiz video.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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