Ozomatli: A Band With A Message : Alt.Latino This Southern California band combines a distinctly Southwestern sound with a passion for political activism. Check out their interview with Weekend All Things Considered.
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Ozomatli: A Band With A Message

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Ozomatli: A Band With A Message

GUY RAZ, host:

Two years ago, Democrats managed to energize Latino voters who helped put Barack Obama's presidential bid over the top.

This time, though, potential Latino voters are hearing a very different message.

(Soundbite of political ad)

Unidentified Man: Democratic leaders must pay for their broken promises and betrayals. Don't vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted. Don't vote.

RAZ: That's an ad that came out in Nevada this past week from a small Virginia-based group that calls itself Latinos for Reform.

But just a few days later, the L.A. based band Ozomatli released a song calling on Latinos to do just the opposite.

(Soundbite of song, "Respeto")

OZOMATLI (Band): (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: This past week, I sat down with Raul Pacheco, front man for Ozomatli, to find out more about the song.

Mr. RAUL PACHECO (Vocalist, Ozomatli): Well, the song I think is specifically calling for people to stand up and to take the time to vote, to show that you respect yourself, and we just want to encourage everyone to vote. I know that there's an ad discouraging people to vote, which I think is immoral.

RAZ: Yeah. We just heard a clip of that ad. When you first heard that, what was your reaction? I mean, the fact that it tells Latinos not to vote in November.

Mr. PACHECO: Yeah, I think it's a very, you know, roundabout way of asking people to be disengaged from the process. And I think that's really hurtful in the long run to anybody. I think that if we want a healthy society, that everyone needs to participate.

And knowing that we're not going to get everything that we want every time you show up at the polls, every time you, you know, are involved in the shaping of a law, but to show up and be a part of the process means that your viewpoint does, you know, get in the mix. And I think that that's super important for people to remember.

RAZ: Raul, do you, I mean, a lot of Latinos were excited about President Obama's election, and obviously the majority of them supported him. But could you understand why some Latinos feel maybe like not betrayed but disappointed in what the Democrats have not been able to accomplish? There hasn't been immigration reform. Many states have toughened and tightened their laws when it comes to immigration issues. Could you understand the reluctance to go out and support them again?

Mr. PACHECO: I think I can always understand the reluctance of people not participating. But I think it's a misconception. I think it's based on wanting what you want right now.

And the political process and life process doesn't happen that way. If I'm learning how to play guitar, it takes me years to kind of get to a level where I can do it in front of people and make an impact.

If you have an issue, it takes a long time, but you need to be constantly involved in it. And I think not only for Latinos, but for all of us, we have a tendency to, you know, I voted for this, it should happen now. It's not the way it works. What I'm telling people is that you have to go back and keep at it. And that long-term consistent participation is something that I really think pays off.

RAZ: That's Raul Pacheco of the band Ozomatli. Their new song is called "Respeto." It encourages people to come out and vote on November 2nd. Raul Pacheco, thank you so much.

Mr. PACHECO: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Respeto")

OZOMATLI: (Singing in foreign language)

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