Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rumel Fuentes - Corridos of the Chicano Movement

One of the highlights of Les Blank's Chulas Fronteras was a gentleman by the name of Rumel Fuentes. He and Los Pinguinos del Norte performed a juicy little number called "Chicano", which was written by the great jack of all trades and Texas Tornados member Doug Sahm. Juan Tejeda, author of Puro Conjunto, talked to the San Antonio Express-News about how he was an obscure figure, and that "he was political, writing about Chicanos early on. That's what set him apart. He's an important voice in an oblique way." I was pretty intrigued by what I had read about the late native of Eagle Pass, TX, so I decided to pick up Arhoolie Records' "Rumel Fuentes - Corridos of the Chicano Movement" CD release (a collection of never-before-released tunes from Fuentes).

The album is filled with interesting and emotional songs that deserve their own entries, but this entry is going to be focused on the track titled "Corrido de Pharr, Texas". With life, some things change and some things never change, and this song is a reminder of that. The corruption nowadays is different from what our people experienced in the early 1970s, but at the end of the day, it's still some pretty horrifying corruption (you really need a whole blog to cover all the corruption here in the RGV). The song was inspired by the tragic and barbaric murder of Alfonso Loredo Flores on the night of the famous 1971 Pharr riot (which I've written and posted vidoes about here). Anyways, I thought I would share the linear notes and lyrics of this great corrido from Rumel Fuentes:

Corrido De Pharr, Texas

Linear Notes - In 1970 and early 1971 there were complaints about unnecessary brutality by the Pharr, Texas, police force. These complaints focused on Chief Alfredo Ramirez, himself the possessor of an impressive criminal record, and Sergeant Mateo Sandoval, an immigrant from Mexico who had a reputation for a short temper and a penchant for violence. On February 6, 1971, a picket line to protest the brutality was set up at City Hall and at the jail. As more people started gathering to support the picket, Chief Ramirez gave a quick “order to disperse” and turned a highpressure fire hose on the crowd. Bystander Alfonso Loredo Flores, a construction worker home for the weekend from his job in Corpus Christi, was observing the protest when he was shot in the head by Robert Johnson, a deputy sheriff. When he fell to the ground, he still had his hands in his pockets. The grand jury returned an indictment of a misdemeanor “negligent homicide.”
Song Lyrics - 
Dicen que en Pharr hay serpientes
con cabeza de marrano,
y entre la gente de Pharr
tienen gringo mexicanos.

Un mayor que es mandamás,
muchos son los mandaderos,
momprados que son vendidos,
¡Ah!, que pelaos tan cuatreros.

Les decía la comisión,
de qué se admira la ley
si sus mismos oficiales
tienen “record” criminal.

Hay cuatro o cinco testigos
de mucha brutalidad.
Se oyen gritos en las celdas
que es una barbaridad.

Una protesta calmada
en contra los policías,
la gente los denunciaba
por cosas que se sabían.

Mataron a Poncho Flores,
fue un policía de Pharr;
a un hombre empistolado
no se le puede confiar.

Los malhechores de Flores,
esto no se va a olvidar.
Fíjense todo lo que hacen
con Diós lo van a pagar.

Ya en varios pueblos de Aztlán
esto ya una vez pasó,
y nos va a seguir pasando
si no hay organización.

Vuela, vuela palomita,
párate en aquel nopal.
aquí se acaba cantando
lo que nos pasó allá en Pharr.

You can hear this corrido on this blog entry. You can pick up this essential CD or hear samples at Arhoolie Records or Amazon.


  1. although the death of the young man was tragic it was not barbaric. He was hit by a bullet that ricocheted from a wall and hit him. He was four long blocks from the start of the commotion. the only bararic thing was the way the police lost control of themselves and created the riot themselves.

  2. actually there are eyewitness accounts that describe Robert Johnson, his murderer, taking aim at Alfonso before shooting. A gringo killing an unarmed kid because he's chicano is pretty barbaric imo