Collaborative concert encourages viewers to vote, emphasizes need to defund border wall


Courtesy of Creative Commons

Building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico was one of the main ideas in Trump’s 2016 campaign. As of Oct. 12, they have built 360 miles according to the Trump administration.

The addition of a border wall has been a plan President Trump has touted since the beginning of his campaign, but many who live near the border know that the wall would cause more harm than good. Because of this, the No Border Wall Coalition has come together to encourage United States citizens to defend our border towns. 

Now, four years into the Trump Administration, the coalition has organized a virtual concert to unite border towns (and non-border towns) and defund the wall.

On Oct. 23, the No Border Wall Coalition held a virtual concert through Facebook Live called “Rock the Border, Stop the Wall” to encourage people to vote and to garner support for defunding the wall. The coalition describes it as “a 2,000 mile concert to unite the border, get out the vote and build a brighter border future.”

The concert featured 24 musical acts and spanned 2,000 miles, with artists from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, New York and Missouri.

Laredo-native Beto Martinez is part of Grupo Fantasma, a band based in Austin. Martinez curated the lineup of bands for the virtual concert.

Martinez emphasized how the diversity of the lineup is special, but still not the norm.

“It’s kind of a dream lineup of Latinx artists and beyond. It’s really something that I would hope to see in the world one day, not just virtually. It’s the kind of programming that I wish happened more often. But usually, it’s the exception to the rule.”

In 2019, Martinez released a song with Grupo Fantasma featuring Locos Por Juana and Ozomatli called “The Wall.” The lyrics talk about coming together to break the stereotypes among immigrants, specifically Mexicans.

The lyrics read: “Yo no soy un criminal / Tampoco un violador / Solo vengo como tu carnal / En busca de una vida mejor / No hay nadie Ilegal / En tierra robada,” which translates to “I’m not a criminal or a rapist, I come as your friend looking for a better life. No one is illegal on stolen land.”

“We’ve never considered ourselves a political band. We’ve always been a band that’s about good times, but obviously, we’re living in some difficult times,” Martinez said. “So [the current administration] definitely did wake us up and drove us to try to raise awareness.”

The lineup included Aloe Blacc and Maya Jupiter, La Santa Cecilia, Black Pumas, Grupo Fantasma, Bidi Bidi Banda and others.

Performances were full of life and love for the border as bands played classic instruments such as vihuelas and accordions, popular instruments for mariachi and norteño music.

According to Martinez, the purpose of the concert goes beyond entertainment value; it’s to inspire change.

“The main goal here is that we want to raise awareness and show solidarity against the border wall. We want people to know how it’s a waste of money. Instead of building this wall, that money can be redirected towards education, towards health care, towards social programs that can help actually solve the underlying problems,” Martinez said.

The addition of a finished border wall would also pose severe environmental risks, from harming the small ocelot population near the border to preventing necessary migration of butterflies and other species.

Activists and others spoke between each performance on topics such as defunding the wall and protecting the border. Voto Latino was a sponsor for the event, and encouraged viewers to text “Rock The Border” to 731-79 to receive a link to create a voting plan.

The No Border Wall Coalition is based in Laredo, Texas, which received national attention after artists and local residents painted a mural reading “Defund the wall, fund our future” on the street right in front of the U.S. federal courthouse in downtown Laredo. Learn more about the coalition and their goals and upcoming events on their website or Facebook page.