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Tijuana Blocks Three Narco-Corrido Stars From Annual Fair

Alfredo Rios "El Komander" is a popular singer of Mexican corridos, mostly about the country's violent drug war. This poster from the singer's Facebook page announces a show in Louisville, Kent. July 12, 2014.

Aired 7/15/14 on KPBS News.

The City of Tijuana is trying to keep three singers of so-called "narco ballads" from performing at the city's annual fair.

The city of Tijuana is refusing to allow three popular musicians who sing violent lyrics about Mexico's drug war to perform at its annual fair.

The singers are Alfredo Rios, who goes by the stage name El Komander, Javier Rosas and Gerardo Ortiz. All sing of guns, drugs and the murderous narco war in Mexico to a backdrop of whimsical melodies marked by accordions, guitars and horns.

Rios is no stranger to censure. The central Mexican city of Morelos canceled one of his concerts earlier this year. And the city of Chihuahua, near the Texas border, fined his promoters $8,000 last year after a concert there.

Now, the City of Tijuana apparently doesn’t want Rios’ blood-spattered songs raining on its 2014 Feria Tijuana, which coincides with the city’s 125th anniversary. Mayor Jorge Astiazarán told the Tijuana newspaper Frontera that he believes in freedom of expression except when it incites violence.

Astiazarán also told the paper that the city’s police department had recommended banning the three performers from the fair, which takes place in August and September.

A spokesperson for the police department, Rafael Morales, wouldn’t confirm that. Morales said he couldn’t remember any violent incidents taking place at local performances of the banned singers in the past.

In a 2011 interview with KPBS, El Komander’s producer Adolfo Valenzuela, who’s based in Burbank, defended the star’s ultra-violent lyrics, saying that’s what fans want.

“It’s a market, and I’m in the music industry. If I don’t do it, someone else is doing it," he said.

El Komander played at Tijuana’s Caliente Stadium in April to more than 5,000 adoring fans.

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