Following death threats against her and her grandsons, iconic singer Petrona Martinez said Monday she has left her northern Colombia home.
The “Queen of Bullerengue,” who is 73 years old and suffers from heart disease, told local media she was threatened in September following a fight at her home involving her grandsons, in which a man died. She is now living in the town of Arjona after threats from the family members of the victim, who blame the singer and her family.
The Department of Bolivar police, who have investigated the incident, have offered the singer any security measures she needs, including accompaniment at her home, but Martinez says she may sell her home in the village of Palenquito and move to Arjona permanently. “I’m outraged that I was treated so badly in Palenquito, I’m not going back there,” she said.
Martinez is one of the most well-known Afro-colombian voices from the Carribean. In recent weeks she has had an operation for her heart problems. She also suffers from diabetes. Her son Llerena Alvaro Martinez, a musician who lives in Spain, has come home to be with her. “On the phone I told him I was fine, but he did not feel calm. Now he’s here with me, but many people seem to not care all I’m living,” said Martinez.
Llenera says it is difficult for his mother to get the best treatment because she is only covered by government health insurance. “This is not about charity or pity, my mom has done much for this country and deserve the best.” Llerena said. He will respect her decision to remain in Arjona and is considering legal action against those who made the threats against her.
Petrona Martinez comes from a long line of folk singers and learnt to sing at a young age from her grandmother and greatgrandmother. She achieved international fame with her 1999 album “Le Bullerengue” and toured Europe to great acclaim. She has been nominated for two Latin Grammy awards.