The mayor of Manizales canceled a Calle 13 concert on Monday after the lead singer for the Puerto Rican rappers wore a T-shirt appearing to link President Alvaro Uribe to illegal paramilitaries.
Colombia’s government last week complained after singer Rene Perez, who goes by the name “Residente,” appeared on an MTV show wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Uribe paramilitary.”
Calle 13, nominated for five awards at the Latin Grammys, were scheduled to perform at a festival in Manizales in January, but Mayor Juan Manuel Llano said the group would not be allowed to take part.
“It is an insult to Colombians that someone of talent would use this to attack Colombians and especially our president,” Llano told local radio. “Manizales has decided under no circumstances or for any reason can this group take part.”
Colombia’s foreign ministry on Friday called the statement about Uribe “offensive” and “slanderous.” During the show, Perez also made remarks about Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Puerto Rico’s governor.
A conservative U.S. ally, Uribe is popular for taking on leftist rebels and curbing his country’s long war. But scores of his lawmaker allies are under investigation for ties to death squads accused of massacres and cocaine smuggling.
Illegal paramilitary groups once controlled large parts of Colombia and murdered civilians suspected of working with insurgents. Uribe negotiated a peace deal with militia bosses and extradited most to the United States. (Reuters)