Contemporary Latin American Fiction

La playa D.C. and Aquí en el Ghetto

Entry Question

In Colombia, the 1990s began with a new constitution, passed in 1991, that highlighted the pluricultural and multiethnic nature of the country and created new participatory mechanisms and citizen rights at the same time, this period also witnessed rising poverty and inequity due in large measure to neoliberal reform, the expansion of the drug trade, the intensification of the domestic armed conflict, and the explosion of multiple forms of violence. Therefore, the narratives produced by progressive or “real” hip-hop consist primarily of lyrical representations of suffering in marginal populations, street life in the urban ghettos, and domestic and international facets of the internal war.

-Arlene Tickner, “Aquí en el Ghetto” (137)

Aquí en el Ghetto- A. Tickner 

The group Asilo 38 stands out for its wide-ranging commentary on the country’s economic, political, and social problems. The group originated in Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city, which is located near the Pacific port of Buenaventura and harbors its largest urban black population. (Page 138)

What were the different coping mechanisms represented by La Playa D.C. to deal with the violence and displacement of the civil war?

Historical Context

.”La violencia”

[La violencia was] ten years of brutal civil war between Liberals and Conservatives, a bloodletting so horrific that all Colombians simply refer to it as La Violencia. No one knows how many died. Estimates range from 180,000 to more than 200,000, making it far more devastating, given Colombia’s size than the U.S. Civil War. Death squads roamed the countryside on orders of the landed oligarchy, butchering any farmer suspected of being a Liberal, while guerrilla bands of Liberal Party supporters targeted the biggest landowners. (156)

La Violencia ended in 1957 after Liberal and Conservative leaders reached an agreement to alternate power. But the years of bloodshed had uprooted and permanently disfigured much of Colombian society… Violence. meanwhile emerged as an accepted Colombian way of settling disputes, not just in the countryside where the civil war had raged but in the cities and shantytowns created by the war’s refugees. (157)

.FARC guerilla vs Colombian State and its Paramilitary forces

Disaffected youths from urban slums became easy recruits for new left-wing guerrilla groups, such as M-19, while in the countryside, the FARC (Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution) and other revolutionary organizations wrested control of whole regions from the government. Several of the new revolutionary groups were started by former Liberal party members who did not accept the power-sharing truce that ended La Violencia [a civil war during the 40s and 50s], while others were newly inspired by the Cuban revolution.  (157)

The  Colombian army, unable to stamp out the guerrillas launched a dirty war against their supporters. Thousands were abducted, killed, or jailed by both soldiers and right-wing paramilitary groups on the slightest suspicion that they were sympathetic to the guerrilla. (158)

.Drug Cartels

In late 1975, drug lords from Cali and Medellín coalesced into competing cartels that battled each other for control of the world’s cocaine market. (157-8)

Those Colombians who refused the cartels’ bribes were simply terrorized into submission or killed. No one was safe. (161)

The cycle of violence in Colombian society was throwing the country into virtual anarchy. Shooting wars between the drug cartels between the cartels and the government, between the guerrillas and the cartels. and between the guerrillas and the government led to constant outbreaks of bombings, kidnappings, hijacking, and assassinations, as well as complex and labyrinthine alliances between those responsible. (160)

-Juan González, Harvest of Empire

Peace Agreement

In 2016, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement after three years of negotiations and at least four failed peace talks since 1982.

Central Agreements:

.Land reform and restitution

.Political participation

.Reincorporation of ex-combatants and security guarantees

.Substitutions of illicit crops

.Victims reparations and the protections of the civilians

Overall, only 6 % of the goals and objectives set out in the peace accord were accomplished between 2018 and 2019.

Oral/Slide Presentations

Gonzalez,Diego A


Grechka,Inna V

Jara,Yecienia Natali

Hip Hop and Latin America

Hip Hop resonates in Latin America and the Caribbean because of its legacy of colonialism and slavery. There is a rich oral tradition in the region connected to the stories of people with African roots. Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest concentration of people with African ancestry outside Africa — up to 70 percent of the population in some countries. The region imported over ten times as many slaves as the United States and kept them in bondage far longer. Hip Hop in Latin America reminds us how the African cultural contribution is often forgotten or ignored.

Contextualizing Hip Hop 

Hip-hop exhibits a series of shared meanings and aesthetics that confirm the existence of a translocal network of cultural practices. The lyrical content of rap, especially, provides words, resources, and knowledge for articulating similar but not identical lived problems encountered in distinct places and times. The basic common denominator of this translocal space is the shared experience of marginality, understood as racial and ethnic discrimination, poverty, violence, and hardship. Hip-hop’s location in everyday life problems, however, also generates strong variations in local narratives, depending on the specific cultural contexts in which it is inscribed.  (Tickner 130)

Case Studies

I. Colombia

The song narrates a story of sadness and despair that characterizes everyday life in a poor and violent neighborhood in Bogota. The characters include a homeless man; a prostitute arrested for the umpteenth time for drug possession; her small children, who are forced to earn a living cleaning car windshields at stoplights; and an innocent youth unfairly accused of trying to steal an expensive car and then shot down and killed by the corrupt police. (134)

How this song by La Etnia compares to what the film La Playa D.C. depicts?