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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Contraband Corridos: Community And Controversy
Program #

Linda Fregoso
José Cuellar, José Villarino
Mar 25, 1982

Contraband Corridos: Community and Controversy

Linda Fregoso speaks with Professors Jose Cuellar and Jose Villarino about corridos and the recent popularity of contraband corridos. Villarino first traces the evolution of corridos and how their themes and sound have changed over time. He traces their origins to Europe’s 13th century Romanzas and describes some of the events in the Southwest Corridos have recorded. He also describes the genre’s poetic structure and musical arrangement. In the 1920s, musicians began to record their corridos, and many of the first songs they recorded were about drug smelling. Villarino explains that these songs were popular because they described real events occurring along the border, as Chicanos smuggled drugs and tequila into the United States. He then traces the history of contraband in the 20th century and the evolution of marijuana, heroin and cocaine smuggling. Fregoso notes that the popularity of contraband corridos did not mean Chicanos approved of smuggling. In fact, the corridos often warned against drug trafficking and portrayed smugglers as dupes who usually wound up dead or in jail. He then talks about the introduction of other musical instruments into corridor arrangements.

After the 1950s, contraband corridos became less popular until the 1970s when the song “Contrabando y Traicion” became a huge hit and Fregoso discusses the song’s popularity with her guests. They also discuss the anonymity of the Corrido’s narrative and characters. Cuellar explains that although many of the genre’s situations actually happened, we do not know who the real actors were. They also discuss the absence of corridos that are about drug users.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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