• Joel Dwek & Danny Wiser

World Music Advent Calendar - December 20th

Updated: Jun 13

PANAMÁ: 20 De Diciembre - Rubén Blades


Panamanian salsa superstar Rubén Blades, tackled the difficult subject of the US invasion of his home nation that took place five days before Christmas in 1989. The song, unlike much of his more upbeat work, is a traditional 'guaguanco', which is a stripped down form of Cuban folk music that is typically used for story-telling and relies only on drumming and vocals as instrumentation. The singer deftly compares the invasion to an ersatz Christmas present that instead of bringing joy brings great sadness and pain. The Panamanian festive spirit is still unwavering despite the sadness and pain that the heavy-handed nature of the invasion caused, an event that is still regarded with mixed feelings by the population. As Blades says in the song ‘Now and always we remember’ (Ahora y siempre, recordemos), and whilst the memory of the events do not blight Christmas celebrations, Blades’ music serves as another way to remind his compatriots of the importance of honouring the memory of the event.