:: tyranny 1. ::
Miami, May 1st, 2005. Thousands of people gathered today in front of the resting place of two of the greatest musical geniuses to ever cross the Rio Grande. Coming from all over the world, the followers of the "Paz, amor y mucho Ron" [peace, love and lots of rum] movement sang in mass unforgettable songs of the once unbeatable group "Los Bicharacheros" throughout the night. A mattress of exotic flowers and folkloric traditional Guatemalan dresses decorated the tombs of Juan Lésmez and Pablo Martínez who once claimed to be "more popular than the Sacred Heart of Jesus". Leidy Pérez, a sixty year old Peruvian fan, stated "You can really feel the love here, there is no other place in the world where you can feel so proud to be Latin American. Los Bicharacheros are proof of the potential of the people that are a product of interratial mixture. I heard them for the first time while being in a barbecue [pollada] and knew that i would never stop dancing to their beautiful music".
It all started in Huehuetenángo, northeast of Guatemala city,where a young unemployed Juan Lésmez replied to a flyer requesting entertainers for the yearly carnival. Amongst other talented Guatemalan singers, Juan entered the stage dressed in a blue striped suit with nothing else but his guitar and with his mellow hypnotic voice. He started uttering the lyrics of the later top of British and American charts "Por favor, favoréceme". The public didn't respond quite as well as he expected to this new beat, and Juan, with a devastated self-esteem was booed off the stage. Later that day, Pablo Martínez on bass and his friend Iván Vásquez on box [a traditional Latin American percussion instrument] performed successfully and began their race towards fame. Rumors say that backstage Pablo approached Juan and saluted him for his courage and musical vision. After a few months, Pablo's fiend, Iván, was sent abroad for musical training leaving Juan and Pablo without a band. They then met Jorge Enríquez, son of a renowned trumpeter whose musical training brought to the group the melodic diversity and support that was later recognized as one of the basic elements of the success of the group. The percussionist Ricardo Estrella, fourth and last member of Los Bicharacheros, met Juan in a tavern and got into a fight with him over who was the ugliest woman to ever sing in a band. Juan once stated that the reason for bringing Ricardo into the band was the rhythmical manner with which he had "beaten the crap out of me after saying that Celia Cruz was not that bad-looking".
Once the group was together, the pace of the creative process sped up on a daily basis. Having written over 40 songs in just one year, but not yet having a recording company or manager, the fame of the group became too big for the small city of Huehuetenángo. They moved to Guatemala city and recorded a demo with two songs: "Agárrame la manita" and "Por favor, favoréceme". Both songs started circulating in local radio stations and gained the group enormous fame and a contract for an EP containing six new songs. Los Bicharacheros' music spread like a bush fire throughout the Southamerican continent and an intensive touring schedule was proposed. By then, they were the biggest band to ever travel South America, legions of raging fans -both female and male- awaited them in airports and bus stations hoping to get a glance of Los Cuatro Sabrosos [the flavoury four].
1964 was the year that marked the turn of events for the four; while giving a concert in Buenos Aires, a vacationing American entrepreneur came across the band and instantly recognized their potential for grandness. They were invited to take part in the most popular television show in America; for the first time, a group of Latin American musicians were to participate in the massification of entertainment. On February 9 1964, four youngsters dressed in colorful huipils [a kind of tunic] stepped onto the stage of the Ed Sullivan show and set a new pattern for music in the twentieth century. Acoustic guitars, trumpets, bass and box became the standard in popular music, young people all over the world thrived to dance to the up-beat tropical sounds that with simple, easy to relate to lyrics, represented the change of a generation. The greatness of the four began to create friction among them, they were, by now, known as the four greatest musical talents of the century. Driven by the abuse of alcohol and psychoactive teas,they began to write music that was in every sense revolutionary. All around the world, young people started to learn spanish and huge congregations of tourists swarmed the small streets of both Huehuetenángo and Guatemala city. To this day, the childhood homes of the flavoury four are a site for pilgrimage and love. Guatemala began growing economically and by the recognition of its peoples value advanced from the "Third World" to a political, and cultural potency. For this, the four were condecorated with the "Orden del Quetzal en el Grado de Gran Cruz" the highest honour a Guatemalan citizen can receive.
Because of their humble origins, Los Bicharacheros were constantly preoccupied by political assets; rejecting war and all kinds of "imperialist" impositions on the "Third World", Juan, Pablo, Jorge and Richi, took a stand and proclaimed their selves as the ambassadors of peace. Their search for ways to understand the possibility of a world without war led them to the Vatican where they found a broadening of their minds through Gregorian chants and penitence. Nevertheless, the habits of the road-life took a toll upon them and almost forced them to separate. Jorge found that life was meant to be lived abiding the word of the Lord and became a member of the Opus Dei. Juan and Pablo, claiming to have "unreconciliable differences" went their separate ways. Juan settled in Miami and opened a karaoke bar that to this day serves traditional Guatemalan dishes. Pablo became a record producer, also in Miami, and was responsible for the discovery of other great Latin talents such as Marc Antony, Jerry Rivera and Salserin. As for Richi, the feeling of abandonment that the break up bestowed upon him made him reconsider his role in society returning to Huehuetenángo to become a school district teacher.
The 1980 Bicharacheros reunion had a tragic end. After performing legendary songs like "Déjalo sano", "La gira de la Sabrosura Mágica", "Oye Judith", "Amame, si?", "Qué hubo, Chaolas", a group of fans, overwhelmed by the situation accidentally set the stage on fire. A witness, who prefers to stay unnamed states: "It was horrible, no one could control themselves, all the lighters in the room, that swayed gracefully with the music, suddenly formed a great ball of fire that landed between Juan and Pablo, whose wooden instruments were consumed almost instantly... [sobs]... i couldn't believe that it was happening, everyone was screaming and running around, Richi and Jorge ran for help, but by the time they got back it was all over..."
In a gesture of gratefulness, fans from all over the world buried Pablo and Juan side by side and engraved on the tombstones the words: "Paz, Amor y mucho Ron. Con ustedes siempre."