Radical Tunes

Music has always been closely linked to the struggle of the people. In every country, where people or minorities are oppressed (so…every country) you will find songs conveying their sacrifices, suffering, will for freedom, and burning hatred for the oppressors. Jazz and Blues were both invented by African American slaves of the Southern States of USA (3) while HipHop has its roots in the African American Ghettos of New York (5). Revolutionary Songs like “Bella Ciao” fuel the hearts of inner resistance fighters and were sung by hundreds of (predominantly Italian) partisan fighters during the second world war. Listening to the Red Army Choir, you will be immersed by an overwhelming powerful feeling that floods your body and you can basically see the proletarian armies marching on the street while their boots crush the bourgeois and their capitalistic regime. At nearly every demonstration you will find people chanting and singing because music unites the people and strengthens their hearts. Therefore, it seems only fitting that we have a design that is somewhat linked to music.

The design for the “Radical Tunes” Shirt was inspired by a photograph of the Colombian musician Cesar Lopez during a demonstration in Bogota, Colombia in 2019. The photo was taken by Mauricio Alvarado (we assume on December 8, 2019). Lopez is a peace-activist in Colombia (4). The photo shows him holding up an AK-47 transformed into a guitar. He calls those: Escopetarra. It’s a composition of the Spanish words “escopeta” (shotgun) and “guitarra” (guitar). The “Escopetarra” is a peace symbol, representing the victory of creativity over death. Check out this article about him by the “Schwelle Foundation” (click here). This guy is pretty badass and even though, the revolution won’t be won by music and peaceful protests alone, we really love the message he is sending.

Courtesy to Mauricio Alvarado (2019, December 8)

What happened?

2019 has seen a wave of protest in Latin America like seldom before. Starting in Chile, Ecuador, and Haiti, the people, fed up with the neoliberal and oppressive economy, went on the streets to demonstrate (1). The protests grew to the biggest mass demonstrations in Chile since the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The revolts were quickly taken up in other countries, like Colombia. The Colombian people, also fed up with the neoliberal reforms that would further privatize state-owned companies, abolish minimum wages and pensions as well as decrease the funding for education, took to the streets in protest. Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protestors demonstrated across the country. A sight to behold. The protests were fuelled by centuries of oppression, the killing of hundreds of social and indigenous leaders, unequal payments, and lacking access to education (2). President Ivan Duque tried to stop the protests with the promise of national dialogues on the issues (6). However, this was not enough, and the people continued demanding their rights. Even though, the protests were mainly peaceful, Duque tried to break it by using the notoriously violent riot squad ESMAD (2). They were, among others, responsible for the killing of 18-year old Dilan Cruz (7).

The protests in whole Latin America were forcefully stopped due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. One can assume that if the pandemic had not shown up, we would have seen a major change in the political environment of Latin America. However, the protests have partly been taken up again and we can only hope that the people of Latin America keep on fighting for their rights and will have success in doing so. They have been suffering under the boots of neo-colonialism and neoliberalism for too long.  

 We will donate part of the money made with this design to Children Change Colombia. They do a lot of good work, like strengthening children's protection against sexual violence, trying to improve children's access to education, and making communities safer places for children to grow up. Click here to check out their website and get some more information.

Solidaridad Pa' Siempre!


  1. Castro, N. (2019, November 13). Mass protests in Latin America against the neoliberal model. Equaltimes. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://www.equaltimes.org/mass-protests-in-latin-america?lang=en#.XttY6cDgpPY
  2. Franz, T. & Suarez, A.G. (2019, December 16). Why is Colombia striking for change? Latin America and Caribbean Centre. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/latamcaribbean/
  3. Kopp, E. (2005, August 16). A Brief History of the Blues. All about Jazz. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/a-brief-history-of-the-blues-by-ed-kopp.php
  4. n.d. (n.d.). Music as a path to reconciliation in Colombia: Cesar Lopez. Schwelle Foundation. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://dieschwelle.de/nc/en/topics/article/news/music-as-a-path-to-reconciliation-in-colombia-cesar-lopez.html
  5. Tate, G. & Light, A. (n.d.). Hip-Hop. Britannica. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cee-Lo-Green
  6. Wilpert, G. (2019, November 26). Colombian Students, Unions Mobilize Against Neoliberal Reforms While Governments Stalls. The Real News Network. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://therealnews.com/stories/colombian-students-unions-mobilize-against-neoliberal-reforms
  7. Yuhas, A. (2019, November 26). Death of Colombian Teenager Drives Protesters Back to Streets. The New York Times. Retrieved on June 6, 2020 from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/world/americas/colombia-protests.html

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