For much of the campaign trail, pundits have said that Bernie Sanders has a Latino problem.
The narrative has been that his opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, has stronger roots and ground game among Latino communities and that the voting bloc’s support cannot be wrested away.
But Sanders received a helpful boost in his efforts to prove pundits wrong this week from a somewhat unexpected source: a viral video of a California Norteño band singing a corrido that praises his candidacy.
Grupo La Meta of Modesto, California published their song “El Quemazón” (Translation for “The Burn,” which presumably is a play on “Feeling ‘the Bern'”) to YouTube on Tuesday and the video has been seen more than 30,000 times since. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Juve Quintana, the 26-year-old singer and songwriter for the group said he was turned on to Sanders by his girlfriend.
“I can relate to him and everything he wants to do for us,” Quintana told Buzzfeed News. “I thought what can I do so the Hispanics, the paisanos, the Mexicans vote for him? Everyone I speak to says ‘I’m going to vote for Hillary’ and I say ‘Have you heard of Bernie Sanders?” And they say ‘No, I don’t even know who that is.’”
A corrido is a traditional poem or song in the Spanish language, which is especially popular in Mexico. In recent years, the song form has been used to lionize drug dealers and cartel leaders, but had been used traditionally to tell romantic stories and epic adventures.
The group’s song follows many of the traditions of corridos like speaking about the protagonist’s life in heroic terms, positioning him as an Everyman fighting against enormous odds and exaggerating some of his characteristics (the song claims Sanders “sees everyone as children of God” even though the candidate has never expressed an overtly religious message during his campaign and characterizes him as a “Robin Hood” figure.)
The song also makes Sanders appealing to working-class Mexican families by touting his record of fighting against the rich, supporting civil rights and fighting against segregation, even calling him “compa,” a word used to designate close friends.
It makes an effort to connect him to the struggle of Mexican working-class families by saying neither the rich nor television want him, emphasizing that Sanders also had immigrant parents and wants everyone – regardless of legal status- to have health insurance and saying that Sanders noticed from a young age that the rich got richer while the poor “no tenian ni para el frijol” – a colloquial way of saying, people were starving.
Here in full are the song’s lyrics in Spanish and English translations:
Es un hombre con muchas visiones (He’s a man with many ideas)
para mejorar a este país, (On how to improve this country)
corriendo para ser presidente, (running to be the next president)
pero los ricos no lo quieren aquí. (but the rich do not want him here.)
Bernie Sanders se llama el compa, (Bernie Sanders is the ‘compa’s’ name)
su quemazón ahora van a sentir. (And now you will feel his Bern.)
Nueva York estado que lo vio nacer, (The state of New York is where he was born)
En las calles de Brooklyn se crío, (In the streets of Brooklyn he was raised)
Desde niño empezó a notar, (Since he was a child he started to see)
Que los ricos se hacían más ricos, (That the rich just kept getting richer)
Y los pobres todo el día chambeando, (And the poor who were working all day)
Y muchos ni tenían para el frijol. (Barely had enough to eat.)
Hijo de padres inmigrantes, (He’s the son of immigrant parents,)
que vinieron a mejorar sus vidas, (who came to make a better life for themselves,)
Trabajando para salir adelante, (working hard to get ahead,)
como todos lo hacemos hoy en día. (like we all do every day.)
Venimos con el mismo sueño, (We all come with the same dream,)
sacar adelante a nuestras familias. (make a better life for our families.)
¡Y echale compa Bernie! (Let’s go Bernie!)
Hasta llegar a la Casa Blanca. (All the way to the White House.)
Los ricos ni la tele lo quieren, (Neither the rich, nor TV like him, )
Tienen miedo que vaya a ganar, (They’re scared he might win,)
Porque quiere que el colegio sea gratis, (Because he wants college to be free,)
Pa’ que nuestros hijos puedan triunfar, (So our kids can succeed.)
Quiere cuidado de salud para todos, (He wants health insurance for all,)
Sea ciudadano o seas illegal. (whether or not you’re a citizen.)
En Chicago caio tras las rejas, (In Chicago, he fell behind prison bars,)
Por protestar contra la segregación, (For fighting against segregation,)
No le importa el color de tu piel, (He doesn’t care about the color of your skin,)
Pa’ el todos somos hijos de Dios. (He thinks we’re all children of God.)
Muchos le apodan ‘Robin Hood,’ (Many call him Robin Hood,)
otros le dicen ‘El Quemazón.’ (Others call him The Bern.)
Peleando por los derechos humanos, (Fighting for human rights,)
Pero ni la ley lo aplaco, (Not even the law could stop him,)
El sigue luchando hasta ser (He’ll keep fighting until he is)
Presidente de esta nación. (the president of this country.)
Bernie Sanders se llama el compa (Bernie Sanders is the compa’s name,)
Este es su corrido ‘El Quemazón.’ (This is his song, The Bern.)
Correction: This story has been updated. The band “Grupo La Meta” is from Modesto, which is not in Southern California.