Mexico May Elect Its First Woman President: This Songwriter Prepared Her Song

RMAG news

As a child, Vivir Quintana thought she could aspire to be anything but president of Mexico. “Back then I thought it was a job for men,” recalls the Mexican singer-songwriter, who now sings to the woman who could become on Sunday (June 2) the first female president of the Latin American country, framed for years by its machista culture.

“Compañera Presidenta” is the song that Quintana composed in honor of Mexico’s potential first female president, a respectful letter to the two women leading the polls: candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, of the ruling Morena party, and Xóchitl Gálvez, the standard-bearer of the opposition alliance formed by the PRI, PAN and PRD parties.

Que no te duermas sin deberle la justicia a las madres que ahora buscan por ahí a sus hijas entre fosas clandestinas,” reads a fragment of her song, translating to “That you do not go to sleep without owing justice to the mothers who are now searching out there for their daughters among clandestine graves.” Released Monday (May 27) night, the song honors the tireless work done by Mexican mothers searching for their missing children among the nearly 100,000 unaccounted for since 1962, according to official figures.

“The mothers who fight are the ones who have touched my life and my heart the most. I have been with them in public and intimate moments, feeling pain for all of them and crying out for justice,” Quintana tells Billboard Español.

The song arrives just days after the artist, originally from Coahuila, in northern Mexico, posted a message on her X account addressing both candidates where she asks them for empathy for causes such as gender violence. The response from the presidential hopefuls came just hours later on the same social network.

“Dear Vivir, dear companion. Your music moves and inspires me. Your call to work together gives me the certainty that Mexico can be a different country. A country where going out on the street is not a risk for women. A country where equality is not a claim but a palpable reality,” tweeted Galvez.

On the other hand, Sheimbaum responded: “Vivir, thank you for your letter. It is clear to me that I do not arrive alone, we all arrive; with our ancestors, with our mothers, with our daughters and our granddaughters. I will be a companion, with responsibility and sensitivity. I will be at the service of our generous and wonderful people.”

“I didn’t expect the response so quickly,” Quintana tells Billboard Español about the May 24 exchange. “The truth is that I was very hopeful about the response from both of them, and I hope that whoever is elected, I will accompany her with my music. Yes, I am being a supporter, but I also hope that it is a commitment on their part.”

The social-justice corridos singer explains that “Compañera Presidenta” (roughly translating to “Dear Madam President”) is her own composition, featured in the book Presidenta, by journalist Yuriria Sierra. In the book, Sierra brings together a hundred women from various fields including culture, politics, activism and economy, to share their hopes for the nation’s future with the next leader of the Federal Executive.

“My way of communicating with people, with my parents, with my friends, is through music,” explains Quintana. “That’s where the idea came from.”

With one album to her name, 2023’s Te Mereces Un Amor, Vivir Quintana has become a benchmark for social corridos, a fusion of traditional Mexican music with lyrics about societal issues. Her song “Canción Sin Miedo” (2020), inspired by the femicide of a friend, became the feminist anthem that accompanies all marches and demonstrations against gender violence in Mexico, and the struggle of searching mothers and defenders of human rights and the environment.

In addition, the song “Árboles Bajo el Mar,” which she performs as a duet with Mare Advertencia Lirika, was included in the soundtrack of the 2022 film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And her song “Te Mereces un Amor” was part of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s playlist to confront corridos tumbados, which he believes glorifies the opulent and eccentric lifestyles of drug traffickers to the youth.

Mexico will hold the largest general election in its history on Sunday, when more than 97 million Mexicans will go to the polls to vote for the renewal of just over 20,000 elected officials, including the country’s presidency.

Quintana says she will also make her vote count as a Mexican citizen. In addition to Sheinbaum and Gálvez, the standard-bearer of the Movimiento Ciudadano party, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, also aspires to be president of Mexico.

“I feel that Xóchitl (Gálvez) and Claudia (Sheinbaum) serve as referents, showing that there have been other female candidates before them, and that we are not far from it being achieved,” she says. “My 16-year-old niece can now dream of becoming a woman president. Let it not be seen as unattainable.”