The 2015 Latin Grammys turned political Thursday night when the Mexican rock band Maná and norteño-band ensemble Los Tigres del Norte unfurled a sign on stage reading, “Latinos unidos no voten por los racistas” (or “United Latinos, don’t vote for racists”), an intentional jab at some of the hateful rhetoric that some 2016 presidential candidates on the right have espoused about Latinos.
Soon after Maná and Los Tigres del Norte finished the immigrant anthem Somos Mas Americanos (“We Are More American”), the two groups jointly held up the sign while the audience cheered.
— El Universal (@El_Universal_Mx) November 20, 2015
Maná posted a video link on Twitter, urging Latinos not to vote for racists and promoting a website to register or pledge to vote sponsored by the immigrant advocacy group Voto Latino. In Spanish, he said, “Hi friends. How are you? I’m here at the Grammys. I want to give you some news that’s very interesting. The United States is the country with the second highest spanish-speaking population on the planet after Mexico. That means there is a power and a will here. Use that power to go out and vote. Register and vote for the candidate that is most humane.”
— Maná (@manaoficial) November 20, 2015
The two groups didn’t call out any particular candidates. But Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has largely built his campaign by denigrating Mexican immigrants as rapists, drug dealers, and killers. Trump has also called for extreme measures, like mass deportation for undocumented immigrants, many of whom have personal connections to Latinos.
The growing Latino electorate could swing the 2016 presidential race, though they’re underrepresented in many U.S. elections. As the 2012 presidential election showed, only 27 percent of eligible Latino citizens voted, with the vast majority heavily leaning for President Barack Obama.
Though the Republican party produced a post-election autopsy report calling to embrace minority voters, many candidates are unmoved by that advice. Just recently, the Republican National Committee suspended its partnership with NBC News moderators for the Republican primary debate in February 2016, potentially shutting out debate partners at Telemundo, the second largest Spanish language network. And in some key battleground states like Virginia, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, Republican presidential candidates will need anywhere between 42 and 47 percent of the Latino vote.
According to a recent AP-GfK poll, only one in ten Latinos view Trump favorably.
Special thanks to Audrey Lopez and Juan Escalante for providing help with translations.