Calle 13 releases anti-violence anthem & video with support from UNICEF

By Hilary Gridley

“There’s little education, there are many bullets; When you read less, you fire more.” “Hay poca educación, hay muchos cartuchos; cuando se lee poco, se dispara mucho.”


These lines, from Calle 13’s new song “La Bala” (“The Bullet”), paint a grim portrait of violent crime in Latin America and the Caribbean. But the Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican band also provides a solution-driven message of hope through education, a message made even clearer with the release of their new UNICEF-endorsed music video for “La Bala.”

The video follows an invisible bullet and the immediate and long-term disorder it cultivates around the world. The filmmakers never reveal where the bullet ends up, but it doesn’t matter; the invisible ammunition still tears through lives and devastates families wherever it goes. And while the brothers behind Calle 13 wanted to draw attention to crime rates in the Caribbean and Latin America, René Pérez Joglar (aka Residente) and Eduardo Cabra Martínez (aka Visitante) recognize the global importance of their message.

“La Bala has stopped being a song within our musical production to become an instrument against violence and the use of firearms around the world,” said Visitante. “This is a battle for peace, and throughout history, music has been a fundamental element that sways the emotions of those who can identify with the message. We trust the music, once again, will help to achieve such an important goal for all humanity”.

To ensure their message crosses country lines, the band included scenes shot in Japan, Germany, Argentina, Ecuador, Spain, France, Holland, Israel, Mexico, USA and Puerto Rico. The song’s universal lyrics, which include lines like “Si no mata hoy, por lo menos deja una herida” (“If it doesn’t kill today, it will at least leave a wound”), have been translated into nine languages.

Calle 13 also received an official endorsement from UNICEF, which helped spread the message by promoting the video on their social networks. This marks the second time the activist group has collaborated with UNICEF on a social justice campaign. Last year they teamed up to fight human trafficking, exploitation and HIV.

“Children and teenagers are the most vulnerable to violence,” said Bernt Aasen, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Even if it does not harm them directly, it leaves lifelong emotional scars. That is why UNICEF is proud to be a part of this initiative that seeks to grab the public’s attention and generate a dialogue concerning this phenomenon that has reached epidemic proportions in our region.”

According to a global study on homicides in 2011 by UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the region including Latin America and the Caribbean has the world’s highest rate of crime and violence. But when a vocally anti-gun violence band can get both worldwide acclaim and a remarkably strong following, there’s hope for the future.

Find out how you can support UNICEF’s child protection work here and watch the video for “La Bala” below:

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