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Spanish anthem elicits mixed Hispanic reaction

Some like the solidarity the song shows; others think it lacks respect
/ Source: The Associated Press

Shopkeepers at one of the city’s busiest tourist destinations had mixed reactions Friday to the release of a Spanish-language version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

But most who worked Olvera Street, a marketplace that celebrates the city’s Spanish and Mexican heritage, were not aware of the release of “Nuestro Himno,” which means “Our Anthem.” The song features artists such as Wyclef Jean, Carlos Ponce and Olga Tanon.

The song’s release has stirred controversy because it rewrites some of the English version and coincides with a planned May 1 national boycott in support of immigration reforms. President Bush said Friday that he doesn’t support boycotts and believes the national anthem should be sung in English and not Spanish.

Claudia Venancio, 23, who works at a shop on Olvera Street, said she understood why “Nuestro Himno” is being debated, but she still supports the song.

“It’s for a good cause,” said Venancio, who said she hopes to take Monday off. “What I like is that different nationalities got together to do it. The cause is for everybody, not only for Mexicans.”

The record label that released the song urged Hispanic radio stations nationwide to show solidarity by playing it late Friday. Some stations honored the call, but many carried on with their usual programming.

The song features a collection of artists singing together in a “We Are the World”-style verse-sharing approach. It’s more pop-flavored than the typical ballgame version of the national anthem, and it’s peppered with shouts such as “We’ll keep fighting.”

The song is the brainchild of British music producer Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor the millions of immigrants seeking a better life in the U.S. with a Spanish-language version of the national anthem.

Singer Andy Andy, who contributed to the recording, said on local Spanish radio station 107.5 FM, that the translation pays “careful attention to the essence” of the national anthem.

“It’s a respectful translation,” he said.

Shopkeeper Isala Sanchez disagreed. While she supports immigration reform and plans to stay home from work Monday, she said the translation shows “a lack of respect.”

“Other countries wouldn’t like it if we did that to their anthems,” she said in Spanish. “I really hate it. It’s a song for the United States. It would be better to make a new song for immigrants.”