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VMAs history-maker Peso Pluma postpones US shows after cartel threats

Mexican artist Peso Pluma, who made history as the first música Mexicana star to perform at the MTV VMAs, now faces possible cartel violence.
VMAs history-maker Peso Pluma postpones US shows after cartel threats
Posted at 7:22 PM, Sep 14, 2023

It was a huge day for música Mexicana and its venture into global appeal. As Mexican artist Peso Pluma took over the MTV Video Music Awards stage for a moment this week, he became the first in the genre to perform at the popular U.S. awards show. 

He showcased his song "Lady Gaga," resonating with the crowd in an edgy scene before a full theater broadcast on television. The unique sound blended the traditional with the new, in what was still unmistakably Mexican. 

An orchestra of violins helped Peso Pluma grab the attention of fans. But the performance also grabbed the attention of a cartel in Mexico. 

Spanish language news outlets quickly picked up on a photo of a banner that was hung off a bridge in the La Isla neighborhood in Tijuana, Mexico. The banner contained, in red letters in Spanish, a threat directed at the artist, whose real name is Hassan Emilio Kabande Laija.

The banner used his stage name and, translated to English said, "This goes to Peso Pluma, refrain from presenting yourself on October 14 because it will be your last show due to your disrespect and loose tongue — you show up and we are going to beat the s*** out of you." 

The banner was signed "CJNG," which is the acronym for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. That cartel dedicates its work to drug and arms trafficking, according to the outlet Tikitakas

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The threats caused worry among city leaders that an event with the artist in their town could cause major violence. 

The mayor of the border town Tijuana, Montserrat Caballero, revealed that an investigation was started by a prosecutor's office in Mexico ahead of 24-year-old Peso Pluma's scheduled October show there. 

Caballero said, "It is up to me to protect the citizens of Tijuana, and therefore in the next few days we will determine if the concert will take place or not."

Representatives for the artist had not immediately commented on the threats publicly.

Multiple U.S. tour dates showed up as postponed or canceled according to Ticket Master — but it wasn't clear if any security concerns in the U.S. caused those cancellations, or if U.S. authorities were working with Mexican officials after the threats. 

Caballero said, "Singers such as Peso Pluma make apologies for crime, so there are certain groups that get upset."

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