Ruben Blades

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I was the first person to come into New York with a Latin American point of view which was also very much influenced by political happenings in Latin America

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Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna was born July 16, 1948. Rubén Blades, is a Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter, actor, latin jazz musician, and activist. As songwriter, Blades brought the lyrical sophistication of Central American nueva canción and Cuban nueva trova as well as experimental tempos and politically inspired Nuyorican salsa to his music, creating thinking persons’ (salsa) dance music. Blades has composed dozens of musical hits, the most famous of which is “Pedro Navaja,” a song about a neighborhood thug who appears to die during a robbery, inspired by “Mack the Knife.” He also composed and sings “Patria” (Fatherland), which many Panamanians consider their second national anthem.
He is an icon in Panama and is much admired throughout Latin America and Spain, and managed to attract 18% of the vote in his failed attempt to win the Panamanian presidency in 1994. In September 2004, he was appointed minister of tourism by Panamanian president Martín Torrijos for a five-year term.