Mexican singer-songwriter Gabino Palomares has a special place in Latin America’s “Nueva Canción” (New Song) movement. His most recognizable song, “La Maldición de Malinche” (Malinche’s Curse) confronts the historic devastation Spanish colonialism had on Indigenous people and is widely considered one of the most important songs of the Americas.

Since his emergence in the mid-1970s, Palomares has traveled the world with his guitar, singing songs about the struggles of common folk against the forces of oppression. His work offers critical reality checks about life and politics in Mexico, echoing the voices and legacies of fellow troubadours like Amparo Ochoa, Oscar Chavez and Chava Flores.

At 73 years of age, Palomares continues to combine music and activism. His 2023 album, “Amo a Este Pais,” spoke to Mexico’s pandemic tribulations, along with a revival of some of his classic songs. “50 years have flown by,” he said on Radio Bilingue. “It gives me joy when people stop me in the metro or in the streets, remembering me singing in their schools, marches and for their organizations.”

Nueva Canción in Latin America

Ignited by South American folk artists like Mercedes Sosa, Victor Jara and Violetta Parra, the Nueva Cancion movement uses poetic and symbolic prose as lyrics to inspire everyday people to fight for justice and equity. Their legacy was continued by post-revolutionary Cuban Nueva Trova singer- songwriters like Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes, who sang about a new day in socialist Cuba. 

“When we came together as a movement of singers, we sang in favor of human rights, in pursuit of peace, and in support of people fighting for their freedom and dignity,” commented Gabino Palomares in an archived interview with Migrant Media. 

Mexico’s Nueva Canción 

The Mexican iteration of the movement added a historical lineage of corrido folk ballads, telling the tales of fallen heroes and heroines. It skewered Mexican governmental policies and practices with lyrical grit that was oftentimes subversive. At its core, however, the songs of Gabino Palomares are beacons of hope that exude a love for the artist’s people and his country. 

“My role is to serve my fellow human beings,” said Palomares. “When someone tells me that my songs changed their lives, I realize that my songs are useful and it gives me joy.”

Gabino Palomares will perform with special guest Alfredo Gomez on Friday, April 12, 6pm-9pm at the Mission Cultural Center For The Latino Arts in 2868 Mission St., San Francisco. Tix: $40. Info: