Mexican rock band Maná with President Obama. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Exclusive: Maná on why they endorsed Obama

The Mexican rock group Maná has sold over 30 million albums and they’ve won 11 Grammy and Latin Grammy awards.  But Maná’s Fher Olvera says their connection to U.S. Latinos started 20 years ago, when they were playing in bars and modest venues, and listening to the stories of Latinos they met along the way.

“We’ll be talking to a Latino waiter, or a hotel employee, and we have listened to so many stories of sacrifice and struggle and hard work,” says Olvera. “We feel a ‘compromiso’ (engagement) with everyone who has bonded with us,” he adds. He says it is this close connection with American Latinos which convinced them to speak up about the election this November.

“We support those who want to fight racism and those who want to fight against marginalization, and the party that best supports Latinos is the Democrats and President Barack Obama,” says the international rock star.

Maná made headlines last week when they gave a free concert in Las Vegas in support of Obama, and urged Latinos to support his re-election. Olvera says they agreed to the concert with one request.

“We wanted to be able to speak to the President, not just take a picture with him,” he says. Olvera says when they had a chance to speak privately with Obama, they told him he had achieved the “unimaginable” by being elected as the first African American president. “We also told him he had achieved another big thing — health care reform — which was complicated but very necessary for Latinos,” Olvera adds.

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The Maná vocalist then says he asked Obama the following question. “We asked him if he would work just as hard to achieve immigration reform as he worked for healthcare reform, and he said, absolutely,” says Olvera. “He was very clear, and I do believe he is an honest president,” he says.

“Yo no pongo las manos al fuego por nadie (I don’t put my hands in the fire for anyone),” adds Olvera, “but between the two parties and candidates, I believe President Obama’s policies are better for Latinos,” he says. Olvera mentioned Obama’s support for the Dream Act, and he repudiated Republican-led laws such as SB1070, saying they were deeply pained after what they saw when they visited Arizona.

“These laws are racist and they are meant for those with brown faces,” says Olveras. “Híjole, they are inhuman,” the Mexican rock star adds.

Olvera criticized Romney’s ’47 percent’ comments, saying Latinos “should not forget comments like this, like we Mexicans sometimes do in our politics.”

Olvera says Latinos have to get involved in the political process for a very simple reason. “Latinos with legal status are still brown and Hispanic,” he says in Spanish.

The Mexican singer says time is running out in some states for registration, and he urges young people to vote. “I write stories, and so I like to talk to people,” says Olvera. “There has been a lot of violence and pain and sad stories, and we think Latinos have to decide their future, and they need to be involved.”

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