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Lila Downs premieres 'The Demagogue,' a new song dedicated to Donald Trump

The Mexican-American singer debuted the protest song at 'Rise Up As One,' a Univision and Fusion concert on the U.S.-Mexico border. 'He’s a bully, a salesman / Selling fear and hate / Who do you think you are?' the lyrics go.
15 Oct 2016 – 10:52 PM EDT
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Lila Downs, the world-renowned Mexican-American artist, debuted a new song Saturday dedicated to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. She premiered the tune, called "The Demagogue," at "Rise Up As One," a Univision and Fusion concert on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Downs channeled the spirit of 1960s folk protest songs to send a message in both English and Spanish.

“There’s a blue eyed devil man / Thinks he's king of the world / He’s a bully, a salesman / Selling fear and hate / Who do you think you are? / He plays us with his hate / Turns man against man," she sang.

Downs believes the Latino vote will be critical in this election. "It's like now, with the Republican presidential candidate's hate speech, that racism and those who exhibit it have come out of the closet," she said in an interview with Univision before the show. She hopes the song will inspire Latinos to reflect on the value of their vote and ultimately show up the polls on November 8.

She believes hate speech and racism should not be tolerated. "We don't want a mental wall. I think that's the problem with these people: they're afraid that Latinos are earning our place," she said.

Born in Mexico, Downs spends most of her time in Mexico City and Oaxaca, though the U.S. remains her second home.

Her father is an American filmmaker and a university professor with Scottish roots, and her mother is a Mixtec singer, from Oaxaca. Growing up, she went back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, she told NPR. She began her singing career in Oaxaca after studying anthropology at the University of Minnesota.

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Lo que motivó a Lila Downs a registrarse para votar en las elecciones de EEUU

As a songwriter, Downs fuses cumbia, jazz, hip hop and ranchera, among many other genres, and highlights themes of inequality and the importance of indigenous culture. Her songs often mix Spanish with indigenous languages including Mixtec, Zapotec and Nahuatl.

After winning a Grammy and four Latin GRAMMYs, Down has become one of the most influential indigenous rights activists in Latin America.

But the U.S. election inspired her to write "The Demagogue," with a focus on the presidential race.

Downs, 48, says she has her reasons for opposing Trump's candidacy: as a woman, a Mexican of indigenous descent and a person with a close relationship to the United States. She recently registered to vote in the U.S. for the first time.

"This is a country of immigrants; we can create a change with our vote," she said. "Donald Trump has forgotten that his people also came on boats or I don't know, from faraway countries, to try their luck in this country. Right now I think it's very important to show our unity."

Read the full lyrics of Downs' new song.

The Demagogue

At the edge of the world
Where the dollar changed lives
There's a burning of hatred
That's crossing the lines

There’s a blue eyed devil man
Thinks he king of the world
He’s a bully, a salesman
Selling fear and hate
Who do you think you are?
He plays us with his hate

Turns man against man

But it’s really not a game
And I pray to the ancestors love
Do not be fooled by this man’s foolish talk
The serpent woke again in different times and places
There's a burning cross
Leading the mob people in chains
He's a Quak circus act creeping from the past

He's the symbol of the monster we no longer want to be
(what we used to be…)

The earth trembles with these names

Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Pinochet
No respect for woman, no respect for race,
No respect for anything that live, the human race

But he cannot buy our soul

Voy cortando el odio
Voy sembrando amor


De la explotación
Pero es mi casa
La luz de la mañana
Es el muro de la explotación
Pero es mi casa
Es la luz de la mañana
El lugar de mis ancestros
Esas flores del desierto
Gonna show that my love
Is much stronger than hate
I’m gonna call to the four winds
I'm gonna change my fate
I'm gonna rise up singing
I'm gonna stand for this place

It's a long time, Dios mío,
And I'm comin home
And I’m coming home
And I’m coming home