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Nueva Trova

The Nueva Trova, also known as Nueva Canción or New Ballad in English, is a genre of music could more properly be said to be a particular style of popular music. What differentiates Nueva Trova from other pop music is that it features socio-political protest as its theme.

Special essay: La Nueva Canción en Puerto Rico (English)
While there have been protest songs throughout the ages and in every culture, it is worth noting that it flowered during the social and political upheavals during the late 1960's and '70s in Latin America, the United States and indeed, the whole world. The term Nueva Trova is strongly associated with Cuba, and artists such as Silvio Rodríguez, Vicente Feliu, Carlos Varela and Pablo Milanes, but the style was also present and strong in Puerto Rico during roughly the same period.


Cuban artist: Carlos Varela
While it can be said that there was a link between the Nueva Trova that arose in Puerto Rico, to the same trend in Cuba, it does not follow that the political orientation of the Nueva Trova artists, were the same. Apart from similarities in style, the link is most obvious in the target of many of the songs: the United States. That said, the United States was not the sole target of those songs. Moreover, Nueva Trova artists in Puerto Rico had a political and social agenda that was particular to Puerto Rico, focusing on those issues local to the island and not necessarily of interest in Cuba or elsewhere.


Puerto Rican artist: Roy Brown
While many artists have sung one or another protest song, their repertoire is usually much wider. It is fair to say that the principal exponents of the Nueva Trova music in Puerto Rico, those noted primarly for protest songs at the core of their body of work, were Roy Brown, Antonio Caban Vale popularly known as "El Topo", Haciendo Punto en Otro Son and Andrés Jiménez.

Most recently, the principal subject matter of the protest song in Puerto Rico is Vieques. Fondly referred to by Puerto Ricans as "la isla nena" or little girl island, Vieques has been used by the United States Navy for military exercises since 1935. The practice was particularly hated due to accidental civilian deaths caused by the common practice of using live ammunition and because some of the ammunition was radioactive. Many have claimed the radioactive ammunition has caused extensive environmental damage and has significantly higher rates of cancer in the native population.

The newest generation of the Nueva Trova songs about Vieques has attarcted artists reflecting many different styles: pop songstress, Ednita Nazario, salsa artists, Marc Anthony and Andy Montañez, rock band, Fiel a la Vega and others, including José Feliciano and Ricky Martin.

According to Associate Professor of Chicano and Latino studies at California State University at Long Beach, Victor M. Rodriguez, his generation of university students were avid listeners of Nueva Trova and is glad to see the genre returning to the island. "This is the only issue which has brought consensus to all sectors in Puerto Rico," said Puerto Rican salsa superstar, Gilberto Santa Rosa.

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