Monsieur Periné have slowly become one of Colombia’s underrated musical treasures. Their ambitious third album, Encanto Tropical, was released in May, and the project has taken the future folklore group on tours across the world, including an appearance at the Mompox Jazz Festival in northern Colombia. But their most recent performance found the band’s guitarist in an uncomfortable situation with Colombian president Ivan Duque.
Duque, who ran a conservative and controversial campaign before he was elected earlier this year, was in Mompox for a town visit, and decided to attend the festival as part of his trip. According to Noisey en Español, during Monsieur Periné’s sound check for the event, Duque crashed the stage unexpectedly, grabbed guitarist Santiago Sarabia’s instrument, and started playing it without his permission.
Sarabia captured the moment with a video, writing on Twitter, “He aggressively grabbed my guitar without my permission. The band’s sound engineers couldn’t do anything since he’s the president…I already cleaned it with rosemary and lime,” he said.
Agarró mi guitarra bruscamente y sin permiso. Los técnicos de la banda no pudieron hacer nada porque ¡como era el presidente…! Ya la limpié con romero y limón pic.twitter.com/xt3DIlLfMd
— Santiago Periné (@santiagoperine) September 8, 2018
The reactions were mixed, with some arguing Sarabia disrespected the president, and others showing support for the guitarist’s frustration. But a few days later, on September 9, Sarabia took to Twitter to clarify why he was upset by the president’s actions. “I think it’s dope that the president of Colombia likes music and plays the guitar,” he wrote. “If he had been nearby at that moment, I would’ve lent him my guitar, and without a doubt, we’d have discussed the transformative power of music – which is one of unity and reconciliation.” Sarabia goes on to suggest his initial reaction was harsh and flippant. “It was my personal opinion – for some an unfortunate one, and for others it wasn’t. For anyone who felt offended, I offer my apologies.”
— Santiago Periné (@santiagoperine) September 9, 2018