The recent Costa Rican election was a nail-biting blitz of ideology between conservative evangelical pastor Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz and centrist Labor Minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada. Though the former was decisively shut out in the election’s second round by more than a 20 percent margin, ushering in a new government led by Alvarado Quesada and Epsy Campbell, the incendiary rhetoric that characterized Alvarado Muñoz’s campaign bolstered his poll numbers throughout the election.
Though the candidate mocked and condemned abortion, same-sex marriage, and secular sex education in schools, the takeaway from this election goes beyond the relief of avoiding yet another fundamentalist right-wing government. As we’ve seen around the world, particularly here at home in the U.S., enough spinning of this hateful rhetoric normalizes it, rendering intolerance and dehumanizing language commonplace.
Costa Ricans rejected extremism at the polls, but even before that, social media debate raged with several local artists and bands like 424 and Los Waldners releasing statements denouncing Alvarado Muñoz’s discriminatory discourse. The latest voice to chime in on the debate belongs to Macha Kiddo, whose new single “Jony (La Romi)” skewers the societal insecurities that drive people towards hatred.
“No one should tell us what to do with our desires, with our bodies,” declares Macha via email to Remezcla. During the election, she says, “It became quite evident there are still judging fingers, but that eventually vanishes. Little by little, we create other definitions and new options.” She adds, “Let’s alleviate this broken system by sharing stories.”
The song begins with a somber piano-driven melody followed by Macha’s gliding rhymes as she tells the tale of a fictional trans woman named La Romi, a young femme fighting to get through her day-to-day safely and with dignity intact. “Que se ahoguen en su mar de doble moral,” she snarls on the track, “que en sus ojos está el encierro en el que están.” Macha’s unflinching condemnation of prejudices and stereotypes is a direct challenge to the recent uptick in right-wing discourse. By the time she reaches the final chorus, the song has evolved from eviscerating social indictment into a full-on trans rights anthem as she chants “Que no soy Jony! Que soy la Romi!”
The black-and-white video for “Jony (La Romi)” was directed by Swann El Mokkeddem & Mila Navarro Bouzid and stars La Cholla Jackson, a local San José drag queen and leader of queer collective Haus of Weisas. According to Macha, the collective started as “a game between friends who like to get in drag and hit the streets to confront that doble moral, people with those scandalized looks, who laugh and snicker and scream and irritate.”