On Thursday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spent more than 10 minutes defending the Mexican-American group, saying he’d be open to seeing siblings Yahritza, Mando, and Jairo Martinez join Grupo Frontera during their free concert at Mexico City’s Zócalo ahead of Mexican Independence Day.
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“There’s this group of kids… Yahritza and her brothers have a musical group. They were born there [in the U.S.], in Washington. Their parents are Mexican… and they did an interview where they said they ‘don’t like Mexican food,’ [or] something like that. Hijole, pobres,” the president said in his daily press conference Thursday.
“It went very badly for them,” AMLO added. “But they did not do it in bad faith. They were born over there [in the U.S.] and didn’t mean to offend. It was a mistake… They were punished.”
AMLO referred to the fact that Yahritza y Su Esencia had apologized and emphasized that Yahritza and her siblings were teens. “Mexico is Mexico,” AMLO said, referring to the backlash, before adding he’d be open to having the group sing with Grupo Frontera.
“I want her to come. If they already apologized and it wasn’t in bad faith, we can’t deny them,” AMLO said, emphasizing the group simply “made a mistake.”
“We can’t act with intolerance,” AMLO said. “We have to forgive. They’re children. And there’s an explanation: they were born over there. Their parents were born here but they grew up over there.”
After his comments, AMLO had the group’s song with Grupo Frontera, “Frágil,” play onscreen as he smiled at members of the press.
Yahritza y Su Esencia caught flak earlier this year after they answered some questions about Mexico City during an interview. Specifically, Yahritza, in between giggles, told an interviewer that she doesn’t like hearing “the cars, the police sirens, and everything” when she wakes up in the city, while Jairo and Mando said they weren’t so fond of the food.
“For me, it’s also the food because I’m picky, and I eat almost nothing but chicken, just wings, without chile. I don’t like any of that,” Jairo said, mixing Spanish and English in his response.
Many fans in Mexico expressed their discontent with the teenagers’ answers, claiming that the artists — who make música Mexicana — were not well-connected with their roots, and felt that they were betraying their culture and their fans in Mexico for what they said.
In their response, posted to Yahritza’s TikTok Thursday, the group doubled down on their commitment to representing their roots in their music, saying that their greatest pride is “to have Mexican blood in our veins.”
“It doesn’t matter where we were born. We are proudly Mexican and we appreciate our public, especially in Mexico,” Yahritza said in the video alongside Jairo. “You guys always receive us with so much love, and for that reason, we are so grateful but also a bit embarrassed. We’ve seen the comments recently online and you guys are so right. We didn’t know how to express ourselves well.”
The original video brought up conversations surrounding Latinidad, and the way many U.S.-born Mexicans, like Yahritza y Su Esencia, are deemed “pochos” or “no sabo kids,” which describe Latinos who aren’t always fluent in Spanish and may be slightly more Americanized.
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