U2 has lived very special moments in Latin America, and their people has surely let them know that they can feel at home there. From political causes to epic shows, join us reliving the highlights of this special "love affair".
In the 1980's Latin America was a region of political unrest and deep financial crisis. Countries like Chile, Uruguay and Argentina had military regimes, while El Salvador and Nicaragua were in the middle of a civil war. The United States, fearing the spread of communism in the region, overthrew democratically elected governments perceived as "unfriendly" to U.S. interests, like in the 1973 Chilean coup or the support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Freedom of speech and democracy were still years away.
In 1985 Bono visited El Salvador, as part of Amnesty International. He stayed with a group of guerrillas (the FMLN) in the middle of the mountains in the north of the country. This trip inspired the lyrics to "Bullet The Blue Sky", a critic to U.S. foreign policy of intervention in many countries across Central and South America.
In this trip, Bono met the "Madres", a group of women whose children had been imprisoned or murdered by the military regime in the country, but who continued to campaign for information about them. Bono wrote the songs "Mothers Of The Disappeared" for them and for the "madres" in other military regimes such as in Argentina and Chile.
There's a third song in The Joshua Tree with a Latin American influence. In One Tree Hill, when Bono sings "Jara sang, his song a weapon, in the hands of love. Though his blood still cries from the ground", he's referring to Victor Jara, a Chilean teacher, poet, folk singer and political activist that was arrested shortly after the Chilean coup of 11 September 1973. Tortured and ultimately shot dead, his body was later thrown out into the streets of Santiago. He became a symbol of the struggle for human rights and justice.
In 1992 U2 planned to hold 2 shows at the "Palacio De Los Deportes" in Mexico City, to close the third leg of their famous ZooTV tour. After a record-time sold out, they extended it to 4 shows. The last concert included many rarities such as Van Diemen's Land, I Will Follow, and a cover of We Will Rock You.
Audio recording (3 stars): 1992-11-22 - Mexico City, Mexico
For the Popmart Tour, U2 was able to visit more Latin American countries. The first one was again Mexico, for 2 shows during December, 1997. The second concert was later released as the official concert for the tour, called "Popmart, Live From Mexico City". An incomplete bootleg named "Hasta La Vista, Baby!" was released for Propaganda in 2000.
During the first Mexico show, the sons of Ernesto Zedillo, then President of the country, tried to leave the concert from a very dangerous zone, full of heavy equipment. Jerry Mele, then chief of U2's security, tried to stop them but was severely injured when he was ran over by an SUV belonging to Zedillo's staff. Many people say that this was the cause that U2 didn't bring the Elevation tour to Mexico.
Popmart then visited Brazil, Argentina and Chile, for a streak of incredible concerts. Some of them were broadcasted to radio and TV. In Argentina and Chile, the band brought some of the Madres to speak at the end of the concert and tell the world about their children. At that moment, Pinochet was still Commander In-Chief of the Chilean Army, and the crowd was divided between supporters for the Madres and Pinochet's sympathizers.
Audio recording (5 stars): 1998-02-11 - Santiago, Chile
There were no Elevation shows in Latin America (but the band filmed the Walk On video in Rio de Janeiro). For the Vertigo tour, the band did shows in Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. For the first and only time, the band played in Monterrey, Mexico. The band chose these concerts (and two in Australia) for their U2 3D movie, the first live-action digital 3D film and the fourth-best reviewed film in wide release from 2008.
Audio recording (5 stars): 2006-03-02 - Buenos Aires, Argentina
The 360° Tour visited the usual Latin American countries, this time bringing special guests. In Buenos Aires, LeÃ³n Gieco played "Solo Le Pido A Dios", a very popular Argentinian folk song, in the middle of U2's show. In Santiago, Francisca Valenzuela joined the band for a performance of One Tree Hill. In the Mexico shows, some poems by the Aztec emperor/poet Nezahualcayotl were read out loud before Beautiful Day. In Sao Paulo, Das Model, a Kraftwerk cover, is performed with Brazilian musician Seu Jorge.
Audio recording (5 stars): 2011-05-14 - Mexico City, Mexico
The Latin American leg of the 360° also saw the debut of the Fish Out Of Water live mix of Even Better Than The Real Thing in Buenos Aires, the first performance of Zooropa in 18 years and the return of Out Of Control since 2006 at Sao Paulo.
Audio recording (4 stars): 2011-04-10 - Sao Paulo, Brazil
The band will finally play Latin America again in the Autumn of 2017. Are you planning to attend a concert there? Do you think they will expand their list of countries this time? If you're near the area, don't miss the opportunity to watch the band with one of the loudest crowds in the world!