Saturday, December 25, 2010


The soundtrack to my Christmas shopping this year was El Compa Chuy’s new album “Con Estilo.” The title is almost ironic in that this Sinaloan homeboy delivers his corridos with precious little flair. These 10 songs fly by with buoyant energy to be sure, but no excess, not even the sort of gunshot percussion today’s narcocorridos seem to have inherited from their gangsta kin in hip hop. This is plainspoken music, straight out of the Sierras like Compa Chuy himself, with roots in Mexican folk music that date back to the corridos of the 19th Century, that date back to the songs of Joaquin Murieta, who “defended with fierceness…the humble and the poor.”

And this is the music of my friend Eduardo Loredo, which is why I'm listening....

“What is going on here is homicide. This is a blatant crime against humanity. The only difference between what’s going on here and a murder is that we are watching him die, slowly, every day.”
These words—roaring out of the small frame of Kansas City writer/artist/musician Monique Maes—went off like a bomb at a benefit last winter for 14-year-old Eduardo Loredo, a young man (uninsured and undocumented) in need of a heart transplant. The corporate-style banquet room that the, relatively affluent, Johnson County Community College had provided for the event was somewhat sparsely filled with a mix of people who wanted to help the young man. Maes forced the crowd to face the crime of Loredo’s plight.

Loredo had been receiving treatment from a local hospital that cared for the uninsured since the summer before, when the once strong soccer player was struck down by a mysterious illness and diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. For a period of three months, he believed he was receiving a necessary heart transplant from a Saint Louis hospital, the closest facility able to perform such a procedure on a child. Everything came to a halt in October, when Loredo was informed he could only be placed on a waiting list if his family made a $100,000 down payment on the $500,000 procedure, which would also involve incalculable follow-up expenses. Though the hospital would continue to receive essential medications from the hospital, he was told he had less than two years to live.

Since that time, family and friends have organized, along with area students and artists, to try to raise the money for Loredo’s heart transplant, but knowing the futility of raising that kind of money, they have reached out to others to raise awareness so that the system might take responsibility for a boy in an impossible situation. The JCCC student club LUNA found few in the local community willing to help and wound up reaching out to the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and Health Care Now for help--organizations that helped the students plan strategy and sent statements to the benefit and declared a national day of solidarity with Eduardo Loredo on December 20th, 2009. Status aside, everyone recognized this case was about the value of a human life in America.

Maes threw her great big rock and roll heart into the struggle the moment she learned of the community college Latino club’s efforts to raise awareness about Loredo’s situation. She met with Loredo before the event, and, instinctively, she took him some comic books. She found Loredo loved comics, and then she asked him if he liked music. He told her, “corridos.” Since then, Maes has not only tirelessly worked to maintain a team of volunteers focused on addressing the changing issues in Loredo’s case, she makes regular trips to Eduardo’s KCK home to talk about progress with the family and to deliver comic books and CDs to the always appreciative Eduardo.

Since last winter, the case has only grown more confusing. Eduardo has managed to cut back on his meds and looks and feels stronger than he did last year, but the family has received conflicting advice over whether or not a heart transplant is even necessary to resolve his health concerns, and there is consistent pressure for him to get help from a hospital in Mexico that has not guaranteed him anything. The family is currently seeking a second opinion (from doctors inside and outside of the country) and, after the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, working with youth and health care fighters nationwide on a variety of new efforts.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Loredo keeps fighting, listening to his music. He recently talked his way into an El Compa Chuy show in Kansas City Kansas, and the band wound up taking him backstage and featuring his story on their Facebook page. At the winter benefit, Maes talked about the significance of Loredo’s love of the corrido “that speaks of long lost love, of outlaws and bandits, of adventure and tragedy. The spirit of the pueblo.”

Tonight, I find myself thinking—2:00 a.m., Santa in the air along with Marley’s Ghost— from the beginnings of the form through to Loredo’s favorite Chihuahua/Sinaloa/Culiacan and Southern California songwriters today, she might have added “the spirit of Christmas yet to come.”

Eduardo Loredo’s Top 10

1. Larry Hernandez
2. Gerardo Ortiz
3. El Komander
4. Fidel Rueda
5. Noel Torres
6. Los Buitres de Culiacan
7. Bukanas de Culiacan (BuKnas de Culiacan)
8. El RM
9. Voz de Mando
10. El Compa Chuy

Donations may be sent to:

To donate you can go to any Bank of America and donate to the following account: Account Name: Gahutier Eduardo Loredo Transplant Fund

Eduardo has two Facebook pages—Eduardo Loredo and Eduardo Needs A Heart