Actos de Resistencia, el metal en Latinoamérica

Acts of Resistance | Heavy Metal in Latin America

By: Andrea Ixchíu Hernández | Maya K’iche, Totonicapán, Guatemala.

Not everything is Netflix and the story of the record label rock, here is a review of a gem in the history of underground metal. The documentary “Acts of resistance: heavy metal music in Latin America” filmed between Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador by Nelson Varas-Díaz.

The documentary catches you from the beginning with the voice of Varas-Díaz stating:

“I have been traveling through Latin America for 10 years, documenting metal, a music genre that has been transformed to tell the stories of the region. In this process, metal fans have faced all kinds of social judgments: they attack morality, that they live multiple excesses, and even that they have contributed to the Americanization of their countries. But perhaps the most constant criticism I have seen on this trip is that they do not provide solutions to the realities of their respective contexts. This documentary is an invitation to see a less commented face of Latin American metal. One that points to the use of music to transform our reality. In each example here there is an act of resistance”. 

Varas-Díaz is a renowned documentary filmmaker, researcher and professor of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University, who for decades has investigated social and structural factors in the stigmatization of individuals and communities. His research has focused on the social stigmatization caused by diseases such as HIV / AIDS and addictions. He has worked with marginalized groups by their sexual orientation and cultural practices. His investigations have been published in various magazines and have extensive literary production.

The documentary “Acts of resistance: heavy metal music in Latin America” is already Varas-Díaz’s third audiovisual project focused on metal in the region. In this one he presents the story of artists, cultural managers and metal lovers who in Sumpango, Guatemala; Medellín, Colombia and Imbabura, Ecuador are using the strength and power of music to generate social changes and build organization to benefit the communities they inhabit. 

During the past weeks, social networks debated on how dangerous are the stories of the «history of Latin American rock» told only from the entertainment industry and the ways this industry has known how to capitalize and commercialize anger, rebellion and desire of change that we emanate on this continent.

That is why the release of this documentary deserves to be celebrated, as it shows that despite the multiple ways in which the industry seeks to profit from rage and create a unique tale, there are also other stories that instead of feeding the egos of millionaires artists, go beyond the margins and give an example of how alternatives and emancipation spaces are built from the peripheries. It is a sample of how heavy metal in Latin America has also become a form of decolonial activism.

The documentary is also an approach to the history of Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador, managing to portray the current functional indifference of national governments regarding the problems that affect the population, such as the lack of public infrastructure to feed the basic needs of water, housing, health, food and education. In addition, the protagonists show the active role of the States in the generation of violence as the result of long war conflicts and the promotion of colonial and racist extractivism that deprives many communities of forests and lakes.

It is also a story of hope, because against all odds, its protagonists equalize the deficiencies and violence in their surroundings with a determined affirmation of change with solidarity and critical actions.

The story that Varas-Díaz shares with us is inspiring. Its protagonists are recognized leaders in their communities and they share their life process. Gerardo Pérez, promoter, cultural manager and neighbor of Sumpango, Sacatepequez declares “Our people are K’aqchiq’el descendents and we see ourselves as mestizos, but we allude to ancestral respect and we have taken part of that identity in our metal thinking That is the reason for naming sumpango in the name of metal as the city of skulls”.

Gerardo adds: “Counter-system thinking can be carried out, the way to run in rebellion and do politics is to act from the foundations, transforming from where the system intends to corrupt us, nullifying us, as in the education and our future. This is done with direct action and not just by yelling in a square. We must act without fear, because our metal thinking sees in this struggle the transcendence of existing, metal thinking is also anarchy and understanding that these changes can be caused by other ways of thinking ”.

Along with the release of the documentary, it is also possible to download for free a musical compilation with 24 songs by metal bands in 13 Latin American countries through the following link:

To find out the upcoming screening dates for the documentary, you can follow all the information on the documentary page on Facebook:

Don’t miss out on this tale of the struggle for education, memory and defense of territory with the power of heavy metal.

With information from the site: