Rubén Blades is not short of accomplishments. Over the course of his career, the celebrated artist and activist has starred in and contributed music to a number of films (Safe House, Do The Right Thing, Predator 2, All the Pretty Horses), hosted an online tv show, won multiple Grammys and Latin Grammys, and even served as Panama’s Minister of Tourism. On the way, he managed to pick up the ASCAP’s prestigious Chapin Humanitarian Award and to pen the song “Patria”, considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem of his native Panama. Oh, and did we mention Blades has a law degree from Harvard?
But Blades is looking to add to the list with a run in Panama’s 2019 presidential election. Blades’s musical output reflects a long-held and ardent concern for the dispossessed, with songs like his 1968 “Pablo Pueblo” bringing to the forefront issues of working class struggles and indigenous rights. He ran for president once before in 1994, failing in his bid with a party he founded called Movimiento Papa Egoró (“Mother Earth Movement” in an indigenous language). In his current bid, the 66-year-old singer has promised to fight against corruption and work to strengthen democracy in a country that has long struggled with problems related to drug-trafficking and underhanded political dealings.