Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sex, Death and ... Huayno



While the rest of the world has been caught up with the demise and apparent apparition of Michael Jackson, we here in Peru have been held captive by the drama surrounding the murder of huayno singer Alicia Delgado who was killed on the same day in which Jackson died.

What has captured the attention of the nation is the emerging details of the crime and the weird and sordid web of mediocre characters surrounding it and Delgado herself.

Alicia Delgado developed a career singing popular Peruvian Andean tunes for the expat community in New Jersey. In time, she managed to get a gig in Lima, was a hit here as well, and soon was living here again essentially full-time. In the US she left an ex-husband and a son, who had opted for remaining with his dad.

Heartsick, she found solace in the frienship of another huayno singer, Abencia Meza, who had herself risen from hardship by wating tables at a huayno bars and begging for a chance at the mike. Eventually, it emerged that Abencia openly declared herself a lesbian and publicly stated that she loved Alicia, who although evasive on subject, continued to live with Abencia and hold hands with her in public.

Interestingly enough, though this didn't sit well with all of Alicia's family, the public seems to have accepted it and the pair's collective and individual popularity remained undiminished, specially that of Alicia who was heralded as the "Princess of Peruvian Folklore" and was noted for bringing harp music into modern huayno when so many others were relying on electric guitars and basses.

On the 23rd of June and over subsequent day we watched the details emerge as if from an eyedropper: "vernacular singer Alicia Delgado found dead in her hotel room"; "popular singer killed in her apartment"; "found strangled with a leather thong"; "suicide?"; "the Princess was stabbed!"; "car found, driver missing"; "traces of semen".

All eyes, of course, turned to Abencia, with whom Alicia had a few weeks back had an altercation and against whom she had filed criminal charges for battery. They had apparently reconciled to an extent, but the charges had not been withdrawn nor had Alicia returned to live with Abencia. Instead, Alicia had declared on TV that she had a beau and that marriage was not out of the question.

For her part, Abencia fainted on camera and then gave an interview from her bed, to which she was confined by doctor's orders due to "nerves". And that's were the circus started to get fun.

Abencia, who had an established history of violence -a few years ago, for example, she shot a guy in the leg from the stage when she spied him sneaking into one of her concerts without paying- denied any involvement and said that at the top of her list of suspects were Alicia's driver, Felipe  Pedro Mamanchura, her harpist, Miguel Salas, and her sister, Clarisa, whom Abencia said was jealous of her sister's success.

Salas, for his part, declared that he had had a sexual relationship with Alicia but that he wasn't the beau whom she had mentioned in the interview, nor had he killed her, and that Abencia was most likely responsible for the murder. Clarisa, herself, likewise pointed to Abencia, whith whom it turns out she had herself had a romantic relationship while Abencia was partnered with Alicia.

Salas then produced two videos recorded days before the murder in which Alicia displays Abencia's cellphone to the camera and shows text messages sent to it over a number of weeks by Abencia's other lovers. Although Alicia never publicly admitted the nature of her relationship with Abencia the message in the videos is clear: Abencia's been cheating on me.

Then, remarkably, Alicia says to the camera that if anything should befall her Abencia should be held responsible.

But, even then all was perhaps not was as simple as it would seem. During the filming a message was received on the phone which upset Alicia. It was sent from an internet cafe and had a sexual tone and language markedly at variance with the more romantic tenor of previous messages, raising the question of whether it was sent pursposely in the knowledge that Alicia had Abencia's phone and was filming it. Who could it be? Why?

Well, one of the people helping film -besides Salas, Alicia's sometime lover- was Gaudi, Alicia's step daughter, whose father, Alicia's ex-husband could stand to gain control of her properties and assets in the US.

In the meantime, Mamanchura, who had been fired by Abencia but rehired by Alicia and had been constantly at her side in her last weeks of life, had been captured near the Ecuadorean border with s/. 2000 which he said had been given to him by Abencia so he could flee the country. He confessed to the police that he had killed Alicia at Abencia's order and under her employ.

He later retracted those statements, which had been made without his lawyer being present, but Abencia, though confined to bed rest for "six to eight weeks", was arrested by police after attempting to get a visa at the Italian embassy.




In the meantime, the rest of us are heartily sick of the "Abenciamania" which has struck the media, which bombards us day and night with the sordid details and speculation, and which everyone is realizing has been a boon to government in that it has buried or pushed aside nearly all other news and discussion such as the recent tragic events in the jungle, an ongoing conflict with the public transport unions over recently enacted laws, and popular discontent in the interior with government economic policies.

Ah, well, sunt pueri pueri, puerilia tractant.

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