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Latin Grammys get political as artists call for action on immigration

The 15th annual Latin Grammy Awards became a political platform for artists including Calle 13 and host Eugenio Derbez, who called for action for a group of missing students in Mexico and U.S. immigration reform.

The prizegiving at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday (20Nov14) was delayed by nearly 20 minutes as the show was preempted by President Barack Obama who addressed the nation on his decision to push for changes to America's immigration policy.


During his speech, Obama announced he would take broad executive action to offer temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and incidentally, he is expected to head to Nevada on Friday (21Nov14) to speak about the issue.


Derbez, who co-hosted the ceremony with actress Jacqueline Bracamontes, took a moment during his opening monologue to acknowledge Obama's address just minutes after the Grammys went live.


He said, "It was time that Latinos' rights were recognized. We stopped being the minority a long time ago. Latinos are already a part of this country, everyone!


"So what better way to celebrate this occasion than with music? Latinos have always used music to cross borders!"


Colombian singer Carlos Vives also echoed Derbez's sentiments, as he dedicated his win for Best Contemporary Tropical Album to President Obama.


Meanwhile, Puerto Rican rappers Calle 13 kicked off the ceremony with an invigorating performance of their Grammy-winning song El Aguante, which details human resilience.


Lead singer Rene Perez took the stage in a shirt that read, "Ayotzinapa Faltan 43", which translates to "there are 43 missing", referring to the students of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College who went missing after taking part in a protest in the city of Iguala on 26 September (14).


The students' convoy of buses came under fire from local police, and it was later confirmed the entire group of young people had been killed. Thousands of Mexicans have subsequently taken part in protests across the country, demanding action from the government.


Towards the end of his performance, Perez exclaimed, "We are all Ayotzinapa. We can't allow for this to continue in these times. Viva Mexico!"


Mexican singer-songwriter Lila Downs scored a trophy for Best Folk Album, and upon receiving her prize, she told the crowd, "These are difficult moments for us. But we will come out ahead and we will find justice."


Banda el Recodo musician Poncho Lizarraga also used his acceptance speech for Best Banda album to speak on both hot button issues, and said, "We're Mexican, and all we want is a country with peace and security for our children and families.


"Tonight, there will be an announcement that could favor Latinos or immigrants, to allow them to be able to live and enjoy this country that's always opened so many doors for us. But what this award signifies is that I can't really criticize a country that's welcomed us and given us so much."