1953: the year that Mexico exiled the mambo

Created at the end of the 1940s by maestro Dámaso Pérez Prado, the mambo is part of the essence of Mexico and of countless films of the national Golden Age; however, the Cuban-born musician was expelled from Mexico for more than a decade. 

Also known as Seal face, Pérez Prado was born on December 11 in the province of Matanzas, in western Cuba, in 1917. He arrived in Mexico at the end of 1948, barely with a suitcase, because his arrangements were not well regarded among those who a decade later would bring about the revolution in his country of origin.

Hosted by Ninón Sevilla, the artist was able to concentrate on his music, and so it was that between 1949 and 1953 he recorded some of his most famous mambos. The respectable public consecrated him and enjoyed him in the cinema, theatre, records and dance halls," recalls Iván Restrepo.

During a conference offered in 2018 to remember the 100 years of the ?King of Mambo?, he explained that Pérez Prado had many enemies due to his success; even, ?when he went on tour to the U.S. for the first time, some entertainment columns dismissed him forever predicting his failure?

Although the versions about his expulsion from Mexico on October 6, 1953 are varied, one of them refers to the fact that the Seal Face was involved with the wife of a former president, but the version that spread for many years was that he tried to record the National Anthem of Mexico to the rhythm of mambo. 

Nothing of the sort, Restrepo said: ?it was the revenge of a businessman who hired him for the Margo theater, upset because he accepted a contract with another businessman who paid him better. To get revenge, he had the help of immigration officials?

Thus, in the recording of the last musical number of the movie Singing is the birth of love, two immigration agents asked him for his work permit. Since he didn't have it, he offered them 600 pesos to let him finish recording the mambo. Alekumsalem in the RCA.

He left for Havana, then headed to the U.S., where he began a new stage in his musical career. His English version of Pink cherry She was for months in the hit parade, animated dances in a renowned hotel in New York and worked with great female voices such as Rosemary Clooney?

Restrepo also shared that it was during a meal at María Victoria's house, when the actress and singer asked then President Adolfo López Mateos to open the doors of Mexico again to Pérez Prado.

Maria Victoria told the then president that his expulsion had been an injustice, since his only crime was to have made millions of Mexicans and Latin Americans happy, and that the composer had been longing to return to Mexico for years.

As if by magic, all the crimes that had been attributed to him disappeared, so that on August 31, 1964, he was authorized to return to Mexico, even with a contract from the businessman who had engineered his expulsion.

After a long illness, Dámaso Pérez Prado died on September 14, 1989 in Mexico City, at the age of 73, leaving behind a great musical legacy that will never cease to be heard: Maaambo!

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