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Plastico: The Plague of Superficiality

Flashback Friday

Women sporting fake smiles who won’t talk to anyone unless it’s that doctor that will be able to fund her high maintenance lifestyle. Men who care only about their appearance and the latest cars. That couple neck deep in debt caused by trying to maintain a higher social status. We can probably say in all honesty that we know a few people like this: very shallow, giving priority to the material things in life; sacrificing their own dignity and self worth for just so that they can appear to be something that they’re not. Sadly it’s this mindset that keeps one from becoming a person of actual substance. This very topic is covered in Ruben Blades’ classic “Plastico.”

Ruben Blades is mostly known as a singer/songwriter from the Golden Age of salsa, when he was signed to the Fania record label back in the 70s. Most of his songs contain socially relevant messages ranging from taboo subjects like racism in Latin America (Ligia Elena) to imperialism in the Americas (Tiburon). An activist in his own right, Blades has been known to voice his own opinions on many isssues affecting the Latin American community. Blades has a degree in law from the University of Panamá and a degree in international law from Harvard University. In 1994 he ran for president of Panamá receiving 18 percent of the vote in a failed attempt.

In the song Plastico, Blades refers to people that make materialism and high social status a top priority in life and how as a people we need to change that mindset if we are to break negative stereotypes and overall ignorant perceptions about the Latino people and culture. One verse that stands out to me is “…recuerda que el plastico se derrite cuando le da de lleno el sol, si analiza con conciencia, y a lo largo tu veras, que se acaba la indecencia, y al fin triunfa la verdad.”

Basically, he says that we must remember that plastic will melt when the sun shines directly on it. We need to analyze our conscience and eventually we’ll see that truth will triumph over indecency. This song may be well over 30 years old, but its message stands true today more than ever.


About Nelson O Figueroa

The son of Puerto Rican-born parents, Nelson was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Far Rockaway section of Queens, New York. Growing up, music was a major factor his upbringing, with his mother coming from a very musically diverse family and his father introducing him to other types of music such as classic rock. He learned to appreciate all types of music although I tend to drift primarily towards salsa.

Other than music, Nelson likes to spend time with friends and family. He’s also a bit of a sports freak , you can find him cheering for his New York teams: the Mets and the Giants. You might also catch him at a nearby handball court on occasion during the summer.

Nelson has been involved with Being Latino in many supportive roles beginning in 2010 with the fundraiser for Haiti. His ability to engage others in conversation with humor and an open mind made him the ideal candidate for the role of Facebook Engagement Manager; while his love and knowledge of music makes him the perfect fit for the magazine series, Flashback Friday.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Yolanda Lizarraga Leon says:

    isnt that 1st baby on the cover of Biggies ready to Die album ??

  2. Panamaaaaaaaaa presente! :D

  3. It was Ruben Blades AND Willie Colon…

  4. One of my fav salsas. Clasica!

  5. 1st…Best Salsa Album ever !!!

  6. Mi paisano representado!

  7. Tiburon! tiburon!….

  8. Don’t forget WILLIE COLON!

  9. ¡Para todos los paisas y pelaos de Panamá!

  10. Love that song

  11. Panama stand up! Representando!

  12. Totally love this song!!!

  13. Ruben orgullo Panameño

  14. One of the greatest latin albums of all time! classic lyrics and so appropo!

  15. Ruben was great in ‘Safe House’ with Denzel too!!!

  16. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites online.
    I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!


  1. […] week, I thought we’d lighten things up a bit after last week’s edition in which we discussed Ruben Blades’ hit ‘Plastico’ and how it was a critique of today’s materialistic society and it’s effect on our culture. […]

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