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Jail time for messing up the Mexican national anthem?

Anyone who puts their own spin on the Mexican national anthem or sings it incorrectly could be imprisoned for up to four years, according to a new proposal from a Morena party member of the Chamber of Deputies.

Deputy Ana Elizabeth Ayala from the state of Sinaloa, has proposed harsher penalties for people who misinterpret the national anthem or misuse the national flag.

Ana Elizabeth Ayala
Ana Elizabeth Ayala (right) introduced the new legislation to the Chamber of Deputies. (Mario Jasso/Cuartoscuro)

Published Wednesday in the parliamentary gazette, Ayala’s proposal aims to reform the Federal Penal Code and a law already on the books. The senator feels that current legislation is ineffective in preventing misuse.

“There are established singers who, in mass events, do not know the verses of the national anthem or sing it poorly,” wrote Ayala, 47, in naming “guilty” performers such as Pablo Montero, Jorge “Coque” Muñiz, Ana Bárbara, María León and Ángela Aguilar.

Last month, Mexican singer Danna Paola drew criticism after singing the national anthem prior to a Canelo Álvarez boxing match in the wrong key.

The Mexico City native sang in A-flat major, despite the Law on the National Shield, Flag and Anthem stating it must be sung in C major.

Danna Paola
Danna Paola caused controversy by singing the national anthem in a key other than C major. (Edgar Negrete/Cuartoscuro)

“It is strictly prohibited to alter the words or music of the national anthem and perform it in whole or in part with compositions or arrangements,” states Article 39. “Likewise, singing or performing the national anthem for profit is prohibited.”

Based on the current law, Paola could have been reprimanded, arrested for up to 36 hours, fined up to 900,000 pesos (US $52,358) and imprisoned for up to one year. 

Ayala’s legislation would increase the arrest time maximum to 72 hours, allow for much higher fines and add a prison sentence of up to four years. The legislation as proposed could have resulted in a fine of up to 2.74 million pesos (US $159,395) for Paola.

Mexico’s national anthem dates back to 1854, but some stanzas have been removed for political reasons. Nowadays, Mexicans sometimes sing the banned stanzas or modify the words or music with their own interpretation.

As for the flag, Ayala pointed out the case of a sports fan known as Caramelo, who has been seen at various events wearing a Mexican flag jorongo (poncho) that places text within the flag. Others alter the flag with messages, incorrect facts or color changes, Ayala noted in her proposed legislation.

With reports from El Universal and Milenio

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