Las Cafeteras – Kicked Out

Many of you have already noticed that I am no longer performing with Las Cafeteras. I still get tagged in some post, so many of you still don’t know that I am no longer performing with the group. I want to mention before I start my story that I did not leave the band, Las Cafeteras kicked me out of the band. This is not the final statement I will be posting, you have a choice to unfriemd me if you do not wish to know the truth.

I was kicked out of the band because I spoke up. The men were controlling and abusing the women in the band. There was a lof to verbal abuse from them. In the last three years I suffered from low self-esteem. I lost my voice and I lost myself being part of Las Cafeteras. We were constantly being bullied and criticized mostly By Hector Flores and Daniel French. It wasn’t a safe space to express and voice out what we felt. The women were being silenced at rehearsals, interviews, and shows.

Denise, Leah and I started loosing our right to create, speak, make suggestions, feel safe when the men created the “bro space” for themselves. This happened a little after our CD release of “It’s Time.” They became more desperate to control the image of the band, and everything seemed so fake after that. It was controlled who spoke in front of the cameras, and most of the time Hector Flores would assigned himself. He would event speak on women issues even if we expressed to him that we could sopeak on issues that we were most related to.

Rehearsal were brutal. Hector would constantly make Denise cry at our rehearsals, and always made her doubt her potential in playing her instrument. There was a period when she stopped playing the jarana, because she didn’t want to hear his criticism. The rehearsal space was taken over by the men, and this happened because the men figured out that if they got together it was easier to control us. It became the “bro” space, and eventually it got to the point where none of the women felt safe enough to speak up to or give ideas. If we did speak up Daniel would question us to the point of intimidation. He would use misic language that he knew we didn’t understand just to dumb us down. We were also ignored while the men huddled up and figured out chord changes and music ideas. If we wanted to dance, Hector would criticize the way we were dancing, or Jose Cano would complain that we were interrupting his concentration. Eventually we were too intimidated to dance, and stopped bringing the tarima with us. Jose became very controlling in the arrangements of the songs, and the other men gave him that power. They felt that since he was the one taking the songs home, that he was entitled to have more say in the making of the music. This evenntually was switched uo by the producer, because everything sounded the same. We were never given the chance to present our ideas even if we worked on them at home. The men would always find an excuse to change what we brought to the table. Daniel was also given this power because somehow Hector and David thought he knew more than all of us. The women ended up showing up to rehearsal to take orders, and sit through hours of “bro” arguments that lead to the same conclusion. Hector would throw tantrums if someone had a different idea than him, and he would stop rehearsal because he wanted to discuss why he was so upset. He would argue how he had an idea, and we weren’t following his lead. If one of us women would have a disagreement with one of the men, the other three would get involved, so the argument became one woman against four men. This happened to me a lot of the times, because I would get frustrated and speak up. I was always defeated, and left feeling powerless. There were also some times when I would speak up, and the Denise and Leah would side with the men because it kept them from getting picked on.

Performance were no different. Hector would yell at us on stage if we didn’t do what he wanted us to do. Leah got the worse of this because she was next to him. So he would yell at her the most, or intimidate her with his look if he wanted her to do something. When we would get off stage Leah would break down in the dressing room, because she was fed up with Hector yelling at her. She would also complaint that he would get in front of her, or was careless with his instrument and hit her with it. Denise and I would tell her to bring it up at a meeting, and we would support her, but she never wanted to start conflict. David Flores also knew this was happening, but he never confronted Hector about it. Daniel treated us like his secretaries, and always demanded things from us. When we went to Canada we were given two dressing rooms, and the women decided to get one for us to have more privacy to get dressed, and the men mostly Hector threw a fit because they said we were separating ourselves from them. Denise, Leah and I started getting dressed, and Daniel came in and asked me last minute to give his guest names to the person in charge. I asked him if he could do it, and he yelled at me telling me it was my job. I told him it was our job, and he wasn’t doing anything but eating snacks. He continued to yell at me until I asked him if he could do me a favor and give the names to the person in charge. He said he would do it but to remember that this was my job, and that he was doing me a favor. Before Daniel came into the dressing room Denise, Leah and I were laughing and joking around. When Daniel left the room after yelling at me, it was silent and the women just put their heads down. Later that night during his part in the song of Trabajador/trabajadora he was saying how we needed to give thanks to those who were putting in work, and we needed to appreciate each other. I just shook my head.

The workshops were also controlled by the men. David, Hector and Daniel took lead in the educational component, and didn’t give the women room to feel comfortable to also participate. It wasn’t until the female students at different universities started to speak up when they noticed that we were either on the side or seating in the back. This is when Denise was given permission tell her story in the beginning, and Leah was given permission to lead the last part of the meditation. The men were very critical in how the women would give the workshops. They felt we were too boring.

Hector, Daniel, Jose and other men who came on tour with us were not always very professional with the ladies we would meet on the road. They would hook up with many women even if they were in relationships back home. At times it was awkward because when we returned to the same place, the women would show up, and they would get ignored by the men of Las Cafeteras. Denise and I were most of the time excluded from attending after parties, because Hector didn’t want us to get in his way, especially Denise because of their past realtionship. In New York after one of our shows we all wanted to go to the house we were staying at, and Hector held up the whole group because he wanted to stay up to party. We needed both cars because we didn’t all fit in one car, but Hector threw a fit and was arguing with us in the middle of the street. I offered to go with him, bu he didn’t want me to go with him because I was going to get in the way of him sleeping hooking up with someone. After an hour or so David volunteered to go with him, and the they returned the next morning. It was so uncomfortable because everyone gave Hector the silent treatment the whole day.

As a mother I didn’t feel supported by the band. Even if I never missed a show in town or out of town, the band always had a problem with me having to attend to my motherly responsibilities. The girls were my only reason for missing or being late to rehearsals. Everyone else had other commitments that constantly got in the way of performances or rehearsals, but my commitments to my girls were never considered important enough. When I would be late because I needed to pick up my girl from school, the band would give me the silent treatment. One time I couldn’t make it to rehearsal because one of my girls had a play for her theater class, and Hector dared to question my youngest daughter to see if I was lying.

When Daniel finished grad school and joined the group again, Daniel and Hector started working together. The group dynamic changed again, and these two were trying to gain control of the group. Daniel got out of school with a chip on his shoulder, and was very edgy and bossy. Hector and Daniel started harassing mostly Denise and I, and questioned our commitment to the band. They were not satisfied with the work we were doing, and wanted to add more work days to our week. Daniel suggested that we meet Friday, because he didn’t trust that we were doing the work we said we were doing. So he wanted to keep an eye on us and meet on our only day off which was on Friday. We were already meeting Monday through Thursday, and performing on the weekends. Later Daniel told us that he wanted Las Cafeteras to start making a million dollars a year, and Hector wanted to build an empire. When I spoke up in a meeting about the men’s behavior in the band everything changed for me. I became a threat, because I was no longer staying silent. I was using my voice to point out the unhealthiness of how the men were behaving, and how they were not respecting the women in the band.

On March 26, 2015 I finally spoke up. I was tired. I was tired of all the abuse, and I was tired of all the controlling by the men in the group. Things were getting worse when Daniel French got out of school and joined the band again. He started working with Hector on some of the business deals, and it all felt so corporate. At this meeting I called them both out, and told them that they were being bullies, and that the space didn’t feel safe because of them. I told them that they had no right to question my commitment to Las Cafeteras after Daniel just got back from a two year haitus. I told them that they were the oppressors that they spoke of on stage, and that they needed to practice what they were preaching. The men didn’t like that I finaly spoke up, and got scared that I would get the other ladies to speak up as well. Within two weeks I was out of the band. I was put through hell. I am going to post more during the week. I give you the opportunity to unfriend me if you don’t want to hear my story. I need to do this for me. Thank you for allowing me to share.

(Unedited. I’ve been trying to post something for months, but Las Cafeteras have asked their lawyer to send me a contract where they want to buy my silence. More on this in another post.)

#lascafeteras #socialjustice #education #womensrights #feminist #feminism #speakup #activist #music #band #musician #eastlosangeles #losangeles #tellyourstory #ifyoudonttellyourstorysomeonewilltellitforyou

65 thoughts on “Las Cafeteras – Kicked Out

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  1. I have no words to describe how much I admire your courage and I thank you for being an example. Men who preach consciousness but act the whole opposite. It is hurtful to our community and to our young womyn, and a terrible example for our young men. You are a Warrior Queen and this sacrifice is not in vain. Thank you for not being another silenced womyn in the movement. Thank you for letting me hear your voice and the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank YOU for speaking out and airing these experiences. Apparently some of our Chicano and Mexican-American men have not LEARNED anything from what women since the Chicano Movement have been documenting and writing about, and it’s sad to see those who claim to do “community” work are disrespecting the very one they represent. The irony with this musical group is that their name is based on female-adjectives LAs CafeterAs, and they are disrespecting the very foundation of what their group name signifies. Your testimony is important and proof that we as Chican@s have A LOT of work to do as patriarchy is alive and well-fed especially if a band like this one can have a song like “Mujer soy” and exercise the abuse. Denise and Leah: I urge you to not leave one of your sisters alone in this and to also voice out the abuse, I promise you will receive an outpouring of support from folks who will not support sexist and hetero-patriarchal hypocrisy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a real shame, but sadly unsurprising. I remember when Las Cafetaras came through Detroit the last time, it felt like some bro-hipster rock star shit. The bros in the band presented themselves as if they could fuck any woman they met and had a painfully cocky persona.

    I was not impressed. As a single parent I can relate a lot to your feelings, and I’m so very sorry you had to deal with pushy, controlling egomaniac bro-sters for so long.

    Thank you for coming forward and warning us about these predators.

    Solidarity & love from Detroit,

    Looking forward to hearing your future words and music,

    Antony.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tlazocamati Guerrera Fuerte for sharing your experiences, I am so sorry that you had to go through this bullshit, it just makes me sick and angry as fuck. It made me think of a quote I heard on my CihuatlCe cd where Mike Dyson states : “If we have a glorified sense of our own victimization as Black and Brown men, what we must not miss; and what we often do, is to understand that Black and Brown Women themselves are so victimized not only by White patriarchy but by Black and Brown male supremacy, and by the violence of masculinaty that’s directed towards them.” I may not personally know you but I stand in solidarity with you because En Lak Ech, you are my other me. And because I have also experienced this type of abuse. I am proud of you for speaking out against this type of sexest, oppressive, controling behavior, it is absolute bullshit and we will not tolerate it. I will no longer support Las Cafeteras with my energy. I hope that las otras mujeres also speak out too in time, maybe your courage will give them courage. Mandandote mucho amor, fuerza, y respeto ❤ Ometeotl, Aho ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Muchisimas gracias por este mensaje. Thank you for believing and supporting me. Strong words you wrote. When I told my story to a musician friend of Las Cafeteras he told me that what happened between the band and I was none of his business. I don’t think that is true at all. When you hurt one humyn being you’ve hurt multiple people. My girls were also affected by this, and extended family. We are all one, each other’s mirror. We can’t separate ourselves from each other, You hurt one, you hurt all. Thank you again. ❤

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  5. I was a strong supporter of Las Cafeteras until I read this. Thank you for sharing the truth with us. Please believe that everyone I know who listens to their music will be directed to this.

    Stay strong, mujer ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This why we can’t have sic-masculine-hetero-patriarchal men in our struggles-Black and Brown Femmes liberation because they fuck and (re)produce violence this is unacceptable. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m from East Los but I’m currently studying in the East Coast, that I’m never around but it’s good to hear what’s up and going on in my community and how problematic it can be out times. I stand with you, and this is unacceptable to me and what I stand for as well. Therefore, on the behalf of Hampshire College we will be cancelling the booking of the Las Cafeteras because the men need to held accountable for their actions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesenia I thank you and Hampshire College for your support. I received an enormous amount of support and womyn sharing similar stories to mine. I think your move to cancel their booking is one way to make a statement not only for me but for all muxeres who continue to be affected by patriarchy and misogyny. Thank you again for your support.

      In solidarity,

      Annette Torres

      Like

  7. I have been such a huge fan for a couple of years now and I am devastated by how you and the other women were treated! I am so proud you spoke up and I want you to know many of your fans have your back!! Amor, furia y solidaridad desde Brooklyn, NY!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Filiberto,

      Apologies for just getting to your message. I received an incredible amount of support from the community, and your message was among those messages. If you are interested in featuring my story, you can reach me at 626.232.0185

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  8. thank you for speaking out. i recently just started listening again and i wasn’t aware of this. but fuck those men. hopefully you will create a space where you and other womyn can voice your opinions and won’t have to deal with shit men.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If what you wrote is true, I stand with you. I was a fan of Las Cafeteras because of their original music on Social Justice. Shame on the men of the group for their hypocrisy and sexist demeanor. You can’t pick and choose when you are going to stand for social justice. They have lost credibility and respect. I personally will no longer support the group in any way. It is not surprising what You wrote about Hector, as I had heard similar comments from other women. Truly, this is shameful.

    As far as the women in re group, I applaud you for posting this. It is my hope that the other women in the group follow and realize that to many, they are role models.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank G for your words. Everything I wrote is 100% true, and I have held back with a lot more things I experienced in the band. I hope Leah and Denise do get the courage. As for now they are the forefront in defending the men of the group. That must be harder than coming out with the truth.

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  10. How Absolutely disgusting but all too familiar. I’m happy you stood up for yourself & bought to light the abuse & misogyny that’s prevalent in the music industry. I hope this doesn’t discourage your musical endeavors we still want to hear from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I used to be a fan of Las Cafeteras. When I learned about Las Cafeteras from a friend, I was so into them because their style was young and fresh and represented for our culture. One day a few years ago when I was at a restaurant near my family’s house in Boyle Heights, I saw Hector from Las Cafeteras. I was so excited to see him. He was my favorite because his raspy voice. I went up to him to tell him how much I liked his band and that I too wanted to take music lessons. He asked me how old I was. I said 20. He asked me, when do you turn 21? I said in 4 months. He gave me his number and said call me when you turn 21 so we can have a drink. I was confused, but didnt think anything of it. Later I realized he probably thought I was some groupie. I was pretty disappointed and never really cared to follow Las Cafeteras after that.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Annette. Sure if you think it helps. I just ask you dont add my last name. Its stories like yours that make it easier for us women to open up 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will not disclose your last name. I promise. Can you change the profile picture? I think that is going to show with your first name. I want to be very careful, and don’t want to jeopardize you.

        Like

      3. I wanted to let you know that your message helped. Journalist have referred to it, and it gave credit to my story. Thank you again for sharing. I hope that you never have to encounter these type of men again. There are good ones musicians out there. I hope that you encounter those. Your story touched my heart because of my baby girl Hazel who is fourteen, and would have probably done the same thing you did out of excitement in seeing someone you respect. Thank you for letting me share your experience. Much love.

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  12. I never jumped on this bandwagon and couldn’t name a song if pressed. That said, these guys sound like complete douche bag assholes. There may be talent in this pool, but it seems that this band is a pussy getting vehicle and these dickheads are pulling that cultural bullshit that women are subservient because of their gender. Fuck those putos! Silence = death in every aspect. Good for you and your choosing to retain your dignity and your voice. You have a responsibility to your children to be an advocate for your rights, because if you can’t do that for yourself, how can you do it for them?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I totally believe you. It has happened many times with different teatro groups and bands, especially in “El Moviemiento” of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The men expected to be the leaders, spokespersons, etc. In the meantime the women were expected to do all the shit work (planning, writing, phone calls, printing fliers, and such) while raising children, cooking, maintaining a home. The men hardly ever pitched in to help only they did go on to mess around with other women and end up breaking up relationships and weakening the work that brought us all together in the first place. I decided that my efforts were better off elsewhere. I believe you, Inés.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My heart goes out to you. I’m so proud of you for speaking out, I can’t imagine the hurt & struggle you are going through. I took a workshop probably about 3 years ago from Las Cafeteras in El Paso & throughout the entire duration of the workshop it was completely ran by the men of the group. I remember questioning this in my head because they claimed to be feminist I didn’t understand why we weren’t hearing from the women more. But I dismissed it because I figured perhaps it was decided by the women to let them lead or maybe everyone takes turns leading for different workshops. Be strong mujer, I have a feeling this will get harder for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carmen,

      The first few days were the hardest. It’s still not over, because interviews have been asked from both parties. So reliving that experience has been both hurtful, but also healing at the same time. Thank you for your support.

      Like

  15. Thank you for your courage sharing all this. It makes me reflect on my own behaviors within the groups and relationships I’m part of. I’ve definitely perpetuated some of these toxic behaviors to a greater or lesser degree over my teen/adult life. Hopefully your speaking up and out is a wake-up call for these guys, and for other men who read this.

    Men, if this causes you to reflect on your own behavior and wonder what you can do differently, check out the resources by Tools for Change at this site: http://toolsforchange.org/resources/

    A particularly good one is “Common Behavioral Patterns that Perpetuate Relations of Domination” about the ways we unconsciously duplicate oppression unintentionally. I can’t say how much of the behavior ofthe men in las cafeteras is unintentional, but I do know that often times as men we have the privilege to leave our behaviors unexamined and over time even behaviors we criticize in others we no longer see in ourselves. Using these kinds of materials to check in with yourself periodically can help you from getting too that point of being blind to the toxicness of your own behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John- Michael. I will share the resources you’ve shared here in my social media. A lot of men reached out to me, and expressed that they wanted to learn how to see the signs. I am sure your link will help. Thank you.

      Like

  16. I am sorry to hear this. A while ago I interviewed Las Cafeteras (José Cano y Daniel French) and they explained that they choose to name the band with the feminine gender (Women Coffee Makers) because it was their political statemen about the maschilism, especially in Spanish language… Del dicho al hecho, hay un largo trecho.

    The name “Las Cafeteras” doesn´t have any sense if inside the group there is no coherency or self criticism about maschilist behaviour. The music business is already a male dominant scenario, but to use a women´s name as a way to make a difference, and look for a niche there meanwhile having a maschilist behaviour among peers, is even worst.

    Please, the “bro” in the band take the opportunity of this moment to learn about yourselves

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow this is so sad. I am sorry to hear this was happening in the group. It sounds like power went to their heads! They seem to need a dose of humility and respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The patriarchy is the patriarchy for a reason. The Beatniks, the Hippies, the Skas, the Punks and other poetic social musical movements have all had misogyny at their core. I’m sorry to hear that Las Cafeteras siga el patrón en el peor sentido. I use La Bamba Rebelde in my high school Spanish classes to teach Son Jarocho and the Chicano Movement. Maybe las chicanas need a new version of the song!

    Like

  19. God this makes me furious. Stupid men with there machismo attitude. I’m so sorry you guys had to go through this

    Like

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