La cucaracha, la cucaracha
ya no puede caminar
por que no tiene, porque le faltan
marijuana que fumar
The cockroach, the cockroach
Cannot walk anymore
Because she hasn’t, because she lacks
marijuana to smoke
See a 13-year-old Judy Garland singing about "La Cucaracha" and marijuana in 1935:
La cucaracha was a nickname for a female Mexican soldier, and legend has it that "marijuana" too was named for such a woman, since they were also called juanas.
|Sheet music dated January 1918, from Antonio|
Vanegas Arroyo Print shop in Mexico City
Salas says "La cucaracha" is a corrido (Mexican folk song) that has its roots in nineteenth century Spain. Later, soldiers in Porfirio Diaz's army sang about "La cucaracha" to mock a soldadera that wanted money to go to the bullfights. "With the Villistas, 'La cucaracha' wanted money for alcohol and marijuana," writes Salas. "She was often so drunk or stoned that she could not walk straight."
Other versions mocked the drunken general Victoriano Huerta as the cockroach. The song had hundreds of verses; Isaac Campos wrote in Homegrown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs, "Like so many Mexican folk songs, this one had innumerable versions that were routinely altered to whomever happened to be singing the tune at the time."
"Unlike corridos about male revolutionaries like Villa and Zapata, none of the well-known corridos about soldaderas give their real names or are biographical. Consequently, there are vey few stanzas that ring true about women in battle or in the camps," Salas notes.
|"El baile de la cucaracha" by José Clemente Orozco, 1915-17|
An early version of the song's sheet music from 1918 (above) has a better—if somewhat placid—depiction of a cucaracha / soldadera, an etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada. It is titled, "Corrido de la Cucaracha Que No Ha Salido a Pasear Porque No Tiene Centavitos Que Gasta" (Ballad of The Cockroach That hasn't been able to go out because she doesn't have money to spend).
One “Juana” was the famed or fabled “Juana Gallo” (the Rooster Woman), a fearless fighter. Some say she was Angela Ramos Aguilar, a Zacatecana soldadera, and she was the subject of a 1961 film "The Guns of Juana Gallo."
Among the noise of cannons and shrapnel
comes forth a popular story
about a youth called Juana Gallo
because she was valiant without a doubt
Always at the front of the troop you saw her
fighting like all the other soldiers
in battle no federal soldier escaped her
without mercy she shot them with her big pistol.
"When the army needed their services, the soldaderas stayed in the ranks, and their actions many times were considered awesome and morale inspiring. But at other times, they were abandoned without much hesitation or ordered not to advance with the men into battle," Salas writes. "The cultural reconstructions of the soldaderas have reflected extremes between the fierce fighter (Juana Gallo) and the base camp follower (La Cucaracha). The 'middle ground' soldadera character in the person of 'La Adelita' has emerged as the clear favorite of artists and writers. 'La Adelita' is the 'sweetheart of the troops,' a woman who is valiant, pretty, and a wonderful helpmate to the soldier." A painting by Frida Kahlo, La Adelita, Pancho Villa and Frida, (1927) depicts herself as a soldadera in Villa's army.
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