La Cucaracha: the song about a stoned legless cockroach as a ridicule against Mexican dictator
Los Panchos's Mexicantos LP cover
La Cucaracha is a fiery Mexican song in the corrido style, a poetic form of the ballad genre prevalent in Central America. Like many aspects of Latin American culture, La Cucaracha has Spanish roots with the first reliable mention of this Andalusian folk song dating back to 1818.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the ballad gained incredible popularity as a symbol of the Mexican Revolution and has since been regarded as an integral part of Mexican history and culture.
Although many satirical poems had been set to the La Cucaracha melody, the iconic lyrics stood out for their content describing a marijuana-addled cockroach that cannot walk as it lacks a leg—all of which was a reference to the military dictator Victoriano Huerta known for his passion for drinking and cannabis smoking.
At first glance, the cockroach is not at all associated with the revolution but in those times, officers of the Mexican government troops and officials often wore long mustaches sticking out to the sides which led to people dubbing them as cockroaches.
Listen to La Cucaracha y Adelita by Trio Los Panchos:
Curiously, the fact that the cockroach is deprived of one leg is clearly traced in the song rhythm: La cu-ca- | ra-cha, la cu-ca-ra-cha | ya no pue-de ca-mi-nar.