You Can Blame Me (Échame a mí la culpa)

Music piece by:
José Ángel Espinoza, aka Ferrusquillo
Testimony by:
Marcia Scantlebury

Mexican songs - and this one in particular - have always moved me. When I shared a cell with Miriam Silva, a young woman who belonged to the Communist Youth, arrested by the DINA(National Intelligence Directorate) Secret police of Pinochet’s dictatorship between 1974 and 1977. when she was handing out leaflets on the street, we killed time in an organised fashion to keep ourselves from getting depressed and overcome by anxiety due to an unknown fate.

Since Miriam also liked music, one of the activities we planned was to spend the afternoons singing. On a piece of toilet paper I copied down the words to the song 'Échame a mí la culpa', so she could learn it and then we could sing it together.

One day, the prison guards abruptly took her out of the cell and took her away. They released her from prison, and as soon as she got to her house, she contacted the priest José Aldunate, who served her parish church.

She told him that I had been severely tortured and that she feared for my life. The priest contacted my family, who until that moment had no idea where I was.

Extremely frightened, my mother and my husband went to meet Miriam and Aldunate. They were afraid it could be a trap so they brought my four and a half-year-old son Maximiliano with them.

Miriam showed them a small medallion of the Virgin of Lourdes that my relatives did not recognize as mine. However, my son was right on the mark when he insisted in his baby talk that the medallion was mine: he had been with me when I bought it outside Santo Domingo Church.

Then Miriam showed them the scrap of paper on which I had written the words to the song, and that she had hidden in her bra before leaving Cuatro Álamos.

Studying the paper, they each had their theories, imagining the words might be conveying a hidden message blaming someone outside the country, or something like that. But Miriam insisted that it was only a way to exorcise our fear and give wing to dreams of love and freedom. That was how my family found out that I was alive and singing.


Published on: 28 August 2015

No one knows better than you that you let me down
that you forgot what you promised.
You know without a doubt that you betrayed me
even though no one will ever love you as I do.

Reasons abound for me to despise you
yet I want you to be happy.

That there in the other world
instead of hell you find glory
and that a cloud
erases the memory of me.

You can tell whoever asks that I didn’t love you
Tell them I betrayed you, that I was the worst
blame me for what happened
cover your back with my pain.

And there in the other world
instead of hell you find glory
and that a cloud
erases the memory of me.