Banksy in Mexico – and a Rare Cassette.

The artist known as Banksy’s art has always had a political edge. He is well-known for his support of Palestine and his depiction of the U.K. parliament populated by monkeys. Less well-known is his involvement with the Zapatista movement in Mexico. The Zapatistas are a revolutionary group of indigenous people living in remote areas of the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico on the Guatemalan border. In 1999 a football team from Bristol called the Easton Cowboys visited them and played several matches on mountainous football pitches, sometimes normally cattle-grazing pasture, complete with cowpats. The story is told in a 2012 book called Freedom Through Football – The Story of the Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls, by Will Simpson and Malcolm McMahon.

The Freedom Through Football book.

Team members realised that the Zapatistas needed aid in the form of access to clean water and other basic necessities and decided to offer aid. Finance was always going to be a problem and the Cowboys organised a club night and one of the Cowboys, Tom Mahoney, contacted Banksy and asked for help with décor. Apparently, Banksy has already been involved with the Cowboys, having been to some training sessions in 1996-7. Banksy donated a canvas of a Zapatista footballer doing a flying kick. The painting was reproduced on T-shirts. The club night raised £1400 and the Cowboys decided offer the painting as the prize in a raffle to raise more money with tickets costing £1 each! They decided to make it a “spot the ball” competition with punters able to buy as many tickets as they wanted and guessing where the Zapatist’s ball would be on the painting with a sticker. However, not all the Cowboys were happy with the raffle idea, thinking that Banksy was getting recognition and that selling the painting might bring in more money. But the raffle went ahead anyway and brought in just £300. The winner, “a girl from Knowle”, eventually sold the painting for £20,000.

Banksy joined the Easton Cowboys on their second tour of Chiapas in 2001 and painted several murals there.

One of these, a painting of a Zapatista – perhaps of Emiliano Zapata, who led the Mexican revolution of 1910-1920 – later appeared on the cover of a cassette of revolutionary songs called Canciones electorales. The cassette was produced in very limited numbers in three colours, white, yellow and red.

The cassette artwork.
The red version of the cassette (photo Nick Suszinski)

I’m happy to have found this one with Nick’s help. Thank you! I don’t think I will chase the red or yellow cassettes. After all, there has to be some limit to my collecting.