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Secretary General Insulza Welcomed Musician that OAS will Pay Tribute to in a Ceremony to Declare the Peruvian Cajón as "Instrument of Perú for the Americas"

  October 30, 2014

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, met today with the Permanent Representative of Perú to the Organization, Juan Jiménez Mayor, and the Peruvian musician José Escajadillo as part of the preparations for the ceremony that the hemispheric institution will hold this Saturday to pay tribute to the culture of the South American country, where it will declare the Peruvian Cajón an "Instrument of Peru for the Americas" and Escajadillo himself as "A Composer of the Americas."

At the meeting, held at OAS headquarters in Washington, Secretary General Insulza highlighted the contribution of Peruvian folk music to the cultural heritage of the Americas, noting that "there is a great creative wealth from the artists from urban and rural zones of the Hemisphere, they are very valuable to our culture, both professional musicians and fans' contributions”.

Ambassador Jiménez Mayor said the tribute is a "historic milestone that recognizes the cultural heritage of Peru and the contribution of our country to the culture of the Americas." "The Cajón is an iconic and deeply Peruvian instrument, which should be fill all Peruvians with pride," said the Peruvian diplomat at the meeting, which was also attended by the Chief of Staff of the Secretary General of the OAS, Hugo De Zela, and other Peruvian musicians.

The OAS will declare Escajadillo "Composer of the Americas" in recognition of his 45 year career as an exponent of the folk music of his country. Escajadillo has been decorated by the Congress of the Republic of Peru with the " Juan Pablo Vizcardo and Guzman Medal," in recognition of his great contribution to culture. The Peruvian artist has received throughout his artistic life various national and international awards for his more than 700 compositions. Escajadillo is also the Chair of the Peruvian Association of Authors and Composers (APDAYC).

Saturday's event will also include a posthumous tribute to the late musician and researcher Rafael Santa Cruz (1960-2014), who dedicated his life to dissemination of the values of the “Cajón” and Afro-Peruvian culture. Santa Cruz was the author of "The Afro-Peruvian Cajón," a work that includes history, rhythm patterns with scores, photos and exercises to play this instrument, and is the first study to comprehensively document the origins of the instrument in Peru and its uses in other countries.

The recognition ceremony for the instrument and musicians will be held in the Hall of the Americas of the OAS, the same place where 27 years ago a tribute was made to Peruvian folk music, which included the artists Oscar Aviles, Arturo "El Zambo" Cavero and Jesus Vasquez.

The Cajón has its origins in the central coast of Peru during the last years of the colonial era. It was created by African slaves, who used crates in disuse as alternative instruments to drums, which were banned because they were considered pagan by the Catholic Church. The first references to the Cajón as a musical instrument dates back to the early Republican period, before the first half of the nineteenth century, and was used to accompany the zamacueca, a dance which later received the name of “marinera”. Over the decades, the Peruvian Cajón adapted to other local and Afro rhythms in celebration, like landau, waltz and panalivio. Its use was also speeded to the rest of the continent.

In the 80s, Spanish composer and guitarist Paco de Lucia flamenco incorporated the “cajon” after seen in Lima the Peruvian musician Carlos "Caitro" Soto de la Colina. Thereafter, the instrument became popular in Spain, and then spread to Europe and Asia. In 2001, the National Institute of Culture of Peru declared it “National Cultural Instrument.” Currently, different rhythms accompanied the “Cajón” worldwide such as jazz, rock, tango, samba, bossa nova, guaguancó, salsa and flamenco.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-471/14