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Mexican Rock Group Highlights Obama Rally In Nevada

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Photo by Veronica Zaragovia

Fans of Mexican rock group Maná enjoyed a live performance at a rally for President Barack Obama in Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept. 30.

LAS VEGAS -- More than 11,000 people came out to cheer for President Barack Obama at a rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, the start of his three-day visit to Nevada before the presidential debate on Oct. 3.

But all those thousands who crowded beneath the blazing sun on a local high school’s playing field had just as much enthusiasm for the opening act.

Mexican rock giant Maná, one of the most popular groups of all Latin America, played before the President gave his remarks. This was the latest maneuver by the Obama campaign to court Latino voters. Latinos comprise more than a quarter of the state’s population.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Nevada’s Latino population is the 13th largest in the nation, and 268,000 Latinos are eligible to vote next month.

“We have never gotten involved in political campaigns but we feel this is a humanitarian effort because migrants haven’t gotten the justice they deserve,” said Fher Olvera, Maná’s lead singer, whose hoarse voice is a trademark for the band.

Mexican rock group Maná performs at a rally for President Barack Obama in Las Vegas on Sept. 30.

“Democrats have much better intentions for Latinos,” he continued. “We owe a lot to the Latinos of this country who have been loyal fans for so many years so we want to give back what they’ve done for us.”

Maná hails from Guadalajara and formed in the 1980s. The band often sells out concerts in the U.S., has won four Grammy awards and seven Latin Grammy awards.

Flo Martinez, 50, of Las Vegas, was one of the last to leave the rally, watching the band’s members until they left after signing some autographs.

“I found out in the car,” Martinez said, with a chuckle, about learning earlier that day what her Sunday had in store. “My son brought me. It was a surprise. He didn’t tell me until I got here. He told me where I was coming and I practically jumped out of the car."

Why does she love the group?

"Maná is supporting our president and Latinos," Martinez said. "I’m really happy for that. They’re bilingual and they say what they feel, even in their songs.”

After the concert, Cynthia Venegas, who moved to Nevada from Arizona, said she recently made the switch to support President Obama.

“I want to go to college and support my family,” 19-year-old Venegas said. “I will vote for Obama for sure. I was doubtful because I had heard many bad things about Obama. I’m a Christian and I heard Obama wants gay people to get married and we don’t want that. But now I don’t care.”

Obama's concern for college tuition rates and student debt is what grabbed her vote. And even though she says she came to see President Obama, seeing Maná’s performance didn’t hurt.

“I was euphoric. They threw the pick and I fought for it but I didn’t get it,” she said. “I think that voting is improved when Maná came here because now they’ll see Obama cares, they came so Latinos could vote for Obama. ‘Oh, Obama cares for us, he brings Maná' and all that.”

Veronica Zaragovia worked at KJZZ in 2013.