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Gabriel (L) and Martiniano Berrelleza (R), members of Los Cuates de Sinaloa, during an interview with EFE in Phoenix, Arizona, United States on June 9, 2017. EFE/Beatriz Limon
Gabriel (L) and Martiniano Berrelleza (R), members of Los Cuates de Sinaloa, during an interview with EFE in Phoenix, Arizona, United States on June 9, 2017. EFE/Beatriz Limon

Mexican duo goes from undocumented immigrants to US music idols

After leaving their native state of Sinaloa, Mexico, 20 years ago to head north across the border, the cousins Gabriel and Nano Berrelleza founded Los Cuates…

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A couple of cousins will never forget their tough start as undocumented immigrants in the United States, nor can they keep from smiling at the success they have had over the years with their Phoenix-based band Los Cuates de Sinaloa.

After leaving their native state of Sinaloa, Mexico, 20 years ago to head north across the border, the cousins Gabriel and Martiniano "Nano" Berrelleza struggled to put together a Mexican "corrido" band that became one of the most popular of its kind on both sides of the border.

In an interview with EFE on the occasion of the US premiere of the film "Como Le Digo?" on the Cinelatino channel, the movie's stars Gabriel and Nano recalled the difficulties they went through during their years of being undocumented in Phoenix, years when they went hungry and had to sleep outdoors.

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"When we were 14 we crossed into the United States to escape hunger and hard times, hoping to have a better future for our families and for ourselves," Nano said.

They couldn't carry their instruments across the desert, but later in the US a friend gave them a guitar so they could start playing at certain places and events.

"Who'd have thought that now we would have made so many discs, and thank God we're doing well on both sides," Gabriel said, a reference to their fame in both the United States and Mexico.

The group's career took off in 1995 when they ventured to enter a night club's music contest and walked away with first prize.

"They gave us a voucher for a meal and $120. We felt like we were suddenly rich," Gabriel said.

Soon afterwards, in 1998, they recorded their first disc, "Negocio Cuajado," which kicked off their 20-year musical career.

Unfortunately, the current Trump administration's stance against immigration has affected their concerts, where audiences seem to be getting smaller due to the fact that many fans are undocumented and fear deportation.

Los Cuates de Sinaloa is currently preparing its next disc, to be called "20 Años" and which will look back over the group's long musical career. EFE

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