Latin Grammys bring rhythm, glitz and protest

Javier TOVAR
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Spanish singer Rosalia was the big winner at 2019's Latin Grammy awards

An undercurrent of protest streaked through the 20th annual Latin Grammys Thursday, where Spanish flamenco futurist Rosalia scored Best Album and led the night with five wins.

Chilean singer Mon Laferte -- who snagged a trophy for Best Alternative Music Album -- walked the red carpet in a long black trenchcoat before dropping it to reveal her bare breasts, emblazoned with a message that read "In Chile they torture, rape and kill," referring to the violent anti-government protests that have rocked the South American country for weeks.

"Chile, your pain hurts me," the balladeer said in accepting her award at the gala in Las Vegas, reading a poem from the Chilean poet La Chinganera.

Nicaraguan singer Luis Enrique also seized the moment in scooping the Latin Grammy for best folk album, a collaboration with the C4 Trio.

"Nicaragua is still at war," he said. "Nicaragua continues fighting to be free."

Puerto Rican Residente, member of the iconic band Calle 13, dedicated his short form video award for "Banana Papaya," to "equality."

"Although it has nothing to do with the video, this is for all the people fighting in Latin America," Residente said. "We can't continue to allow our governments to take us for fools."

"We need to continue fighting."

- Long live reggaeton -

Fellow Puerto Rican Bad Bunny -- considered the face of Latin trap, a booming genre that fuses reggaeton with elements of hip hop from the US south -- received the award for Best Urban Album.

In accepting the trophy, he spoke to the anger of fellow artists who decried the nominations as discriminatory against reggaeton.

"There are people who still have trouble accepting that reggaeton is a genre established for more than two decades," the 25-year-old told reporters.

"At the same time, I tell many colleagues that they have become a bit monotonous, passion has been lost, music is made just to generate numbers and views and the essence is being forgotten."

The superstar left an exclamation point on the gala with a rousing, elaborate performance accompanied by an orchestra.

The award for Best Song went to "Calma" by Pedro Capo, Gabriel Edgar Gonzalez and George Noriega, as Alejandro Sanz and Camila Cabello won Best Recording for "Mi Persona Favorita."

Rosalia, donning extra-long bedazzled nail extensions and a grill over her teeth, wowed with a medley performance that included her smash "Con Altura."

"It's the last thing I expected," the performer told the audience as she picked up her award for Best Album for "El mal querer," her fifth award of the six categories she was nominated in.

"I really try and work very hard to live up to this love and support."

Colombian singer Juanes received the prestigious Person of the Year award, and performed a rollicking medley of some of his top hits.

Metallica's Lars Ulrich surprised the artist and the crowd by appearing to present Juanes with the award.

The gala began with an homage to Latin music legends including Celia Cruz, Juan Gabriel, Joan Sebastian and Soda Stereo.