Speedy Gonzales & Drug Abuse

I saw an old “Speedy Gonzales” cartoon the other day, and one of the mice was singing, to the familiar tune of “La Cucaracha.” It went something like this:

"La Cucaracha!
La Cucaracha!

[Unintelligible Spanish]

Porque no tiene,
Porque no tiene,
Marijuana para fumar."

The translation of the last two lines is: “Because he doesn’t have marijuana to smoke.”

Clearly, some snide animators pulled a fast one on not only the Warner Brothers sensors, but also the company that now syndicates the old cartoons.

The question is this: Is “La Cucaracha” actually about marijuana? Does somebody have a full translation? If it’s not about mowie-wowie, then what’s it about?

It’s about cockroaches, boiling in a pot.

I only know two things;
I know what I need to know
I know what I want to know
Mangeorge, 2000

The lyrics to “La Cucaracha” tranlated from altavista Babelfish:

It’s about cockroaches, boiling in a pot.
Here’s da woids; http://www.nexus.hu/kolumbusz/lacucaracha.html

I only know two things;
I know what I need to know
I know what I want to know
Mangeorge, 2000

That’s kind of curious.

mangeorge: The lyrics you linked to are not the lyrics I found on a search that took me here
http://www.danmansmusic.com/childrens/la_cucaracha.txt which are translated above.

The lyrics on the site you linked to translates (At Babelfish) as:

Neither seem to have anything to do with roaches boiling in a pot.

What an odd little song.

IIRC, “cockroach” is also slang for “prostitute”.

“Age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” -Leroy “Satchel” Paige

Then it makes a little more sense why “La Cucaracha” wouldn’t walk with him who lacks money to spend.

I guess.

“Neither seem to have anything to do with roaches boiling in a pot.”
—Commander Fortune

Heh heh. Yeah you’re right. Sorry, I kinda dropped an inside joke here.
When I was a teenager growing up in Bakersfield, a friend liked to make up his own words to songs. He was actually pretty good at it.
Anyway, his song started like this:
La cucaracha, la cucaracha
See them boiling in the pot
La cucaracha, la cucaracha
Be sure to eat them while they’re hot
And on, and on…
By the way, cockroaches used to run Bakersfield. Had their own mayor and everything.

La Cucaracha is a folk song with quite a few variants. Finding “the” correct version of the song is pretty nearly impossible at this point.

I looked over the various links, here, (and did a couple of searches, myself) and noticed something interesting: whenever a translation is provided, the translation deliberately obscures the actual text.
(The link mangeorge found appears to be an attempt to clean it up in Spanish. No other site provides those lyrics.)

The following couplet

porque no tiene, porque le falta
marijuana que fumar.


because he does not have, because he lacks
marijuana to smoke.

Any other translation is a bowdlerization. Period.

(some versions list the first line as
porque no tiene, porque no tiene
while others supply
porque le falta, porque le falta
but in either case, the meaning does not change, only the expression.

This link matches my memory of the history, but it has an obvious bias:

One untranslated version:

One translated version that modifies the text to euphemistically refer to the “roach.”
At any rate, no one sabotaged the Warner Brothers film. The lyrics presented were the correct ones, either in ignorance of or despite the knowledge of the meaning of those lyrics.


Hijacking my own thread???

I can understand how this would have gotten past the Warner Brothers censors in the 60’s, but nowadays Spanish is taught in many American elementary schools. Not to mention the fact that there are so many Hispanic immigrants in this country.

I guess what I’m asking is, why does the syndicate continue to distribute this?

The song is sufficiently well known that bowdlerizing the voiceover would actually call more attention to it than just letting it go;

W-B doesn’t re-review the tapes on a regular basis and Wildmon and his lackeys haven’t noticed it, yet;

Wildmon (or his lackeys) either don’t know Spanish or don’t bother to review tapes from the period before the early 1970’s (when in their opinion, the godless secular humanists set out to corrupt America).


The story at the “druglibrary” link pretty much fits my recollections. My own first experiences with pot (called “boo” by the beatnics), were with aging beatnics and mexicans. Boy, the stuff was really lousy back then.

Also, even in the 30’s (when these cartoons would have first been made), wasn’t “marijuana” already commonly known? The only other term I can think of that people would have used to refer to it back then was “reefer”. Hmm. Anyway, my point: in the 1930’s, anti-marijuana hysteria was at its peak, and it seems very unlikely that an animator would sneak the word in as a joke.

The song was very popular in the early days of the Mexican Revolution and became identified with Pancho Villa. I wonder if a Mexican peasant whistling “La Cucaracha” was as irritating to the invading U.S. soldiers under John Pershing as an Irish peasant was whistling “By The Rising of the Moon” around British soldiers.
Long story short when the revolution started to really get hot a lot of folks fled the country and settled on the U.S. side of the border(El Paso doubled population between 1910 and 1920 as one result). Those settlers brought that song with them. I remember it from growing up in South Texas. Mangeorge remembers a friend making a satire of it in Bakersfield.
The familarity of the song is probably the reason it showed up in a cartoon produced in LOS ANGELES.

I think Speedy Gonzales was introduced in the 1950’s. He was not extant in the 1930’s.

Sweet Basil

But my otherwise puritanical Spanish teacher enjoyed teaching us the original lyrics in the 1960’s.


i feel so foolish!
i was taught completly different lyrics to that song when i was in second grade.

i learned(what translates into)

the cockroach, the cockroach
doesn’t want to travel
because he doesn’t have
because he lacks
lemonade to drink

i feel so deceived.

I’m pink therefore I’m Spam