Ruben Blades is an internationally popular salsa singer, songwriter, actor, politician, and political activist. Blades was born July 16th, 1948 in Panama City, Panama. Blades first love was music but he studied law, earning a law degree from the University of Panama in 1972. While earning his law degree, civil unrest broke out in Panama and his school was shut down for a period of time. In 1970, during this hiatus, Blades recorded his first album, De Panama a Nueva York: Pete Rodriguez Presenta a Rubén Blades. The album did not sell well and Blades returned to his law school studies. After the completion of his law degree, Blades worked as an attorney and performed music as a side interest. The Blades family relocated to the United States in 1973. Blades started his musical partnership with salsa musician Willie Colon in 1976. In 1978, they released Siembra. This album featured the international classic, "Pedro Navaja." Blades's music is known for its socially conscious lyrics and complex arrangements. Blades is known for his political activism and political career. Blades ran for the office of the President of Panama in 1994 on the ticket of the party that he co-founded, the Papa Egoro party. Blades came in 3rd place with 20% of the vote. In 2004, Blades was appointed Minister of Tourism in Panama and he continues his involvement in international activism for human rights. Blades's acting career began in 1983, in the Last Fight, where he starred as a boxer who also sang. Blades has gone on to appear in many Hollywood films. Click here to view Blades's items at Milwaukee Public Library.