On October 16th, award-winning Mexican Regional music composer and musician, Espinoza Paz, who turns 31 years old next week, announced his retirement on social media website, Twitter.
"No les puedo decir por que [sic] pero a partir del 2013 dejo la música," Paz posted along with a sad-faced emoticon on his verified official Twitter account, @EspinozaOficial. In English – "I can't tell you why, but in 2013, I'm leaving music." Hours later he added, "No importa el dinero cuando no tienes tranquilidad," (The money doesn't matter when you don't have peace.)
Paz's sudden and cryptic tweets have led to speculation. Born on a ranch in Sinaloa, Mexico, and having worked for years as an undocumented farm laborer in the United States, the story of how he rose to fame is an inspirational one for his loyal fans on both sides of the border.
Critics have at times used words such as "unsophisticated", "tacky", and "untalented" to describe Paz, however he is otherwise known for his humility, optimism, and for being true to his proud but modest roots. His abrupt retirement announcement at a time when his career is so young and doing so well, has many wondering what is going on behind the scenes.
"That's a lie from him. Tell him to get to work," friend and fellow Mexican Regional singer Chuy Lizárraga said between laughter in a recent interview on television show, El Gordo y La Flaca.
Others have accused Espinoza Paz of a publicity stunt, and some have wondered if he's having legal problems with his management. The most disturbing scenario publicly discussed thus far is the possibility that Paz has received death threats to himself or his family, from organized crime and drug trafficking groups in Mexico.
"He's a pretty simple guy, and I think he's not used to so many things," said entertainment reporter, Vanessa Delgado on CNN en Español, referring to his high level of celebrity, as well as possible threats of kidnapping. "He's definitely terrified."
A recent public remark made by Paz hasn't cleared things up. Mexican press reports that Paz made a statement upon arrival at Mexico City's international airport on Friday, saying, "I still can't say [why I'm retiring], but I swear to God, it doesn't have anything to do with what they say or don't say. I honestly didn't think you would notice [my tweet] on Twitter. I only know that I'm not well, I'm sad, I feel badly, depressed."
When pushed to answer further and asked specifically if he was depressed by reporter Hugo Trujllo of Televisa, Paz corrected himself, "Yeah, well no, I don't know … I'm not depressed, I'm just sad …I'm hurt, I'm sad that's all I can say."
While critics have celebrated Paz's retirement announcement, fans continue to bombard his Facebook and Twitter accounts with pleads to reconsider along with well wishes.
It remains to be seen if Paz will return to the stage, but as a composer who has written chart topping songs for others in his genre including La Arrolladora Banda el Limón, Banda Cuisillos, Jenni Rivera, Chuy Lizárraga, and El Chapo de Sinaloa, Paz will have no shortage of work after he's taken time to find the peace that now escapes him.
Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of Latinaish.com.