Rubén Blades Bellido de Luna (born July 16, 1948), known professionally as Rubén Blades (Spanish pronunciation: [ruˈβem ˈblaðes] but [ˈbleðz] in Panama and within the family), is a Panamanian singer, songwriter, actor, musician, activist, and politician, performing musically most often in the Afro-Cuban, salsa, and Latin jazz genres. As a songwriter, Blades brought the lyrical sophistication of Central American nueva canción and Cuban nueva trova as well as experimental tempos and politically inspired Nuyorican salsa to his music, creating "thinking persons' (salsa) dance music".
Blades has composed dozens of musical hits, the most famous of which is "Pedro Navaja", a song about a neighborhood thug who is killed by a very attractive street walker he actually knows (he tries to kill her, she shoots him, they both die, a bum finds them, and takes his belongings; Blades' song "Sorpresas" continues the story), inspired by "Mack the Knife". He also composed and sings "Patria" (Motherland), which many Panamanians consider their second national anthem. He has won eight Grammy Awards and five Latin Grammy Awards. His acting career began in 1983, and has continued, sometimes with several-year breaks to focus on other projects; since 2015, he has portrayed Daniel Salazar, a main character on TV series Fear the Walking Dead. He has prominent roles in films such as Crossover Dreams (1985), The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), Predator 2 (1992), Color of Night (1994), Safe House (2012), The Counselor (2013) and Hands of Stone (2016), along with three Emmy Award nominations for his performances in The Josephine Baker Story (1991), Crazy from the Heart (1992) and The Maldonado Miracle (2003). His songs like "The Hit" (1988) appeared in audio backgrounds of movies like Q & A (1990).
He is an icon in Panama and is much admired throughout Latin America and Spain, and managed to attract 18% of the vote in his failed attempt to win the Panamanian presidency in 1994. In September 2004, he was appointed minister of tourism by Panamanian president Martín Torrijos for a five-year term. He holds a Licenciado en Derecho law degree from the University of Panama and an LL.M in International Law from Harvard University. He is married to singer Luba Mason.