Argentina: One of Latin America’s most admired folk singers murdered


Argentina / Guatemala:
One of Latin America’s most admired folk singers murdered

The 74-year-old Argentine singer and novelist Facundo Cabral was killed when his car came under heavy fire from three carloads of gunmen on 9 July 2011. The murder has prompted expressions of anguish from across Latin America, reported the Associated Press.

Speaking at a news conference along with Guatamala’s President Alvaro Colom, Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said that early investigations indicated the bullets were meant for Facundo Cabral’s Nicaraguan concert promoter Henry Farinas who owns a chain of strip clubs. He was badly wounded and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

Facundo Cabral and his team were on their way to Guatemala’s main airport at 5:20 AM when cars flanked the white Range Rover which Cabral and Farinas were driving in on both sides and gunmen opened fire as a third vehicle blocked it from the front. 18 bullets hit their car.

Regret, mourning and soul-searching
Argentine television stations interrupted their broadcasts with the news of Cabral’s death. Alvaro Colom said he spoke to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to express his condolences, and he has declared three days of national mourning.

Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hector Timerman paid tribute to Cabral on his Twitter account where he wrote: “The murder of Facundo Cabral in Guatemala brings us great sadness. Adios amigo!”

Artists, performers and human rights activists have reacted with regret and soul-searching, reported Los Angeles Times. In a letter to a newspaper, the Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona wrote: “As a Guatemalan, I deeply regret the impact this news will generate among international opinion. As a friend and colleague, I will lament the absence of Facundo forever.”

Fans gathered before the National Palace in Guatemala City on 9 July 2011, expressing further shock, sadness and anger. One sign held by a mourner read: “Sorry to the world for the assassination of Facundo.”

“He who provokes liberty”
Facundo Cabral’s singing career took off in 1970 with an international hit, ‘No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá’, (I’m Not From Here, and Not from There). In spoken verse that precedes one famous video recording of the song, Cabral says, “I am not liberty, but I am he who provokes it.” Cabral’s greatest hit has been recorded some 700 times and in 27 languages.

After the rise of the military junta in Argentina, Cabral went into exile for a time in Mexico. By 1996, he was designated a United Nations Worldwide Messenger of Peace. Cabral toured and performed actively across the region, which is what took him for a planned series of concerts in Guatemala and Central America.

High murder rates
Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the region, and with one of Latin America’s highest murder rates, it is ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous countries. The rate of homicides was 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010 which is six times the global average.

Facundo Cabral

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Associated Press / New York Times – 9 July 2011:

‘Folk Singer Facundo Cabral Killed in Guatemala’

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