Argentine folk singer and UN Messenger of Peace Facundo Cabral assassinated by hitmen in Guatemala
Argentine songwriter and folk singer Facundo Cabral was shot dead early Saturday morning in Guatemala City while riding from his hotel to the La Aurora airport. Gunmen ambushed the singer’s two-car convey and riddled it with bullets, firing more than 25 bullets and leaving Cabral to die at the scene. Bodyguards in the accompanying car fired back but were unable to stave off the attackers.
Cabral, 74, was en route to Nicaragua after a week of touring and giving concerts in Guatemala. At one of his last concerts on Tuesday, 5 July, in the Grand Tikal Futura Hotel in Guatemala, Cabral spoke about Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Saint Francis as major influences on his life and work.
Cabral, who was born 22 May 1937 in Buenos Aires, grew up in poverty in Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego, raised by his mother after his father abandoned her and seven children. He began playing guitar and signing in his youth, and then rose to fame in the 1970s amid a generation of protest singers and poets. His most famous song, ‘No soy de aquí, ni soy de allá’ was recorded in 1970. He escaped Argentina for exile in Mexico during the military dictatorship, returning to Argentina in 1984.
The reasons for Cabral’s murder remain unclear, as the singer was revered throughout Latin America and the world as an artist and proponent of peace–he was named a UN Messenger of Peace in 1996. According to the Guatemalan government’s analysis of bullet and broken glass patterns, the attack was not intended for Cabral but for the driver of the car, Nicaraguan businessman Henry Fariña. Cabral, who was sitting in the front passenger’s seat, instead received the brunt of the gunfire. Interior Minister Carlos Menocal revealed at a news conference that Cabral was planning to take a hotel shuttle to the airport when he ran into Fariña, who offered him a ride to the airport.
Little is known about Fariña, who was gravely wounded in the attack and remains in police custody in a Guatemala hospital. A Nicaraguan businessman and music promoter who makes his home in Guatemala, Fariña is best known for the chain of ‘Elite’ night clubs he owns throughout Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia. He was responsible for setting up some of Cabral’s concerts, including his final one in Quetzaltenango. Fariña, whose convoy sought refuge in a fire station immediately after the attack, will remain the focus of investigation.
Cabral’s murder is a symptom of Guatemala’s lawlessness and problem with organized crime, according to OAS (Organization of American States) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. ‘The fact that the bullets were not intended for [Cabral] only increases our indignation, because it proves that no one is safe from the assassins, not even someone whose only weapons were music and truth’.
Rigoberta Menchú, Guatemala’s Nobel laureate, lamented his death at a visit to the fire station where his body was found: ‘He was a master’, she said. ‘I can’t help but think he was killed for his ideals, because why else would he be killed here in Guatemala. He loved Guatemala’.
Cabral’s body will return to Argentina on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a planned movie about his life, ‘Camino de Libertad’ (Path of Freedom), produced by Colombian firm 1996 Films, will begin shooting in early 2012.
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