Facundo Cabral: victim of drug violence

The news stunned, angered and saddened people all over Latin America, as well as many Latinos in Chicago: Argentinian singer-songwriter Facundo Cabral was shot to death early Saturday morning on his way to the airport in Guatemala City.

Throughout that day, people all over the Spanish-speaking world expressed on social media their consternation at the shocking reports that gunmen killed Cabral in an ambush. His manager and concert promoter were seriously injured in the attack.


Guatemalan authorities confirmed that the target of the attack was the concert promoter — possibly because of troubles with organized crime — who was driving the vehicle in which Cabral was a passenger. Two suspects have been arrested.

Cabral appears to be the latest prominent victim of the drug violence that continues to rage south of our border. On the same weekend he was killed, about 170 people were killed in Mexico in drug-related violence.

In 1966, the United Nations designated Cabral a “worldwide messenger of peace,” making it especially ironic and tragic that the legendary folk singer, a kind of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan combined, became a victim of the horrific violence that plagues Mexico and that has spread to Guatemala and other Central American countries.

Born into poverty in 1937 in the province of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, Cabral in the 1970s became one the most popular voices against military dictatorships in Latin America. He mixed political protest themes with poetry-infused lyrics and, in a career that spanned several decades, recorded about a dozen albums.

His song “No Soy de Aqui, No Soy de Alla” (I’m Not from Here, I’m Not from There”) became an international hit and was translated into many languages. Among those who later recorded the song were Julio Iglesias and Neil Diamond.

Cabral was forced to leave Argentina for exile in Mexico when the military took over in the mid-1970s. He returned to Argentina after the military government collapsed in 1982, at which point he became even more famous.

Cabral performed several times in the Chicago area. His last concert was at the Olympia Theater in Cicero in 2009, where people lined up to get tickets.

Vicente Serrano, host of a local Spanish-language radio show, brought Cabral to the Chicago area for that last performance. Serrano, who described Cabral as “irreverent,” remembers how the singer fell in love with the Chicago skyline and the Art Institute of Chicago. “Facundo cried when we went to visit the Art Institute because he said he was moved by its beauty,” Serrano said.

At the concert in Cicero, Serrano recalled, the audience constantly interrupted Cabral with adoring comments, cheers and applause. But Cabral was used to that. He was as much a poet-philosopher as a singer and, in concert, typically mixed his songs with deeply thoughtful musings about social justice, politics, philosophy and religion.

Cabral overcame personal loss and illness. He lost his wife and infant daughter in an airplane crash in 1978, and he was later diagnosed with cancer.

“Neither the military dictatorship or cancer defeated Cabral,” Serrano said.

I can only share the outrage of many in Chicago and condemn the senseless killing of an artist who stood for peace. And I join my voice to the now iconic cry of Mexicans and Mexican Americans who feel overwhelmed, angry and exhausted with the drug violence: “Estamos hasta la madre” — “We are fed up.” That is what thousands of Mexicans shouted during a recent street demonstration.

In Buenos Aires on Wednesday, hundreds of mourners came out to say goodbye to Facundo Cabral.

I hope his death was not in vain.

tags: Facundo Cabral, drug violence
Facundo Cabral: victim of drug violence Facundo Cabral: victim of drug violence Reviewed by afree on 10:10 PM Rating: 5

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