Thursday, July 14, 2011


I always ask God, why did you give me so much? You gave me misery, hunger, happiness, struggle, lights... I saw everything. I know there is cancer, syphilis and spring, and apple fritters.

Argentina's culture continues to be explored through the songs and novels of Buenos Aires-born singer, guitarist, and novelist Facundo Cabral. His repertoire includes the international hit "No Soy de Aqui, Ni Soy de Alla," which has been translated and recorded in nine languages by such artists as Julio Iglesias, Pedro Vargas, and Neil Diamond. His novels include Conversations With Facundo Cabral, My Grandmother and I, Psalms, and Borges and I. In 1966, the United Nations Department of Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) declared him a "worldwide messenger of peace." Cabral overcame numerous obstacles in his climb toward international fame. The youngest of three children, he was raised by his mother after his father deserted the family. Moving to south Argentina as a youngster, he continued to struggle. Arrested and locked up in a reformatory, he managed to escape and became a born-again Christian. Relocating to Tandil, he worked a series of menial jobs, including street cleaning and farm laborer. Inspired by the music of Atahualpa Yapanqui and Jose Larralde, Cabral taught himself to play folk songs on the guitar.

Moving to Mar Del Plata, he found a job singing in a hotel. With the success of "No Soy De Aqui, Ni Soy De Alla," in 1970, Cabral rose to the upper echelon of Argentinean music. His outspoken lyrics, however, continued to stir controversy. Labeled a "protest singer," in the mid-'70s, he was forced to leave his homeland and seek exile in Mexico. He remained a world citizen, however, performing in more than 150 countries. Returning to Argentina in 1984, Cabral performed a series of concerts in Buenos Aires' Luna Park that attracted as many as 6,000 people each night. Three years later, he performed at Buenos Aires' football stadium for an audience of more than 50,000 people. Cabral toured with Alberto Cortes in May 1994.

Cabral was born in La Plata, having begun as a singer in Tandil, 350 km from Buenos Aires. From the most humble of beginnings, he came to inspire millions around the world through his songs, poems and 66 books. He walked 3,000 km at the age of nine to look for work to support his mother and six siblings after his father abandoned them. When he left his mother told him "This is the second, and last gift I can give you. The first was to give you life, and the second one, the liberty to live it". He wrote music that inspired millions. He met Mother Teresa and Jorge Luis Borges. He performed in over 165 countries in eight different languages.

His wife and one year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash in 1978. He was nearly blind and crippled, and was a cancer survivor as well. He once said, “ Siempre le pregunto a Dios, ¿por qué a mí tanto me diste? Me diste miseria, hambre, felicidad, lucha, luces... vi todo. Sé que hay cáncer, sífilis y primavera, y buñuelos de manzana (I always ask God, why did you give me so much? You gave me misery, hunger, happiness, struggle, lights... I saw everything. I know there is cancer, syphilis and spring, and apple fritters).

Cabral went into exile in Mexico during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship. His songs later turned more spiritual and he continued to fill concert halls across Latin America.

Cabral was shot and killed during a tour in Guatemala City while en route to La Aurora International Airport on July 9, 2011.
He had left a hotel in the west of Guatemala City, after giving a concert the previous evening in Quetzaltenango, and was headed to the airport when gunmen attacked his vehicle, a white Range Rover, hitting him with at least eight bullets. He died in the car. The incident occurred at around 05.20 (local time) and took place on Liberation Boulevard, a busy road that connects with the airport, but at the time of the attack was practically empty. Cabral initially planned to take a hotel shuttle to the airport, but accepted a ride from Henry Fariñas.

Cabral was with his agent David Llanos and Nicaraguan concert promoter/night club owner Henry Fariñas, who were wounded. He was accompanied by a second vehicle carrying bodyguards, but they couldn't protect the singer's vehicle from the bullets. Cabral was riding in a SUV that tried to flee the attackers by driving into a fire station. At least 20 bullet holes were seen in the Range Rover car he was in. The gunmen were in three late-model vehicles, one in front of Cabral's car and two to the right and left. One of the attackers' vehicles was later found abandoned on the road to El Salvador. It was a brown Hyundai Santa Fe with bullet holes and containing bullet-proof vests and an AK-47 magazine. The Argentine consul in Guatemala, Enrique Vaca Narvaja, confirmed the report of the attack.

The Guatemalan government reported to Argentine authorities that it had been "a planned attack". The president of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, called Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to express his condolences, also saying there was evidence that it was an ambush. Mr Colom said Guatemala had to be painstaking in its investigation. Early investigations indicated the bullets were meant for the driver, Cabral's Nicaraguan promoter Henry Fariñas, because the trajectory of the bullets were from right to left, toward the driver's seat. Three specialized investigative teams from Guatemala were assigned to the case. Henry Fariñas is also the owner of the central american chain of adult night clubs called "Elite".

President Colom decreed three days of national mourning. Hundreds of Guatemalans (most of them wearing black) sang songs written by the artist in the capital's Plaza de la Constitucion. Some of the signs carried by Guatemalans grieving the death of the beloved singer said “Argentina, we apologize,” "We ask forgiveness of the world for the assassination of Facundo;" "We are here not only for the death of Maestro Cabral, but also for every boy, girl, old man and woman, who becomes, day after day, victim of violence. Not only for Facundo Cabral, but also for the future of our children."

Presidents, performers and other personalities from the Americas have united in condemning the singer’s murder and demanded justice from the Guatemalan authorities.
Argentina's foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, tweeted "Adios amigo!".
Guatemala's 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú, went to the scene of the killing and wept. "For me, Facundo Cabral is a master," she said. "He loved Guatemala greatly. She believes the ambush may have been related to Cabral’s beliefs.
Social networks were filled with expressions of outrage. "I feel an immeasurable shame, a profound anger for my country," said Ronalth Ochaeta, former director of a Catholic Church human rights office Guatemala, on his Facebook account. Rodolfo Ajquejay, President of the Association of Artists in Guatemala, said "this is mourning at a global level because [he] left only positive messages in his songs." This incident "was regrettable" and was "one more manifestation of the violence in Guatemala," said Francisco Dall'Anese, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an organization created in conjunction with the United Nations. Guatemala's human rights ombudsman, Sergio Morales, expressed his condolences to Argentina."I ask authorities of this country that this crime not be left unsolved, to investigate," he said.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said "Facundo Cabral will be immortalized with his songs."
Bolivian authorities expressed their dismay at the death of the Argentine troubadour. Bolivian Minister of Culture Elizabeth Salguero said Cabral's death saddened her because "you can not understand that there are people who want to do much damage to a man who gave so much as a singer, composer, and poet." "He was a philosopher, a fighter for social justice, and to die that way is very painful."
The Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, also mourned his death. "Many of you must be fans of Facundo Cabral, and throughout Latin America and us here in Colombia. I personally regret this vile murder," Santos said at the start of a public speech in Bogota.
The UN said in a statement: "The United Nations System in Guatemala strongly condemns the assassination of Argentine singer-songwriter Facundo Cabral and adds to the feeling of dismay and frustration of a Guatemalan society that looks beset by intolerable acts of violence. It is painfully ironic that the one who toured Latin America with a message of justice, peace and fraternity lost his life in the hands of a group of assassins. The UN expresses its solidarity with the families and loved ones of the troubadour, as well as the people of Argentina and Latin American that had Facundo as a reference for inspiration."
Eduardo Suger, the presidential candidate for the "Commitment, Renewal and Order" party, during his tour in San Manuel Chaparron and San Luis Jilotepeque, Jalapa, described as "vile and shameful" for the country the attack to Cabral. "I felt so much pain, I felt sad for Guatemala, because we are a people capable and honest, but now we paint as a people of thugs, it's embarrassing," he explained.
The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, condemned the murder as an "irrational crime."
René Pérez, leader of the Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13, wrote, “Latin America is in mourning,” and other leading pop-music figures, among them Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz and Ricardo Montaner, also sent Twitter messages lamenting his loss.
Guatemalan artists paid tribute to Facundo Cabral on Sunday, July 10, 2011. The Guatemalan artist guild called on all citizens to go Constitution Square to pay tribute to him. Armando Pineda, Alvaro Aguilar Alux Nahual and Rony Hernandez, Alejandro Arriaza, Gaby Andrade, and Manuel Rony were some of the artists who participated in this concert. In a letter to the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre the 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."

Argentine television stations interrupted their broadcasts with news of the 74-year-old singer's death. The National Government decreed three days of mourning for the death of Cabral. Recalling that "devoted his life to singing, with their letters transmitting the spirit of peace inspired by the teachings of Jesus, Gandhi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta."

The Argentine embassy in Guatemala said it would take the lead on repatriating Cabral's body, with the ambassador Ernesto Lopez saying the family was "devastated" by the events and would not be traveling to Guatemala to claim his remains.
Cabral, at the time of his murder, had been married for seven months to Silvia Pousa, a Venezuelan psychologist who had been his partner for the last ten years.

His body was flown to Argentina from Guatemala on July 12, 2011 on a Mexican Air Force jet. His widow, Silvia Pousa, and nephew joined foreign minister Hector Timerman and a small group of Guatemalan and Mexican diplomats on the tarmac in Buenos Aires to receive his remains. One official brought from the plane a guitar and a small bag. Cabral had said that was all he needed for his nearly constant singing tours.

His coffin was displayed for the public in the Ateneo theater, the same Buenos Aires theater where he last performed in his native Argentina. The widow and family of Cabral gave a statement to reporters at the Ateneo theather, which expressed "thanks to the huge amount of media around the world by the respectful coverage" of his death.


Me gusta andar…
pero no sigo el camino,
pues lo seguro ya no tiene misterio,
me gusta ir con el verano…
muy lejos,
pero volver donde mi madre
en invierno
y ver los perros que jamás me olvidaron
y los abrazos que me dan mis hermanos.

Me gusta el sol
y la mujer cuando llora,
las golondrinas y las malas señoras,
saltar balcones y abrir las ventanas
y las muchachas en abril.

Me gusta el vino tanto como las flores
y los amantes, pero no los señores,
me encanta ser amigo de los ladrones
y las canciones en francés.

No soy de aquí… ni soy de allá
no tengo edad ni porvenir
y ser feliz es mi color de identidad.
No soy de aquí… ni soy de allá
no tengo edad ni porvenir
y ser feliz es mi color de identidad.

Me gusta está tirado siempre en la arena
o en bicicleta perseguir a Manuela
o todo el tiempo para ver las estrellas
con la María en el trigal.

No soy de aquí… ni soy de allá
no tengo edad ni porvenir
y ser feliz es mi color de identidad.
No soy de aquí… ni soy de allá
no tengo edad ni porvenir
y ser feliz es mi color de identidad.


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