Facundo Cabral

Facundo Cabral
Background information
Born (1937-05-22)May 22, 1937
La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died July 9, 2011(2011-07-09) (aged 74)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Genres Troubadour, folklore, folk rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Guitar, Harmonica
Years active 1959–2011
Signature of Facundo Cabral

Facundo Cabral (May 22, 1937 July 9, 2011)[1] was an Argentine singer, songwriter and philosopher.

He was best known as the composer of "No soy de aquí ni soy de allá"[2] ("I'm not from here nor there"), which he improvised during one of his concerts. His songs have been covered by Spanish language interpreters such as Alberto Cortez, who was also a friend of his, Juan Luis Guerra and Joan Manuel Serrat.

After touring the world, Cabral enjoyed popularity in his home country during the early 1980s, when Argentine radio demanded local content after the Malvinas War. He was enormously popular in all Latin American countries; when he performed in Peru or Mexico, which he called his second home, tickets were sold out long before the performance date(s). Facundo Cabral was named a UNESCO Messenger of Peace in 1996.[3]


Facundo Cabral was born in the Argentine city of La Plata, and could not talk until the age of nine, was illiterate until the age of 14, was widowed at 40 and met his father at 46. Facundo did not have an easy childhood; he left his home early and was dedicated to all kinds of tasks. From the most humble of beginnings, he came to inspire millions around the world through his songs, poems and 66 books. He walked 400 km at the age of nine to look for work to support his mother and seven 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 traveled to Mar del Plata and got a job in a hotel where the owner saw him with his guitar and gave him the opportunity to sing. He wrote music that inspired millions. He met Mother Teresa. He performed in over 165 countries in eight different languages. His earlier artistic name was El Indio Gasparino. His wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in 1978 in the PSA Flight 182 crash near San Diego, California. He was nearly blind and crippled, and was a bone cancer survivor as well. When he was diagnosed in his twenties, his doctor told him he only had a couple of months to live but he survived much longer and was an inspiration to all. He loved travelling, it was a part of his life, he did not care about money, he just was happy to be alive. Facundo Cabral was killed in Guatemala after his concert. He gave his testimony of life to the world in songs, poems or just chatting, and was a great loss to the world. He always 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).

Religious and political views

Facundo expressed that his spiritual views were influenced by a variety of figures, including Jesus, Laozi, Zhuang Zhou, Rajneesh, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Gautama Buddha, Schopenhauer, John the Baptist, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi and Mother Teresa. He preached quantum mysticism and the subjugation of the ego.

He had admiration for the writings of Jorge Luis Borges (with whom he engaged in philosophical discussions) and of Walt Whitman.

It is generally thought that Cabral never adhered to a specific political movement, although for years he advocated pacifism as a way of resolving conflicts. He used to describe himself as "violently pacifist", and as a "first-class homeless person". During his later years he partly identified himself with the ideas of philosophical anarchism.


Cabral was shot and killed during a tour in Guatemala City while on route to La Aurora International Airport on July 9, 2011.[4]

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 Sport, 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 Nicaraguan concert promoter/night club owner Henry Fariñas.

Cabral was with his agent David Llanos and 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. Guatemalan authorities confirmed that the target of the attack was the concert promoter — possibly because of troubles with organized crime. Three suspects have been arrested.

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!".[5]

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."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez followed suit: "We are weeping with Argentina."

The Mayor of Lima, Peru and former presidential candidate, Susana Villaran, tweeted: "So ironic. A man who preached about peace and sang for life, dies in such a violent way" and shared one of his most famous quotes: "If you love the money at most you'll get to a bank, but if you love life, God will surely come."

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."

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

Argentine singer and poet Alberto Cortez, who lives in Madrid, was devastated by the assassination of Cabral, who shared a "great friendship" with Cabral. "I remember him as a good friend, who suddenly became a mystic. That mysticism transmitted to people, and people accepted it with much pleasure,"he said.

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 theater, which expressed "thanks to the huge amount of media around the world by the respectful coverage" of his death. His body was taken to a cemetery 32 kilometers (20 mi) north of Buenos Aires for cremation at an intimate private ceremony with just family and close friends in attendance.

On March 13, 2012, Colombian authorities announced the arrest of Alejandro Jiménez (a.k.a. El Palidejo), who is believed to have ordered Cabral's murder.[6]

Other quotes


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Facundo Cabral.
  1. Singer Facundo Cabral killed in Guatemala
  2. Harris, Craig. "Biography: Facundo Cabral". AMG. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  3. Irizarry, Doris (2011-07-09). "Facundo Cabral, Entertainer and Messenger of Peace, killed in Guatemala". Examiner.
  4. Asesinaron al cantante Facundo Cabral en un atentado en Guatemala Infobae.com (Spanish)
  5. Timerman expresó su tristeza vía Twitter (Spanish)
  6. Fue capturado en Colombia al presunto autor intelectual del crimen de Facundo Cabral March 13, 2012 (Spanish)
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