Facundo Cabral died last week. The 74-year-old Latin American icon was on tour in Guatemala when three cars cornered the automobile carrying him, his road manager, David Llanos, and a Nicaraguan concert promoter and nightclub owner named Henry Fariña Fonseca, and opened fire.
Cabral was a pacifist of the most romantic sort — his obituary in the New York Times quoted him as saying “A bomb makes more noise than a caress, but for each bomb that destroys, there are millions of caresses that nourish life.” It is believed that Fariña may have been the intended victim of the attack. He survived and is reportedly recovering under heavy police guard.
It is testimony to Cabral’s international sway that in Guatemala, a country where a person who commits a violent crime is estimated to have a 99.75 percent chance of getting away with it, two men have been arrested in conjunction with the killing, and more are sought.
Born in 1937, Cabral was a writer (he palled around with Jorge Luis Borges) and folksinger. He fled his birthplace of Argentina during the military coup in 1976. He spent the rest of his life in international exile, traveling to more than 150 countries. Generations of children, in the Mission and elsewhere, have grown up listening to his music — mostly songs of peace, love and indigenous mythology.
Depending on who you know, who you grew up with and where you are from, Cabral is a cultural linchpin, or a guy you never heard of.
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