Argentine singer-songwriter Facundo Cabral died Saturday after a car he was traveling in was ambushed by gunmen in Guatemala. He was one of Latin America’s most admired folk singers and a man the United Nations once designated as a “worldwide messenger of peace.” Cabral’s death sent shock waves throughout Latin America and the international community. Hundreds gathered in Guatemala City to commemorate the celebrated singer’s death over the weekend. Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom declared three days of national mourning in honor of the musician’s passing. The eighth child of a poor Argentine family, Cabral’s songs were known for mixing themes of social justice and spirituality. He fled his native Argentina to Mexico in 1976 after a military junta seized control of the country and remained in exile until the fall of the dictatorship in 1982. According to President Colom, Cabral’s killers were “professional hit men,” who used three cars to surround and attack the vehicle the famous singer rode in. Cabral’s road manager and a Nicaraguan concert promoter and nightclub owner were also critically wounded in the attack. Authorities have suggested the Nicaraguan, a man by the name of Henry Fariña Fonseca, was the target of the violence, but Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, a friend of Cabral, believes the ambush may have been related to Cabral’s beliefs.
Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize winner and friend: “Facundo Cabral is a teacher. I always loved his songs in the '70s. He said he was never from here or he was never from there [Cabral song lyrics], and today we dedicate this song to him because he loved Guatemala a lot. He has been here many times in our county. He was very considerate, and I remember he had marvelous phrases in his music. But finally, today, we are repudiating a terrible crime in Guatemala, a terrible crime in our country, a crime that is creating horror and fear. And I can't stop thinking that he was killed for his ideals, because there is no reason as to why he needed to be killed here in Guatemala.”