R.I.P. Facundo Cabral, Argentine Folk Singer

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  07.11.11 | 1:27 PM ET

Latin America lost one of its great folk singers over the weekend when Facundo Cabral was gunned down while on tour in Guatemala. He was 74.

The singer-songwriter in the nueva trova tradition railed against oppressive dictatorships in South America and wrote novels and non-fiction. He was riding in a car to the airport in Guetamala City when it was ambushed. Officials suspect a nightclub owner also in the car was the intended target of the attack.

From a New York Times story:

Many of Mr. Cabral’s songs mixed expressions of mystical spirituality with a desire for social justice, which gave him a reputation as a protest singer. That proved dangerous after the Argentine military seized power in a coup in March 1976, and he fled to Mexico, where he remained in exile until after the collapse of the Argentine dictatorship in 1982. On his return, in 1984, Mr. Cabral was more popular than ever.

His sold-out concerts were an unusual mixture of music and the spoken word, with songs preceded by long introductions in which he would muse on philosophy and religion and often quote from his favorite poets, including Borges and Walt Whitman, and spiritual masters like Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

Here’s Cabral performing one of his classics:

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