Who Killed Facundo Cabral?

Translation of an article by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.

It seems incredible. They have killed Facundo Cabral. The troubadour of free and libertarian lyrics, the singer songwriter who survived a childhood of deprivation, prison, the interminable days of dictatorship. A survivor. They killed him just like that, in cold blood, 16 shots. Killers not even worth Cabral’s snot. With clairvoyance, in an interview given in Mexico in September last, he said of the killings: “There were always assholes. And kidnapping and drug trafficking exist because there are assholes who don’t have the balls to live life and prefer to murder”. They murdered him cowardly, in a street in Guatemala City called, paradoxically, Liberation. Various presidents (among them the ultra-right Juan Manuel Santos) came out to express their condolences. That was curious, since Cabral never got on very well with presidents. With none of them. In the same interview he said “I’m an anarchist, which is something worse than a communist. That’s why I have never voted, I have never got involved in politics, because it divides and I keep away from things that divide. No-one, no politician is going to come along and change our reality”.

And nonetheless, with his guitar, that “machine that killed fascists” as the North American troubadour Woody Guthrie would say, gave politics the best part of his life. The good politics, which shakes indifference, which awakens consciences, which makes us realise we are not alone in the world, which rhymes with solidarity, which calls on us to stand up and confront the powerful. That was Cabral, the illiterate street child, who got his schooling in prison, who never knew his father…that prodigious heart that instead of hardening like marble with the difficulties of life, became tender and acquired that understanding of the unfathomable depths of the human being that characterised his work?

Who killed Cabral? That is the question that everyone is asking. It was the killers, some say. The drug dealers, say others. A stray bullet, one hears from the more cynical. One more victim of Guatemala, a ‘failed state’, clamoured the Argentine newspapers. But those who really killed Cabral were the same ones to whom he sang his lines of social criticism.

Who killed Cabral? The same ones who mutilated and murdered the Chilean troubadour Victor Jara and have turned the Colombian singer-guerilla Julián Conrado into a disappeared prisoner.

Who killed Cabral? The same ones who murder trade unionists in Guatemala, the country that occupies, after Colombia, second place in the world in the record for murdered trade unionists. 16 trade unionists were murdered in 2009. 10 in 2010. And this year there have been at least 5.

Who killed Cabral? The same ones who murder hundreds of Mayan peasants every year to cleanse them from their lands. The same ones who displace thousands more to make way for mining and agro-businesses.

Who killed Cabral? The same ones who, after graduating from the School of the Americas, murdered more than 250,000 Guatemalans, disappeared more than 500,000, tortured or harassed millions during the civil war, from the end of the 1950s until 1996. And they keep on killing…

Who killed Cabral? The same ones who, possessing the means to put an end to the misery, condemn tens of thousands of Guatemalans to the most brutal and heinous of deaths: death by hunger, death by all sorts of deprivations.

Here there is no mystery to be solved. Those who killed Cabral were the rich, the powerful, the oligarchy, the capitalists, the imperialists, of all stripes, who have built a ‘failed state’ to their liking in Guatemala, and they have done so with the generous contribution of Washington, without any counterweight since the surrender of the insurgency in 1996 (take note Colombia what awaits you if the conflict is resolved with a surrender according to the terms of the ‘president’). They are the ones who feed the bands of killers just as yesterday they fed the death squads. These bands act with complete impunity, permitted by the army and the police, trained and indoctrinated as required by the US in the era of barbaric counterinsurgency.

The press reports cast a smoke screen over Guatemala, as if the violence could be reduced to a mere question of drug dealers and mafias. “The main narco-state of Latin America”, according to La Nación of Argentina..forgetting, of course, that this dubious honour has been held by Colombia since the 1990s. “A country governed by Los Zetas”, say other papers, forgetting that the oligarchy controls Guatemala with a grip of iron, and that in reality the entire territory is governed by transnational firms that do what they please with communities. With whom are the drug dealers allies? Who keeps the killers going? Whom do mafia bullets kill? What interests benefit and amass wealth with this violence?

When one starts to ask these questions seriously, perhaps we will find the answer to the question that today we are all asking: Who killed Cabral?

RIP.

2 Responses to “Who Killed Facundo Cabral?”


  1. 1 nomi July 16, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Thank you for this post …I hope to share it on facebook.

    Greetings from Rhode Island.

  2. 2 Miguel Leon Rojas July 26, 2011 at 12:57 am

    es una pena! la perdida de facundo!pero fabulosas las canciones que dejo!y las reflexiones. el mismo condenaba la tirania. y pienso que el sabia de alguna manera. que esto iva a suseder a su tiempo. lo vamos a extrañar mucho!


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