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The Day The Music Died: Argentine Folk Singer Facundo Cabral Gunned Down In Guatemala

Latin America lost one of its most beloved folk musicians this past weekend, when unidentified gunmen in Guatemala shot and killed Facundo Cabral of Argentina. Overun by gangs and mafia groups, Guatemala has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Argentina folk singer Facundo Cabral (1937-2011)
Argentina folk singer Facundo Cabral (1937-2011)


The United Nations had given him the title "worldwide messenger of peace." So when Facundo Cabral was gunned down Saturday morning on a Guatemalan road, the entire region mourned the loss of the 74-year-old Argentinean troubadour, who lived from hotel-to-hotel while singing his serenades for social justice.

Cabral's songs exhorted peace and optimism. It is a sad irony that his life would end in such sudden violence, snatched away in a chaotic country on the verge of political and social collapse. Overrun by organized mafias, Guatemala is reeling from rampant violence and corruption.

Cabral was riding in the passenger seat in a vehicle driven by his friend, nightclub owner Henry Fariñas Franco, who was taking the famous singer to the airport. Cabral was scheduled to fly to Nicaragua for a series of concerts, according to the Guatemala City daily La Hora.

The singer-songwriter of "No soy de aquí ni soy de allá" (I'm neither from here nor there) had just performed in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango. Witnesses said gunmen traveling in three vehicles overtook Fariñas' car, which was being tailed by a fifth vehicle carrying the businessman's bodyguards. A shootout began and Cabral was struck three times, including in the face; Fariñas and Davíd Llanos, Cabral's road manager, were also seriously wounded.

Police believe the attack was aimed at Fariñas and not intended for Cabral. Guatemalan newspapers reported early Tuesday morning that police arrested two suspects. The search for the other suspected gunmen continues. Police are also investigating the possibility that the wounded nightclub owner was involved in some type of criminal activity.

In an interview with a Mexican radio station on Monday, Guatemala President Álvaro Colom said he plans to contact the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration concerning unconfirmed reports that Fariñas is one of the Sinaloa cartel's major money launderers. "We have not received any indication of this," he said.

On Sunday, thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets of the capital to mourn Cabral and demand that the government do more to bring peace to their nation. "We are shocked and enraged by the violence that affects our country, and ashamed that this great poet was killed here; all he did was bring us love and culture, "a university student told Prensa Libre.

Enough Already!

According to official figures, 98% of Guatemala's violent crimes go unpunished or unsolved. In a strong editorial, La Hora blamed the Colom government for allowing organized crime to penetrate all facets of society as well as the people for not standing up.

"Guatemala is in a hole not only because our international image has reached rock bottom with the unspeakable and heinous murder of Facundo Cabral, but because this is just a small reflection of how things are here," the editorial reads. "And they are like this because we are a people who don't react, who fail to demand, who fail to implore and who never stand up on our feet to say: Enough already!"

But in an interview with Spain's El País in May, Colom blamed the two previous administrations – led by Presidents Óscar Berger and Alfonso Portillo – for "planning to turnover" the country to drug traffickers.

"I can not tell if it was the presidents or the ministers, but there was an agreed upon plan between the mafia and its connections in those respective governments," Colom said.

Cabral's body was sent Tuesday by the Guatemalan government to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he will be buried, according to Argentinean ambassador Ernesto López.

In one of his last interviews, just two days before his murder, Cabral told the daily El Quetzaltenango that he had cancer. "If I get a little more time – I have very bad health, I have terminal cancer – I might go to one of the many hotels where I have known to stay and work alongside the gardener. I dream of finishing my life growing flowers, it is the thing I like most, as well as carpentry. I like the smell of wood. If I get some time I'll do it and if I go, it will be just like that."

Martin Delfín

Photo - Epiclectic

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.

Image of a kid wearing a blue striped sweater, using an ipad.

Children exposed to technology at a very young age are prominent today.

Julián de Zubiría Samper


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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