GUATEMALA CITY – One of Latin America’s most admired folk singers, Facundo Cabral, was killed Saturday when three carloads of gunmen ambushed the vehicle in which he was riding, prompting expressions of anguish from across the region. Authorities said the performer’s concert promoter was apparently the target.
Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said the Argentine singer and novelist was on his way to Guatemala’s main airport at 5:20 a.m. when cars carrying the gunmen flanked it on both sides and opened fire as a third vehicle blocked it from the front.
Speaking at a news conference along with President Alvaro Colom, the minister said early investigations indicated the bullets were meant for the driver, Cabral’s Nicaraguan promoter Henry Farinas, who was wounded.
Cabral, 74, rose to fame in the early 1970s, one of a generation of singers who mixed political protest with literary lyrics and created deep bonds with an audience struggling through an era of revolution and repression across Latin America.
Colom said he had called his Argentine counterpart Cristina Fernandez to tell her of the slaying.
“It seemed to hit her hard and she asked me to keep her informed about how the investigation is developing,” he told Argentina’s Radio 10.
At the news conference later, he said the slaying was committed by “people involved in organized crime. They are not street killers. It’s a well-planned operation.” But officials said they were not sure of the motive.
Cabral’s vehicle was trailed by a vehicle carrying four bodyguards, who opened fire and tried to chase the attackers, Menocal said.
Officials later found one of the vehicles apparently used in the attack alongside a highway toward El Salvador. Menocal said bulletproof jackets, pistols and the clip of a Kalashnikov were found inside.
Menocal said Cabral initially planned to take a hotel shuttle to the airport, but accepted a ride from Farinas.
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