Thursday, July 14, 2011

Argentina, and the world, mourns Facundo Cabral

An old friend recently took to facebook to mourn the loss of a beloved singer: "Inconmensurable verguenza para Guatemala, inconmensurable verguenza para Centro América! Facundo Cabral asesinato en Guatemala," or “Immeasureable shame for Guatemala, immeasurable shame for Central America! Facundo Cabral murdered in Guatemala.” Reading up on the day's events, the tale indeed turned out to be immensely tragic. Cabral was an 74 year old Argentine singer songwriter, who arose from humble beginnings, wrote music (see here) that inspired millions, survived cancer, and last Saturday was ambushed on his way to the airport. From Wikipedia:

He had left a hotel in the west of Guatemala City, after giving a concert the previous evening in Quetzaltenango, and was headed to the airport when gunmen attacked his vehicle, a white Range Rover, hitting him with at least eight bullets. He died in the car. The incident occurred at around 05.20 (local time) and took place on Liberation Boulevard, a busy road that connects with the airport, but at the time of the attack was practically empty.

The LA Times reports that it was an “organized-crime hit intended for his promoter Henry Farina, a Nicaraguan,” and that “as of Tuesday, police in Guatemala have arrested two men in connection to the attack.” No matter the target, the attack is heinous, and apparently symptomatic of the state of Guatemala (and other parts of Central America) in general. In a recent special report on the region, The Economist recently offered this sobering analysis:

Whatever the weaknesses of the Mexican state, it is a Leviathan compared with the likes of Guatemala or Honduras. Large areas of Guatemala—including some of its prisons—are out of the government’s control; and, despite the efforts of its president, the government is infiltrated by the mafia. The countries of Central America’s northern triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) are now among the most violent places on earth, deadlier even than most conventional war zones. So weak are their judicial systems that in Guatemala, for example, only one murder in 20 is punished.

They go on to explain what’s behind the deteriorating situation:

Demand for cocaine in the United States (which, unlike that in Europe, is fed through Central America), combined with the ultimately futile war on drugs, has led to the upsurge in violence. It is American consumers who are financing the drug gangs and, to a large extent, American gun merchants who are arming them. So failing American policies help beget failed states in the neighbourhood.

Just for comparison, the most recent murder rate for Honduras is 77, Guatemala is 52, United States is 5, and Austria is 0.56 people per year per 100,000 habitants.

What do you think folks? Wouldn't it make more sense to just legalize it?

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