Gunmen shot dead Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral Saturday as his car made its way to the airport in Guatemala City, police said.
The singer's agent was also shot and is in stable
condition in the hospital, said police spokesman Donald Gonzalez.
In Guatemala on a Latin American tour, Cabral, 74, left
his hotel at 5:40 a.m. in a white SUV for an eight-minute ride to the airport.
Gunmen attacked the SUV -- at least 20 bullet holes could
be seen on the Range Rover. Nothing was reported stolen from the vehicle,
government spokesman Ronaldo Robles said.
Police found a brown Hyundai Santa Fe nearby containing
bullet-proof vests and AK-47 magazines.
A motive for the killing of one of Latin America's
best-known folk singers remained unclear. Robles said an investigation was
"Adios amigo!" said Argentine Foreign Minister
Hector Timerman on Twitter.
Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu
traveled to the site of the attack, where she wept and said the singer had died
"for his ideals," according to Notimex, the state-run news agency in
"I can't think of a single reason why Cabral was
killed here in Guatemala. He came just to sing," Notimex reported she
Cabral was the latest victim in a wave of violence that
has rocked Guatemala ahead of elections.
In a report last month, the International Crisis Group
warned that the violence and unregulated campaign finance were putting the
country's political institutions at risk.
Stephen McFarland, the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala,
echoed that warning Saturday.
"I think this of course hurts Guatemala's image
before the rest of the region and I believe that brings serious questions to
the table about what can be done to prevent this from continuing," he
Guatemala's human rights ombudsman, Sergio Morales,
expressed his condolences to Argentina.
"I ask authorities of this country that this crime
not be left unsolved, to investigate," he said.
Ironically, Cabral, who said he was inspired by Jesus
Christ and Mohandas Gandhi, was recognized in 1996 by the Organization of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a
"World Peace Messenger."
Cabral gained fame as a protest singer. His song,
"No Soy De Aqui, Ni Soy De Alla" ("I'm Not From Here Nor
There") was recorded in nine languages by stars including Julio Iglesias
and Neil Diamond.
*CNN's Claudia Dominguez and Moni Basu contributed to this