Latin America

Nahuel, traveler of open veins

He was Alfredo Zitarrosa and Mercedes Sosa’s guitarist and he settled in Mexico thirty years ago. In his way of making fun of FTAA, the photographer gets a broken, abandoned armchair leans it against a wall and he lays down comfortably whilst looking at graffiti: “FTAA, big brother spies on you.”

Cristian Vitale

His crossing of the RíoInfinito will be in a documentary which will tie in strongly with his worries. Symptomatic: Nahuel – Carlos Porcel of Peralta – Could not take another stance. Music, actor, Alfredo Zitarrosa’s former guitarist, singer, Mercedes Sosa‘s song writer, important figure close to the “April generation” in Managua and Argentinean composer – settled in Mexico thirty years ago – spent a lot of time slaving away at an old Latin American dream: To escape to what is the backyard of the United States.

“I go through life like an ekeko, carrying a rucksack and showing what I do everywhere”. He began. There are two reasons for the trip to Buenos Aires. Firstly, to launch his new album “and the milonga knows it”, influenced by a strong Latin-American style, which Pablo Neruda’s musical texts show. (“The love of the sailors”, “At all costs”) paying homage to Zitarrosa. (“and the milonga knows it”) which together with “The south will be possible” and “Bird on his knees” was recorded by Mercedes, and down to the beautiful popular, Mexican text, complied by Jan Rulfo (“the sparrowhawk”)

The other reason is because he was part of the infinite river project, established by the Costa Rican, Manuel Obregón and shaped by musicians from various American countries, which has just toured over 700 kilometers, by boat near the upper parana river basin. “It was a conscious, music experience that will stay with us for a long time”, he affirms.

In what sense?

The initiative reaches various aspects, not just musical ones but also: ecological, social, of identity… There are many snobbish stances when it comes to ecological stances. Therefore, the central aspect of the infinite river is to know what happens to those people on the banks of the river: Their music, their culture. We were on the island of Apipé where, if they make another dam, it will remain under water. It is necessary that this spreads. There are places on the coast, in which the water has made disappear villages and cemeteries. We even traveled with a man who had his family members buried under land that could not be seen. It was very moving and powerful to hear him say “Nande UK Tupa (god, in Guarani) always forgives, man sometimes, nature never.”

Why did you choose the name Nahuel?

I called myself it when it wasn’t so fashionable, with the idea of vindicating myself as the defender of the mapuche cause. The first group that I had in my home town (Cañada de Gómez) was just called the voices of Nahuel, in which we took on as a banner, something which had to do with the movement of the new song.

Eclipsed by the dictatorship, did you leave because of it?

They almost didn’t threaten me, but they did threaten many of my friends, and there were other places to continue working. In 1978 I went to Ecuador with a musical theater group that I used to have there and four years after, then when I was traveling a lot in America, I decided to stay in Mexico.

How was it, living with the seriousness of Alfredo  Zitarrosa?

Well, it was serious, yes, but from day to day; despite the fact he was strict and seemed to always be infuriated, he had a certain sense of humor. I think that his foul temper had more to do with his shyness than with anything else. This thing, the strict militancy began to affect him during his education: the black and white of the left, created untouchable people, like Alfredo and another far off that. But he was like that, genuine. He used to say “No, no me hagas bossa, this is white and this is black”. I had  the influence of the Beatles, from Charly Garcia and had to adapt oneself. But when I realized I was playing with the Uruguayan Gardel, well, gosh… He and Sosa Black they put a ceiling to the music of the continent. When they died, an important piece of this great country left us.

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