by Leslie Layton
“All I Ask of God”
Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa died Oct. 4 at age 74. The news saddened a Sunday for millions of people who knew her voice that was deep and rich and her songs that were deep with meaning. Sosa became an icon because of both her native talent and her acquired courage to stand up to repressive regimes. She was once detained right along with her audience, which happened to be 200 students studying veterinary medicine.
In a way, Sosa symbolized what I came to love about Latin America during the decade of the 1980s, when I lived in Mexico City. Whether it was earthquakes that flattened cities or rigged presidential elections, people remained convinced that the struggle to improve their lives and achieve social justice was worthwhile. That was reflected and encouraged in the music of Sosa and her fellow Latin American folk artists who belonged to the musical movement nueva canción.