Carlos Federico Abente, an icon of Paraguayan literature, has died at the age of 103 in his family home in the neighboring nation of Argentina.
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The National Secretariat of Culture mourned his passing on July 12, saying: "One of the deepest voices of Paraguay and the Guarani language stopped talking."
The secretariat praised the poet’s ability to bridge the gap between social classes and unite Paraguayans throughout the 1900s, bringing hope and peace to the exiled during a time of hardship under the dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989).
The president of the Society of Writers of Paraguay (SEP), Bernardo Neri Farina, described Abente as a "poet and philanthropist" and said his death was a painful loss, calling the writer one of the "last of the glorious Paraguayans."
Writer and music researcher Mario Ruben Alvarez, praised the poet’s his abundant kindness: "Federico Abente was an immense human being, a great poet, a Paraguayan who never forgot his land, in Buenos Aires he created a great community with other Paraguayans."
Born in Aregua, Abente moved to Argentina at a young age and launched a medical career in Buenos Aires, through which he formed a number of friendships with exiled Paraguayans taking refuge from Stroessner in the 1950s.
Though surgeon by trade, Abente penned a series of poems in the Paraguayan Indigenous tongue of Guarani, entitled ‘Che kiriri asapukai hagua’ (To shout my silence); ‘Kiriri sapukai’ (Shout of silence) and ‘Sapukai Sunu’ (Shout of Thunder). Among dozens of other pieces completed during his lifetime, Abente also composed the lyrics of the song Ñemity which celebrates fraternity, Mother Earth, and hope.
In a literary journal, Dr. Tadeo Zarratea explained the significance of the song to the Paraguayan people at the time of its release in the mid-1900s: "This song is more than emblematic in the struggle for freedom and the redemption of Paraguay; It is a motivating, energizing song that causes very deep emotions.
"It is a song of the peasant… full of hopes, of promises; announcing the dawn, the end of all the hardships and the redemption of Paraguay. This yearning expressed in the song has a magic; and immediately connected with the Paraguayans, whatever their social status. It’s a song that creates a strong communion of ideals."
In regards to the affluent and talented bilingual Abente, Senator Silvio Ovelar, head of the Congress, said: "The dean of poets, the oldest creator of poems in Paraguay, his name inspires respect and is practically a legend."
Carlos Abente Paraguay Guarani Mario Rubén Alvarez Che kiriri asapukái haguã Sapukái Sunu Ñemity Tadeo Zarratea Paraguayan poet Carlos Abente death