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Originally Published in Granma, 27 November 2002

Polo Montañez has left us

The charismatic singer dies as a result of a traffic accident on Wednesday, November 20

BY PEDRO DE LA HOZ -Granma daily staff writer-

See also: Interview: "I Always Go Back Home" (Granma International, 02 Nov. 2002)

[Polo] DESPITE the tremendous efforts by doctors to save him, 47-year-old Fernando Borrego (Polo Montañez), one of Cuban music's most charismatic artists of recent years, died at 11:20 p.m. on November 26 at the Carlos J. Finlay Military Hospital. His death was the result of a lamentable traffic accident that occurred on Wednesday, November 29 when he was returning by car from the capital to his home in San Cristóbal, Pinar del Río province.

It was an agonizing week in which people followed news on his grave condition by the minute. Day and night, from one end of the island to the other, Cubans demonstrated their solidarity and expressed their most fervent hopes for the artist's recovery. But he was unable to survive the serious brain trauma and the ensuing complications of such a precarious condition.

Granma daily has received many tributes to Polo's brief but meteoric musical career from both home and abroad. Shortly before his death, a letter from Italy described affirmed: "A man like him - of the people, modest and ordinary - knows how to win everybody's affection. He's in all our hearts and we are proud of him."

Polo Montañez burst upon the island's musical scene like a bolt of lightning. In under a year - in the second half of 2001 - he rose to the top of Cuban radio stations' hit lists with "Un montón de estrellas" (A Mountain of Stars). With this and other songs from his first CD Guajiro natural (Natural Countryman) he won over the Colombian public and made inroads into other Latin American countries and Western Europe.

His surprising and, at the same time, powerful ride on the crest of the Cuban musical wave and his incessant international success was accompanied by a type of legendary mystique fueling the tale of a guajiro who charmed the world with his simple, moving music.

And his patriotic feelings led him to set to music the poems of Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States.

Polo Montañez' second CD on the Lusáfrica label was released in May; Guitarra mía (My Guitar) established him among us, building upon his achievements during the last two months of spring when he filled stadiums and plazas the length and breadth of the country.

Of late, the singer had enjoyed Puerto Rican Gilberto Santarrosa's splendid version of "Un montón de estrellas". And he was preparing to continue touring abroad to promote his second disc.

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