They had asked for it through social networks, but they never thought it would come true. Manu Chao He arrived at the door of the popular cultural center La Chispa de Asunción when nobody expected it. It was Friday, barely seven in the afternoon. It was getting dark and they were opening the bar, taking out the wooden tables and chairs on Estrella Street, when, suddenly, the singer appeared smiling under a white cap.
A dozen people were surrounded by the artist born in Paris of Galician father who, seated and lent guitar in hand, began to sing. They could not believe it: the campaign they did for a week on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #ManuenlaChispa had paid off.
From La Chispa retransmitían the incredible appearance. Manu Chao, like many other international artists who tour South America, I had never visited Paraguay. Between puffs on a cigar he said he was about to come once, but the dictatorship of the military Alfredo Sotressner (1954-1989) was still firm. Much later, Manu finally came to this country without sea and decided to participate this weekend in the Argentine export festival Cosquín Rock 2018, where the next day he sang, alone and his guitar, before about 10,000 people.
Sit in La Chispa is to support a whole symbol of local urban culture. The center of colonial vestiges of Asuncion is a place almost abandoned by the authorities and by its few owners despite its rich heritage. Therefore, spaces such as La Chispa are vital to sustain the lives of residents and the alternative culture compared to other gentrified neighborhoods, full of commercial spaces without identity and international chains of hotels and restaurants like any other place in the world.
The ex-member of Mano Negra shared three songs and passed the guitar to the Paraguayan singer-songwriter Pachín Centurion who, sitting next to him, sang him the guarania Black Bird (Guyra hu) in Guaraní, the most popular language in Paraguay, official next to Spanish. As well Chokokue Pura Hei (The song of the peasant) and then Manu asked for another one, one that talks about Che Guevara, and Pachin sang him The Zamba of Che, by Víctor Jara.
The simple exchange of poetry and melody in the middle of the street was only stopped by the embraces that Manu accepted, smiling and squeezing hard, from anyone who came near. Assumption is small. Little by little, a hundred happy people surrounded Chapulín Solo, as it is presented in acoustic format, and they took more and more photos with him. Manu, with patience and infinite smile, pleased everyone. To say goodbye, he signed Pachín's guitar, put his right foot on the chair, put on a rumba pose and it started with the last song: Missing. The audience erupted in chorus. "It was a dream for many people, now it is part of the legend," said Pachin to EL PAÍS.