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Around Fifty Thousand People Say Goodbye to Argentine Singer Sandro in the Palace of the Congres

By Dialogo
January 07, 2010

Argentine singer Sandro, a popular idol famous in Latin America, who died Monday, was mourned Wednesday by thousands of fans who came to file past his remains, in lines that had not stopped since the previous day, where he lay in repose in the Palace of the National Congress. Starting on Tuesday, around fifty thousand people defied extreme heat, then rain, and finally a sudden drop in temperature in Buenos Aires’s southern summer in order to say goodbye to their idol amid scenes of weeping, sorrow, and anguish. Sandro died at the age of sixty-four following multiple complications in the forty-five days since receiving a heart-lung transplant, an operation that took place when his health had already greatly deteriorated due to his chronic tobacco use and after months of waiting for an organ donation. Roberto Sánchez, to give him his real name, captivated several generations in his forty-year career, which he began by imitating Elvis Presley, although he then turned to romantic music, the genre with which he became a success in Latin America. The period of lying in repose, which had been expected to end in the evening, had to be extended due to the crowds, who at one point formed a line 1,300 meters long in front of the congressional building. Some of the fans even got back in line after filing past the casket in order to have another opportunity to say their last goodbyes. The funeral cortege will depart from the Palace of the Congress Wednesday afternoon and will pass in front of the singer’s residence in the locality of Banfield, on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires, before proceeding to a private cemetery in a neighboring locality. Since Monday night, the door of Sandro’s home has become a kind of shrine where his followers have left flowers, letters, and posters and have expressed their grief for the loss of their idol. It was at this same house that every 19th of August his female fans, the majority of whom are over fifty and whom the singer called “my babies” as a term of endearment, came together to celebrate his birthday, and he would come out to greet them, wrapped in his legendary red bathrobe, with the same self-assurance with which he broke hearts on stage. Sandro, also known as “The Gypsy” or “The Puma,” lay in repose as a popular idol in the Hall of Lost Steps of the Palace of the Congress, a space reserved solely for significant Argentine figures like singer Mercedes Sosa, in November, or former presidents like Raúl Alfonsín and Juan Domingo Perón.