Art: the option of young people in the Commune 13

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The Commune 13 has been one of the most marginalized places in the history of Medellín, however, today it is proposed to change weapons for art and culture

Art: the option of young people in the Commune 13

In recent years, within the Commune 13 have been founded several groups such as Casa Kolacho and AgroArte, who have strongly believed that the change could come through the culture of hip hop, painting graffiti and teaching to rap and dance to the children so that they do not fall into illegality, using art as an alternative tool to overcome their problems.

The diversity of art has turned 'the thirteen' into an impressive tourist attraction, because they also have the first public electric stairs in the world, where another group, called Black & White Crew, offers visitors, after the climbing, a fascinating show of break dance and in whose route you can appreciate the beautiful murals that give color and life to its inhabitants.

These projections have served, not only to put aside violence and unmask its bad reputation, but also has been the economic focus because of the entry of thousands of home and foreign tourists who value the work of hundreds of artists, who seek a new opportunity to survive.

However, there are still many difficulties to be solved in this isolated place within the capital of Antioquia, but it has been shown that by linking to art it is possible to end violence and crime.

Most of the people who inhabit the neighborhoods of the commune continue to have strong hopes and desires to continue developing their proposals regarding the strengthening of artistic tourism, in order to create an impact in Medellín and show the whole country that they are people of peace, which can succeed despite adversity.

Thanks to the initiatives that they bring through dance, painting, singing and handicrafts, they were able to open a space in the municipal administration to develop and implement the necessary strategies that helped strengthen their projects.

Therefore, there are the first public electric stairs of the world, whose objective was to favor its members in matters of mobility and attract the foreign public, and considerably increasing the excursions.

Currently there are organizations and academies within the sector, where the boys are taught all about art and how to exploit their skills correctly, forming people who show the world their high cultural level. The message is clear: it is an area of the capital that has forged its social transformation and, therefore, the result itself shows it.

A history of violence

The Commune 13 does not forget how for decades it was the epicenter of hiring assassins to the order of drug trafficking, crimes against humanity and enforced disappearances within the same sector.

Talking about San Javier generated confusion within the same city and, worse, anywhere in the country, where its name was attributed to terror and misfortune.

The paramilitary and guerrilla groups faced a strong dispute over the dominance of all the neighborhoods that are part of the commune, separating even families that lived on the other side because they were in enemy territories of the commanders that strengthened order in their areas. It was a place where a person could enter but at the same time was left with the uncertainty if he could come out alive or not.

In the eighties, Pablo Escobar took advantage of the poverty and the human needs of the people of San Javier to build a neighborhood (named after him), and thus build loyalty to hundreds of young people and dabble in the wave of violence that he would sponsor later. This ended the lives of hundreds of children who had no choice but to follow the wave.

At the same time that drug trafficking marked their zones within thirteen, guerrillas such as the FARC and the ELN also decided to enter and establish their line of command. In that sense, the commune became a place where criminals planted their own laws.

In addition, in 2002, with the arrival of Álvaro Uribe Vélez to the presidency, Commune 13 experienced one of the most cruel moments in its history. The government of the time carried out the so-called Operation Orion (with the help of paramilitaries), where it deployed an entire army to put an end to the guerrilla and that, unquestionably, affected the civilian population, including ther murders of children and a large number of disappeared people, who now a days, have not been found yet.

However, Uribe's military operation was a failure that left pain in the less favored people, because the social context did not change, on the contrary, it generated more insecurity and violence.

After years of violence, people, already tired of the social stigma to which they were subjected as a result of the dangerousness that reflected their community, have been betting on culture and art as a key tool to get out of the negative vision with which they have had to fight. This renewal was promoted in order to reach the most affected neighborhoods of the thirteen, spreading values to get young people out of the street and invite them to do something different that does not lead them to violent choices and outside the law.


LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez Salazar

Translated from "El arte: la opción de los jóvenes de la Comuna 13"

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