Crime & Justice

Mexican city Queretaro works to make peace with youth gangs

By Sergio Adrián Angeles

Queretaro, Mexico, Nov 17 (EFE).- Youth gangs have fought for control of Queretaro’s streets for decades but now, thanks to an initiative by officials in the Mexican city, some of these groups are signing up to peace agreements in exchange for opportunities.

“The grudges between the gangs were rough, to the extent that we could not easily move from one place to another, but right now with the Agreement for the Neighborhood, we can move with more peace, with more tranquility,” David Miranda Hernandez, a member of the Dejando Historia (DH) gang, tells Efe.

Queretaro is considered one of the quietest and safest cities in Mexico, but since the 1980s, the presence of youth gangs has blighted certain neighborhoods of the city, home to just over one million.

That is why the mayor’s office launched the Weaving Peace Communities program together with the Nacidos para Triunfar (Born to succeed) association months ago, with the aim of promoting harmony between the rival gangs.

These actions led to the signing of the so-called Agreement for the Neighborhood, which seeks to cement a peace agreement in exchange for providing young people with opportunities.

Queretaro mayor Luis Nava says this initiative aims to integrate these young people in society, acknowledging that they have been marginalized for years.

“They tell us that people judge them because they see them with some tattoos … This (agreement) gives us an opportunity as a society to tell them: you are part of us, we have to work together,” he tells Efe.

Nava explains that in the first stage, they worked with 22 gangs that comprised more than 200 young people who were offered workshops that focus on changing their neighborhoods from the inside and opening new horizons to improve their life.

After the initial stage, the Agreement for the Neighborhood was signed.

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