Colombian pop star Juanes will be a spokesman for peace in Medellin, which is suffering a wave of violence due to gangs battling for control of the city.
In a telephone conversation with Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar, the singer agreed to talk part in a peace initiative through dialogue with young people in the city’s troubled neighborhoods.
“Count on me, Alonso, and anything I can do for my city, you know I would die for Medellin” the Medellin-born star told the mayor.
“I will do anything, if it is possible and it makes sense, i will go there and speak with whoever i have to speak to without any problem,” the singer promised.
Medellin, Colombia’s second city, has recently been suffering an acceleration in the rate of violence. Gang warfare resulted in 503 deaths in the first trimester of 2010, a 54.8% increase on the same period in 2009, according to the local ombudsman.
Between January and June 2010, a reported 2,300 people were displaced by urban violence in Medellin, compared to 771 in the same period in 2009.
Mayor Salazar has faced criticism for his handling of the surge in crime, but Juanes told him that “I have always believed in you, I know it hasn’t been easy, but many people who believe in you know that you are a good person and that you have done a marvelous job,” the singer said.
The mayor defended his record, saying that “Medellin is the city in the country with the most investment per capita in social issues. We are prepared to offer all these young people training, employment, and education.”
Juanes has taken part in previous anti-conflict initiatives, holding concerts on the Colombian-Venezuelan border and in Cuba to promote peace. The singer also has a foundation, Mi Sangre, devoted to helping victims of landmines.