Colombia’s second city, Medellin, will host May for Life, a month-long celebration to promote nonviolence in a city that continues to struggle with its violent perception.
“Medellin has been well known in the past for violence that has taken place here and with these events, we want to show that Medellin has changed in all its aspects, which is why we are seeking to have cultural events, musical events, and academic [events],” May for Life spokesperson, Carlota Sierra, told Colombia Reports.
The month-long event will begin April 25 and will include concerts, parades, art exhibits, and tours in areas throughout the city, at no cost to the public.
“We [people of Medellin] are the evidence of a transformation in which we have all combined to make this city synonymous with inspiration and a benchmark [example] for life and equity,” said May for Life.
Guest speakers for the event include former president of Poland and Nobel Prize-winner Lech Walesa and Charly Alberti, the drummer for the Argentine band Soda Stereo. Salsa star Ruben Blades will also perform a free concert on Calle San Juan near downtown Medellin.
Sierra said that quite possibly the “most attractive event” will be the Routes of Memory – a free bus tour of areas of past violence in the city. The tour will take visitors to sites of “critical events” such as bombings as well as Medellin’s more recent troubled Comunas 13 and 8. The tour takes place on May 20 and buses depart from La Plaza de Libertad at 9:00 AM.
Medellin’s Mayor Anibal Gaviria also commented on the event, himself being a victim of violence in the past. Gaviria’s brother, the former governor of Antioquia Guillermo Gaviria (2000-2003) was killed in May 2003 during a botched attempt to rescue the governor from FARC kidnappers.
“The commemoration will not have a negative or sad message but instead a message of non-violence, the way that they [those killed in the botched rescue attempt] would have wanted it,” said the mayor.
The 10th anniversary of Gaviria’s brother’s death will be commemorated May 5 at the Medellin Metropolitan Cathedral as part of the May for Life events.
Art exhibitions, peace marches and other cultural events involved in May for Life can be found on the city’s website. Or view the video below for program schedules.
- Interview with May for Life Media Director, Carlota Sierra
- Mayo por la vida. Nonviolencia, mas que una palabra, una forma de vivir (Medellin.gov.co)
- Mayo por la vida (Medellin.gov.co)
- Event Program List (Youtube)
- Nobel de la Paz visitará Medellín en mayo (RCN Radio)
- ‘Mayo por la vida’: un proyecto por la no violencia en Medellin (El Tiempo)
- Medellín se prepara para Mayo por la Vida (El Mundo)