Not so long ago, this neighbourhood was a no-go zone. Today, Comuna 13 (in the San Javier district of Medellín) is a hillside barrio where creative expression rules the day. Street artists, rappers, and breakdancers do their thing, and pop-up bars give the place a youthful vibe. The music is loud and Colombian. Bodies move quickly, synchronising for split seconds and an overly affectionate T-shirt dances in what used to be the murder capital of the world.
From their balconies, survivors of a darker past cast agreeable eyes. Change has come. On the streets where Pablo Escobar recruited his teenage hitmen, the contrasting message on that T-shirt signifies more peaceful times ahead. Exploiting fear as a means of control is a well-worn tactic in these parts. But participation is optional. And the younger generation, with less to lose and everything to gain, is leading the way.