Singer songwriter Juanes launched the campaign “Dreaming is a right” on September 19 in Bogota to preclude forced recruitment of minors into armed groups. This effort expects to reach about 200,000 children and teenagers in three years.
In the Cultural Center of Ciudad Bolívar, in southern Bogota, Juanes, songwriter Fonseca, and hip-hop artist Jeihhco, introduced their proposal to coach community leaders of 14 cities in Colombia on peace issues, so that they can offer life alternatives to children and teenagers, and preclude them from joining armed groups.
The project, with an initial funding of 200,000 dollars, attempts to keep families and children away from these groups, mainly guerrillas and criminal gangs.
In his speach, Juanes recalled that he was born in Medellin, the second largest Colombian city in the northeast, in a period when drug lord Pablo Escobar was at the peak of his career.
“I lived during the 80s and music saved me. That’s why I believe in this. For me, art has been a transforming experience,” said the composer of “La camisa negra” (The Black Shirt) and “Odio por amor” (Love and Hate).
“Our message goes to the children: don’t join that armed group or gang. Furthermore, it is also aimed at parents,” he explained.
Even though it is unknown how many minors participate in Colombian armed groups, Colombian National Family Welfare Institute statistics show that since 1999, 4,935 of them have escaped from these organizations.
Out of these escapees, 58.8% had been recruited against their will by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), 21.3% by extreme right wing paramilitary (demobilized at present), and 14.8% by the National Liberation Army (ELN).