MEDELLIN, Colombia – Medellin’s Comuna 13 district, which became a model of transformation after having once been one of the world’s most violent areas through art and culture, turned to its artists to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
Songs of resistance and urban rhythms played from the terrace of a wine shop in the Antonio Nariño neighborhood during the concert “Abraza la 13,” an initiative led by Colombian singer Bomby to raise funds and collect food, apart from inviting donations of computers and tablets for the education of youngsters.
Groups such as Son Bata, LA 4-13, Casa Kolacho and Perro Graff which paved the way for art in the district to overcome violence and give another meaning of life of the community’s young people, joined forces to organize this solidarity campaign in which more than 30 artists participated.
“We want to help each other. We have decided to get together because whenever we do, great things come out of it,” said Bomby, one of the most popular artist from the district and known for his song “Estamos Melos,” the anthem of the Colombian national team players at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
During the lockdown, red rags and pans have been hung by the people – who work on daily wages – in some of the slums, an S.O.S sign to ask for food aid.
John Jaime Sanchez, head of Son Bata and one of the organizers of the event which was broadcast on YouTube – attended by dozens of people through their window –, told EFE that this situation led the artists to set up a stage on one of the highest terraces in the area.
“(Comuna) 13 needs to be embraced by those who have lived it (…) and suffered,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez added that, in the area which was stigmatized in the past, music has been “a symbol of resistance and social mobilizations,” during the most complicated times, hence the call for solidarity could not have been carried out in any other manner.
He further added that the district was now a tourist place, “par excellence of the city,” with its escalators on its slopes, graffiti artists, artistic groups and business that existed around these.
Singers such as Pedrina, Adriana Lucia and Martina La Peligrosa joined the event virtually; however, one of the high points of the concert was when Colombian soccer player Juan Fernando Quintero of River Plate and Cafetera team joined in a video call.
“Here we are; we will try to make sure everyone is okay. Greetings to my entire commune,” said Quintero, who grew up in the area.
The stage was set up by Caos Producciones and Eco-Art, ventures which took shape in Comuna 13, and participants like Black and Withe with their breakdance choreographies also turned up at the event near the escalators that used to be flooded with hundreds of tourists daily.
The event also saw the participation of those who joined the event from far such businessman Julio Correal, former Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez – who proclaimed the area as a symbol of resurgence after years of violence –, and soccer player Edwin Cardona, who committed to a donation publicly.
For closing the concert, Bomby performed his hit “Estamos Melos,” the so-called “campaign for art and life” in Comuna 13 as people stuck out white handkerchiefs out of their windows.