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Mexican muralists transform violent neighbourhoods in Pachuca

August 19, 2017

Covering 40,000 m2, the mural will be the biggest of its kind in the world. (Photo by Germen Crew)

For many years the rundown Palmitas neighbourhood that overlooks the Mexican city of Pachuca was a hive of delinquency.

The drab homes and dimly lit streets that hugged the steep hillside were rife with drug addiction, theft and domestic violence.

Now proudly bathed in kaleidoscopic colours, the area stands as an example of how to transform marginalised neighbourhoods across Latin America.

Government-funded muralists have turned the hillside into a giant work of art, while helping locals to find employment opportunities and develop a sense of community.

The graffiti artists painted several iconic portraits of local community members.

“The neighbourhood changed completely. The colours gave it life,” says Doña Chela, a local pastry chef.

“There used to be a lot of robberies and people drinking on the streets all the time. That happens much less now.”

Pachuca’s paint job

Located 88km (55 miles) north east of Mexico City in Hidalgo state, Pachuca is best known as a former hub for Cornish miners who introduced football and pasties to Mexico in the 19th Century.

The city has been spared the worst of the cartel violence that has plagued Mexico in the last decade but petty crime has been a consistent problem, particularly in hillside slums like Palmitas.

The project is led by former gang member Enrique Gómez.

This has begun to change since a team of graffiti artists known as the Germen Crew painted 200 houses here in 2015.

Viewed from afar, the homes fit together to form swirling patterns inspired by Pachuca’s nickname, “La Bella Airosa” (The Windy Beauty).

Closer inspection reveals finer details among the labyrinth of stairways and alleyways, including several iconic portraits of local residents.

Gómez hopes the project will help keep local youths away from a life of crime.

The muralists are now painting another 300 homes in the adjacent Cubitos neighbourhood.

Known as the Macro Mural, the project is due for completion in November.

Organisers say it will cover 40,000 square metres, making it the world’s largest mural of its kind…

Click here to read this feature in full at the BBC

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