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Young musicians on stage at El Tecolote. Young musicians on stage at El Tecolote.

‘A child with a violin is a narco hitman disarmed’

Guerrero cultural center founder says culture needs greater investment by government

Investment in music education and other cultural activities for children can help bring peace to Guerrero, according to the founder of a cultural center in the state’s notoriously violent Tierra Caliente region.

Josafat Nava, a theater director and founder of the El Tecolote cultural center in Arcelia, told the newspaper Reforma he intends to lobby incoming governor Evelyn Salgado to build 25 new community centers across the state where children can learn to play an instrument, participate in theater workshops and attend art and dance classes.

“I’m sure that if the government of Guerrero invests in cultural matters, we will have a pacified state,” he said.

Nava said politicians in the southern state, including governors and mayors, have failed to adequately invest in cultural activities for children and for that reason orchestras such as that formed at his cultural center don’t exist elsewhere.

El Tecolote boasts an orchestra made up of 45 children who play traditional music with a range of instruments, including violin, double bass and guitar.

“… A child with a violin is a sicario [cartel hitman] disarmed,” Nava said, suggesting that an interest in music can lead young people away from crime.

He said he founded El Tecolote on his teacher’s salary in 1994 because he believed that music is a vaccine against violence.

Children from Arcelia and other nearby municipalities attend the cultural center and are not charged a single peso to participate in cultural activities, Nava said.

Some attendees have gone on to study art, music and dance at renowned colleges, including four who won scholarships to study in Barcelona, he said.

With reports from Reforma 

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