The Dallas Morning News

In Ciudad Juárez, message from Colombian ex-mayor stirs hope

Sept 23--In this city of mayhem, they came to listen to Sergio Fajardo, clinging to hope.

23 de septiembre de 2009

And he delivered. Standing alone on a stage like an evangelical preacher, the former mayor of Medellín, Colombia, once one of the world's most violent cities, talked about turning the tide against crime by making tough political decisions.

Ciudad Juárez, now Mexico's murder capital, can do the same, he said.

"Juárez, too, can make the transition from fear to hope," said Fajardo, who touts his accomplishments in his bid for the presidency of Colombia. "It starts by closing the doors to organized crime, reducing violence and providing opportunities to those without hope."

Addressing a crowd of more than 1,500 people packing the Cibeles Center on Monday, Fajardo talked about reducing violence by creating opportunities and providing dignity to the poor by building parks, schools and arts centers. He talked about turning gritty, gang-infested neighborhoods into trendy avenues, with sidewalk coffee shops and libraries.

The Juárez crowd, listening intently, went wild, clapping and giving him a standing ovation.

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