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A Different Vision for Gang Members


By Karla Ortiz

Ranchero Pandillero is a CASA (Adolescent Center) program, created under the initiative of Isael González Goodman. He began the program about a year ago, running education programs to encourage community gang members, hence the name of the “Ranchero Pandillero” project, but the program needed a little sympathy with the “rebel” youth. So six months ago, Letho Aca and Romeo ZK, two young people who have gone through hard problems from a very early age, enough to know that they don’t want anyone else to live through what they did, joined the program as coordinators.

Letho and Romeo have implemented various activities with gang members from some neighborhoods in the city and surrounding communities. Little by little, they have managed to generate connections with local youth, as evidenced by the fact that the duo are often asked when they will return for another event. They have given testimonial talks at schools. With the support of CASA psychologists and continuous training, they have managed to intervene and make a change in the lives of the youth they target.

Hip-hop is their way of creating a union—through break dance, rap, graffiti, and DJ music. Their main objective is to guide the youngest children toward a better future, teaching that it is not necessary to be a criminal to continue doing what they like best, such as urban art, dance, or music.

They currently have 15 members, high school youth from different neighborhoods, who support them in tasks that benefit CASA, such as cleaning, arranging rooms, or whatever else comes their way. Letho and Romeo help them discover their talents: some paint, others sing, and some want to start testing their aptitudes in the artistic field. They have an audio and video studio, with which they also seek to support the youth, Letho is in charge of the auditory production, and Romeo of the audiovisual production.

They also organize community events, go from neighborhood to neighborhood, cleaning up areas and bringing rap to the youth’s homes. They recently visited the San Luis Rey neighborhood, where they cleared public land and held a rap and graffiti event.

At the moment, they are working with four gangs in the city that have caused problems in the community—in Santa Cruz de la Paz, Adolfo López Mateos, Insurgentes, and in Allende.

Letho and Romeo have an upcoming event this April 28th in the Adolfo López Mateos neighborhood, where they will have information tables. There will be what they call “open mic,” so that any young person will be encouraged to express themselves through rap, and depending on attendance, they may stage an “epic battle of rhymes.”


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