YMCA young volunteer killed in Colombia

Date: 07 November 2012

On October 30th 2012, violence claimed yet another victim – a young YMCA volunteer.

Elider Varela “El Duke” was a husband and the father of two little kids. As a young activist in COMUNA 13, a neighborhood of Medellin, he worked to reduce violence using arts and culture as a way to spread hope and peace in his community.

To this day, the highly militarized situation in COMUNA 13 continues to force innocent people to pay a high price.The lack of security and the absence of safe spaces for its population allows organized crime and the displacement of people to continue, while executions and forced recruitment for criminal activities occur with impunity.

Despite the efforts of the authorities to change its international image, this neighborhood remains stricken by violence, causing much of the population–especially young people– to live in fear. Many here are skeptical that a lasting peace and hope for the future may be possible.

At COMUNA 13, one of the most militarized urban zones in Colombia, social organizations like the YMCA are operating programmes in partnership with a variety of social actors aimng to reduce the consequences of this tragic situation.

The YMCA family calls on the local and international authorities to act immediately to restore justice and peace at COMUNA 13. We at the World Alliance of YMCAs, along with all our friends and allies around the world, send our most sincere condolences to the family and friends of “El Duke”.