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Gangs Keep Central America Poor

Guatemala

When young men have no employment, no family, and no reason to hope, they turn to gangs for friends, money, and dignity.

Complete Video Script

Along with a heritage of economic injustice, Central America is now struggling with a huge problem of gang violence. To learn more, we rejoin Fito. Drawing on his experience as a former gang member, he now counsels boys to give them better lives. Fito's own experience illustrates why boys are attracted to gangs.

Fito: [in Spanish] Because I come from a broken family and my father was an alcoholic. My mother worked hard in the garbage dump. I could bring money home, even though it was the result of violence, or the result of theft. So I could help my mom. …And apart from that I have friends, good friends. That's probably the strongest motive that drew me to the gang — a deep friendship.
Rick: Another family!
Fito: Yeah. People looked at us with respect. Sometimes with fear, but with respect. I think that's really the only thing human beings have: dignity. …I work with young people, and it hurts to watch when they apply for jobs. When they are in an interview, they don't even treat them with dignity. It's easier to obtain a weapon than a job.
Rick: If you could these people three things to help them not be in a gang, what would you give them?
Fito: One, is to offer job opportunities. Second, to see people with dignity. I'm an example. Because I had opportunities, because someone walked together with me for years, giving me dignity.
Rick: Number three?
Fito: Love.
Rick: Amor.
Fito: Because love is the only thing that allows you to imagine a future.