Honduran city rallies residents: Moment is now to prevent violence

By Jillian Slutzker

August 7, 2015

The picturesque beaches of Tela—a Caribbean coastal city of 35,000 residents—are a tourist’s dream. But the streets of Tela, like so many other Honduran municipalities, have not been spared by the country’s crime and violence epidemic.

Through a new campaign—“Tela: El momento es ahora!” (Tela: The moment is now!)—citizens are seizing the moment to take a stand against violence and spread a message of pride in their city.

“As mayor of Tela, I use this key message to motivate my team and all of Tela’s population,” said Tela Mayor Mario Fuentes, speaking at the campaign launch event on July 24 in the city’s Central Park. “This is our city. It belongs to all of us and our future generation, so we have the responsibility to work for more opportunities, especially for the youth.”

The mayor notes that bringing more stability to the city will also benefit the city’s tourism industry, a mainstay in the beachfront town.

The campaign is part of a larger crime and violence prevention effort in the city, supported by the Government of Honduras and Alianza Joven-Honduras-USAID, a youth violence prevention program working in the country’s most at-risk communities. Through neighborhood outreach centers in Tela, the project, which is implemented by Creative Associates International, is creating opportunity and restoring hope for the city’s at-risk youth.

Broadcasting peace

800 residents of Tela marched in a “Peace Walk” to kick off the campaign.
Photo by Emanuel Rodriguez.

Through public service announcements in print, radio and television, as well as murals, t-shirts, bumper stickers and more, the awareness campaign will dispatch messages about violence prevention and the shared responsibility of the city’s residents to preserve Tela’s culture and keep their city safe, especially for its youth, who are most likely to become victims and perpetrators of crime.

To ring in the initiative, 800 of the city’s residents took part in a “Walk for Peace” along with members of the mayor’s administration to show their commitment to peace and stability in their hometown.

In the coming months, the city will produce its own jingle, to get the tune of violence prevention into the ears, and minds, of everyone.

Citywide and nationwide prevention

Youth carry signs through Tela streets that read: “The moment is now to believe in youth!”
Photo by Emanuel Rodriguez.

Tela is the latest city to launch its own municipal violence prevention campaign, as part of a larger national effort at reducing crime and creating economic, recreational and life opportunities for youth beyond gang activity.

With support from Alianza Joven Honduras-USAID—— and the Government of Honduras, San Pedro Sula (Sampedranos, yes we can), Choloma (Choloma, city of opportunities) and La Ceiba (La Ceiba for all) have spearheaded their own successful awareness-raising initiatives.

Mayor Fuentes explained that Tela began using its catchphrase “The moment is now!” in 2014,but this campaign connects this logo and slogan with key messages of family, sports, job opportunities, tourism and violence prevention.”

Municipal Prevention Committees have played a key organizing role in each of these cities, says David Medina, deputy director of the Alianza Joven Honduras project.

“The Municipal Prevention Committee was part since the beginning when we designed the key messages and the main ideas for the campaign. They have also linked the campaign with key people in Tela, such as sponsors,” he said.

From business sponsors to youth advocates, the campaign is a true joint effort at the local and national level. Alianza Joven Honduras is contributing $5,000 to the campaign’s activities. The government’s Security Tax fund will provide another $5,000, and the remaining funds will be leveraged by the municipality of Tela and private sector partners.

The success of this initiative, says Vice Minister for Security and Prevention Alejandra Hernandez, will depend on this collaborative effort.

“It is not only responsibility of the government, or the mayor, or the private sector,” she said at the launch event. “All of us need to do something to prevent violence. This campaign is the way to unify people of Tela and give them a reason to love Tela and do something to support the violence prevention actions in the city.”

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