Art of transforming Mexico shantytown

Palmitas, a hardscrabble neighbourhood in the Mexican city of Pachuca, used to have a reputation as a battleground where gangs fought deadly turf wars.

But recently, it has gained a far more welcome kind of attention, reported Agence France-Presse.

A Mexican artists' collective called German Crew has painted a giant mural across the shantytown's houses, working with residents to transform their crumbling walls into a vibrant work of art.

More than 450 families and nearly 2,000 people have seen their homes transformed into the art piece named El Macro Mural Barrio de Palmitas, said artnet News.

The initiative, promoted by the Crime Prevention Secretariat, seeks to motivate young people from communities under pressure of violence to participate and paint murals in their communities.

The artists repainted some 20,000 sq m of grey walls across more than 200 houses to create what the city government bills as the largest mural in Mexico.

Meanwhile, the city cleaned the neighbourhood's streets and installed new streetlights and eight security cameras.

Mr Enrique Gomez, one of the art group members, told Quartz: "The neighbourhood is not the same as when we arrived. Now, you can breathe colours everywhere."

However, some are sceptical, including the lone resident to resist the project.

"The cameras are the main thing that reduced the violence. A thug stays a thug, no matter what colour the walls are," said Mr Adante Lopez, who refused to have his house repainted before giving in.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2017, with the headline 'Art of transforming Mexico shantytown'. Print Edition | Subscribe