Esperanza (fem noun)
2. something or someone that gives hope
The Atlantic runs a short film video series on their website. Recently it published today’s video, “From Panamanian Gang Members to City Tour Guides” as part of the “Editor’s Picks”.
From the website:
The proprietors of Fortaleza Tours have a fragile truce within the “red zone” of Panama City. In the eyes of Panamanian law, once you make it to a gang list, there’s no way off. But Fortaleza wants to change that. Not long ago, their tour guides may have been the ones to rob foreigners wandering through the area. Now, former gang members give tourists a behind-the-scenes look at their past gangland life, and all financial transactions with the tourists are voluntary. This documentary by MEL Films, Gang Tours of Panama, shows how violence is waning, the hospitality sector is moving in, and a relatively new feeling of safety has returned to the historic center of Panama City.
Author: Leah Varjacques
I’ve read about Esperanza and its various businesses such as Fortaleza in various publications over the last few years. The motto of the group borrows from Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries celebrated motto; “Nothing stops a bullet like a job”.
Fortaleza Tours is one of the six businesses that have developed from Esperanza. There is a handyman company, a creole restaurant, a seafood distribution service, a recording studio, and a messenger/delivery service. Now, in partnership with MIT’s Sloan School, an investment fund has raised seed capital for new entrepreneurs. New business owners will receive support from a network to help each one succeed.
When the tour business started, it ran only on Saturdays. Now, groups run every day of the week if there is two people or more interested, and over two thousand people have taken the tour. Tours cost about $15.00 per person, please click on the link here for more specific information about the tours. I’ve never taken one myself but I’d like to one of the times I’m back in Panama City.
I hope you enjoy the short film today about the project which I am happy to present to you…from the campo.