Bogota, Colombia April 9, 2001
Former gang member Angel Fabian Moreno (right) is now an actor on the TV series "Pandillas: Guerra y Paz" (Gangs: War and Peace).


Bogota, Colombia, April 11, 2001
Gangs: War and Peace

Until recently, Angel Fabian Moreno waged war against gang rivals in the Colombian City of Girodot. In a section of Bogota called Ciudad Bolivar his colleague Ivan Aldana also belonged to a gang.

Today both youths are being paid to act out scenes reminiscent of their former lives on the set of the Colombian Television series--Pandillas Guerra y Paz (Gangs War and Peace).

The collaboration between the show's director Mario Mitrotti and Jose Baquero, founder of Jovenes Con Futuro (Youth with a Future), is giving some gang members opportunities for change.

Mitrotti likes the authenticity he gets using real gang members on the set. However with the series in its 4th season and more than 80 episodes produced, he must have kids who can act. "We put them through the regular casting process. On this show I can't afford to waste time."

Pandillas, Guerra y Paz is set in Bogota's shantytowns. Sometimes filming is done near actor Ivan Aldana's home in Ciudad Bolivar--the vast expanse on the city's south side where 1.4 million people--mostly working-class families and peasant refugees from the war--lose too many of their youth to gangs.

Aldana never studied acting but he directed the street theatre program for Jovenes Con Futuro. The pay was sporadic and he longed to work with professional actors. "I reached a point when I was very depressed--totally broke with my wife pregnant. Then Jose Baquero convinced Mario to use some of us as extras," Aldana says. "I'm so grateful."

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