Marvin Kalb: Peacebuilding involves governments, militaries, and non-governmental organizations. But it also requires public support. Everyday people can demand an end to violence and encourage officials to create peace agreements and build democratic societies. Artists and musicians are often the leading voices of public calls for peace, inspiring broad support for ending conflicts. The musician Juanes became a voice of inspiration for the people of Colombia as they sought an end to their country’s violent conflict. Here is his story:
Juanes: My name is Juanes. I am from Colombia, born in Medellin. I am a musician.
Growing up in Colombia was a world of contrast, you know, on one side all the beauties of our country. All the family, all the love that I received from my family. But at the same time, I was in the city. This environment of people, losing families. Somebody was kidnapped, somebody was killed.
For kids, they lost everything. They lost the family, they lost the hope, they lost the dreams. The damage is terrible. You know it’s like huge, really terrible.
That was the reason why music became so powerful for me to escape, and at the same to time express all my feelings, all my fears that I was having at the time as a teenager.
That was like the first time I really start to write songs and to think about what was happening around me. I couldn’t understand the way we kill each other, you know.
And I still don’t understand why we are killing each other.
I wrote a song called Fijate Bien and in this song I talk about the landmine situation.
English translation: “Look carefully where you step. Look carefully when you walk. It won’t be a mine that destroys your feet.”
After this song was released all different organizations start to invite me to participate in different campaigns.
(Juanes on stage at a concert) “Colombia is one of the most affected countries by landmines and we really need help now.”
So I say, well, I’m just a musician, but if I can do something through art to help in any way, I will do it because I want to do it.
English translation: “Through the streets of my country and all I find, peace.”
We were in the middle of this, um, difficult situation between Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. So the peace without borders concert became as a, almost as a crazy idea.
English translation: “Who is gonna give me your emotions....”
We built a stage there right on the border, and all the people get together from Colombia, from Venezuela, from Ecuador, and it was one of the most beautiful things. We were like seven artists from different countries and we did a concert.
We tried to call the attention to the young people, to bring peace as a concept, just to think that peace is something possible if we work all together.
Sometimes people ask me, hey, what can I do just to help? And I always say, well, the fact you know something, you understand something that you have in your heart, that’s a good start.
English translation: “Liberty, liberty...”
The idea for us is just to keep going with the Paz sin Fronteras concerts. If it’s in Havana or Venezuela or El Paso or whatever it is, we wanna go there. We wanna perform. We wanna just bring happiness through music. I just wanna be part of this and I wanna bring people to the table if I can, and just try to help to build that different future for our country.