Berracas de la Trece
Comuna 13, Medellin, Colombia
At the end of the 20th century, Medellin struggled with violence, crime, drugs and political unrest. The area was one of the main cities under the control of groups loyal to Pablo Escobar, along a main highway which made it easy for the transportation of drugs, traffickers, and gangs. Comuna 13, an area within Medellin was known as one of the most dangerous communities in the country, and Medellin was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Many people were impacted by the violence and the injustices within the community.
Today, Medellin is regarded by some as one of the most innovative cities in the world, impacting much of Colombia’s economy. It has also become known as a popular tourist destination and has had a significant decrease in crime. Comuna 13, in particular, has also focused on transformation and is emerging onto the tourism scene. However, barriers still exist.
Berracas de la Trece was created by a small network of women with a goal of empowering women and youth in their community who have experienced violence and various injustices between the state and illegal groups. The women created their own small business selling handicrafts and souvenirs in order to generate income to support their community. In 2016 they opened a restaurant called Berracas Restaurant in order to generate revenue opportunities for their community as well as feed local children. The Comuna women still face barriers accessing the formal job market. Additionally, youth have limited access to education and job opportunities because of poverty in the area.
Planeterra supported Berracas de la Trece through a grant that was used to improve the Berracas Restaurant facilities and equipment, as much of it was in disrepair and not in compliance with government regulations. With the support of Planeterra and G Adventures, they have been able to develop a new Comuna tour and meal service, benefitting women and youth from the community. Travellers have the opportunity to learn from local guides, visit local shops, try local food and purchase unique handicrafts.
The primary positive social impacts of this collaboration is increased revenue flow into the community, promotion of local businesses and projects, and an increase in cultural understanding. Investments into local infrastructure have provided Berracas de la Trece with the necessary tools and resources needed to improve the overall quality of their projects, develop sustainable new revenue streams and receive tourists in a professional manner, ultimately increasing their social, economic and environmental impact while generating additional jobs and positive visibility for the community.