After a failed peace pact raised the spectre of gang violence, music and dance have thrown the youth of Colombia’s Chocó region a lifeline

A rat skitters through the prison cell where Harold Cuesta sits handcuffed, beads of sweat dripping down his brow. He says his imprisonment means the delicate peace pact that his gang and others negotiated with the mayor of Quibdó is now dead.

Since April, Cuesta, a key figure in the peace talks, has languished in the deprived Colombian city’s overpopulated Anayancy prison, alongside a dozen other ex-gang leaders. Cuesta’s list of convictions over the years is exhaustive, a catalogue of time in and out of prison for offences including extortion and, this time around, the alleged murder of his former lawyer.

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