In three years, 10,000 people were killed in Juárez – and a quarter of its houses abandoned to gangs. Can the city’s young people reclaim those spaces for themselves?

At the age of 14, Alan has already been given the nickname El Botellas (Bottles) by his friends. The teenager dropped out of school and now drinks heavily, spending much of his time at a dilapidated home on the outskirts of the Mexico border city of Ciudad Juárez.

On a particularly hot Saturday afternoon, a former gang member turned community activist, Israel Ríos, appears at the house. “You are too young for this!” he scolds. Ríos promises to give the assembled kids English classes, despite El Botellas’ insistence that he is not interested in learning.

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