Former gang member in Mexico City steers kids away from violence

Americas Now

Carlos Cruz.

The founder of a Mexican NGO that seeks to reduce youth violence by encouraging social development is this week’s Game Changer on “Americas Now.”

Carlos Cruz was raised in Chiapas, Mexico and grew up with brutality and abuse from a very early age.  At school, like other kids, he was bullied and robbed. As a teenager, he joined a gang as a way to protect himself.

While in a gang, Cruz’s criminal behavior eventually led to time in prison.  The turning point for him occurred after he lost a longtime friend to gang violence. It forced him to come to terms with the suffering he caused others as a former gang member.

Today he is running the “Cauce Ciudadano Community Center” in Mexico City to help deter young people from engaging in violent behavior by providing them with positive role models.

The NGO now works with over 100,000 of the country’s youth in 18 Mexican states. Carlos Cruz wants to implement his non-violent methods across Latin America. He’s currently in talks with Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Check out this week’s Game Changer on “Americas Now.”