Acuerdo de Paz in Puerto Rico: Eradicating the Contagion of Violence

Loiza, Puerto Rico faces an epidemic of violence every day. Although violence due to drug-related turf battles has decreased, revenge remains the most common reason for violence. Retaliation continues to drive high violence rates in the Loiza community—so much so, that children are afraid to play in the neighborhood.

Jessica Rodriguez, an Acuerdo de Paz (a Cure Violence partner) participant, shares her story on how the violence has affected her family. She describes not only how her son was killed, but how her brother, father and uncle were all killed. Because of a community norm built around the notion of revenge and retaliation, the violence continues until someone decides to stop its spread. The goal is to help the community to be more unified so everyone can enjoy peace on the streets. Children should not have to worry about where they can play;  mothers should not worry about their kids getting caught in the crossfire.

Unfortunately, the pain and loss Jessica feels as a result of the violence that has struck her family, is not uncommon. Throughout the world thousands of lives are lost because of violence; retaliation and revenge are often social norms within communities where violence rates are high. Research shows children learn what they experience and witness. Cure Violence partners across the globe are working to change community norms through education and the use of credible messengers to deliver the message that violence, like an epidemic, can be effectively reduced when treated as a health issue.  Like all diseases, violence can be interrupted, prevented, and ultimately cured.