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El Manglito, La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Building intergenerational trust and social cohesion

El Manglito is a community in Baja California Sur, Mexico, that was turning into a cesspool for all the communities surrounding it. In the latter half of the 2000s, the NGO Noreste Sustentable (NOS) brought in biologists and environmental scientists to work with the community. NOS took steps to clean up the environment by removing waste and and implementing sustainable fishing practices. Some 15 years later, a sharp increase in cartel violence was reported. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, cartel violence inward into Mexico has both intensified and diversified. With border closures negatively affecting the cartel’s economy, they have turned to different forms of income generation, including extortion of local communities.

The Corioli Institute team approached the El Manglito community to explore a potential collaboration that took shape as a trust building exercise. We went in with an open and participatory approach to engage with the community, informing them of our research capabilities, understanding their needs and desires, and asking what would be most useful for them. The community were keen on building intergenerational cohesion, with the older generation expressing a desire to foster a sense of belonging for the young people within the community. One of the primary drivers of youth participation in cartels within the community was a lack of belonging within the community, which children and yoth sought within the cartels.

Engaging with children and youth, we chose to produce a coffee table book. Our team led a series of workshops, brought in consultants, and funded the production of the book for the community. The final book was a resounding success and is being displayed in libraries across Mexico. The novel participatory, receptive, collaborative approach to trust building and social cohesion within El Manglito resulted in a strong sense of identity, efficacy, and pride among the youth of the community.

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