Barrio Triste


Medellins Barrio Corazon de Jesus is popularly known as Barrio Triste (Sad neighbourhood). The story goes that it got the name from a French man called Tristan that was one of the first to open a mechanics work shop in the area. People had difficulties pronouncing Tristan, Triste stuck. Whatever the reason for the name, your own real name in Barrio Triste matters less then your nickname. Aguirre is alias Pata, Carlos Zapata is El Costeño, Fabio Jimenez is alias Pinturita. Barrio Triste became known to the world trough a film by Colombian director Victor Gaviria released in 1998. “La Vendedora de Rosas” touched many people and made it to the Cannes film festival with a golden Palm nomination. It is about a young girl who lives in glue-sniffing squalor in the savage streets of Medellin, the murder capital of the world. Abandoned and hardened way beyond her 13 years, like the other street children who make up the cast of the film, she scrapes together the money to feed her habit by selling roses table to table in bars. All the movies protagonists where taken from the streets and more or less had to perform their daily routines. Many are now dead mostly killed but some still live in the streets of Barrio Triste. The main actress Leidy Tabares is paying a 26 years jail sentence for allegedly playing part in the murder of a taxi driver. Today Barrio Triste hasnt changed much from the days of Gavirias movie and Gaviria hasnt changed much either i.e he still comes here to look for his protagonists. During the day its a lively commercial area full of car repair workshops during the night its the place of the drug addicts the street children that take refuge in the glue the young prostitutes. A paramilitary group that controls the sale of drugs and runs a protection racket for shop owners and prostitutes imposes the order of the strong man with the gun. In the middle of all this, there is a man who tries to look after the street children, a local hero who has dozens of them in his care, administers vaccinations, encourages them to play football as an alternative method of escape. He is known as Papá Giovanni one of the survivors from the cast of the “La Vendedora de Rosas”. Giovanni grew up with killers and prostitutes owned a gun when he was 13, has been stabbed eight times, has spent time in jail and, has buried the person he most loved, Jennifer a girl he adopted when she was three, addicted to glue from birth, who was raped and savagely murdered some years ago, aged 17. Today Papa Giovanni is also a cultural agent for Barrio Triste he aims to steer his foundation towards a movie and TV production house his big dream is to finish his own movie called Lola…drones.

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