Colombian Rocker Juanes Lauded With Park

The Associated Press
Thursday, December 21, 2006; 4:32 PM

MEDELLIN, Colombia -- Colombian rocker Juanes, who has led a crusade against land mines, will be honored in his hometown with a giant park designed for the thousands of victims who have lost limbs during the country's violent civil conflict.

Construction on the $4 million "Juanes Peace Park" will begin next week. It will include sporting and recreation facilities designed for wheelchair users and the disabled.

"It's place for people to gather, share experiences and learn to tolerate their differences," said Juanes as he and his family surveyed the location in a poor hillside neighborhood.

The government blames leftist rebels for planting most of the 100,000 mines countrywide that maimed and killed a record 1,070 victims last year _ more than any other country in the world.

Many of the victims live in Medellin, which has been hard hit by violence attributed to the country's half-century conflict.

Juanes, who has won 12 Latin Grammys and was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time Magazine in 2005, is one of the most committed celebrity activists on land mines.

His hit song "Fijate bien donde pisas," or "Pay Attention Where You Step," has become the unofficial anthem of the anti-land mine campaign. In April, the song led Juanes to become the first musician ever to perform in the auditorium of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Juanes' "Fundacion Mi Sangre," or "My Blood Foundation," has organized concerts to raise money for civilians and soldiers injured by mine blasts in Colombia.

© 2006 The Associated Press