Published on May 4, 2013 by: CuencaHighLife

The city of Cuenca and a coalition of former graffiti artists are joining forces to wipe out graffiti.

The graffiti artists who have turned to painting what are called urban murals, say they agree that random graffiti hurts Cuenca’s appearance. Jorge Alvarez, member of the coalition of 60 to 80 muralists, says that the group will sign a pledge with the city on May 10 pledging to clean up and prevent graffiti.

Alvarez says that most of the problem is the proliferation of "tags" or “sigs” in which young men, usually aged 13 to 17, spray paint a personal identification on walls and sidewalks. “It’s ugly and we need to get the artists involved in it creating murals that don’t damage property.”

He says that the goal of his organization is to reduce the amount of graffiti in the city by 70% by the end of the year.

Cuenca councilor Juana Bersosa, who helped develop new city rules to encourage the muralist movement as a way to reduce graffiti, says she is pleased with the first step toward cleaning up the problem.

She also applauded the city for its “no graffiti allowed” policy in the newly renovated Parque de la Madre. “This is a great step and I hope it can implemented in other areas of Cuenca as well.” Graffiti that appeared in the park last Saturday night was cleaned up immediately, according to Bersosa.

Bersosa and others have also acknowledged the efforts of several Cuenca expats in controlling graffiti.

Expat John Scanlon has taken on the project of keeping his street off of 12 de Abril graffiti-free. Another expat, Alan Stiles, who has been painting over graffiti in the area below the Calle Miguel escalinata for more than two years, has been the subject of several newspaper and television stories.

Scanlon says he’s simply trying to be a good citizen. “Cuenca is my city now and I’m happy to do my part to keep it clean.” He adds: “I’ve been hearing a lot of gringos complaining lately about other gringos giving us a bad image but almost everyone that I know is involved in projects to make Cuenca better. My advice for the complainers is to get off their duffs and join their fellow expats in a good cause. I'll be happy to pass out the paint brushes.”

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