Criticism of the Mérida Initiative wasn’t on Alejandro Matamoros’ mind recently when he spoke about his passion for teaching how to mix hip-hop tracks and how it helps his at-risk students express how they view Mexico after years of bloodshed.

And controversy surrounding the estimated $1.5 billion aid package from the U.S. to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean wasn’t evident during an after-school program in this city’s Felipes Angeles colonia. The children here squealed in delight during dance lessons, where the featured music was a Chipmunks-like rendition of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”

In these gritty neighborhoods, where paved roads and electricity aren’t a given, participants in various social and educational programs are lauding the results of the initiative, which was set up to help the recipients combat organized crime and help areas impacted by related violence. Though these participants are hesitant to say that violence in Ciudad Juárez is gone for good, they say the programs created under the Mérida Initiative have fueled hope for the region following more than three years of urban warfare that left more than 10,000 people dead.

via Supporters of Mérida Cite Successes From Aid Package | The Texas Tribune.