As a child growing up in Belize, Jose Victor Guerra-Awe struggled to find avenues to express his unique talents and abilities.

“I held my own, but in private,” he says. “Our society can be a bit stifling at times when it comes to the arts.”

He enjoyed theater and was asked by teachers to participate in skits and plays because of his talent. But beyond primary school and outside of the school system, he didn’t find many options to continue pursuing his passions.

“So, I picked up writing, singing and jewelry making, [and] my creative talents soared to new heights, but… the options for improvement were rather limited and very inadequate,” he recalls.

Eventually Guerra-Awe attended a community college and received an associates degree in environmental science in San Ignacio, Belize. Upon graduating, he spent three years working as a research assistant on biological and archaeological projects in the Belizean jungles.

In 2006, he enrolled at Georgia College & State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental sciences in May 2009.

His travel and college experiences initiated Guerra-Awe’s interest in social change.

“After having moved away to study, I started conjuring and devising ways to help create avenues of self-expression for the young people in my community, primarily, but also for the entire community in general,” he says. “I brainstormed long and hard and came up with the idea of starting a grass roots movement using art as an agent for social change. I dubbed it La Poderosa III.

The name comes from the following:

In 1952, a Norton Motorbike, dubbed La Poderosa II, was driven to its death by two young Argentine medical students as they explored South America. Along their journey, they witnessed many things, some impacting them enough to change their lives completely. One of these young men went on to become one of the world’s most controversial revolutionary figures. La Poderosa II was the wheels of a revolutionary.

“La Poderosa III is a concept group born from this idea and from the necessity for leadership and direction for young people in Belize,” Guerra-Awe says.

“La Poderosa will strive to be a major catalyst of change by inspiring through radical rhetoric, art and civil action. It will challenge young Belizeans to be the change they wish to see in their communities using their talents, strengths and passion as the primary tool for inspiring hope in revolutionary ways.

“La Poderosa III will be the wheels of a revolution, an Intellectual Belizean Revolution.”

By creating this movement, Guerra-Awe has presented an avenue for people to express themselves positively using art, and he has given himself a way to further develop his talents and explore new ones.

However, due to lack of funding, the organization has only been able to initiate a few programs: salsa dancing lessons, open-mics and poetry slams. Ultimately, he wants to do a cultural exchange with a university in Cuba and publish a small collection of his prose and short stories.

Guerra-Awe believes art is a major catalyst for change whether it’s providing recreation, expression or used as an educational tool.

“Art is one of the most effective ways of inspiring radical social change because of its ability to capture people’s attention,” he says. “The projects that I’ve undertaken or gearing to undertake all involve some form of art and are geared at portraying some message in order to spark social change.”

He also thinks that every community needs progress and needs to evolve mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

“In Belize specifically, we are at a point where people, young and old, have very few outlets or avenues to grow and/or develop their talents. Belize has a plethora of talent,“ he says. “Being an underdeveloped country, there is a great deal of social change that needs to be undergone in order for progress to occur.”

When it comes to future plans with La Poderosa III, Guerra-Awe intends to further develop projects and concepts to apply in his community. This includes developing and organizing an art-based cultural exchange program and assisting with developing projects so Belizeans can visit other countries and learn about art movements or attend workshops to develop their own skills and talents.

“[We also want ] to develop a fellowship of Belizean artists and perhaps even construct and manage a nonprofit studio where Belizean artists of all genres can display, record, created, compose and develop their art.”

Guerra-Awe says his greatest inspiration is his late grandmother, Elena Awe Galvez,.

“She never sat still until the day she was dead. She worked tirelessly as a steward of our community, and I can only dream of being like her.”

Nowadays, he finds motivation from various things.

“At this point in time, my muse is the vast talent that exists in my beautiful country. My muse is the knowledge that my country has such great potential to produce great writers, dancers, musicians, actors, artisans, athletes but above all, great leaders.”

“I believe that a great leader makes leaders of her/his followers. I strive to be a great leader.”

Some things La Poderosa III is in need of an acoustic-electric guitar, a small amp, a mic, camcorder, projector, a laptop computer equipped with audio and video recording, editing software and Photoshop and an SLR digital camera.

The drive to Shut IT DOWN goes global with the efforts of Jose Guerra-Awe and others. The solution is in our hands.

Written by Jamie Fleming (

Edited by Paul Ayo