Date: Sun, 25 Aug 1996 09:52:25 -0500
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Young Activists Meet In El Salvador To Discuss Struggle Against Imperialism
By Carlos Cornejo, in The Militant, Vol. 60 no. 30, 2 September 1996
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - "Long Live the peoples of the world!" shouted some 100 youth who participated in the First Encounter of Latin American and Caribbean Youth. The meeting took place here July 24 on the eve of the Sixth Sao Paulo Forum.
The gathering was organized by the Youth of the Farabundo Marti' National Liberation Front (JFMLN). Representatives from the JFMLN, student, women's rights, and environmental organizations as well as other Salvadoran political groups participated. Organizations and individuals from another 15 countries attended - including from Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the United States, and Canada. The majority of participants were students.
Alfredo Leiba, a central leader of the JFMLN, said in a speech that the event provided a way to "get to know more revolutionary youth from Latin America who know how to stand up against the injustices committed in the world."
Discussion centered on the deteriorating social and economic conditions facing working people, and especially youth, in the Americas and on the resistance to these calamities caused by a capitalist system in decline and imperialist domination.
"The capitalists are only interested in having zombies go to work in the factories, both physically and spiritually malnourished," said a representative of the Student Law Association of the National University of El Salvador. "We should show we are capable of fighting." Later, this same delegate spoke about the struggle by university students to free four young people who have been jailed on charges of "terrorism."
This sparked a lot of discussion, especially informally during breaks, on what position should be taken toward the four youth. Some participants thought it was not a good idea to be associated with people committing "terrorist" acts. Others argued young people should throw their support unequivocally behind those victimized by the government for resisting capitalist austerity, even if the methods used may not be the best.
Participants broke into workshops to exchange opinions and experiences after an initial plenary session. In one workshop, Berny Motto of the JFMLN said that the democratic space that exists in El Salvador today is simply due to the fact that the rulers were not been able to crush the peoples' resistance during the 12 years of civil war. Most young people from El Salvador agreed with this assessment and gave examples of ongoing protests against privatizations, low wages, and cuts in education funding and other social programs.
During the final plenary session, many delegates proposed including a message of solidarity with the Cuban revolution in the encounter's final declaration. Several spoke of the importance of the upcoming 43rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks by the combatants of Cuba's July 26 Movement on July 26, 1953. A number of delegates described activities they helped organized in their countries against Washington's escalating economic war on the Cuban people.
Lina Ross Berrio of the World Federation of Democratic Youth officially invited everyone present to participate and help build the World Festival of Students and Youth, which will take place in Cuba July 28 - August 5, 1997. The worldwide gathering will be hosted by the Union of Young Communists, the Federation of University Students, and other youth organizations in Cuba. It will coincide with an international trade union conference on the Caribbean island hosted by the Central Organization of Cuban Workers.
The call to support and build the youth festival was included in the final declaration delegates adopted, which was read at the gathering of the Sao Paulo Forum a few days later.
The declaration also proposed to begin a workshop devoted to struggles of young people around the world at the next meeting of the Forum, and to declare the month of July "Latin American and Caribbean Youth Month."
Carlos Cornejo from Montreal, Quebec, participated in the youth encounter as a delegate representing the Young Socialists.
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