Seven challenges for young people in Latin America

Seven challenges for young people in Latin America

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By Fernando Martínez Heredia

I would like to present seven challenges that, in my opinion, young people in Latin America and the Caribbean must face. Undoubtedly there are more challenges, and the general formulation cannot take into account the specific areas that condition the identification of realities, the ways of understanding and feeling, the contradictions and conflicts that are faced, the objectives and instruments that are privileged. Also, I will be synthetic, as befits the time available.

First challenge. Young people have general characteristics as such that we must never forget; they are always important, and they can be decisive. But there are no young people in general. The first challenge starts from the reality that a large part of the young people of our continent face the challenge of surviving and finding a place in the world every day. They suffer from hunger or lack sufficient food, education and health services, employment, and live in precarious families. They know about child labor, the delinquency of the poor, prostitution and the consumption of cheap drugs. These young people are not here, they do not know what we do or our writings - many could not read them - nor are they likely to be interested. They do not usually vote, because they do not feel the politics of their countries as theirs. Consequently, many can be carried away precisely by the culprits of the life they lead, if some of their peremptory needs are solved for them.

The first challenge before us is to break that terrible division, which is one of the greatest forces of the enemies of Humanity. We must go to them, really know them instead of believing that we represent them, accompany them in their lives and their endeavors, in order to help them be rebellious and fight for ideals, earn the right to lead them in the long and difficult process of changing their lives and societies of exploitation, inequalities, exclusion and oppression.

Second challenge. To be able to combine tasks and personal satisfactions - love, work, study, particular inclinations - with civic interests, with the need to know the world in which we live and its problems. Give place in us to ideals that make human dimensions grow and provide personal wealth that transcends, and manage to rule the sphere of selfishness. Go beyond sporadic reactions to incidents and fleeting enthusiasms.

Third challenge. Become aware of the fundamental keys of the capitalist system and the way of life that it generates, spreads and maintains. Know their facts, their instruments, their ruthless criminality, their conversion of individuals into aggressors among themselves and indifferent to the misfortunes of others. Knowing the social functions of domination that fulfill the attractions that capitalism actually possesses, and that this system constitutes an organic complex, which will allow us to better position ourselves before its manifestations. Get out of the control exercised by its information system, formation of public opinion, entertainment and tastes. Think about contradictions and conflicts, and look for their causes. But it is not enough to know: in reality the feelings that concentrate energies and promote motivation, and that unleash attitudes and actions, are as important as ideas and knowledge.

Fourth challenge. Live the consciousness that is being acquired as a set of ideals, convictions and ideas that lead to action. Gather personal capacities, the need to participate in just causes, the desires for joys and satisfactions, the impulses for rebellion, the knowledge that is acquired, to integrate a conscious and rebellious young woman or young man with the whole.

Fifth challenge. Give permanence to these conquered transformations and turn them into a guide for judgments and an engine of activity, both in daily life and in transcendent days. That is, learn to fight and be a revolutionary militant.

Sixth challenge. Put a large part of their efforts, capacities and feelings within the channel of a collective, which implies giving up a part of the will and freedom of the individual, at the same time that can create an organizational instrument that multiplies the forces and qualities of each and the chances of victory. Revolutionary organizations are not a panacea: their realities and their history clearly show this. For this reason, precisely, not being afraid to enter them constitutes a challenge for young revolutionaries, and even greater is the challenge of not being within them to lose qualities and assume empty rituals, but to help transform them into new organizations capable of being truly revolutionary. The challenge is to understand that organization and politics are essential, and from that understanding and consequent action to invent new effective revolutionary ways of doing politics.

Seventh challenge. Practice solidarity as the first law of human exchanges and social relations. When acting and thinking about politics, the concrete content of the environment in which each one lives and moves will be decisive, and therefore must be prioritized. But we cannot forget at any time the more general questions, their characteristics and their implications, and the conditions that it places on our action: taking into account the movement as a whole. Capitalism has managed to universalize and universalize its culture, and wields those achievements with great force against humanity and the planet. But it has taught us, first, that we could have universal dimensions to confront it, and later, that only by universalizing our fights against it and by creating free and just societies will we be able to make our achievements permanent and, together, to overcome it.

To be an internationalist is to triumph over a vital challenge. Colonialism has been the criminal and devastating way of globalizing capitalism, anti-imperialist national liberation is the law of the creation of new human beings and free societies. The union of patriotism and internationalism is the sure way so that this process of creations cannot be stopped or defeated. It is forging the dimension that unites us across and above all differences and all borders.

I end up invoking an individual whose name and face are like Esperanto for our languages ​​and a common denominator for our ideals, because he managed to triumph over all challenges, ascend to the highest level of the human species and leave us all an invaluable legacy of examples , actions and thought. Ernesto –who possessed ostensible physical beauty and intelligence– wanted to be a professional, as was possible for a young man in his social milieu, but at the same time to give himself to the most destitute and cure lepers in Peru or Africa. He read novels since he was a child and philosophy and political treatises since he was a teenager, he harbored the desire to get to know Paris, but he walked throughout his continent to meet the oppressed peoples and began a vocation to surrender to them. One night, he found his destiny with Fidel and the Cuban war and knew how to make the most important decision before dawn. It took a prodigious leap forward through conscious and organized revolutionary practice, a breakthrough so great that it was even renamed. Che was one of the greatest and most beloved leaders of the Cuban Revolution, but he knew how to leave his positions and return to the internationalist combat, until he gave his life as a Cuban and Latin American commander.

Let us remember his greatness as a revolutionary and his calm optimism when, at the time of another momentous decision in his life, he wrote to Fidel, he wrote to us all: until victory always.

Fernando Martínez Heredia is a researcher and essayist. Associate Professor at the University of Havana. Director of the Center for Research and Development of Cuban Culture "Juan Marinello". National Prize of Social Sciences 2006.

Intervention in the presentation of the Network of Networks in Defense of Humanity, during the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, Quito, Ecuador, December 12, 2013.

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