Wisdom of the elders guides path young people walk

(Translated by Sharon Bagatell, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
07/13/2010 ACIN: Tejido de Comunicación

Last weekend, in the village of Santa Elena, near the town of Corinto, more than 800 youth from different areas of Cauca and some delegations from Bogota and Medellin took part in the twenty- sixth Assembly of the Alvaro Ulcue’ Youth Movement,  “Youth weaving alternatives for the strengthening of the Plan of Life in Defense of the Territory.”
The twenty-sixth Youth Assembly began with a march from the village of San Rafael of Corinto to the main park of Corinto. The delegations then walked toward the village of Santa Elena where they were received by the indigenous authority and the local community, beginning the assembly with the presentation of the participating delegations.

During the four days of the assembly, the participants worked on topics such as the abuse of the sacred coca leaf, the politics of eradication, the consequences of the Plan Colombia in the territories, the military build-up, the recruitment of children and teenagers, the topic of human rights and diverse problems that the youths currently experience.

“The idea of walking, sharing, and evaluating the work done by the Youth Movement during this period, and the election of the new coordination for the year 2011-2012 brings us together, but above all, we gather to analyze and propose alternatives to the principal problems that are affecting youths, such as the recruitment by the different armed groups, drug trafficking, and the implementation of megaprojects in our territories. These are among many of the situations that put youth and all of the populations of our communities at great risk. We meet here to grow together in the reflection of our own history and to support diverse ideas for the strengthening of our Plan for Life,” declared Trino Pavi, of the Alvaro Ulcue’ Youth Movement.

The path of the youth has developed from listening to the experiences and knowing the fights the elders have had to wage in different places.  “We have a historic responsibility we must carry out as integral parts of a process, of a community, and as part of Mother Nature.  We are responsible for keeping our elders’ dreams alive and carrying forward in a good direction the present and future of our communities with our critical, analytical, and purposeful perspectives as youth,” expressed the members of the Youth Movement.

Proposals in response to the problems

During committee work sessions, the youth identified as major problems the armed conflict, megaprojects, and drug-trafficking.  In light of these problems they are greatly concerned about the disequilibrium that is happening in all aspects of community and territorial life, considering that currently the entire life of the community, the organization, and the territory is threatened and permanently at risk. The youth thus made proposals to confront the problems.

Involvement of youth in armed conflict

There are signs of grave harm inflicted on families and communities caused by the indiscriminate war in the territory.  With respect to involvement, on the part of all of the players in the conflict, of children and teenagers in armed conflict, the youth as well as the elders have proposed:

* Keep spirituality alive as a protection strategy, through rituals and ancestral methods of caring for the territory and the community
*  Continue consciousness-raising and training of youth,  a work articulated by parents and teachers
*  Involve each day more youths in organizational dynamics, and strengthen the alternative, such as music, dance, and crafts, for children and youth.


*  Build up sources of information for youth about topics related to multinationals and mega-projects so that they are able to understand strategies of  deceit and plundering implemented via the mega-projects.

* With authorities, create alternatives to mega-project employment for youth.

The commodification of the sacred coca plant has affected communities and youth in many ways, including cocaine consumption. With respect to this grave problem, the youth propose:

* Promote and support other types of crops such as coffee, agricultural products that can be consumed, and others that can be marketed
* Educate the community about other uses of the sacred leaf, such food products and medicines, and the creation of mini-businesses with such products
* Carry out a census in the communities of the people who depend on the illicit and to create alternative local projects, so that the armed groups will be left without a pretext for invading the territories
* Train young people about other possibilities of crops and the generation of economic alternatives for families
* Continue support and building of Tul gardens with cultivation of plantain, yuca , cilantro, carrots, tomatoes, beans, and other crops by the town councils.
Tape of committee work
“I congratulate you, for your strength and your organization. You are a great example of hope for the youth of the cities.  I invite you to continue resisting the multiple threats and attacks that we live through. We shouldn’t fall for the imaginary future life that they sell us in the media.  You are fortunate to have the possibility of knowing your history and be able to think about your future with the support of the elders and these very organizations.  Let’s feel deeply how we belong to Mother Earth, let’s have a greater closeness of the spiritual with nature, and let’s not forget to share our ideas clearly with the youth of other sectors and organizations. This is my message, “ stated a youth from the Muisca delegation of Bogota to the assembly of the Alvaro Ulcue’ Youth Movement.
With the election of Jorge Humberto Palomino as new coordinator of the Alvaro Ulcue’ Youth Movement, and the music and dance and cultural events, the twenty-sixth youth assembly came to a close.  The commitment to contribute from a youth perspective to the strengthening of the communitarian “Plan of Life” and to the processes of peaceful resistance toward the construction of a new community was reaffirmed.

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