This is the context in which the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students will take place Dec. 7-13 in Quito, Ecuador. Under the banner of the international struggle against imperialism, the gathering will draw thousands, coming from every region of the world. The festival will be hosted by Ecuadoran youth organizations, including the youth of the governing Alianza Pais party, the Communist Youth, Socialist Youth and the Federation of University Students.
More than 70 delegates from 50 organizations in 32 countries came together here in Pretoria March 26-27 to take part in the first International Preparatory Meeting, which set the dates and decided on other aspects of the Quito festival. The meeting was sponsored by the World Federation of Democratic Youth, an umbrella organization whose primary focus is organizing these anti-imperialist gatherings every several years. The last festival, which took place in South Africa in 2010, drew 15,000 participants.
Three years further into the world crisis, one of its sharpest manifestations is the levels of youth unemployment that wrack the semicolonial world and imperialist centers of Europe and America alike. In the U.S., real unemployment among youth is approaching 25 percent, and double that for youth who are Black. In Greece it officially stands at 59 percent, Spain 56 percent. Here in South Africa about half of youth are jobless. And the figure is well over 60 percent in neighboring Namibia. This stark reality will be among the broad range of social problems and struggles — from imperialist wars to women’s rights — that will be discussed at festival workshops, seminars and social activities.
The preparatory meeting here took place just weeks after the U.S. military began its annual joint military maneuvers with South Korean forces aimed at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and after the U.N. Security Council, under prodding from Washington, passed yet another round of crippling financial sanctions against the North. The meeting affirmed its solidarity with the Korean people and DPRK in face of these imperialist provocations and decades of unremitting economic and military pressure from Washington, which maintains tens of thousands of troops in the South.
The meeting here also approved a statement reaffirming support for the international fight to free the Cuban Five. Condemning “the decision of the U.S. government, in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to deny visits by Cuban diplomatic staff to René González,” who has been forced to remain in the U.S. under court supervision since he was paroled in October 2011, the statement noted the Five are “now in their 15th year of imprisonment for their actions to defend Cuba from counterrevolutionary terrorists operating from U.S. soil. The frame-up trial, draconian sentences, and other extraordinary punishments imposed on the Five are aimed at punishing the people of Cuba for making and defending their socialist revolution in face of decades of aggression from Washington and its allies.”
The living example of the socialist revolution in Cuba will be the subject of many of the discussions among delegates. The electoral victories of left bourgeois parties in a number of Latin American countries has sharpened the debate between those who see reforming capitalism as the way forward for working people and those who point to the example of the socialist revolution in Cuba, where workers and farmers broke the economic, military and political power of the ruling class and its imperialist backers and overturned capitalist property relations.
Young workers and students interested in attending the festival can contact one of the Militant distributors for more information.
Meeting in Havana discusses plans for intíl youth festival
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