Youth is not a transitory condition, and is more than just the period from childhood to adulthood in a person’s life, it is a key sector for political and socioeconomic development in any country.
Heidy Maurell Lara
It is precisely at this crucial time in a person’s life that certain processes are taking place on a physical, and in particular, on a psychological level. It is a time in which young people are working out their goals and objectives in society and the strategies with which to achieve them.
In several Latin American countries however, the situation for this age group is less than ideal, and is putting the future of these nations at risk.
These issues were discussed a few days ago at the Third International Congress of Researchers on Youth, which was held at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana. The main topic of the event was “Unipolarity, globalisation and youth: political action and social transformation”, with participation from scholars and educators from more than 20 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Colombia.
According to Mexican researcher José Manuel Valenzuela, Mexico is one country that finds itself in an alarming situation, having to face problems such as the murder of young people.
Valenzuela commented that after the Mexican revolution at the beginning of the 19th century, life expectancy at birth decreased for the first time as a result of young people being killed.
He explained to Prensa Latina that Mexico is affected by the controversial border it shares with the United States, one of the most powerful nations on Earth. The U.S.’s influential capitalist socio-economic model makes Mexico a target for migration of young people across the hemisphere.
This mass exodus is mainly the result of social, and in some cases, economic reasons, as opposed to individual concerns.
According to Valenzuela, around 200,000 people are killed each year in Mexico, more than 33,000 missing, and 98% of the crimes committed go unpunished.
Another issue in the region is the number of women being murdered, or feminicide, with the perpetrators being men motivated by misogyny and sexism.
This crime is becoming more and more common in Mexico, Colombia, and other countries, and often involves “face stealing”, where the perpetrator throws acid in the victim’s face, usually after rape.
These scenarios arise as a result of hard-line politics: on the one hand, an exclusionary system that generates inequality and violence, and on the other hand, the aggression shown by various police and military forces towards young people.
The Cuban experience
The Cuban government puts its youth at the centre of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Social and Economic Policy Guidelines, including the country’s Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2030. The Caribbean island has very high levels of education, health and development, despite the economic, commercial, and financial blockade that has been imposed by the United States for over half a century.
Speaking with Prensa Latina, scholar Jennifer Bello emphasised that one of the areas constantly being strengthened and perfected in Cuba is education.
This process includes analysis of how the institutional curriculum is developed, as well as analysis of educational guidance as a tool for the teaching profession.
The new proposal is based on approaches that, from a standpoint of educational guidance, could be used to develop curriculums in schools with the participation of those who are directly involved in the educational process: teachers, directors, students, and the community as a whole.
Cuba’s example is proof that there are other possibilities, and other paths to building a more influential social project, one that is less dire and less violent, and that offers a different future for the vast majority of Latin America and for the rest of the world.
(Translated by Lucy Daghorn: firstname.lastname@example.org)