Of struggles, resistance, art and other demons

Essay

This text explores the contents, forms, agendas and disputes that have confronted youth movements (in terms of art and culture) in Colombia over the last 20 years. All this is in order to recognize and acknowledge ourselves in the midst of a path that attempts to erase experiences and hinder solidarity.

Cover of presentation: De Luchas, Resistencias, Arte y otros Demonios

The current challenges in the defence of democracy, the climate crisis, the autonomy of ecosystems and the struggle for the human rights of marginalized and impoverished populations, require more than ever elements of assertiveness, consensus, recognition, validation and the proactive presence of all sectors. For not everything in the past was better, and not everything in the present is easier. The aim of this essay is to make visible and value the forms, achievements, obstacles and challenges faced by each generation in the last decades of social struggle and resistance in Colombia.

Colombia, as a country, has been marked by systematic violence inflicted on its population, human rights violations against social organizations and associations and, in general, has been immersed in a constant struggle for power, democracy and dignity in life. On the other hand, it has also played the role of protagonist and referent of significant movements, initiatives and resistance in the face of state, parastatal and media repression.

Phenomena such as internal armed conflict, the extraction and exploitation of ecosystems, censorship and media manipulation, and precarious access to basic rights such as health and education have led to the historical birth of social movements, spearheaded in particular by youth from throughout the country.

Resist for remembrance and Non-violence!

The armed conflict, as well as the victims' movements, have always had an impact on women, agricultural workers, those with African ethnic roots, sexual dissidents and, of course, young people, among others. However, it was not until the early 2000s that the composition and leadership involved in mobilizations and resistance would shift away from the historical trade unions to the intersectionality of civil society and its various groupings. All this is due to fatigue caused by incessant war and the geographical and physical effects of neoliberal and free market policies on historically minoritised populations.

Against this specific backdrop, feminist organizations and victims' collectives were established to fight and work towards a peaceful termination of the conflict, a declaration of non-violence in Colombia’s future and the building of a genuine peace. Operating within an arena involving intergenerational dynamics, the younger generations offered a new perspective in terms of political action and the way in which the war had affected their own lives. 

Movements such as 'La Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres', despite having been founded in 1996, were fuelled by the vision and strength of young women.

Under the premise that "women's bodies are not to be conflated with the spoils of war", the multidimensional gender-based physical violence inflicted on women as a result of the armed conflict was rejected. Some of the most relevant demonstrations by the Ruta movement included its mobilisations to remote and conflict-stricken territories with the aim of reinvigorating them, organising protests, supporting them and demanding the right to free transit and autonomy for female residents; In addition to this, activities such as body painting and performance also formed part of the women's artistic expression of protest, shining a light on the harassment to which they were exposed during the conflict and promoting the message that women have autonomy over their bodies.

Another important organizational expression at this time was Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y contra la Impunidad, a group of young people who came together around 2006 to demand remembrance, the pursuit of justice and the construction of a present and a future where dialogue and social coexistence would prevail over armed conflict. Hijos e Hijas proclaimed itself a movement comprising the descendants of those victims who had suffered the cruelest outcomes due to a war that discouraged engagement, the defense of ecosystems and the demand for real democracy. Some of its best-known strategies revolved around promoting a culture of remembrance and a collaborative effort to analyze Colombia through words and conversation in Los Tertuliaderos; the public arena represented an important space for dialogue about the conflict, especially in the cities. For this reason, another of the activities carried out by Hijos e Hijas involved the installation of exhibits showcasing clothing and personal items belonging to war victims along with shocking messages and banners as a sign of protest and to raise awareness.

One last element to highlight here, which was carried out at the time by other victims' organizations such as the association of relatives of disappeared detainees ASFADDES, was the Tendederos de la Memoria, which were installations containing photos, images and reliable information on the lives of these victims and details of the acts of violence committed against them. This entire generation of peace fighters would inspire generations to come.

The dream of the Mesa Amplia Nacional Estudiantil

Although the student movement had already existed for decades, the country could never have imagined the power and scale of what was to come.

It was 2011 and resistance against the privatization of basic needs was raging in Latin America and Colombia, of course, was no exception. Funding, university autonomy, investment in infrastructure and research had for decades been the subject of demands by university student bodies, even prior to and following Law 30 of 1992. Although the purpose of this law was to transform University Education into a right accessible to all, its implementation over the years did not yield the best results, because state investment in the institutions not only failed to be increased but was even cut (between 1992 and 2008, public universities stopped receiving 36% of the national budget). This serious lack of funding, coupled with the increase in the number of high school students on the verge of entering university, the deteriorating infrastructure and physical conditions of buildings, and the problems of financial sustainability, made the structural reform of education an urgent priority.

As a result of all these problems, the Colombian government, headed by Juan Manuel Santos, presented the reform to Law 30 to the public in March 2011; an alternative inspired by the Chilean educational model of privatization. This initiative gave free rein to the creation of for-profit educational entities, in which private investment and student tuition payments would offset the economic deficit of public universities; In other words, the responsibility of the state to finance public education in the country was transferred to the dynamics of the private stock market and the borrowing capacities of individuals wishing to be educated. Therefore, this reform not only failed to solve the structural problems of higher education in Colombia but also made access to and continuation of university courses even more precarious for students. In view of this, a rejection by the Colombian population was imminent.

Despite the differences in form and substance that the various student organizations had regarding the country's programme, they all understood how detrimental a market-based model was for public education since they understood that quality education was only possible if the state guaranteed its financial sustainability, the autonomy of research, science and innovation and the commitment to guarantee access in order to reduce social inequality; Mesa Amplia Nacional Estudiantil MANE was founded as a consequence of all these actions, not to mention the social indignation generated by the president's public statements. A diverse space free from political influence, where all educational institutions had a place - secondary, technical and technological institutions, both public and private, representing all forms of expression by youth, whether in groups or individually - and which was formed through regional and national meetings, with the objective of planning the agenda of public advocacy of the student movement throughout the country.

The biggest challenge was to expose the harmful impact of the reform to Law 30 in order to engage the entire Colombian population and consolidate the national outrage regarding the privatization of fundamental rights. In its early days, MANE had a street presence cultivated through demonstrations organized independently by the universities; demonstrations that occasionally culminated in clashes with the security forces, usually instigated by the latter. These riots were exploited by the country's traditional media in an attempt to delegitimize the students' outrage. It was at this juncture that a change of course was required in order to infuse public campaigns with more creativity and to combine traditional and innovative strategies that were already beginning to take shape.

The student movement registered in the public consciousness in the second half of 2011, the national meetings and marches were already beginning to have an effect on the mood of the population as a whole, and it was necessary to rethink the ways in which connections could be made with citizens. For this and other reasons, campaigns such as hug-a-thons and kiss-a-thons would take over the public squares and parks of the cities, with the aim of generating a more human and closer connection to ordinary Colombians, and thus establish an assertive communication channel to discuss the harmful effects of the reform and the alternatives available to effect change in that regard.

Some of the other most used strategies involved cultural expressions such as mural painting days, and staged events including flash mobs or nudathons that, through the use of other forms of expression, a far cry from the ivory towers of academia, raised a voice of protest against privatization and in favor of the construction of a liberating and popular educational system. In addition, the symbolism was an ever-present leitmotif in MANE's activities, and most of the sit-ins or blockades that took place near the universities were carried out using desks in the classrooms so that it would be clear that it was the students disagreeing with government policies, rather than some kind of infiltrating subversive organization as the media wished to claim at that time.

Ultimately, thanks to the pressure created by the demonstrations, the university strike conducted in the country's 32 public universities and the spirit of rapprochement with the Colombian population in the streets, the Colombian government announced that it would withdraw from the Congress of the Republic the initiative to reform Law 30 on 9 November 2011. Although this was a strategy to discourage attendance at the massive marches scheduled in all cities of Colombia on 10 November, it did not achieve its objective since these demonstrations were the largest since MANE’s inception, and would go down in history as the "Marchas del Triunfo”. As a result of the impact of these activities, the Colombian government officially withdrew its reform bill the following day.

For the autonomy and sovereignty of territories

A new silent, deadly, and completely unforeseen enemy appeared in Colombia in 2009, the multinational Greystar Resources, which presented its open pit mining project to the Ministry of Mines and Environment. However, it was not until early 2010 that community organizations and environmental associations, unions and social leaders began to denounce the ravages of the mining company's exploration phase within the Páramo ecosystem.

The marches and sit-ins of the inhabitants of the province of Soto Norte in Santander in opposition to subterranean mega-mining in the high mountains were becoming more numerous, more visible and more frequent; for what had begun as a claim voiced by the Paramounos, would gradually become a struggle by an entire region, and would eventually transcend into a dispute over national sovereignty. In this context, university students would be among the first groups to lend support logistically, academically and culturally to the environmental agenda in favor of Santurbán.

First, the university organized forums, discussions and study spaces to analyze the impact of this type of extractive activity on a strategic ecosystem such as the Páramo. Students and graduates of petroleum engineering, geology, biology, social work, and economics, among other areas of knowledge, participated in these campaigns, contributing their technical and scientific knowledge and experience, as well as their social and environmental commitment to put an end to the harmful policies underpinning mega-mining. Based on all of the above, and in addition to what was already developing in the city at the level of demonstrations, there was a clear need to unify the discourse, communications and pressure tactics with respect to the national government in order to stall large-scale extractivist intentions in the mountains of Santander and Norte de Santander.

To achieve this, it would be vital to implement two global strategies that would channel social mobilization and support the legal mechanisms filed with the multinationals and the Ministry of Mines and Environment: The first of these was the creation of the Committee for the Defence of Water and the Páramo de Santurbán, representing the voice of civil society, without ties to political interests and with the commitment to leverage the public advocacy agenda to promote the delimitation of protected and impregnable high mountain regions; the second strategy involved unifying communication to highlight the negative impact of mega-mining and its consequences, so themes such as water protection, biodiversity sustainability and territorial security and sovereignty would be translated into slogans such as “Our gold is our water!”, “Santurbán has self-respect!”, “Without gold, we can live, without water we die!”, and “Santurbán is not for sale, and the people of the Páramo can defend themselves!” All these various forms of resistance began to have an effect on some aspects of the media, as more and more sectors of the civilian population, such as political parties and autonomous corporations of the relevant departments, would join the side defending the Páramo.

Thanks to the large-scale solicitation, some campaigns managed to get the discussion heard at the national level. These included “Cien Mil Voces por el Agua" held in 2013 and the "Gran Marcha Carnaval: Santurbán, mi agua, mi territorio”. These campaigns would be integrated by artistic expressions such as body painting, circus and stilt walker performances, murals and shows that sought to position the dialogue on mega-mining and its dangers via the medium of art and the language of awareness.

Not everything was plain sailing at that time, since the strength of the activism generated by Santurbán came hand in hand with repression on the part of the multinational companies and some of the media against the leaders who enjoyed greater visibility and responsibilities within the Committee, who began to receive threats and harassment from the multinationals, and who were often subjected to misrepresentation of the work they were doing.

Another element to highlight, which to an extent tarnished the Committee's reputation, were the complaints received from some of its former members regarding the irregular handling of information, representativeness and democracy, the new leadership, and the secrecy of its structure; for these reasons, some activists, especially young people, decided to end their participation since they no longer felt welcome. In addition, by 2019, several members of the Committee for the Defence of Water and the Páramo de Santurbán decided to enter the territorial elections as candidates; as a result, these activists were accused of instrumentalizing the struggle for the Páramo.

Undoubtedly, the defense of ecosystems has witnessed political, economic and social ups and downs, but it remains in a state of struggle and resistance.

The generation of peace

False positives, disappearances, kidnappings, threats, harassment, gender violence, political violence - the list goes on and on. What if all this could be stopped? Why not put an end to it all? This was the incentive for the Yes campaign during the referendum. In 2016, Colombia had a glimpse of the possibility of changing the country's recent history, a history marked by a very severe war that regularly resulted in the deaths of young people. There was an opportunity for peace. After unsuccessful approaches by previous governments, there was finally a real chance to end the conflict with one of Latin America's longest-running guerrilla groups: the FARC-EP. But the good part was just beginning.

Now it would be necessary to convince the people that the quickest way to shake off the yoke under which they had lived for decades was to embrace peace, to leave no room for revenge, and to build a true coexistence. But of course, it wasn't easy (and still isn't) because forgiveness is a personal and voluntary act and involves great sacrifices. So this is where we young people would make a contribution and be committed to finding a solution.

Moments of uncertainty across social networks were experienced before 2 October 2016. Although peace talks between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government had been underway in Havana since 2012, it was not until 2016 that formal mechanisms began to be put in place in this process. This resulted in the referendum on the peace accords, the purpose of which was for Colombians to indicate their opinions on the agreement concluded in Havana between the guerrillas and the government for the termination of the conflict and the building of a stable and lasting peace. Joy and hope also made an appearance, albeit jostling for space among all the misinformation and fake news. This represented a real opportunity to end the war in many corners of the country and to rewrite a new future.

With this in mind, the young people knew they could not leave this responsibility to mere chance, so they decided to mobilize themselves to campaign for a Yes, a Yes for Peace initially at the National University. So committees campaigning for the Yes vote were formed throughout Colombia, mainly from public and some private universities: meeting spaces evolved for student organizations, individuals, feminist groups, LGBTIQ+ groups, and environmental groups, to name but a few.

One of the most notable campaigns was run by the white flags, a group of students in Bogota, who mobilized one day every week and made their presence felt in strategic places across the city, brandishing white flags as an open invitation for people to talk to them about the importance of ending the conflict. Without thinking about it, the white flag would gradually emerge as the symbol of pro-peace initiatives.

Another of the most notable initiatives during this pre-vote period involved the massive mobilizations in support of the agreement, expressions that underlined the importance of peace for the country, but also the multiculturalism by which Colombia is characterized. Thus, organizations such as Marcha Patriótica and Congreso de los Pueblos, comprising children, adolescents, women, high school students, university students, informal workers, and in general a large part of civil society took to the streets. These Carnival Mobilisations were marked by the hope they expressed, the joy they gave off with their multicolored decorations, body painting, performance, costumes, addresses and the inspirational message of being able to turn the page from such a dark and fierce past as the war.

Out of this initiative, Un a la Paz (Yes for Peace) committees began to be formed throughout the country. Their members embarked on information campaigns and conversations with the public in the streets, on public transportation, in parks, and in shopping centers. These campaigns were intended to reverse the effects of the disinformation that was already taking over social networks. It was a challenging exercise since in many cases it involved a dialogue between different generations, all of whom had experienced different levels of suffering due to the conflict, reflecting on the future of Colombia.

In addition to implementing the strategies also employed by the MANE such as twitterathons, camps, flash mob, another high-profile initiative in Bucaramanga was led by the Payasos Pim Pum, a group of UIS students whose powerful message was that continuing the war was utterly farcical. 

The country deserved to travel along a trajectory toward dialogue and social coexistence, but the war only represented an obstacle to that opportunity. Therefore, these students, disguised as clowns, took it upon themselves to give their performances in public, specifically in mass transportation systems, as well as in public universities and social networks. They used social networks to spread their message "Let's get together to find another way. If you are interested in being a clown and engaging in political humor, this is the place for you”.

However, despite all this capacity for creativity and overwhelming force across Colombia’s public arena, the referendum on 2 October resulted in a victory for the NO campaign. Despite the communiqué published by the FARC-EP hours after the results were made known, and which affirmed the guerrilla group's willingness to make peace and engage in dialogue, heartfelt messages and analysis would not be long in coming, since the NO campaign prevailed in the central regions of the country, areas supporting larger populations and less impacted by the escalated war, while the peripheral and mostly rural areas that bore the brunt of the violence, such as Cauca, Putumayo and Chocó voted YES in an effort that placed a priority on ending the conflict.

Despite the hostile environment experienced throughout Colombia following the results of the referendum, the national government and the guerrillas signed the final agreement ending the war and looking ahead to a stable and lasting peace.

The hope of being the first generation to live in peace, free from the nightmare of South America’s longest internal armed conflict, seemed to be one of the best bets of recent times. Since the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia in 2016, youth organizations embarked on a new challenge to defend peace and efforts to de-escalate the conflict within the territories, a mission that has proved extremely challenging since very few of the terms of the treaty have become a reality, persecution of former combatants continues and the new ultra-right governments have acted to preclude any intention of transformation. Despite the above, these reflections on the agreement, the information and media counter-information (especially in social networks) concerning the referendum vote and the demonstrations throughout Colombia blazed new trails for the younger generations and updated the program of resistance of youth movements that until now had been confined to the student struggle.

Women in the struggle

I

Women's groups were nothing new in 2013. Groups such as Fundación Mujer y Futuro, already around for three decades, were at the forefront of the struggle for a life free of violence and managed to sustain it for some time. Nevertheless, some women would find the answer to their organizational needs in the creation of their own collectives, collectives founded on the principles, goals and projections of the youth, and characterized by populism and autonomy.

This is how one of the organizations to be mentioned in this section was founded. The collective Amapolas Incidentes was composed of students from the Universidad Industrial de Santander and from various districts of the city of Bucaramanga. Another relevant movement that emerged around this time was Confluencia de Mujeres para la Acción Pública, a national group combining several women's and feminist collectives in 9 cities throughout Colombia.

The novel approaches implemented by these groups revolved around recovering a sense of rituality, exploring a new spirituality fashioned from the collective of processes, and dignifying feminine existence, free of misogyny and machismo. These represented alternatives nourished by the intersectional perspective and experience of the members and their diverse backgrounds. It was also vital to reclaim the academic arena, schools and tulpas that would be at this time the most sought after by young women because they proposed a horizontal viewpoint of the distribution of power, the recognition of individual capacities and the agency of political incidence in the public space.

Some of the events lived through by these new organizations included the 2013 Agrarian Strike and the Referendum Campaign in 2016.

Another important collective active during this period was Las Mil Manuelas, founded around 2017, which was a group of women who fought to transform women's political participation in spaces of power and decision-making. Their strategies included public advocacy in venues such as parks, restaurants and universities where they could engage in dialogue and reflection and build tools to transform the historical debt of representation.

II

The boom of social networks, the emergence of feminist content creators, and in general the multiplication of platforms, initiatives and talented women throughout Colombia and the world have generated in recent years a very significant level of interest and awareness regarding gender inequality in adolescents and young people. Another phenomenon that has also inspired activists and collectives founded in the last few years was La Marea Verde (The Green Tide) which took Latin America by storm. La Marea Verde, a feminist initiative promoting the decriminalization of abortion, was initially founded in Argentina but has spread throughout the entire continent.

Following the same template of previous collectives in terms of developing their own space that is safe and nurtures a keen interest in the dynamics of care and activism of its members, organizations such as the Colectivo Sin Permiso were created. This is a popular feminist group in the city of Bucaramanga that operates in low-income neighborhoods and villages marked by a higher degree of incidence of male violence. Some of the artistic approaches developed by this collective include incendiary art composed of artistic and cultural presentations. Other activities include mural painting, performed in UIS and in the streets of the city, and the stenciling of handkerchiefs and T-shirts, which also represent a type of autonomy.

On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic was a phenomenon that impacted everyone's lives and exacerbated situations involving precariousness and risk, with daily challenges including gender-based violence, difficulty in promptly attending or assisting victims of domestic violence, and the scarcity of contraceptives or mechanisms to guarantee abortions. All these reasons and more led women from Bucaramanga to come together to try to find a solution, as well as to put their heads together to come up with a feminist vision for the city and the country. Thus, Zurronas.co was born. This is a trans-inclusive feminist collective that creates social network content to raise awareness and provide information about sexual and reproductive rights, participates in decision-making spaces and aims to construct a leadership paradigm characterized by autonomy and feminism. It also works on post-conflict issues and holds public events such as road shows, talks and cultural events on the decriminalization of abortion in Bucaramanga.

Another important group operating within the artistic and network construction sphere is Batucada Guaricha, a radical feminist group founded in 2019 that uses music to communicate its message of promoting a country free of violence and equity for minority populations. Batucada is a learning space for the women of Bucaramanga and its metropolitan area.

Equality is inevitable

The land of homophobic and ultraconservative prosecutors who have endorsed the burning of books written by Gabriel García Márquez and Karl Marx, which also happens to be the country of birth of officials who have affirmed that homosexuality is neither ethical nor decent, has given birth to one of the largest and most important organizations representing the human rights of sexual dissidents in Northeastern Colombia, the Asociación Plataforma LGBTIQ Santander, in 2017.

One of the first political advocacy activities carried out by the Platform, as it was widely known, was a staging and performance to protest the hate crimes committed in the department and the violent statements made by the politicians of the day.

Even though the LGBTIQ movement has been active on the resistance front within the region for decades, specifically from the bars, universities and the annual caravans of 28 June, which commemorates the Stonewall riots, the Platform emerged as a vehicle for the coordination and convergence of varied organizational expressions of diversity. Thanks to this united show of strength, the city would see some of the largest LGBTIQ mobilizations in its history, such as the event held in 2019 entitled Stonewall, 50 Years of Resistance, which was attended by more than 7,000 people.

In addition to the mobilizations, some of the other most striking and impressive cultural expressions involved the symbolic takeovers of strategic sites within the city, such as the LGBTIQ marriages held in front of the Palace of Justice, where people of the same sex came together to demand and celebrate their rights, and to show the city that it was home to other types of families.

Another important collective of this generation was Voces Divergentes, a group composed of UIS students who raised the community flag for the first time at the university, an act subsequently sabotaged by discrimination when it was taken down and placed in a public toilet in the building. In response, and in conjunction with the Platform, and other collectives, an event called Pintatón de los arcos de la Universidad Industrial de Santander was held, an activity that consisted of painting the LGBTIQ and TRANS flag on the rectangular structures located at the entrance of the university. The message was simple: “They won't be able to erase us from here”. Thanks to all the publicity caused by these organizations in the region, openly LGBT regional and legislative election candidacies were registered both in 2018 and 2019.

The street belongs to the people

Another event that occurred most recently was the National Strike of 2019 and 2021, where the rise of social networks, the opportunity to return to the streets following a protracted period of lockdown and economic and social injustices gave rise to uninterrupted demonstrations of all kinds from 28 April 2021.

Within the social demonstrations, cultural, artistic and communicative strategies were implemented to provide the necessary power and level of internationalization to the struggle. Vogue, Body Painting, Muralism and Graffiti, Performance, dancers of all kinds, illustrators, content creators or influencers are active in another arena, which until now has only been employed as a complementary strategy: social networks; These were intended as a counter to the campaigns of manipulation and disinformation rolled out by the state.

Here are some examples: the national government tried to disseminate the idea that it was imprudent and irresponsible to demonstrate during a pandemic; however, they were engineering a Tax Reform that was tremendously unfair to the population, and to which the movement responded by identifying the true irresponsible party. The Colombian government, headed by its current president, was ignoring the economic conditions of the people and preferred to promote a reform that benefited only the richest. Other educational content taught people how to protect themselves from tear gas or how to get home safely to avoid arrest.

This kind of innovation was demonstrated not only in the structures but in the very essence of the collectives; Toloposungo provides an unparalleled example of intersectionality. This trans movement that fights against police violence is founded on the basis that its members do not recognize traditional organizations as safe, anti-patriarchal and equitable spaces, so they decide to create their own space through art, music, dance and a strong critique of language. Some of its most famous slogans are: “The cop is not queer, queers respect us, the cops are bullies", and "The cops are not sons of bitches, whores don't give birth to bullies”. Clearly, these efforts do not have a place in all democratic spaces, especially in those where discussions on gender and colonialism have not taken place.

The frustration with decades of bad governments would also be another incentive for the national strike, the recognition that democracy is absent in the institutions, that the corruption, theft and inefficiency of the state were catalysts for the youth to take to the streets with the premise that this was the only way to pressure the government of Iván Duque to solve the most urgent problems regarding the allocation of state resources. However, the repressive and violent response was the only real demonstration of the government's political will, which further fuelled the hope for change. One of the achievements of the National Strike, especially of the young people who took responsibility for the social mobilization and a significant part of the presidential campaign being run that year, resulted in the election of Gustavo Petro as president and Francia Márquez as vice president. An elected government that the youth identified as the government of change and that they felt identified with them for the first time in history.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, young people have come to break up the transformations of social movements from the ground up, questioning the traditions and forms of resistance carried out for years, and even proposing new agendas for mobilization and resistance. However, not all winds of change impact all collectivities in the same way. Organizations sometimes decide to review their methodologies based on the assessments of the younger generations; on other occasions, despite the vitality with which the struggle is infused by the youth, the movements prefer to continue maintaining stagnant and immovable structures in which only tasks that are merely logistical or of little impact in the political or academic sphere are granted (these make no imprint whatsoever on the ethical distribution of power), and lastly, and perhaps most seriously, come those groups that instrumentalize the forms of struggle and the energy of the new members (sometimes they fail to even perceive them as such), but never include them within the programs they implement.

Owing to all these challenges, more and more organizations run by young people for young people are being created in Colombia. The main motivations of these new collectives are related to the objective of building safe and validating spaces in which activism and leadership can be nurtured. The missions and principles of these movements reflect their worldview, as does the resistance-related agenda that differentiates them from traditional movements because while they may share the same perspective, they operate in a different way.

This decommunication makes the intention of building intergenerational communication spaces increasingly complex. However, the current challenges relating to the defense of democracy, the climate crisis, the autonomy of ecosystems and the struggle for the human rights of marginalized and impoverished populations require, more than ever, assertiveness, consensus, recognition, validation and the proactive involvement of all stakeholders.

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Special thanks to Nathalia Pineda for the fanzine artwork.


This piece was produced with the support of the Global Support for Democracy Unit of the  Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union. It is part of the dossier "Youth & democracy in Latin America. Young voices on the rise".