March 29, 2013

Upcoming World Festival of Youth and Students to Honor Chavez

With sources from Juventude Rebelde

From December 7th to 13th, Quito Ecuador will host the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, where the participants will pay homage to Venezuelan late President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Read some fast facts about Ecuador and Quito here.

This was one of the top agreements taken yesterday during the final session of the first international preparatory meeting for the Festival held in Pretoria, South Africa, with the participation of some one hundred delegates from over 40 regional, national and international youth and students organizations.

Basic framework of the festival now established
The IPM, by R. Weldeab via Twitter

Juan Francisco Torres, chair of the Preparatory Committee of the host country, spoke about issues related to logistics and about how Ecuador and particularly its youth activists are getting ready for the meeting. Most of the Festival's locations will be in down town Quito, within about 20 minutes walk.

The delegations also approved the call to the world youth for the festival, as well as the topics for debates, and the slogan "Youth united against imperialism, for peace, solidarity and social transformation."

"In the past and present youth has always played a vital role in the struggle of all societies for progress and social justice. The youth was militantly present in the greatest struggles of the peoples for peace, solidarity and social transformation. In a world where imperialism presents itself as inevitability, the anti-imperialist struggle proves that the youth chooses its own future. The 18th World Festival of Youth and Students, which will take place in Ecuador, is the space for the young women and men of the World to unite their voices against imperialism," the call says.

The causes of Palestine, Western Sahara will also be emphasized at the festival. These issues "form a direct, precise, and clear view of imperialism ambitions and actions of destruction," documents coming out of the meeting agreed, stressing that "the festival shows different forms of struggle and one of which is solidarity against occupation and with peoples’ self-determination."

"Cultural and musical events must also be highlighted," an initial planning document said, noting that "Musical bands and cultural groups from different organizations must be encouraged to attend the festival."

The date and place of the next international preparatory meetings (IPM's) were also agreed on Tuesday: in Spain in June and in India in September.

At the end of the meetings, South Africa— former host of the 17th festival— pasted on the flag of the World Festival of Youth and Students Movement to Ecuador.

Honouring famous revolutionaries

Symbolically, the Youth Festival will also be devoted to Ecuadorian national hero Eloy Alfaro and to Kwame Nkrumah.

José Eloy Alfaro Delgado (June 25, 1842 – January 28, 1912) served as President of Ecuador from 1895 to 1901 and from 1906 to 1911. For his central role in the Liberal Revolution of 1895 and for having fought conservatism for almost 30 years, he is known as the Viejo Luchador.  His principal accomplishments include the introduction of the principle of secularism, constitutional changes allowing freedom of speech, the legalization of civil marriage and divorce, and the right to a free and secular education in Ecuador. 

Eloy Alfaro's memory was honoured in Canada last year with a guest lecture at the University of Ottawa. A statue to the man is also to be erected in Ottawa.

Kwame Nkrumah was the founder and first President of Ghana, and leader of Pan-Africanism, the half-a century movement for the defence of Africa’s independence and unity.  Nkrumah became an international symbol of freedom as the leader of the first black African country to shake off the chains of colonial rule. As midnight struck on March 5, 1957 and the Gold Coast became Ghana, Nkrumah declared: "our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent."  

Deposed some years later in a coup, Nkrumah is still honoured around the world. (Kwantlen University in Vancouver, for example, organizes an international conference on Africa themed around Nkrumah).

OCLAE leader praises choices

In statements to the International News Agency, Ricardo Guardia Lugo, member of the Cuban delegation to the festival, said that Eloy Alfaro hero and Kwame Nkrumah are very well known by Cuban people since they are very close to that countries history.

Guardia is also a member of the National Secretariat of the University Students Federation (FEU), and works with the Continental, Latin American, and Caribbean Students Organization (OCLAE), a regional platform that brings together and represents more than 100 million students.

Lugo spoke about the close friendship which united Ecuadorian Eloy Alfaro and Cuban José Martí. Marti is a national hero of Cuba. He fought for the independence of that island country from Spain during the nineteenth century and won the support of Eloy Alfaro.

Kwame Nkrumah was also the first African president to meet with President Fidel Castro in 1960 at the Hotel Theresa in New York (when both were in the United States to attend the fifteenth session of the UN General Assembly). His country, Ghana, was just a year earlier the first sub-Saharan African country to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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