May 2, 2011

Movement for Peace with Justice: Final Declaration from the “Youth in the National Emergency” Meeting in Cuernavaca, Mexico

The following is an Americas MexicoBlog translation of the Declaration of the Youth in the National Emergency Meeting in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, held on April 28-29, 2011. This is one of the first national documents to come out of the Mexican citizens' movement against the drug war that demands immediate demilitarization, and decriminalization of drug consumption, as well as linking forms of violence and proposing specific steps forward. The MexicoBlog team was on the ground covering the Youth Meeting--watch for more articles on the groundbreaking proposals that are being offered by young men and women at this critical juncture in Mexican history.

In this first meeting of Youth in the National Emergency we have gathered together here, young men and women from Chihuaha, Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Sonora, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Michoacán and Morelos. The national crisis we are currently experiencing is what brought us here. We have come together to reflect and agree on a common way forward in this difficult journey.

How to stop the national disaster? How to affirm life in the face of death? How to escape the crisis we are living in? These have been the primary concerns of our discussion.

The country is at risk of losing viability, it is falling apart, while frustrating the hopes and dreams of millions of people who have seen how their rights to an education, dignified work, art and culture, health and, above all, the right to life itself are violated.

Faced with this national emergency, we believe that it is necessary to take urgent measures to reweave the social and community fabric. We know this is a difficult task, because it puts us up against the political and business classes that have profited from the national tragedy.

Because of this, we put forward the following points:

1. Immediate Demilitarization: The so-called war against drug trafficking is not the origin of the violence, but the justification fed to the media to justify the fraudulent government of Felipe Calderón. This is a war against the people. The more than 40,000 killed in this false war are people that come from the excluded, marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society.

Mexico’s national security strategy functions in the interest of the internal security of the United States. There is no National Sovereignty. The government’s militarization policy is part of a strategy to contain social discontent aggravated by the current economic model.

Militarization of national territory is nothing new. For years in different parts of the country, especially where there are social movements and popular organizing, the military has been used to violate human rights: disappearances, rape, extrajudicial executions, forced displacement, searches, raids, torture and murder are some of the principal crimes committed by the army with total impunity. In Mexico, military service is obligatory, however one of the most recent global achievements in human rights made by youth is to recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service, as a decision that should not be forced on one by the Mexican State.

A policy of fear has been promoted by the presidency, propelled by a well-oiled media machine, and carried out by state terrorism against populations across the country. This policy must be fought with organizing, struggle and solidarity among all those affected by this stupid war.

2. End the Violence and Impunity: We are living in systemic violence that disproportionately affects women, young girls and boys, and youth. Extreme violence prevails in regions like Tamaulipas, Morelos and innumerable territories, among which Ciudad Juarez stands out starkly. To stop the violence we must create a culture of non-violence, rebuild the concept of community, and promote self-government and self-protection.

We oppose any reform that violates human rights, such as the reform of the National Security Law, reform of the National Labor Law, and the recognition of the “rights of the unborn” from the moment of fertilization as has been adopted in 19 Mexican states, which violates the right of women to make decisions about their bodies and their sexuality.

3. Decriminalization of drug consumption: Drug consumption should be considered a public health problem. It is essential to bring about a change in the judicial framework that regulates drug policy. However, it is necessary to achieve representative consensus to establish the type of regulation necessary. Decriminalization of drug use, in the sense of revoking laws that define it as a criminal, should be the strategy to implement legislative change. Drug legalization hinges on prevention, education and information and a debate about consumption of all drugs, including those that are currently legal. We denounce those that have imposed the supposed war against narcotrafficking and those who are its principal beneficiaries: money-launderers and the political class.

4. Lives with Dignity: Death rules here, a slow death brought on by misery, poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for the full development of our lives and the destruction of the environment. We recognize that we have arrived at a critical and profoundly violent historical juncture, which is a consequence of the actions of a neoliberal system that imposes this war that we reject because it is a war against our neighborhoods and communities, against us and our families, against all generations of Mexicans.

We oppose the Labor Reform currently before the Senate and the Law of First Employment for violating our right to dignified and fairly paid work, and for eliminating the ability to organize, as in the case of the Mexican Electricians Union (SME).

The adjective “ninis” (from ni trabajan, ni estudian--neither working, nor studying) is a term that stigmatizes, discriminates and criminalizes young men and women who currently do not have the possibilities to work or study due to the actions and omissions of the Mexican government. For this reason, we do not want to be defined in this way.

The countryside is one of the places most abandoned, battered and degraded by a policy of extermination, which militarizes lands, obstructing planting and harvesting, and causes the youth to look for other options, migrating in the worst of conditions or joining the ranks of the narcos, as millions of people suffer hunger and malnutrition.

5. Art and Culture for All: Art is a tool of struggle, protest and consciousness raising that serves to integrate unorganized people into active social participation, into the defense of autonomy and self-rule. Art and culture are fundamental tools for rebuilding broken societies.

Artistic and cultural expressions have been commodified, privatized and excluded from education, on top of being turned into a business. We now have to pay to attend cultural and artistic activities, denying access to the majority of the people. In some cities devastated by this stupid war, promoting culture activities can cost you your life. We cannot allow the privatization of our cultural heritage, much less the suppression and criminalization of our cultural and artistic capacities by monopolized media. This is why we demand the democratization of the property and content of the mass media, in obedience to the constitution that defines them as national assets. We proclaim the importance of development with identity; recovering indigenous cultures, language, ways and customs; we recognize their struggles to defend their territory.

6. Education: Current education policy commodifies education and establishes competitive individualism and uncritical technical training as its guidelines. Curriculum is modified through reforms like ACE, RIEMS, and others that exclude subjects such as philosophy and history. But these latter are tools for human development and critical thought without which the possibility of transformation and social justice becomes even more remote. Mexico needs an education plan that serves as a tool for human liberation and emancipation and that serves to develop all of our abilities and creativity.

It is a central responsibility of the Mexican State to guarantee access to public education at all levels, including the college level. What is needed is an education model that empowers, raises consciousness and transforms reality through reflection and action, thus reviving the principle of a free and secular education for all.

What the youth of this country don’t do for themselves, for our species, for Mother Earth, will not be done by anyone else, least of all by those that have allowed, furthered and taken advantage of the national disaster.

We are all going to make history in the National March for Peace with Justice and Dignity this May 8th in Mexico City.

We are all going to Ciudad Juarez to organize, to make a pact amongst ourselves, citizens and peoples, to demand that the government immediately end the war and commit itself to rebuilding the nation, repairing the social fabric and building peace with justice and dignity. It is time for the youth of this country to take the reins of history. We will not allow them to take our happiness from us, to shackle our present and future.

We announce that our plan of action is:

  • Convene a plural, inclusive, democratic space to discuss and construct the proposal of our Pact for Rebuilding the Nation on May 9 at 10 in the morning at the Journalists’ Club (Club de Periodistas) in Mexico City 
  • Propose to the new forum that a national body be formed to struggle for Peace with Justice and Dignity 
  • Organize mobilizations at the headquarters of the institutions responsible for the war 
  • Occupy symbolic spaces and build organizing centers with regular activities that allow us to have a presence and be a point of reference in the fight for Peace with Justice and Dignity 
  • Build a strategy to consolidate this process we’ve begun today based on the following initiatives. 
  • Convene a national meeting in Ciudad Juarez within the framework of the Signing of the Pact, which would follow up on youth networking and organizing 
  • Convene Committees for Peace with Justice and Dignity in every school, neighborhood, community or work center 
  • Convene a second Youth Meeting for Sept. 1-3 at UNAM’s University City 
  • Pay homage to the children and mothers killed in the armed conflict on May 10 in Mexico City’s Zocalo National Art and Culture Festival for Peace in Mexico, along with a protest march 
  • Organize an international academic forum for discussion of the armed conflict and the social problem at its root. 

Young men and women want a dignified life with peace and justice, for all the generations that live together in this country.

For the construction of a pact between organized and unorganized civil society that struggles for immediate demilitarization and for peace with justice and dignity.

First National Meeting “Youth in the National Emergency”
Cuernavaca, Morelos, on April 29, 2011

Original in Spanish:

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