BRASILIA, Brazil – Two recent events energized the world’s young communist and progressive movement. In the first event, delegates from 30 countries representing 50 organizations converged here June 6-9 to launch the preparatory process for the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS). The 16th WFYS will take place in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 5-13, 2005, under the slogan “for peace and solidarity we struggle against imperialism and war.”
Additional international preparatory meetings will take place in Vietnam and Portugal, respectively, to iron out more concrete details of the festival and to encourage more organizations from these regions to mobilize youth for it. There will also be a flag-handing ceremony between organizations from Algeria, the hosts for the 15th WFYS and organizations from Venezuela.
The choice of Venezuela reflects the delegates’ unity on defending that country’s revolution, which has for the last several years been under intense attack by reactionary forces. It has survived hostile diplomatic pressure from central capitalist countries, a long shut-down and sabotage of the country’s oil industry, and a coup-d’état. Now, it faces a new strategy from the opposition: the National Electoral Council determined that enough signatures were gathered to call a referendum on the Chavez presidency.
Traditionally, the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), a broad-based organization of democratic, anti-colonialist, and progressive youth organizations founded in 1945, takes a leading role in preparing the WFYS and mobilizing world youth to attend. The festival movement began in Prague in 1947, where thousands of youth came together under the post-war theme, “Youth United for a Lasting Peace.”
The second major event relating to Communist youth was the 12th National Congress of the Brazilian Union of Socialist Youth (UJS), the sister organization of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). Over 1,500 delegates came to the University of Brasilia campus June 10-13 to represent the 50,000 members that participated in municipal congresses in 600 cities from all 27 states. Since its 11th congress in 2002, UJS grew 250 percent. UJS currently holds the presidency of three mass-based student movements: the national high school student movement, the national university student movement, and the national graduate student movement. It is about to launch another movement that will organize hip hop groups and artists around Brazil. UJS also has a significant role in the Union of Brazilian Women and is present in the struggle of young workers through its members that promote a socialist understanding of work and unions in the national union movement. UJS is the most successful youth political organization in the country and has a central role in mobilizing youth against powerful big business, neoliberal forces whose policies are detrimental to youth everywhere.
At the forefront of this growing youth power, delegates met to discuss public policies related to youth, student movements, young worker movements, gender, the nascent organized hip hop movement, and to formulate a more clear understanding of the current political climate in Brazil and around the world. UJS understands that Brazil is currently in a crossroads of its development. It can continue in its neoliberal trajectory towards increased poverty, loss of national sovereignty, increase debt, and continued dependency; or it can adopt a new path that prioritizes national development through a sound industrial policy, agrarian reform, development of national science and technology production capacity, deeper and more representative democracy, and adopting fiscal and monetary policies that favor national development and reduction of dependency.
Despite this unique historical moment, where for the first time ever a worker (and not a member of the traditional elite), Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, won the presidency of the nation, the Brazilian government remains divided between neoliberal and national development camps. UJS will work to support the presidency of Lula while putting pressure on the government to lean towards national development and national sovereignty.
The smooth launching of the preparatory process of the 16th WFYS and the most successful UJS congress ever show that world communist youth are energized to continue the struggle for socialism and human dignity.
The author can be reached at email@example.com.