A giant Fidel lights Quito

The Ecuadorian Youth Coordinating Office for Solidarity with Cuba put up a huge sign with the name of Cuban President Fidel Castro lighting up the sides of the Pichincha volcano in their country’s capital, Quito. It was a tribute to Castro’s 80th birthday, Aug. 13. Manuela Garcia, secretary of the youth group, told reporters the sign was a way to express the support felt by Ecuadorian young people for the Cuban leader and to thank him for the help he gives other countries. Garcia’s group along with students, farmers organizations, social justice clubs and political parties marched in the center of Quito to celebrate Castro’s birthday and to reject the U.S. blockade of the island.

Students ‘need books, not prisons’

In New York City, the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Youth Justice Board are demanding that public high schools end the “criminalization” of students and institute a more “peaceful atmosphere” with campus security on school grounds.

“We’re students, not felons. We need books, not prisons,” chanted more than 100 UYC members who packed the city Department of Education headquarters recently. The students were protesting metal detectors and police presence on school grounds. They gave the DOE a report card with failing marks. Meanwhile, the YJB has been creating Student Safety Advisories at five high schools, composed of students who identify safety problems in the schools by talking to their peers in collaboration with administrators. Both groups feel student involvement in policy decisions is necessary. “There are so many policies about student life and teenagers, and we don’t get to say anything about it. We should be the ones to OK the policies,” said Elizabeth Canela, a YJB member.

Event calls for cease-fire ‘peace by piece’

The Arab Student Association at George Mason University in Virginia organized a program on Aug. 5 called “Peace by Piece” in the Middle East to raise money for humanitarian aid in Lebanon. The event attracted more then 300 guests and raised over $17,000. One of the speakers was political science professor Bassam Haddad, who teaches at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and was in Beirut filming a documentary when the attacks started. He asked how the international community, led by the U.S., could remain “silent” about the devastating casualties of the Israel-Lebanon conflict and “unable to declare an immediate cease-fire,” which he called the only short-term solution to the war.

— Pepe Lozano (plozano@pww.org)