up until 2am two nights in a row- students from a range of faculties
and young people from various movements and revolutionary
organisations. In the campsite of La Mucuy in the Andean city of
Merida, we discussed and debated the role of youth in Venezuelan’s
revolution and the construction of a youth wing of the PSUV (United
Socialist Party of Venezuela), while around us clouds hugged the
buildings and mountain slopes, horses slept in the foreground and
mosquitos made meals of our legs and faces.
the call for a youth wing of the party, various revolutionary youth in
Merida had organised the camp as a space to meet and ensure that this
new youth organisation would be specifically revolutionary, and that it
wouldn’t contain the errors of the current PSUV. As well, it was
important that this organisation be built by the youth from the ground,
rather than declared by the leadership and built downwards.
often, in my opinion, the initiatives of the revolution come from
Chavez rather from the bases. When Uribe, the right wing president of
Colombia, came to Venezuela recently, Chavez came out against calls for
protests against him. In Merida, it was the young people who protested
the creation of a new society based on new ideas and ways of
organising, the youth, not yet completely adjusted to the present
world, are in a special position. In Venezuela, the organised
revolutionary youth have the potential to be an antidote to the old
capitalist habits of corruption, bureaucracy, competition, and
individualism. Youth-activist idol Che Guevara also believed that the creativity and spontaneity of young people could protect the revolution from sectarianism.
Monday I went down to the bread shop to get some of the freshly cooked
regulated bread (13 cents/roll) and bumped into a friend- a man over
60, retired lawyer and life long revolutionary. We sat down together
and he complained about everything, "For every ten people wearing red,"
and he pulled at his own red shirt, "only one are real
revolutionaries." He had more grievances: everyone’s buying coke and
eating at McDonalds; people are just in the revolution for the money;
the discussions are ‘pura paja’ (when you say something but don’t
intend to do it) and so on. He remembered ‘his time’ when people rode
horses and exchanged fruit.
my discussions with revolutionary Venezuelan youths have left me with
more hope. While youth activists are generally less experienced, their
combative spirit and idealism also often makes them less easily
de-motivated. We are frequently less chained up by the old established
values of religion, gender roles, careers, etc. This freedom charges us
with getting rid of the myths and stigmas that linger on.
yet having resigned ourselves to the world as it is, we dream, we
construct, and create with passion. However, if we don’t organise
ourselves, we are condemned to being a group of individuals, using
"vulgar slogans" and lacking "profound ideology", as Che said.
Amorin, in an article on www.aporrea.org argued that, "The PSUV is
confronting a new challenge, to create a strong youth organisation that
won’t be an answer to the ‘right wing youth’, but that converts into
the launching point of socialist politics in Venezuela."
this month, youth delegates from the 24 states of Venezuela met in
Caracas to prepare a plan to form the youth organisation. The PSUV is
calling on youth to meet within their branches throughout July in order
to make teams with a minium of 10 people aged between 15-28. In August,
these teams should choose a coordinator, who in turn will choose a
delegate amongst their circumscription (10 branches) to go to the
founding conference in September.
I interviewed five young revolutionary youth from Merida to get their perspective on these recent developments.
29, Medicine and Literature student, member of the CMR (Revolutionary
Marxist Current) and the Victor Jara Collective (a student based
organisation). He has committed to being a doctor in either Haiti,
Ethiopia, Bolivia or Nicaragua for 3 years after he finishes his
degree. This will involve living with the poor communities and living
as they do- as he says, a doctor must not be separate. He says he sees
it as a test of himself as revolutionary. (left of photo)
Liliana Andreina Matheus,
27, Social Promoter for INJUVEM (Merida Youth Institute). She helps
organise courses about socialism and short talks on a range of topics
within the high schools and amongst other youth sectors.
23, Physics student, member of MUSEC (Socialist University Movement
–Science Faculty). Cesar ran in the student elections in March. He
plays the guitar, likes heavy metal, and insists that the revolution
and partying go on into the early morning.
Maria Fernandez (Mafer) Colmenares,
22, President of the youth committee in the Legislative Council and
political science student. On the first night of the PSUV youth camp,
when one after another, teenagers got hypothermia attacks, Mafer told
stories to the others to calm them and keep moral high. Another night,
late after the debating, we went to sleep in our tent and she sang
26, law student and director of the socialist school within the Frente
Francisco De Miranda. Daniel gave his interview as we caught the bus
down the winding roads into a poor community at the base of the
mountains of Merida, then continued it in between making phone calls
and talking to community members. Every time I bump into Daniel he is
at a protest or a meeting or sitting in a café trying to convince
another young person of the struggle of socialism and to get involved
in the Frente.
1. How is the youth consciousness currently in Venezuela?
"Owing to the social historic process that Venezuelan is experiencing
at the moment, the youth have had a protagonist role in the
construction of the Bolivarian process and have also had an important
role in the leadership of it. However, because we live in a capitalist
country a lot of the youth aren’t participating in the process of
change and are easily manipulated and alienated by the capitalist
"From my point of view, political consciousness today is critical
because we are living in a period of change. The youth of Venezuela are
divided in two- those who are with the revolutionary struggle and those
who are against it. Those who are with it are ready to struggle until
the end for the objectives of the revolution."
experience shows that there is also a large group who are neither, who
have no specific opinions and are just thinking about their personal
lives, and there are also those who choose a ‘side’ but who do not feel
strongly about it. These are people who need to (and can) be won over]
"Speaking in general terms the youth still don’t have a high level of
consciousness, but of course there are many exceptions- young people
who are planting seeds of consciousness.
people are starting to have consciousness. The fact that young people
are incorporated in the communal councils and so on shows that
something is happening and the consciousness is starting to increase,
but there’s also a long way to go. The large majority of the youth are
still thinking about earning money and living a life of ‘luxury’."
"The consciousness of Venezuelan youth in the first instance is formed
by global consciousness. That is, the absence of class consciousness.
Only the poor sectors and some students are taking on the challenge of
the transformation and the rebellion of the revolution."
"Revolutionary consciousness is being born. We’re learning about
ourselves, our history and our origins- lessons that are necessary for
the emancipation of the Latin American people."
2. What is the composition of the youth as a revolutionary force today in Venezuela?
"The youth are in the Bolivarian circles, the social fronts such as the
Frente Francisco de Miranda and so on, there are militant youth in the
left wing parties and the social and popular movements and the communal
councils. The thing is, the youth are dispersed and there are more
youth in the social fronts, than in the INJ (National Institute of
Youth) for example."
"A number of groups have been formed- FFM, groups based on Che’s
philosophy, the university groups, the youth of the Communist Party and
of the PPT, and the OBE- the organisation of the highschool students."
"In terms of the party and the people in government, the majority of
youth are linked in some way to the university, but in the government
programs- the missions and so on, the majority are youth who aren’t in
the university. Together, though, we are involved in everything- we are
workers, farmers, students, etc."
"Young people are in the student movements, are workers, are in the
communal councils, the military reserve, the youth of the communist
party, the INJ, the network of young writers, and fronts of musicians,
artists, prostitutes, homosexual etc. The majority of the Venezuelan
population is young."
"The youth are made up of people who are starting to study and are in
the missions, studying in the mission Che Guevara for example, who are
learning philosophy and another way to live, these are the true
3. What role are the youth currently having in the revolution and how could this improve for the better?
"At the moment the youth have been mostly participating in a passive
way, it would be better if they took on a more protagonistic role in
the process, with all the responsibility that this involves."
"I think that now the revolutionary youth are very dispersed. They see
socialism from different points of view and in the end we clash. We
need to unify criteria and define the socialism that we want so that we
have just one objective."
"When Chavez first became the president, a lot of the old corrupt
layers of people joined the process, thinking about what they could
personally gain from it. The role of the youth is to learn what
revolution is, the theory of it, and to see an end to this ‘cancer’ of
corruption. The youth need to incorporate themselves and replace these
people. The youth are the hope of this process, and they should take
the reins in the PSUV to guard the line of the government, because one
of the priorities of the revolution right now is to maintain the power
"The role of the youth in the revolution is indispensable. It should be
to put pressure on the process of discussion and criticism and
furthermore, it should be to substitute the old standards that make
the youth here have taken on the challenge of construction,
transformation, and subversion of the established order. We now have
institutions specifically oriented to the youth, things which didn’t
exist under past governments and we are the vanguard of this
revolution. It will depend on us, the youth, to maintain and strength
"All the youth have to identify with history and understand what it
means to liberate. The historical role that we’ve had in the past is an
example, and we must be ‘continuers’ of the project of Bolivar. We’re
learning that we have a certain identity linked to the liberation of
University students have historically played an important role in
revolutions, do you think this applies to Venezuela and why or why not?
"One of the particularities of the Bolivarian process is the central
role the youth are playing in working in the community and with the
most dispossessed social sectors. However, the youth have lost a lot of
their rebellious character and today in the universities and student
centres the youth are colliding with two different visions of the
world, one that defends the transformation and change for the wellbeing
of everyone, and the other that protects the capitalist model."
"Historically, since Venezuela’s independence, the youth have had an
important role. Venezuela obtained its liberty in a large battle, the
Victory Battle, fought by the youth. Also a group of young people were
the ones who managed to topple the dictatorial regime in Venezuela on
23 January 1958. And today it’s the youth who lead Venezuela in the
revolution- there are many young people working in the institutions of
role of the youth isn’t to struggle against the opposition in the
university, but to contribute to the formation of the other young
people in a conscious revolutionary way."
"The students should have a fundamental role in the revolution but they
still haven’t had the opportunity to be the vanguard, something for
which we are struggling. The struggle consists in the formation of the
consciousness of the youth because the problem is that a large part of
the youth are opposition and are defending the interests of the
Venezuelan oligarchy, including imitating the role that the youth had
in the old Yugoslavia. The youth are weak because the media manipulates
them, they are trapped in fashion (of clothes, music, etc) and don’t
have the capacity to analyse well."
"The universities’ class composition is mostly upper and middle class.
Therefore the students within the autonomous university education
system take on the logic of the bourgeois class of the country. And
this in turn corresponds to their political action. That is, they are
against everything that is implied by the collective, by the new
economy, and are against revolution or socialism. They are the
organisations and movements who have direct links with the CIA, for
example they brought the US ambassador to talk at a forum and they
fight with the revolutionary students on the university. Their
discourse is similar to that of the youth in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. There
is also clear racism on the Universities."
"It’s different because in the years before the process of change, the
students carried the flag of resistance to imperialism and
neoliberalism, but what happened is that this movement left the
university and went to work in the missions and this space was
abandoned. Now the counter revolutionary culture has taken the
leadership. The teachers on the university lie and so you have young
people who arrive at the university with just 17-18 years of age and
they don’t have consciousness or political knowledge. They are taught
to identify with the status of the teachers, and without a political
foundation, they can’t criticise."
5. What should be the role of the youth within the PSUV and what do you think would be the best way to organise?
"The youth should be the transformers and should aim to finish with the
current reform model. They should organise themselves as a youth front,
so that they can have a voice in the leadership and deepen the
Bolivarian process and increase the morale of the Venezuelan people."
"Within the PSUV, first, in my opinion, the party should create a
functional structure for the youth where its defined what our function
or field of action is with the party, so that we can call to action the
young people who still aren’t involved directly with the party…because
the PSUV hasn’t yet developed a strategy directed by the youth- that
is, even though there are a lot of young people in the party they don’t
have a collective line, they don’t have their own values- just lines
handed down by Chavez."
"The role that we should have is mainly in the bases with the people,
working with ideological formation and without forgetting at any moment
the spaces of power. As to how we should organise, it should be an
organisation that is completely participative, horizontal, where
everyone has the right to give their opinion and we should work for the
inclusion of those who still haven’t understood the role of the PSUV in
"First, we’re going to take the space of power within the party as
youth and political leaders as well. The way we organise should be in
agreement with the natural space that we occupy as young people, in the
same way that farmers do in the farmer front and so on."
"The youth of the PSUV can’t fail and commit the errors that we’ve
committed in the past. When we stop being young- when we become parents
and so on, we become absorbed into the system. So as young people we
must be an example- for the country, of community work etc, and be the
vanguard of change.
youth are the ones who will achieve the objectives of the revolution.
As youth we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The youth are
the hope of the world."
Cuba, the young people who initially lead the insurrection, and other
young people since them, are the ones who are running the country now
and keeping the revolution alive.
change society and construct the future, we must break with the past,
and it is often young people who are most prepared to do this. And
because the future is ours, and we will be maintaining the revolution
for decades to come, we must be the vanguard of the revolution. And we
must be organised, or as Che argued, our "ideas, after the first urge,
start to lose effectiveness, gradually falling into routine, falling
into conformity, then end into simply being a memento."