Youth and militarization: challenges for mobilization for peace

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On December 20 the amendment to article 13 of law 418 from 1997 came into effect. This reform agrees that higher education institutions do not need to demand presentation of a military ID card as a requirement to obtain an undergraduate degree. What young people have to say.

By Alekos Muñoz *. This action taken by the Chamber of Representatives towards the Colombian student youth is to be celebrated.  However, as young people, we must recognize that most of us do not study in higher education institutions. Moreover, many cannot access education because of the multiple socioeconomic problems that we are facing in the country.

Let's not forget that unresolved social conflict provoked the current armed conflict and thus finding a solution is vital to ensure that the war ends. It is clear that the dominant class promotes the need for militarization, control and war as the only possible solutions to the social problems. It argues that security and public order come first, meaning the silencing of society. At the same time, without question, it converts young people so they take an active part in the war.

If we interpret the militarization as a strategy of the powerful members of the country to maintain their interests, this reform of the law on military service would be the first step of many that must be taken towards the dismantling of the militaristic model which has been established in our country. Without a doubt, it doesn't solve the social conflict and neither does it solve the armed conflict.

They still demand the military ID card to obtain employment. Military service is still compulsory. We, the youth, have the challenge to oppose these control tactics which disrupt our lives. We are not the spoils of war. We are not puppets that they can force to participate in a war that defends the interests of national and international elites. As Fidel Castro Ruz stated in his famous speech to the United Nations: "enough of thinking that the world's problems can be solved with weapons... bombs may kill the hungry, the sick, the ignorant, but they cannot kill hunger, disease, ignorance... neither can they kill the justified rebellion of the people".

We have a commitment to history. It’s us who should determine the course of our country, so let’s wait no longer: now is the time. It's time to take action, to take to the streets, everyone united, building a large youth movement in the fight against conscription, for the dismantling of ESMAD and the UPJ, for the right to protest and against the militarization of our lives, of our cities, of our country. The laws must be the expression of something larger, the real cry of the people demanding real changes in our lives.

* Alekos Muñoz is national spokesperson for the Tejido Nactional Transformando a la Sociended (Tejuntas)


Translation: Ruby Starheart

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