ELN guerrilla demands the State to “cease the war against youth”

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By: Roke Trochez / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / August 9, 2017

Photo credit: Resumen Latinoamericano

While discussions are being held in Quito to achieve a consensus that leads us to a bilateral ceasefire, we’re concerned about the way in which social problems become increasingly more acute throughout Colombia. The living conditions of the population are more and more precarious, lack of work opportunities have led to hustle and the levels of violence and poverty have increased. Social problems are a declaration of war against the people and especially against the younger population.

On July 24, a group of Colombian institutions published a report called “How’s Bogotá doing” (“Bogotá cómo vamos”), which analyzes the quality of life of the population in relation with public policies. This report shows that the life of youth in Bogota is not easy: they are the main victims of violent death, school desertion increases day by day, opportunities to attend school are limited and getting a job can take up to seven months.

Although this report was focused on the city of Bogotá, we can affirm that the situation is similar in the rest of the country, and even worse in some cities.

The report states that in the capital of Colombia the biggest number of violent deaths occurs in the population between 18 and 28 years of age. 43% of homicides are committed by organized crime. These deaths occur mainly in neighborhoods of the 1st and 2nd level, where basic needs such as health, education and work opportunities are lacking.

School desertion rates is three times higher in public institutions than in private ones. One of the reasons for this is that students don’t receive food in schools and don’t receive support to pay for transport to and from school. Without a doubt, the quality of education is also affected by the surrounding poverty. The results of standardized tests show that grades 3, 5 and 9 are 40% below the Advanced level.

In this context, aspirations to access higher education become frustrated. Only half of the young Colombians that finish high school get into a higher education program just after their graduation. The rest are mostly compelled to work and the report states it takes them up to seven months to find a job. This makes many of them turn to informal activities to support themselves—or, in some cases, to crime.

Undeniably, peace begins with the wellbeing of the people and the fulfillment of their rights. We want the end of gunshots but we also want the end of needs, poverty and lack of employment opportunities.

Therefore, we call the Colombian society to join us in the Dialogue Roundtable in an active and propositive spirit, demanding their right to participate and the beginning of preliminary hearings. We encourage Colombian society to build peace with social justice.

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