Venezuela: The Long March of the Bolivarian Youth

By Geraldina Colotti on February 18, 2023.

February 12 – Caracas

“If something has been achieved in these 24 years of revolution is to include the youth in the country’s decision making process, it is to take the youth into account. The youth today have worth, the youth today are listened to”. This is what President Maduro said when addressing the crowd of young people who marched, on February 12, in Caracas to the Miraflores Palace, to celebrate Youth Day. For the occasion – the 209th anniversary of the Battle of Victory – , the president announced the creation of a social program dedicated to youth, which will aim to “do more” in education, economy, housing, sports, entrepreneurship and culture. “All Venezuelan youth – he said – are summoned to the great youth congress on March 11 and 12, here in Caracas, to found the Great Venezuelan Youth Mission”.

A task that will be co ordinated by the Vice-President of Government for Social and Territorial Socialism, Mervin Maldonado, and Congresswoman Grecia Colmenares, who will define the fundamental topics of the next meeting. The convocation – added the Head of State – will have to be as broad as possible, and will pave the way for the generation of jobs for young people, support for entrepreneurship and backing for talents. “The time has come for the patriotic youth of Venezuela, in this 21st century – said Maduro -. With the union of the youth, we are going to cultivate the fundamental values for our Homeland, we are going with love, rebellion against scourges such as corruption”. For this reason, young people must adhere to “a higher consciousness”.

Such a level of youth participation in political life is not seen in Europe. Indeed, young people do not express support for European governments which, beyond pronouncements, offer them very little space. The structural deficiencies of countries such as Italy facilitate the slowing down of the socio-economic independence of young people and, therefore, their integration into the social and working world, an indispensable condition for the full and conscious exercise of political and civil rights. The late acquisition of social and economic stability has an impact on the constitution of the identity of individuals, and on the low propensity to participate in a politics where they can vote, but not decide.

In Italy, the spread of atypical forms of work has contributed to a worsening of the overall quality of employment, which has also led to lower average wage levels. The combination of low hourly wages and short-term intensive employment contracts results in significantly lower annual wage levels. According to the Istat 2022 report, around 4 million employees in the private sector (excluding the agriculture and domestic work sectors) are low-paid, i.e. they receive a theoretical gross annual salary of less than €12,000, which they fall short of in the face of high living costs.

About 1.3 million employees receive a low hourly wage of less than 8.41 €. For 1 million employees, the two elements of vulnerability add up. Among the most penalized, young people under 34, women and foreigners, with low educational qualifications, residents of the South and employed in the service sector. Low wages, deteriorating job quality, brain drain, characterize both the EU and the Eurozone. In November 2022, the unemployment rate among the under-25s reached 15.1%.

Generating more and better jobs for young people is a major challenge also in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Covid-19 crisis in the labor markets raised the unemployment rate among young people to over 20 percent, a proportion that is three times the rate for adults and more than double the average overall unemployment rate in the region. In absolute numbers, more than 10 million young people are seeking employment without finding it. On the other hand, 6 out of every 10 young people who do find employment are forced to accept jobs in the informal economy, which generally involves poor working conditions, without protection or rights, and with low wages and low productivity. It is estimated that some 20 million young people in the region neither study nor work, largely due to frustration and discouragement at the lack of opportunities in the labor market.

In contrast, Venezuela has 92% schooling and 85% of its youth studying in public universities. There is still a long way to go – said the President -, but the youth have been and are the center of resistance to the blockade and the interference propaganda of imperialism and its local puppets. However, he called for “going for more”, because “we must have a spirit of permanent rebellion to move towards the new”.

It is up to the youth to “set the Homeland free”, which means freeing it from the blockade, the sanctions that “have tried to suffocate and kill the Homeland, to end and destroy the Social Welfare State that socialism founded with the Missions and the Great Missions”.

Thus, the message coming from Venezuela where, in spite of the criminal blockade, neither education, nor health, nor public services have been privatized, and where the law of labor immovability is still in force, is of great importance. Just as the reference to the Battle of La Victoria, when, in 1814, young students and inexperienced seminarians responded to the call of General José Félix Ribas, preventing the royalist army from taking the square of the city of Victoria, in the state of Aragua, was of great importance. And this is also a message for the young people of Europe, so that they can be inspired by their roots and the ideals of those who have tried to change things in the 20th century, paying high costs: to turn them into a tool of struggle and new projects, for the present and the future.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – Buenos Aires