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SOA Watch Youth Encuentro:
Young leaders from throughout the Americas will gather to share strategies about forms of resisting militarization and promoting a culture of peace 

Seven weeks from now 30 young leaders from Central, South, and North America will gather in the foothills of Venezuela’s Andes mountains. The Encuentro, or youth summit titled Rooted in Resistance, Sowing Sovereignty, will bring together young leaders from over 20 countries who are actively creating “another world” that is possible!

These young leaders, ages 20 to 33, will exchange strategies on local initiatives to resist militarization and repressive neoliberal policies, while upholding sovereignty and affirming the rights of all people. They will remind each other – and all of us – that the collective struggle for dignity will require us to work together as equals to create an alternative world for and by the people. A world in which people are placed over profit, a world where the SOA/WHINSEC shuts its doors forever, a world in which nations honor one another’s sovereignty and join the struggle as equals for the dignity of all peoples.

The young leaders who will gather in Venezuela are already rewriting the history of the Americas: in Guatemala they have confronted impunity and brought SOA graduate General Rios Montt to trial for genocide; in Honduras they have stood up to state militarism to protect their communal lands against mega mining projects; in Florida they have organized farm workers to demand dignified wages; in Bolivia they have helped fellow Aymara youth recover the dignity of their millennial culture; in Sao Paulo they have organized fellow favela youth to demand an end to police brutality; in Chile they have taken the streets to call for universal free education; at the US/Mexico border they are documenting and resisting the draconian immigration policies of the US.

That is a small sample of the 23 representatives from 15 countries who are already set to participate in this historic Encuentro. But, in addition to the $22,000 we have already raised, we still need $7,500 to be able to have all 20 countries represented.

Help us to assure participation in this Encuentro from representatives from all countries of the Americas.

All donation amounts will be a tremendous help!

As we make preparations for the Youth Encuentro, news about the ongoing repression in Honduras and the use of U.S. trained commandos in Colombia, highlight not just the urgency of our work but also the power and strength present in the hearts, lives, and work of the youth who will be at the Encuentro. Be a part of supporting this gathering.

Un abrazo fuerte,
Irene, Cristina, Maia and Brigitte, the Encuentro Organizing Team

A few words from some of the participants: 

Carlos, 28, of Argentina: It is always important to know the realities of others in order to enrich and find strength for our daily struggle. We know the work of the SOAW and we know of the state-sponsored terrorism in the form of military dictatorships that were a reality throughout Latin America–this is why the movement will always be strengthened through networks of comrades from all over the continent.

Danilo, 23, of Guatemala: I think it is necessary to have a different perspective about the reality outside of our communities. It is important for our country to join the struggle for change facing our communities throughout the Americas, as an organization we believe that collective efforts inside and outside our countries will be the only way that we’ll put a stop to capitalism and the imposition of military governments whose power prevails over the rights of all peoples. 

Jezell. 28, of Nicaragua: I hope to gain knowledge about methodologies and experiences of other organizations that will help is in our struggle for peace and sovereignty.

Magdalena, 33, of Guatemala: I want to share our efforts to combat impunity. I want to encourage all women to continue the struggle. It is not easy, bit I will share what we have learned through the struggle of these women.

Blas, 26, of Colombia: I hope that we may share experiences, and articulate actions of peace. As youth, we have the desire and duty to struggle for a better world. I want to contribute my knowledge, my experiences, my struggle, my ideas, my creativity, my passion for service. I want to contribute my hope, my voice for those who are not heard, my hands to work together.

Jose Angel, 20, of Nicaragua: …through songs, theatre pieces, or manifestations, there are many ways that we can all contribute a small grain of sand to find peace and tranquility for all our people.

Fernanda, 30, of Ecuador: The exchange of various contexts and realities permit us to evaluate and identify different forms of struggle that create mechanisms of real resistance in order to generate strategies of our own and knowledge that can be of benefit to our local organizations and in the spaces where we participate.