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Youth Issues MUST be a Political Priority

Youth Issues MUST be a Political Priority
February 25
08:25 2019

By Nefretery Marin

On Monday, Feb 18, the president of the History Club at the University of Belize, Ms. Aleesi Chun and her friends Sydellie Leslie, Jeremiah Chioc and Abbie Godoy, organized a peace march with the help of their student government. The students were protesting violence in our country. This was prompted after they lost two of their friends to gun violence within days of each other.

After the protest, I stayed back a short while to get to know these dynamic youth of Belize. I must thank them as well as congratulate them.

They inspired hope inside of me. As a socio-political activist I know the value of the awakening of youth. I witnessed the power of university students in 1995 as a student myself In Los Angeles California, when I too joined in mass protests against gang violence and injustices to immigrants.

In Tegucigalpa, Honduras in 1996/1997 again it was the university students that protested strongly and brought change to the city as they rallied behind the then mayoral candidate, Cesar Castellanos, better known by the youth of Tegucigalpa as El Gordito Castellanos. When he won his elections, it was thanks to the students rallying behind him and actively volunteering to walk with him and campaign for him. Sadly, he died during the rescue efforts of Hurricane Mitch that punished Honduras massively.

Youth participation in the political life and process of Belize is important but I’m not talking about just registering and voting…that will never do. FULL participation is what is required, and our Government must give our youth the opportunity and space to practice leadership. If that is not given, then young people must take it. They must claim their space!

These young people made me aware that they suffer an obscene number of assaults around the campus and that the security guard is not properly equipped. This I found unacceptable for our national University. These students are contributing members of society and are our future leaders. We must do all in our power to protect them, foster them and give them space in our organizations and in our government. I was impressed by the intelligence, fortitude and long-term vision these students possess. More than that, however, I was excited to see and hear of the revolutionary seeds that have been planted in their hearts. “I will not be silent” were the words they chanted, and I could hear in those young voices that they mean it!

As excited and happy as I was to personally witness the first awakening of our students, I quickly realized that it could be very dangerous because we have failed them as a nation, and they got tired of waiting for adults to fix all the nonsense.

We must fulfil our obligations to our youth. They must have full involvement and be allowed to contribute to the development and implementation of all policies affecting them. This must include polices on education, community development, security, crime, health, job development and industries and all other aspects that are affecting and will affect youth.

It is the intention of the Belize People’s Front to establish a national youth parliament so that we honour our commitment to them and encourage their input in the electoral, democratic and developmental processes of our nation. We intend to increase the financial support in education, and the technical advancements in our schools

We believe it is high time that we start considering their potential, their vision, their ambitions and that we stop demeaning them as part of the problem.

We will only reap what we sow; this is true in our Government, in our churches, in our schools, in our fields and true in our youth.

It is time that as leaders of this great nation, we take responsibility to foster a positive environment for our youth. Our students must feel safe in their communities and their school grounds; as we try to clean out corruption and crime, it is our duty to safeguard the lives and peace of mind of our students. This country’s future depends on these young people; it is on these grounds that we must demand that a Police booth be built and manned by at the least 3 armed officers on campus at the University of Belize compound.

Youth issues are not taboo. Youth issues are important and are serious and we must allow our youth to exercise their rights and assist them to foster their potential.

Misguided youths are a danger, but a misguided Government with no moral compass is detrimental not just to our country but to the existence of our people.

Our country deserves more. Our youth deserve more and only a people can save a people. It is of utmost importance that we understand what our young students are asking. They are asking us for respect, for protection, for their rights to a safe environment. They are asking for justice, and they “will not be silent” Belize. Take heed and Government of Belize, tread carefully.

I would however not encourage the People’s United Party to start mentally warming their seats at the National Assembly because these students are not just any students…they are History students and Historians Do Not Forget!

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