protest the partial privatization of Colombian
education in Bogotá,
April 7. Are there lessons for Occupy
Wall St. and the
rest of the global Occupy movement in the
strategies of Colombian
Far and Wide, but Lack of Clarity Dogs 'Occupy'
students, in 45 days of peaceful protest, have taught a lesson in applied
political science not only to their generational colleagues around the planet,
but to rickety political parties and incompetent leaders far and wide."
From time to time, people become
indignant. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it when patience runs
out: screaming, stealing or killing to steal, crying or committing suicide. People
who are more sensible cross arms and give voice to the collective thoughts of their
societies. They create a collective soul and together, dream of more lasting
strategic changes in the search for a better world - and a more decent life. November
30, 1999 was one of those afternoons: Over 25,000 demonstrators took the
streets of the U.S. city of Seattle and with the support of unions and environmentalists
rallied at the site of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference,
which was being launched by finance ministers from the 135 WTO member states. In
Washington D.C. four and a half months later, on April 16th 2000, 6,000 people demonstrated
at the IMF's semi-annual meeting with the World Bank. And then, nine months
later in January 2001, the indignation was against the World Economic Forum in
Davos, Switzerland. Just as the indignant ones in Davos were rejecting the
outrageous ravages of the global market, this evolution gave rise to the World
Social Forum in Porto Alegre (Brazil).
Twelve and a half years after
Seattle, on May 15, 2011 in La Puerta del Sol in Madrid, the indignant ones
reappeared. Since then, the outrage has spread throughout Europe and from north
to south, has arrived in the Americas. But this time, the countries of the
south are providing a lesson in conceptual and methodological clarity to those
in the north.
And yet the indignant ones in
Europe and the United States lack clarity about what they want or where their demonstrations
should lead. “The hundreds of protesters who have camped for weeks in a public park
near Wall Street can't agree about what precisely they are upset about or even
the current state of affairs,” Adriana La Rotta wrote for El Tiempo on
November 13 from New York. In contrast, in Chile and Colombia, students know
why they are angry and where there indignation should be directed: in the
defense of a free, high quality public education.
Students have written a
thousand and one epics: in Europe in the spring of 1968; in the United States
to opposition to the Vietnam War; in Tiananmen Square against Chinese
authoritarianism. Now, in a dialectical exchange between a paltry minority of
privileged people who have it all, and the vast majority of the excluded,
students in Europe, the United States, Latin America and around the world are
again taking sides to campaign for justice.
But Colombian students, in 45
days of peaceful protest, have taught a lesson in applied political science not
only to their generational colleagues around the planet, but to rickety
political parties and incompetent leaders far and wide. It is left to us to
learn from their organizational methods, conceptual consistency and
perseverance. Our angry young people are graduates of enlightened strategy.
We will have to ask them to
manage our erratic judicial reform, the recovery of land for peasant farmers
and the peace process. And as for the rest, we need to advise them to regain
their old Spartican powers
of protest and learn from the heroes of the Paris Commune. History
will show them how to lead the collective soul of the community.
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