A Chronicle of the SOAW Youth Encuentro Print
Rooted in Sovereignty, Sowing Resistance

by J. Andres Forero,

Abya Yala, representative from Colombia

On the morning of our second day in the land of Venezuela, two minibuses arrived to pick us up, bearing the youth of our Abya Yala (indigenous term for the Americas). We reached rural Sanare, in the state of Lara. The house of Lisa and Maia is a tribute to rural labor, and it was presented to us in this way: the result of many hands. The bahareque (mud) walls of the past evoked our grandparents’ homes of two hundred years.

Serene chambers with earth smell mingled with the early dialogues and the diversity of our peoples. Caribbean accents emerged, then from the coastal highlands of Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala that were mixed with those of Barranquilla and southern Brazil, Argentina and Chile. A week of sharing hopes, dreams and dialogue awaited us.

Venezuela is the land of wind and of the La Fumarola - the sacred mountain, volcano’s daughter, inspirer of ritual Tamunangues – that emerged as our first impression of this meeting. Roaring from the morning on, to the sound of its wind, to the sound of this song, we began to know one another. Young people from 18 countries, invited by SOA Watch, the Observatory to close the School of the Americas (now Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - WHINSEC) conformed by a network of people of Latin American origin or of Latin American hearts, who invited us to Root ourselves in Resistance and Sow Sovereignty.

Four years ago there was a first Encuentro, and thanks to the strength and beautiful inspired souls of several participants who worked arduously to create an international solidarity movement against imperialism, we were able to gather.

We began by introducing ourselves, sharing hopes of building ties through our mutual creative day-to-day efforts to overcome complex challenges and construct a Continent of Hope. A hope that dares to dispute the capitalism that greedily eyes our emerging economies built on the massive extraction of natural resources and cheap labor. A capitalism that promotes growing internal consumption that dumps the excesses from the North onto the South.

This land of hope bore witness to the dialogue of 18 homelands, working elbow to elbow to breathe meaning again to words such as: autonomy, sovereignty, independence, affirmation of differences, defense of biodiversity, of indigenous peoples, of Afro descendents, campesinos, immigrants, LGTBI, urban tribes, and more.

Venezuela had hosted a gathering, bathed by the mystical voices of the chiquitas – the working women of the land of Sanare who with strength showed the meaning of their Bolivarian revolution that struggles creatively to give the opportunity of dignified lives for all; by the attentive friend Jesus; by the music of the cuatro and drums and tamunangue; by the good and diverse food that brought together the magical essence of sharing and mixing our lands. This was a sincere Encuentro, without pretentions.

Venezuela was witness and hostess to the love we have for our home (i.e. continent), and to the honor we give to the past endurance and resistance of our people. As sons and daughters of hope, we declare - amidst dance, laughter, contemplations of the moon and its cosmic journey, the rain of stars – companions of the night, and at the base of the sacred mountain Fumarola, to commit ourselves to walk with strength towards the future, fulfilling the historic role that corresponds us, rooted in resistance and sowing sovereignty.