Dear comrades and dear friends,
As it is clear by this stands and in the parade we have seen: the youth of the world arrived to South Africa!
After more than one year of meetings, concerts, workshops, seminars, street and media promotion and many other activities in more than one hundred countries of the world, the 17th World Festival of the Youth and Students is finally here!
All over the world, hundreds of thousands of young people were part of this process that allowed us to collectively build this event. All of them, all of us make this Festival surely the most significant event of youth ever seen.
We arrive to the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students having the rich history of 16 editions before us, where hundreds of thousands of young people celebrated peace and came together to share its experiences and extend solidarity in their common worldwide struggle against imperialism.
Throughout the world generations of anti-imperialist young people have made this movement incomparable, a truly avenue of hope that stretches from the first Festival until today and which we are sure will be extended to the future on and on.
This Festival won’t let down the tradition and the expectations that the young people of the world have put on it. This theatre of dreams will surely be the platform where, once again, together we will create the most important and relevant stage for the struggles of the young people of the world to come together.
Dear comrades and dear friends,
When we decided to come to South Africa we didn´t do it for geographical reasons. To organize this Festival here is, in itself, an affirmation that we can win, that we can defeat our enemies and we can make justice and solidarity prevail, as happened in the overthrown of the apartheid regime in 1994.
The history of South Africa and its people and youth is a clear and loud statement that when we struggle we can win. And only the struggle is the way for the victory. No matter how strong is our enemy, no matter how hard it tries to oppress and exploit us, imperialism and its puppets will never be able to prevent the unstoppable strength of the people from being victorious!
The powerful example of Nelson Mandela, a resistant that never hesitated to continue struggling, despite the persecutions, tortures and very long imprisoning, is an inspiration to the young people of our world.
It is not by chance that this Festival is dedicated to comrade Mandela and to comrade Fidel Castro. In them we see the persistence and determination of true revolutionaries, those that have lead us to where we are today and without whom our resistance and victory against imperialism would have been a million times more different.
In both, in their struggle and their deep sense of internationalism, we can find the support to the struggles of the peoples of all countries in the world. It is not inappropriate to state that the impact of their solidarity goes way beyond the borders of their countries and can be felt all over the world.
The youth and people of the world are faced with a huge economical crisis that goes down to the very roots of the system under which we live. This crisis demonstrates even further that the irrational and unjust nature of the capitalist organization of society is incompatible with the fulfillment of the needs and as aspirations of the peoples and youth.
It is not by chance that, despite the crisis and constant appeals for so called “general sacrifices” or “austerity measures” , in most countries of the world, we can see the poor and the workers getting poorer, and the richer and bank and corporation owners getting even richer and richer.
The profit orientation of this system makes it consider the basic needs of peoples less important than some few bank accounts full of money. That is why there is two times more production of food than necessary to feed all mankind, but there are still people starving to death. That is why there are pills to allow decent lives to the carrier of AIDS, but they stay accessible only for those who can afford their huge prices.
Mankind has achieved fantastic technological developments in the last decades. Achievements capable of producing a revolution in the life of mankind, taking water, electricity and communication to all corners of the world. However, this doesn’t happen. The lords of the world, USA, European Union, Japan and their puppets, prefer to keep investing in ways to kill us, instead of making our life better. The military industry keeps growing and with it grows the number of children out of school and unemployed people. Why? What for? Just to satisfy their greed!
The youth of the world does not accept to be made a generation without rights! As we learnt from the anti-apartheid slogan “Freedom in our lifetime” we now say “Fulfillment of our rights in our lifetime!”. Our rights, our access to Education (free and for all), our jobs, our happiness cannot continue being a postponed project! We want all that we are entitled to and we won’t stop our struggle until we achieve it!
In this Festival we will send a big wave of solidarity to the people and youth of Western Sahara. To our Saharawi comrades we say: “We are by your side, we will struggle by your side for your self-determination! We won’t let the human rights abuse dealt to you by Morocco continue!” We will liberate the last colony of Africa!
In this Festival we will reaffirm our total and committed solidarity with the Palestinian people and youth. We won’t let the continuation of the Israeli occupation, we won’t allow the Palestinian people to continue being forced to live as refugees. Now and always we support the Palestinian resistance!
In this Festival, we will expose to the world the case of the Cuban Five Heroes,; young people that the empire has unjustly arrested and to whom keeps denying freedom and even the most basic rights, just because these people have decided to defend their country and fight the set of criminals that from Miami want to destroy the achievements of the Cuban Revolution. Side by side with that, we will condemn and demand the immediate withdrawal of the criminal USA embargo to Cuba.
In this Festival, we will reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Korea in their struggle against the imperialist provocations made by USA every single day. With our hearts and our knowledge of history we say with the Korean people: Korea is one!
This Festival is also a demonstration of solidarity with the Cypriot people, victim of the Turkish occupation that divides their land. For us all this is unacceptable and we won’t rest until we see Cyprus reunified in a bizonal and bicommunal federation as proposed by our comrade and veteran of the Festivals, President Demetris Christophias.
In this Festival, we will denounce the crimes of the Colombian government against its own people. The persecutions, displacements, imprisoning, tortures and crimes must stop! The Colombian people deserves to live in peace, not in a country where they don’t know what will happen tomorrow and that is becoming the backyard of USA to attack the democratic governments in Latin America.
From this Festival, we are sending a clear message to the peoples and youth of Iraq and Afghanistan. We are by your side against the occupation done by NATO and USA. There is no true democracy without sovereignty, there can only be freedom if all foreign troops go back home and give to the peoples’ the possibility to build their own future.
Last but not least, from this Festival we will shout out loud to our neighbors of Swaziland and they will hear our words of solidarity and support in their struggle for the end of repression and persecutions, so that Swaziland can become a truly democratic country.
Just one month ago we celebrated the 65 years of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. This Festival, the joy in the participants and the worldwide massive character of the mobilization, are an irrefutable proof that our age doesn’t makes us old, but more accurate.
As years go by and our struggles continue we are even more sure that to defeat imperialism is not only a wish or a will, but in fact a need of the peoples and youth of the world. Only by defeating imperialism we can have a world of lasting peace, of solidarity among the peoples irrespective to their origin and of social transformation, where our rights are respected and we can live in a truly developed and fair world.
Fellow comrades and friends,
My last words are to the South African authorities, people and youth movement. On behalf of all participants, of the International Organizing Committee and the leadership of the World Federation of Democratic Youth we very much thank you for hosting us. We thank you for recognizing in us your historical allies to fight imperialism and give us the possibility to come to this beautiful land of freedom to celebrate our victories, share our experiences and make our movement even stronger, so that as South is now free, one day all countries and all peoples can also be free!
Youth unite for lasting peace! United we shall win!