Comrades from Red Youth and the CPGB-ML had the pleasure of taking part in the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students in Quito, Ecuador last December. We had the privilege of meeting young revolutionaries from all over the world, and youth from imperialist countries such as Britain had the opportunity to learn about the struggles in countries oppressed by global capitalism, as well as to hear about the inspiring progress of socialist and progressive countries along with revolutionary parties.
Since the last festival in 2010 in South Africa, the world has seen many atrocious wars of aggression in the name of capitalist ‘democracy’, such as the destruction of Libya and the invasion of Syria by US-backed terrorists. A full-scale invasion of Syria by imperialist forces has thankfully been averted so far, due to the heroic resistance of the Syrian armed forces and people, along with their Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi allies, and Russia’s deft diplomacy.
Eight-and-a-half thousand participants from 80 countries attended the event, which was fully supported by the Ecuadorian government.
Since taking presidential office in 2007, Rafael Correa has brought Ecuador into the forefront of the progressive tide in Latin America, increasing social spending and national control over vital industries such as mining and oil production, resulting in unemployment and poverty rates dropping substantially.
The atmosphere in Quito was friendly and inviting – a reflection of the development of socialist values in the country, which are contributing to the transformation of society.
The festival consisted of several days of workshops, conferences and seminars on a variety of subjects, mostly regarding struggles against imperialist oppressors and native capitalist ruling classes, while also discussing how successful revolutionary movements are formed and built to become a force for change in the world.
The most important aspect for us in attending the festival was the opportunity to discuss pressing issues in our movement, and what can be done both internationally and nationally, as well as the role of parties in imperialist countries in the anti-imperialist struggle. We were able to speak about the latter topic extensively with the youth wing of the Worker’s World Party (FIST – Fight Imperialism, Stand Together), as well as important current issues in the United States, such as abortion rights, the rights of undocumented migrants, hate crimes and police brutality.
We discussed the effects of revisionism in the European left with the youth section from the Kommunistiska Partiet (Sweden’s communist party), as well as party-building tactics and the general issues faced in Europe, such as the rise of fascist groups, unemployment and the economic effects of the capitalist crisis on the working class.
We also spoke with Canadian comrades from the Employee Action and Rights Network about the rights of workers and the role of unions, both in Canada and in Britain. We’ve seen here the extent to which our unions have failed us in protecting workers from zero-hour contracts, low pay and constant job losses, while in Canada the struggle to create a unionised workforce remains key.
The issue of the popular uprising in Gezi Park, in the Turkish city of Istanbul, was the main focus of our talks with the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP). The uprising has caused the party’s membership to double, and has led to an awakening of the political consciousness of many Turkish people.
We have also seen popular uprisings in Britain, such as the 2010 student protests and the 2011 youth uprisings – both of which were responses to the effects of the capitalist crisis and the increasingly reactionary and repressive actions of the British government. Being able to compare the events and the levels of political awareness among the youth of our respective countries was interesting and insightful.
We were also able to speak with the Syrian delegation about the imperialist involvement in the aggression against their country, and to get their perspective on the actions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and similar groups.
They explained that these groups are no more than terrorists, funded by nations like the US and Britain through Saudi Arabia and Qatar – monarchist states that depend on imperialism to prop up the anachronistic arrangements that see obscene amounts of the wealth flow into the coffers of their bloated royal families. The incursion of these terrorists, who are mostly non-Syrian and not fighters in a popular uprising, as is so often claimed, has taken a great toll on the Syrian people, who are fighting so hard for their right to self-determination and for independence from any manifestation of imperialist control.
The solidarity expressed by revolutionaries from across the world was inspiring and reinforced our resolve to fight for a world free from imperialism and capitalist oppression. Representing a truly Marxist-Leninist party in Britain was a vital and rewarding effort and we were overwhelmed by the warm and positive responses from people directly suffering from the actions of the British state, who are so eager and hopeful to build a better world for all.
We worked hard to form good relationships with both Marxist-Leninist and national-liberation organisations from across the world and our literature was very well received – hopefully helping to counter the reactionary poison spread internationally by Britain’s revisionists and Trotskyites.
The festival was an inspirational, educational, and vital exercise in true international solidarity, and we look forward to continued good relations with the progressive and revolutionary peoples of the world, who we join in the struggle to unite the working class and free ourselves from the chains of capitalism and imperialism!