The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 39      October 23, 2017


Anti-imperialist youth festival kicks off in Sochi, Russia

LOS ANGELES — Some 20,000 young people from 150 countries worldwide are preparing to attend the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia, Oct. 14-22.

The festival will feature dozens of sessions such as “100th anniversary of the great October socialist revolution,” “Friendship of the peoples and the struggle against fascism, racism, discrimination, and xenophobia,” “Against the development and use of nuclear weapons,” and “The struggle against women’s inequality,” where delegates can debate how to build the fight against imperialist exploitation and oppression.

The festival comes on the heels of the “In the Footsteps of Che” brigade, where volunteers from the U.S. and elsewhere are spending two weeks in Cuba learning about the revolution.

“We are going to the festival to bring attention to U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico and our history of struggle and resistance. We want to win more international support,” Angélica Acosta, head of the festival’s National Preparatory Committee in Puerto Rico, told the Militant. In addition to her party, the Frente Socialista, Acosta said the Independence Party, the Socialist Workers Movement and the National Hostosiano Independence Movement are all members of the committee.

“Oscar López will speak at the anti-imperialist tribunal,” Acosta added. López spent 35 years in U.S. prisons framed up for his support for the fight against U.S. colonial domination of Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria “interrupted our fundraisers and final preparations for the festival,” Acosta said. “Some compañeros lost the roof of their homes. The damage was reinforced by Puerto Rico’s colonial status.”

From the United States more than 50 delegates from the Young Socialists, Communist Party, League of Young Communists and Students and Youth for a New America are going, along with a number of people who signed up through Russian cultural centers. The Russian hosts are planning cultural and sports events for participants.

“We will be explaining why we are organizing to build a mass working-class movement to make a socialist revolution in the U.S., like they did in Cuba,” said Jacob Perasso, one of the co-chairs of the U.S. delegation and a leader of the Young Socialists. “As we knock on workers’ doors across the country, we find real anger at the economic and social crisis the bosses and their government are putting on our backs, and wide interest in a revolutionary perspective.

“It’s the polar opposite of the view many delegates get about the working class from the capitalist media, which paints workers as reactionary and racist,” he said.

Organized under the banner “For peace, solidarity and social justice, we struggle against imperialism — Honoring our past, we build the future!” the festival is dedicated to Ernesto Che Guevara, Mohamed Abdelaziz and Fidel Castro. Abdelaziz, who died last year, was a central leader of the Polisario Front fighting for independence of Western Sahara.

“Since Puerto Rico lives under the colonial rule of Washington, we identify with the struggle led by Abdelaziz,” said Acosta.

Joan Cabo Mijares, a leader of Cuba’s Union of Young Communists (UJC), told Prensa Latina that their delegation will be one of the largest, with some 290 members. The UJC will be a central part of the anti-imperialist tribunal, speaking out against the more than 55 years the U.S. government has tried to overturn the Cuban Revolution.

Young people from the U.S. have been setting up meetings to report back on their experiences at the festival, on the Che brigade to Cuba, and what they learn about the struggles workers and youth they met are engaged in.

At a Nov. 9 meeting at the United Food and Commercial Workers union hall in Huntington Park, participants will expand solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and other struggles within the U.S. and around the world.  
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