I know why i am protesting


Friday, 9 July 2021


Fundación Alvaralice

In Cali, young people represent 30% of the total population of the city. However, since the collective memory includes communities historically impoverished, violated, excluded, and stigmatized, the youth protests are sown from the stories of our fathers, mothers, grandparents and/or caregivers.

It is frustrating to grow up watching your mother get up at 03:30 am to smoke a fish that she will later sell in the mobile market, before running off to sweep, mop, and clean to be able to bring food to her house, paying the utilities, and at the end of the month still having to borrow money from an illegal loan system because she does not receive enough money from all her jobs. Additionally, getting sick was not an option and even if she did, we could not afford transportation to the hospital. If we wanted a television, a refrigerator, or a stove, we had to struggle and save up for months—we spent more than fifteen years building a house, going from tarps to walls.

We grew up seeing helplessness in the eyes of those who said every night, “God will provide tomorrow.” Their only hope was to give us better opportunities so we didn’t have to face the humiliation they had gone through in the past. This attitude mobilizes the protests today and inspires young people to hope for a more equitable and just society with greater opportunities for those of us who have been pinned down our entire lives. Nobody is poor because they want to!

Today, young people are protesting years of deprivation reflected not only in their own stories, but in their mothers’, fathers’ and grandparents’ stories. The reason for these protests is obvious when you go to the east of Cali or Siloé. In this area of the city, education and professional training opportunities are rare, formal employment is almost nonexistent, and the rate of teenage pregnancy is above the city’s average. On top of these problems, being a resident in these neighborhoods carry social stigmas. And lastly, young people have been excluded from public policies that in theory sound good, but do not reflect their reality.

We, the young people, are protesting for dignity, for life, and against the trappings of poverty which can mean having to choose between food or transportation. My fellow protesters do not want to leave home with tears in their eyes when saying goodbye to their mothers before going to protest for their rights. We want to return home safely, and not end up being one more missing person. We are considered  invisible as if we were a piece of wall that others  painlessly paint gray. We protest so children don’t have to live in fear of the police, the army, the guerrillas, the mayor’s office, the government, or any other institution. We prefer inclusive social dialogue to violence.

Young people are not protesting just to protest. They protest because in the face of so many social restrictions, society has to be disrupted to co-create new ways to move forward, so all people can be free and have a decent life. WE HAVE TO PROTEST TO MOVE FORWARD.

Jhon Eyder Viafara Quiñones – Good soul, black soul

Jhon Eyder Viafara is the co-founder of the Bochinche Foundation. Along with other young people from Eastern Cali, they had the idea of transforming environments, starting with their own lives, seeing that it makes a difference to work in a group. They believe that “differences unite us,” especially when sharing the same meaning of life. This initiative was ranked second in the 9th civic award For A Better City. The Alvaralice Foundation is one of the founding organizations of the program in Cali and a current ally.

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