Adolescence and Youth within the Context of Covid-19

Over half of Guatemala’s population is under the age of 25. And nationally, a third of the total population is under the age of 15. This fact is encouraging if we think about the potential so much youthful energy makes available to Guatemala. But it also underscores the immediate emergency of directing efforts to satisfy youths’ most essential necessities, especially in the environment of the CoVid19 pandemic.

With the marking of International Youth Day on August 12th, comes an urgent reminder that comprehensive development for these young men and women will guarantee improved future responses to the country’s needs, needs for which we, in this country, must find solutions. And so today, as The Movement of Mayan Youth, MOJOMOYAS, we salute all these adolescent women and men, youth who face, with optimism, the current situations and issues of our country. We salute the strength of all people and organizations focusing on working towards full support of adolescents and youth.

In recent years we have worked on strengthening leadership and empowerment of adolescents in various parts of the country, especially in Alta Verapaz and Quiché departments (provinces). Last week, due to critical conditions in our country, in collaboration with Plan International, it was possible to distribute personal care kits to 270 youth who participate in the School for Political Empowerment and Leadership. Additionally, bags of food had been delivered to them which we hope will serve as aid to families residing in Chiche, Patzite, San Pedro Jocopilas, Joyabaj del Quiché and Raxruha, Chisec, Lanquin and San Pedro Carchá de Alta Verapaz.

And, MOJOMAYAS and Plan International have delivered printed information dealing with prevention of CoVid19 to youths as well as distributing pamphlets in municipalities and community health centers. We know that the challenges of attending to our nation’s youth are many, as the economic crisis has been exacerbated in every one of their families. Given this backdrop, we urge institutions, organizations and families to take on the challenge of directing their efforts towards the youth of our populace as a dignified means of commemorating International Youth Day.

Likewise, based on the framework for the “Weaving Dreams” project, resources are being delivered so that each participant can weave their thoughts, ideas and histories into güipil design, as part of efforts to promote and strengthen reclaiming ancestral practices; practices having extensive philosophical and historical value. Weaving is highly valued symbolically in Maya culture, partially because it involves knowledge and skills utilizing calculations, measurements and color design. All the names and meanings of each figure must be symmetrically located within the weaving to create a sum total picture. This knowledge is passed down from grandmothers to mothers to daughters, engendering a communal learning environment.

On the other hand, and it should be emphasized, as an added value this custom results in the fabrication of one’s own clothing which at the same time can be marketed, bringing in economic support and investment for sustaining the family. We express our gratitude to the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, FIMI, whose support has been invaluable; so that as part of this commemoration, we could kick off this project and develop similar activities in the Kaqchikel and Ixil regions.

With what we’ve mentioned previously, we express our congratulations to the young women and men who have dared to take on the task of creating their own güipils. And we extend congratulations to those men and women with whom we share the delight in and desire for hopes and dreams that grow, so that through this youthful happiness, enthusiasm and optimism fill Guatemala.

Attention to youth continues to be a tabled agenda item on the part of government authorities. And as such, from our perspective, we must point out the urgent need to attend to the demands and requirements of our youth. Local government are key actors in creating concrete and sensible action for the benefit of the majority of the population of our country–during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. This August 12th is an appropriate date to remember, plan and carry out serving the needs of the youth of our population, especially young adults and children of Mayan ancestry whose current conditions are deteriorating for lack of decent employment opportunities.

Although the Republic’s Constitution supports the need to provide education to all Guatemalans, it’s important to remember that in indigenous communities, access to it continues to be limited, especially for women. Many of them barely finish the first six years; fewer than ten percent reach the secondary level. Given this state of affairs every Guatemalan authority is indisputably responsible for prioritizing and guaranteeing action around youth issues.

When we approach the communities where the young people live who participate in projects promoted by MOJOMAYAS, we have been clearly shown that many men and women are not familiar with the International Day of Youth even though it’s been twenty years since this important commemoration was first announced. This shows us the immediate need to seriously outline the issues affecting youth. And so we reiterate the need to open up spaces for youth participation and for development, recreation, and technical opportunities among other things, as well as the need to strengthen those which already exist.

Keeping in mind all of the above, we urge the National Council for Youth, CONJUVE, to value the efforts by collectives and community organizations, particularly the efforts by youth from indigenous groups. We urge the Council to push for action which guarantees indigenous youths’ effective participation particularly in outlining, actualizing and implementing a national policy for youth. Along with our salute to youth and the organizations who also make the effort to attend to this important and majority sector of the population, we are committed to contributing to the creation of a better future. We are committed to doing this inside our territories and from our territories in order to achieve a more dignified environment and healthier conditions for holistic development.




Guatemala, August 12, 2020