Elizabeth Brennan Dorn
We interviewed Jorge Santiago Avila Corrales, a 25-yr old honor roll student at the National University of Honduras, about security concerns and the role of youth in Honduras. He is the country coordinator of the Movimiento Jovenes Contra la Violencia (the Youth Movement Against Violence).
1. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. How has it affected you?
|Jorge Santiago Avila Corrales|
I am saddened by the fact that my brother is one of these statistics, since I lost him due to violence, and to know that the situation in Honduras is as it is. On the one hand, it makes me worry that future generations will have a very short life expectancy; on the other hand, I know that we young people are talented and have lots of good ideas, so we can effect change and highlight the good things about our country.
2. You have chosen not to become a perpetrator of violence. Who or what helped you make good decisions as a youth?
My parents have played a fundamental role; with their examples and guidance I have moved forward. Although we had scarce economic resources, they always instilled in me good values and principles. As the oldest of five siblings, I always had to be an example. Even living in the “hot spot” of Comayagüela, my desire for self-improvementkept me away from troubled groups and towards making decisions that brought me to where I am today.
3. What led you to get involved in the Movimiento Jovenes Contra la Violencia?
I joined the Movement in order to implement a methodology to develop youth dialogues. I really liked the Movement’s inclusion of young people from different social strata, religions, and ideologies, and I liked that I, a simple youth from a marginal neighborhood, could coordinate an activity like that. This shows that a youth fighting against violence can be anyone who wants to change his or her life and country, regardless of his or her background.
4. With approximately half of Honduras’ population under 25 years old, how does the Movimiento make a difference in Honduras?
A young person makes the difference when he or she begins to dream and to fight to bring those dreams to reality. As young people, we have a lot of things to propose and we are intelligent. In the Youth Movement against Violence, different talents come together and we channel them toward a common objective; our differences are secondary when the problem of violence is the main concern.
5. The Movimiento has had many accomplishments. What are one or two of your favorites?
Bringing together Honduran youth to show that we are capable of great things when we fight together; we can reach great achievements. But definitely the greatest success is being able to give a voice to Honduran youth, bringing their proposals in front of decision makers and having credibility in society as a youth organization that is truly achieving a change in peoples’ attitudes nationwide. However, each of the activities that we have realized has been my “favorite”: the television program; the human chain in which hundreds of youth participated; our recent participation in the SICA [Central American Integration System] Presidents’ Summit this past June; and the concert “Singing No to Violence”; in sum, all of our activities are very appealing in that they have been planned by us, ourselves, with concrete goals and objectives.
6. Honduras has a lot of challenges, especially in economic growth, democracy, and security. With the help of the Movimiento, what do you hope to see change in the next few years?
First, I would like to see a personal change in the lives of all Hondurans, where they accept that changing from a negative direction to a positive one is the responsibility of all and that youth are not the problem, we are a part of the solution. I also hope that more and better opportunities arise for work, education, health, living conditions, social and human security, and occupation of free time for youth, and that in this way we will focus on the prevention of violence. With prevention, economic improvement for Honduran families, and true democracy, violence will diminish considerably.
Jovenes Contra la Violencia recently held a video contest to help spread their message. In this winning video, Ewin raps about how peace can be transformative for Honduran youth.