Michael Campbell, 24 years old, is Assistant of Programs and Projects at the Center for Human Civil and Autonomous Rights (CEDEHCA), a founding member of the Youth Establishing New Horizons Movement (JENH) and a student of Political Sciences at the Thomas More University, Nicaragua. He also acts as a JENH representative in the UNDP Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua Human Development First Report 2004 Advisory Council. Since its creation, JENH has organized a series of campaigns in the region to raise awareness among young people about their rights and the role they can play in the development
of their communities. With the support of the Kellogg Foundation, the movement has expanded into all the municipalities along the country’s Caribbean coast and in the capital, Managua, engaging actively with political parties, the National Youth Commission, the Regional Youth Councils, and in other important circles. Campbell took part in the Kellogg Foundation 75th Anniversary Conference in Brazil, one of the topics of this interview.
How would you assess the results of the 75th Anniversary Conference in Brazil?
The most important aspects of the conference were the reaffirmation of the Foundation’s commitment to continue to identify and support creative and innovative youth programs aimed at the development of their communities, countries and regions; the opportunity to meet people and share experiences, perspectives and best practices concerning youth in the region; and the liaison established between the participants and organizations, which will contribute to the development of new and better working methodologies and encourage actions on a regional level, in which we would all work together to tackle common problems and needs.
What is the human rights situation in Latin America?
The situation, both in Nicaragua and in the rest of Latin America, is constant struggle to create minimal opportunities for a population that is, in its majority, young, poor and rural. Although there have been major human rights breakthroughs in the region over the past few years, the marginalization affecting the majority of the population that has no access to education or quality healthcare and that does not participate or benefit from the political, social and economic life of these countries is still very evident. Indigenous peoples and afro-descendents suffer the most from human rights violations. They are rendered invisible in censuses, ridiculed by the media, their lands are taken from them by supposed agrarian reform programs, they do not appear in school textbooks, nobody knows about their contribution to society – and their cultures and customs are continually eroded by race mixing.
Youth are usually the major victims of violence. Why does this occur?
In a region with such inequalities and that is so unstable politically and economically speaking, youth are not seen as subjects but as objects – pawns that can be used strategically for political and economic benefit.
What is worse for youth: poor quality education, unemployment, discrimination in its many forms or the lack of prospects for personal development?
I am convinced that the myths that label youth as irresponsible, indifferent and uninterested are false. Marginalization is the only reason why youth are not the leading actors in the development of society. The underlying problem young people face is discrimination and the different ways it is manifested. Discrimination determines opportunities for dignified employment, a quality education, quality healthcare, political participation. It also determines attitudes and prospects for personal development.
- Read more: 75th Anniversary Seminar in Brazil
Published in Interaction nº 11