Economics, ideology and the youth in times of uncertainty

Source:  Granma
January 27 2016

A series of talks took place in Havana as part of the Second International Conference on the ideas of José Martí, entitled “With all, for the good of all”, addressing topics such as the global economy, culture and identity and the role of the youth

Authors: Lauren Céspedes Hernández | informacion@granma.cuJesús Jank Curbelo | internet@granma.cu

A series of talks took place in Havana this Tuesday, January 26, as part of the Second International Conference on the ideas of José Martí, entitled “With all, for the good of all”, addressing topics such as the global economy, culture and identity and the role of the youth.

Leonel Fernández Reyna.jpgFormer Dominican president Leonel Fernández Reyna in his speech entitled, “Global trends in an era of uncertainty”, addressed issues of interest for the global economy, such as globalization and the free market.

Referring to the global economic crisis, the lawyer and writer highlighted that China, the world’s second largest economy, has not been unaffected. (Photo:  Reyna at the ConferencePhoto: Anabel)

The Chinese stock market

Fernández Reyna explained that throughout January, the Chinese stock exchange has continued to decline. The Shanghai Composite Index, for example, has suffered a fall of 10%; while the Shenzhen Composite Index declined by 6.6%. This represents million-sum losses for the Asian nation and its contagion effect has had a negative impact on stock markets in several countries, including the United States, which has recently reported losses equivalent to 1.36 trillion dollars

He added that as a result, the Chinese central bank set the yuan at its weakest level since March 2011, with the currency losing 6% against the dollar.

However, the U.S. economy is going through a slow recovery process, the former president said. He added that the U.S. economy expanded by 2.5% in 2015, at the cost of a significant increase in public debt. For the first time in the history of this nation, the public debt exceeds GDP, presenting a tense situation for the country in the years ahead.

Regional economic growth

Fernández Reyna also noted that according to data provided by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the region’s economy grew by just 0.4% in 2015.

As for global economic growth, the former president highlighted that this amounted to 2.4% in 2015, with an expected increase of 2.9% over the current year, and 3.1% in 2017.

The outlook appears bleak, he stressed, but awareness of the situation can help to find ways to reverse it, and work towards achieving an overall improvement.

Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stone

Atilio Boron 3.jpgMeanwhile, during his talk entitled, “The new national security doctrine of the United States: allies, competitors and enemies”, Argentine sociologist Atilio Borón stressed the validity of Martí’s thought in the current stage of relations between Cuba and the United States.

We must commit to further spreading the work of Martí, as unfortunately it is not widely known in Latin America. Now more than ever we need to study Martí, as “trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stone,” the member of the World Council of the José Martí Project of International Solidarity stressed.

Regarding the process of the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, Borón stressed that everything possible must be done to put an end to the blockade, and advance bilateral relations, while resisting erosion of the island’s cultural identity, an increasing threat in this age of cultural imperialism.

Ideology

Fernando Martínez Heredia.jpegSocialism is the guarantee of national liberation, especially in a continent such as ours, which serves as a paradigm of hope for today’s world, essayist Fernando Martínez Heredia stressed, speaking on the panel on “Neoliberalism, New scenarios in Latin America and the Caribbean and the global balance sheet”.

He noted that despite this being the most unequal region on the globe, Latin America has accumulated a number of initiatives, ideas and projects – projects which aim for a new political, economic and social model for the world that overcomes imperialist domination.

The role of the youth

Yusuam Palacios Ortega.jpgSpeaking during the forum of the José Martí Youth Movement, the national President of the organization, Yusuam Palacios Ortega, noted that contributing their ideas on solving global problems is a privilege for young people; and to do so based on the thought of José Martí has a double significance.

It is necessary to strengthen the role of the youth in a world marked by digital culture, and in which we must learn to position ourselves so that we can use these tools for revolutionary purposes, he added.

Lucía Topolansky.jpgAlso participating in the forum was Uruguayan politician Lucía Topolansky, member of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement and spouse of the former president of this South American nation, José “Pepe” Mujica.

A meeting of this kind is indispensable to a collective thought, in order that a diversity of views contribute to the freedom of our countries, Topolansky stated. She added that this challenge, as always, falls to the youth, noting, “How old were the rebels who came down from the Sierra? They were just youngsters!”

She referred to technological advances, primarily the internet, which today can serve as both positive and negative tools. The internet can help us generate collective thought and advance Latin American integration, as it shortens the physical distance between us, she noted. However, she stressed that this technology must be approached from a critical perspective, and that this task falls to the youth, who have a much better understanding of these networks than older generations.

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