Message to the students.

Camilo Torres

Students are a most privileged group in any underdeveloped country. Poor nations support at a very high cost the few graduated of the associations and universities. In Colombia, particularly, with the great quantity of associations and existing private universities, the economic factor has been constituted in a determinant factor in the education. In a country with 60% of functional illiterates, 8% of graduates and 1% of professionals, students are one of the few groups that have analysis instruments on the Colombian situation, in comparison with other situations and about information on possible solutions.

Furthermore the university student - the one of the universities where there is no offence to opinion and the one of the associations where there is freedom of expression - has, simultaneously, two privileges: the power to ascend in the social scale through the ascent in the great academics, and to be able to dissent and to express his rebelliousness without this prevents this ascent. These advantages have caused that students are a decisive element in the Latin American revolution. In the agitation phase of revolution, the student work has been a great efficiency. In the organizational phase its work has been secondary in Colombia. In the direct struggle, nevertheless the reputable exceptions that have presented in our revolutionary history, the role has been neither determinant.

We know that the agitation work is important but that its real effect loses if it does not follow organization and struggle in order to take-up power. One of the main causes so that the contribution of the student to the Revolution will be transient and superficial is the lack of commitment of the student in the economic, familiar and personal struggle.

His nonconformism tends to be emotional (by sentimentalism or by frustation) or purely intellectual. This explains also the fact that at the end of the university career nonconformism disappears or at least is concealed and the rebel student fades into a professional bourgeois who must sell his conscience in order to buy the prestige symbols of the middle class in exchange for a high remuneration.

These circumstances can cause serious pitfalls to a mature and responsible response of the students in the historical moment Colombia is living. The economic and political crisis is being felt with all its rigor over the workers and the peasants. The student, generally isolated from these, thinks that it's enough with a superficial or purely speculative revolutionary activity. That same lack of contact can make the student to betray his historical vocation; that when the country demands him a total devotion, student continues talking and with good intentions, anything else. That when the mass movement demands him a daily and continuous work, student is accordant with yells, stonings and sporadic demonstrations. That when the popular class demands them an effective, disciplined and responsible presence in their ranks, students answer with frivolous promises or with excuses.

It is necessary that the student's revolutionary conviction takes him to a real commitment, until the last consequences. The poverty and the persecution should not be sought. But, in the current system, they are the logical consequences of a fight to the death against the outstanding structures. In the current system, they are the signs that genuine a revolutionary life. The same conviction must take the student to participate in the economic penuries and in the social persecution workers and peasants participate. Then, the commitment with the revolution goes from theory to practice. If it is total, it is irreversible; the professional will not be able to return back without a flagrant perfidy to his conscience, to his people and to his historical vocation.

I do not want to dogmatize on the moment of the revolutionary conjuncture we are living. I just want to exhort the students to contact with the genuine sources of information to determine which is the moment, which his responsibility and which must be consequently the necessary response. Personally, I believe that we are approaching quickly to Colombian revolution's zero hour. But this will not be said, with the due authority but the workers and the peasants. If they "ascend to the popular class" without any paternalism class, with the courage, more to learn than to teach, they will be able to objectively judge the historical moment.

It would be however sterile and adverse that the Colombian students who they have been the revolution spark stayed at the margin of this by any reason; by lack of information, by superficialness, by selfishness, by irresponsibility or by fear.

We hope that students answer the call their fatherlands makes to them at this time transcendental of its history and that for that they have their courage to hear it and follow it with a limitless generosity.

Published in the weekly "Frente Unido", No. 9, October 21, 1965.


Most recent revision: March 27th, 2002