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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Morena Youth: A Pipeline to the Future

from the Nov. 9, 2022 Bulletin


Alejandro Torres, a 23-year-old university student majoring in international affairs at UNAM, has already been a left activist for some eight years. He’s worked to defend public education and gain justice for the disappeared Ayotzinapa students. He’s connected with political and social movements throughout Latin America and now serves as a leader in the Morena party’s Youth Section.

Morena has a Youth Section. Who participates and why?


The murder of the Ayotzinapa students in 2014 electrified young people of my generation and turned us from passive dissatisfaction into an activist social force. Students, particularly from the public universities, became determined to stop authoritarianism and the use of violence to silence anyone who disagreed with those who held governing power. 

That’s my story. And when the PRI government tried to privatize my school, the Polytechnical Institute, which has mostly working-class students, my outrage became personal.


The new Morena party formed in 2014, and AMLO’s election in 2018 gave young people for the first time in history the space to participate directly in politics, not just in social movements. Morena has a youth secretary who is ensuring that we’re organizing in every state.


The voting age in México currently sits at 18, but you can join Morena at 16. Our Youth Section includes young people from 16 into their 20s.

Anti-PRI demonstration in 2012. Photo: Gustavo Sánchez

Students worldwide often stand at the forefront of revolutionary movements. That true in México?


We see the student generation of 1968 as our precursors. Those wanted more democracy and more public services like education. They suffered brutal repression. 

No one knows for sure how many students were shot or hunted down back then, probably hundreds. But many others continued to resist and helped form Morena. One example from that generation: author Paco Taibo. AMLO appointed him to head the State Publishing House.


In the 1980s, university students at UNAM in México City once again rose up, and some of those students — like Claudia Sheinbaum, the mayor of México City — are now helping to lead Morena. 

Students in 1968 at Tlatelolcom Plaza. Getty Images.

Then the 2014 student generation denounced Mexican president Peña Nieto for his violent suppression of dissidents and subservience to foreign capitalists. In 2018 we students voted and helped oust the PRI. This third generation of student activists also holds influential positions within Morena. Citlally Hernandez now serves as Morena’s general secretary. 


So Morena contains the veterans of several generations of student activists.


Does that give Morena a strong base among young people?  


We have a problem today, especially in the cities where neoliberal thinking is influencing many of the young. They’ve become, as we say, “young people with old minds,” more individualistic, less involved in social movements than previous generations. They prefer to work in the private sector. This tendency exists even within Morena, a party that operates as a broad united front. 


Right-wing think tanks are consciously attempting to influence students away from Morena’s transformational project, and within the party we have moderates and even neoliberals who do not want to see structural changes in our country. Some have started a big internal debate over the word “leftist.” They want to eliminate this word from our description of who we are! For now, they have been defeated.

What now needs to be done?


We need a new political culture within Morena, to avoid getting contaminated by the political culture of the past. We need to become more self-critical and communicate our break with that culture.


We need to transform ourselves and better embody our principles of service, collectivity, and honesty.


Students protest femicide at Universidad Iberoamericana,
2020 (Valentina González/IBERO)

Our challenge as young people: to do all this at the same time, to be more active in traditional spaces, to use the media well, to formulate good policy, and, at the same time, to fight internally within Morena to keep on the right track. 


On some issues important to youth, Morena has been both backward and late: the environment, LBGTQ issues, women’s rights. And the party has not focused on the social movements. We will fail if we remain distant from those movements.

Who can best keep Morena on track post-AMLO?


Let’s look at what the two leading candidates for Morena’s nomination to succeed AMLO as president represent. Marcelo Ebrard has a good record on social issues, He fought for gay marriage and abortion rights. But he’s an economic conservative. AMLO, for instance, proposed a new public technical school, but Ebrard made it private. 

Claudia Sheinbaum developed her political orientation in the social movements. As a UNAM student, she fought for public education. And as an engineer, she uses a science-driven approach. Her successful public transportation system in México City, for example, integrates metro, buses, and bicycle paths and encourages electric cars.


How do you see your future?


I want to travel so I can hear the people, and to internationalize the fight. We must organize within Morena, and we must organize in the streets. Young people must be patient and persevere. We must fight all our lives to transform reality.  With AMLO, hope returned to us. I’m ready.