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Central Americans Need Not Be Divided

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Jun 25, 2015, 9:21 am
Centro América representada desde Panamá hasta Guatemala con un solo objetivo: hacer mucho con poco. (Nicolás E. Noyola)
Young Central American leaders from Panama to Guatemala met in Managua, Nicaragua. (Nicolás E. Noyola)

EspañolWhen we hear of people gathering to discuss current issues and proceed with solutions, we might be tempted to think they share the same stance or political ideology. We are used to it, because people often do work like this in social activism.

But what happens when that’s not the case? When young people from different countries and political positions come together?

Asuntos del Sur, a think tank based in Argentina, has been organizing workshops like this called Mucho con Poco (Much with little) for several years. This time, they turned to the center of the continent to set up their truly innovative and productive approach, promoting dialogue between young activists who overcome the daily obstacles imposed by governments and political protocols.

People who knew they had in common a love for their countries and the development of beneficial public policies met in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, on June 8. Forty-eight hours of exchanges were enough to instill reflection in each one of the participants.

The event sure took me out of my comfort zone, since I had to face ideas completely contrary to my own. However, such instances of divergence turned out to be minimal, when compared to our common interests. We delved into issues that are often marginalized, because they’re often considered the exclusive domain of certain political views, but in Mucho con Poco we realized these problems are actually part of the human experience.

Central America is a small but very troubled region. We learned all countries share the same problems. We already knew this superficially, but listening to firsthand accounts helped to forge empathy and realize that we need to overcome our problems together: no country will be completely stable until her neighbors have also resolved their conflicts.

And this will only happen if we look past ourselves and our rulers. Dogmatism won’t get us anywhere. As Asuntos del Sur director Matías Bianchi said at the beginning of the workshop, “to pretend that we are all going to think alike is utopian, and even authoritarian.”

Mata compartiendo sobre los retos y esperanzas que los nuevos líderes deben asumir. (PanAm Post)
Georgeanela Mata described challenges that new leaders must overcome. (PanAm Post)

Georgeanela Mata, a Costa Rican supervisor in the Federation of University Students from Central America and the Caribbean, was one of the speakers.

“Exchanges like this one reaffirm that there are more similarities than differences in our region. In principle, we should start proposing more solutions instead of just complaining,” she said about Mucho con Poco.

“Empowering people to act. That is the only path to progress. A more inclusive society implies listening and working with both men and women, regardless of age or other features,” she added.

Daniela Moreno impartió el taller de radio web, buscando amplificar las ideas en las comunicaciones. (PanAm Post)
Daniela Moreno held a workshop on online broadcasting.(PanAm Post)

Daniela Moreno, a Salvadoran journalist who specializes in marketing communications, told the PanAm Post that “Mucho con Poco is a platform that allows young leaders in the region to transform their societies based on their ideas.”

“This workshop allowed me to understand that, as Martín Rodríguez, director of Nomada.gt said, ‘rights do not fall from heaven, rights are conquered,’ and you need just a few to convince the rest in order to make a political, social, and cultural difference.”

Moreno also emphasized that “the only way to move forward is by respecting our countries’ institutions. We have learned: that a cause only makes sense when we are well informed, because otherwise it is useless criticism; that we must share rather than impose; and that the greatest wealth we can create is through our ideas.”

The topics covered in the workshop were as varied as the point of views of those present. They ranged from the reality of ethnic tribes and Afro-descendants and the different kinds of leadership in the region to how to apply technology in social activism and the freedom to demonstrate.

Significant networking opportunities were available to each participant, so that Mucho con Poco’s results can be strengthened throughout our mutual work.

One cannot lose hope in the region when observing so many young leaders uniting to share ideas for the good of their countries. This proves that across the borders there are citizens who live and fight to see their nations flourish. Thanks to spaces like Mucho con Poco, this is becoming possible and known to more people.

Now that each of us has returned to his or her own trenches, we will continue to work from there to make our ideas a reality, and to show societies that the future has much more to offer than the past.

Translated by Rebeca Morla.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.