Paraguay YCW: 80 Years of Life, Struggle and Workers' Action

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Rosa Galeano, a leader of Paraguay YCW, elaborated on how and when the YCW entered the country. She explained that the YCW is a movement that was created at the beginning of the 20th century on the initiative of a Belgian priest, Joseph Cardijn, and some young workers.

Joseph Cardijn, a Belgian priest, and a number of young working women and men were concerned by the deplorable conditions experienced in Belgium by their fellow workers in factories, spinning mills, mines and in the families living in working-class areas.

“In Paraguay, the movement arrived through Monsignor Ramón Bogarín Argaña in 1941, and from that year onwards its most important moments were until the 1970s. Then, like all social organisations, it began to fade away due to the persecutions of the dictatorship,” Rosa said.

As a result of the persecution and repression suffered mainly in the 1970s, the Paraguay YCW practically disappeared in that decade. It remained almost clandestine. Then in the 1980s, it could no longer organise public action and it disappeared during that period. It then emerged again in July 1989 through the initiative of a group of former YCW members of the last decade, some clerics and young workers who restarted the work of the YCW.

Rosa further explained that shortly after the fall of Stroessner's government, the Paraguay YCW began to articulate itself. It was not an easy task, as it involved the recovery of historical memory as part of a training process, as a dialogue between yesterday's YCW members and today's YCW members. At this stage, the support received from the International YCW and Brazil YCW was very important.

“Now we are and remain organized young workers who take responsibility in the struggle for the realisation of the young people’s aspirations from the base groups in Caaguazú, Asunción, San Juan Nepomuceno, and Pindo'i. We continue to contribute to the all-round formation of young workers. More than ever we believe in young workers as agents for change towards a world with social justice for all,” Rosa said.

“Through the Yvy Marae'y training centres that the Paraguay YCW has been running since the year 2000, we contribute to the academic training of hundreds of young people so that they can complete their basic and secondary education as well as vocational training in hairdressing, dressmaking, massage, cooking and handicrafts. This allows our young people to have easier access to the world of work, empowered and acting upon their labour rights.”

On 26 October 2021, they celebrated their 80th anniversary of Life, Struggle and Workers' Action with a thanksgiving mass presided by Monsignor Mario Melanio Medina, who was a YCW member in his youth. During the mass, they presented a little magazine “Testimonios de vida Militante” with nine testimonies from former YCW members. They conducted interviews that were broadcast and shared via Facebook Live with another group of former YCW members. They handed out a thank-you scroll to those who wrote their experiences and gave interviews about their YCW experiences.

“We will continue to work for the organisation of Young Christian Workers in our country and throughout the world, to transform the world and change our living and working conditions through our action with, by and for young workers,” Rosa concluded.

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