Yes they did- student activism from around the world

This one’s called La Septima Papeleta, and the story takes place in Colombia…

It´s 1989, and the Colombian constitution is 103 years old and clearly not working: its institutions are crumbling away due to drug trafficking and its networks of power and violence.  Something’s gotta give.

There’s virtually no way of changing the constitution, except through elected officials.  Direct democracy didn’t really exist at the time: the citizen initiative and the legislative initiative, when presented to parliament after the collection of a certain number of signatures, were simply recommendations- there was no guarantee of a referendum.
The standing government attempts to converge a constitutional forum, but violence hits a high point and the project is virtually drowned- multiple political leaders are assasinated, and fear radiates throughout the country.
Which is where this story really begins- what were concerned students supposed to do?

Students from multiple universities held a silent march that led to a lot of talking, a lot of meetings, and a lot of ideas.  You know- student organizing.  And guess what?  They actually settled on one of their many ideas.

At the time, voting consisted of turning in official slips of paper with candidate names.  The March elections in 1990 had six official slips of paper.
The student movement decided to encourage Colombians to turn in a seventh paper, one which called for a constitutional assembly.  For weeks and weeks, for months, they canvassed and talked and walked and worked, speaking to Colombians in every corner of the country.
In 1990, over two million Colombians showed up at the voting booths and turned in a seventh paper calling for a constitutional assembly.
The seventh paper was not accepted by the Electoral Counsel, but it was accepted by the Supreme Court. They acknowledged the popular will and validated the ballot, which led to a constitutional assembly in 1991 and a new constitution.

Not so much the end as a beginning. Beyond the meetings, the emails, the agendas, the canvassing, the phone calls, there´s another beginning waiting to be told.  There´s a lot of history behind your work, and a lot of successes.  With that said, back to work…


2 thoughts on “Yes they did- student activism from around the world

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention DREAMACTIVIST » Yes they did- student activism from around the world --

  2. Student activism has been successful in many countries to bring social change. It has been used also as an alternative to create the political change needed, especially where democratic institutions and the processes of reform, has been blocked by the political elites that control power incessantly. In the case of Colombia, a student movement succeeded in the early 1990s to encourage the people of the country to vote for a constitutional change, bringing altogether a new constitution.

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