Youth leadership on the edge of Bogotá


The “other city” —as the writer Arturo Alape called it in Ciudad Bolívar, the bonfire of illusions— are the streets of marginalized Bogotá. That part of the capital city that is fragile in its economy and its security. Faced with the need of the inhabitants of Bogotá on the edge to live with dignity and claim their right to the city, urban social leaders have carried out community work and social mobilizations.

Among these urban leaders are young people — between 14 and 28 years of age— who have worked to contribute to the social construction of their communities. Although they do not see themselves as social leaders, they unquestionably act as such.

Since 2018 we have traveled to Bosa, Usme and Ciudad Bolívar looking among their young people for those who will bet on the defense of Human Rights. Furthermore, we wonder if these young people had guarantees to do so and if by believing in a life at the service of their community they were taking any risk.

Indeed, in this special it is pointed out that these young leaders run risks, that they do social efforts "with their nails", that they are stigmatized for being young, being leaders, and, worse still, that everything has worsened in recent months on account of the socioeconomic and health crisis resulting from the new coronavirus.

Like the entire world, the COVID-19 pandemic took this research and youth social leaders by surprise. With the isolation imposed in the capital city, the problems of their communities have aggravated and leaderships have been conditioned and forced to reinvent themselves.

Arturo Alape invites us to rediscover the "other city" between everyday life, violence and resistance. And definitely from the social leaderships of the youth of the periphery those concepts tell another Bogotá.

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First publication, July 7, 2020 and, second publication, August 13, 2020, © All rights reserved