Published January 14, 2015
It took just one man with the imagination and sheer determination to protest against paramilitary violence in Colombia to give birth to the Alliance of Youth Movements, which is now flexing its young muscles globally.
Colombian engineer Oscar Morales Guevara used Facebook to start his a revolution, mobilizing more than 12 million people who marched in more than 200 cities around the world on Feb. 4, 2008, to protest the violence and kidnapping of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, also known as FARC.
To achieve this, Oscar had created an organization called One Million Voices Against the FARC. And Jared Cohen, from the U.S. Department of State's Policy Planning unit, decided to find out more by simply sending him a Facebook message.
When they met in Colombia, Cohen learned that in just one month, Guevara had created a sophisticated non-government organization with more than half a million members. The next vital step involved the State Department becoming a facilitator to provide structure by partnering with Facebook, Howcast, Google, MTV and the Columbia Law School to create an umbrella organization to attract diverse youth movements that are already using online, mobile and digital methods to interact.
The second summit of Alliance of Youth Movements is already underway in Mexico City. It's exploring how the use of new mobile technologies is fundamentally changing the role of the individual in global terms, while redefining civil society.
Cohen told Fox News: "What we're looking to do is to build a global network of young people who are using global technology to effect change.
"If you look at the places where injustice, terror and war is rampant, those are often societies where there's restrictions on civil liberties. What makes this technology so special is how anonymous or non-anonymous people want to be. This means that you get a whole new set of demographics that are getting involved in activism, pushing back on violence, promoting good governance and womens' empowerment.
"The biggest deliverable will be if real non-traditional partnerships are fostered here. If a group from Lebanon is working with a group from Colombia, who in turn is working with a group from Malaysia and elsewhere to help them figure out how to use these tools, and if we can expand the family of the Alliance of Youth Movements."
Guevara, who's the catalyst that started the information-is-power-through-technology ball rolling, seized two occasions to launch rallies against FARC. But he's now diversifying his campaign through technology to maintain a sustainable campaign. He explained to Fox News: "We are working with young people because they are the ones who are helping us to spread the message and to pressure the FARC by using social networks, committing to promote social change. "
Through this technology, Guevara and his colleagues are remembering and highlighting the plight of up to 200 hostages who are being held by FARC, languishing in jungle jails. He says one hostage has been held for 11 years and has never met his son, who was born after he was abducted. His message to FARC is succinct: "Stop it! Society has spoken. It has entirely rejected your actions."
Jason Leibman, a co-founder of Alliance of Youth Movements and CEO of Howcast, is using his technology expertise, organizational abilities and contacts to help young people effect non-violent change by fostering unprecedented civic empowerment.
During a coffee break, he told Fox News: "In developing countries where internet penetration development isn't significant, but everyone has a celphone, what we're seeing is that people are setting up short codes to text what they're seeing on the streets, which include violence and corruption, and then putting that into central databases.
"We look at these young people as modern-day Gandhis who are taking advantage of all these tools and ways. One of the challenges is that individuals that organize are bringing millions of people to the streets. But then what? How do you take that cause to the next level? AYM helps support these organizations assisting in formalizing what they're doing through non-profit status, funding that they might need. And our network of partners which include YouTube, Facebook, My Space and many more can help shine a spotlight on these organizations."
Organizers of this event will use their expertise to get a beamed message from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to shine down on them. Her message to the summit will be transmitted via enabling technology. It will be eagerly received by the young generation of a brave new world.