These words were applicable then, as they were before and after. They sum up the strength of young people, martyrs for their ideals on so many occasions, especially remembered on November 17.
The date for International Students’ Day was not chosen at random. It marks an opportunity to annually recall, on a date marked by fascist crimes, that students are that hope of which Galeano spoke.
The story behind November 17 began in Czechoslovakia, a few months after the outbreak of World War II. On October 28, 1939, hundreds of Czech students took to the streets of the capital, Prague, to resist the Nazi occupation and they were met with the fire of fascist rifles.
The death of Jan Opletal, a student at the Faculty of Medicine in Prague, ignited protests at the city’s universities. The response of the Nazis was brutal. On the night of November 16, they surrounded the student residences and shot nine student leaders. On the 17th, all Czech higher education institutions were closed and more than 1,200 students were sent to the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp.
The date became a symbol of the resistance of students across the world against crimes of all kinds, and a proclamation of freedom and peace. Today, 77 years later, this day motivates many young people around the world, who take to the streets to keep alive their demands for their rights.
In Cuba, as every year on this date, students will demonstrate their solidarity with brothers and sisters around the world and recall the rights Cubans enjoy. Universities will open up to nearby communities, with performances by their amateur artists and performers and a series of sporting competitions.
The province of Santiago de Cuba will be the main venue of the commemorations this year, but all student centers across the island will host events to remind students of that inviolable capacity to dream.