“I’m angry and always have been!” Jorge Jaef says.
There are solutions to end hunger and suffering, yet governments spend money on the wrong things. As both a student leader and as an assistant to a city councilman, Jorge has had to learn the term realpolitik in order to accomplish anything. He understands that there will always be conflicts, but they may turn violent when there is no opportunity for a fair resolution. The infrastructure is in place, but in his hometown of Rosario, northwest of Buenos Aires, it is virtually useless. Over 180 persons were murdered in 2012. Not even one of the non-drug related murders have been solved, while drug-related crimes have become more frequent, along with burglary. Frustrated families of victims have carried out acts of vengeance. A former governor stood up for the head of the police department who had been sued four times for his relationship with drug dealers.
Jorge’s family home was robbed twice, and the second time, the thieves loaded possessions in a truck. A young unarmed man once demanded Jorge’s money. Six feet tall, Jorge raised his fist. The man backed away, but Jorge says most robbers are armed now, and a raised fist could earn a bullet.
As an assistant to a city councilman, Jorge encountered harshness that made him even more determined to fight for change. A woman who endured illegal and constant smoke and noise in her house from a commercial barbecue had her door kicked in when she complained to authorities. Her husband beat her, and she tried to sue him, only to have the police demand $1,500 to make the suit go away. Gradually, Jorge helped her and feels he’s made a difference in her life.
Hoping to eventually run for political office, Jorge chose the College of Political Science and International Relations, a part of Rosario National University (UNR). “We lack positive leadership,” Jorge says. He intends to “play an active role in building a better community.” He advocates four essentials: community organizations; inclusive programs that keep kids in school and off the streets where they become “little soldiers” for drug dealers; preventive programs such as drug rehabilitation centers; and heightened security, training and improving law enforcement and judicial systems.
UNR offers students the opportunity to participate in its direction through association representatives elected to seats in the Administrative Council. Unfortunately, national political parties dominate existing students’ organizations, promoting their candidates and completely ignoring students’ concerns. Jorge founded an independent students’ association, meant to represent the students directly.
Inspiring people to get involved “was a very valuable experience,” Jorge says. “I learned that it takes a lot of sympathy and understanding to convince people to give your idea a chance.” And it takes communication, the foundation of not only his association but also of any human relationship. And then Jorge learned about realpolitik.
“The truth is that not everybody can do politics and feel at ease with himself,” Jorge admits. He believes everyone has something to offer, as long as he or she can understand the need for compromise. Small sacrifices are essential in order to effect bigger changes. “Realpolitik,” Jorge has learned, “is not an option; it is sometimes the only means to get things done. Political marketing, messages, and speeches are not always what we would like them to be. Sometimes they are only what we need them to be.” Some of his young activists couldn’t tolerate compromise despite their goodwill and dropped out. Those who remained were a good group of enthusiastic people working well together, but they ran out of time to assemble the required slate of candidates and missed the deadline. “We have been through many tough situations, but the group is fine and working. We shall do it next year!”