With the kickoff of the first Summit for Democracy this week, the U.S. Department of State and World Learning are celebrating human rights and democracy this December. We checked in with Global UGRAD alumnus Edison Broce who sees and practices democracy in action every day as a Member of Parliament in Panama.
Edison elaborates on why democracy and human rights are important to him:
“Democracy and human rights go hand in hand, and we need to care about them and improve them constantly. Democracy allows us all to have a say in whatever policies govern us and have an effect upon our lives. It is a tool for our societies to be the architects of our destinies.
Freedom and democracy are often achieved after great struggle, and it is our duty to build on it and not let it be corrupted into authoritarian systems. It requires constant work and intentional focus to maintain and improve the process. Negative consequences of illiberal and anti-democratic policies will not only jeopardize our country’s future, but also have regional impacts.”
As a parliamentarian, Edison takes his responsibility to his electorate seriously. In arguing for increased budgetary transparency, he actively works to fight against potential corruption. An elected official at the age of 31, Edison is also focused on increasing youth engagement with the political system.
“In my position as a Member of Parliament, I have a duty to be a faithful steward of my electorate’s interests and their tax money.
My position gives me the opportunity to voice at the national level many issues that often impact our communities and jeopardize their well-being. For example, being a Member of the Budget Committee has allowed me to have more access to key information regarding the country’s public finances. I have been raising awareness and criticizing how people’s money is being spent on a national level. This has transcended mass media and has gone viral multiple times, making people more engaged. Separately, since the beginning of my political life in Panama, I have successfully been focused on engaging the youth, to encourage and persuade them to participate in our young democracy and have their say in what the future looks like for them.”
Edison credits much of his inspiration as a lawmaker to his Global UGRAD experience. He found his American Government and International Relations classes eye-opening in terms of learning how democracy works. Furthermore, he says, “The Global UGRAD experience changed my life. It spurred my leadership skills since I was immersed in a very competitive environment. That made me more confident and determined to pursue my goals. It helped me build a strong foundation for working hard, building relationships, and achieving consensus to pursue meaningful goals.”
Edison Broce Urriola, Panama, Global UGRAD 2010-11, University of Alabama in Huntsville