Participants from the U.S. will be going from a number of cities. One of the larger delegations will be coming from New York. “Going to Cuba means a lot to me,” Shirelynn George, from Brooklyn, told the Militant Sept. 4. George was born in Grenada, and in her 20s she was one of the tens of thousands of working people there who joined in a revolution led by Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement in 1979. They overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Eric Gairy, took political power, and began to take control of their country’s destiny. They looked to the Cuban Revolution as their example.
“When the revolution came, the Cubans came,” George, a nurses aide and member of Service Employees International Union Local 1199, said. “They set up health clinics, helped us with agriculture and education. I met many Cubans then, but this is the first time I have been able to go there myself. The relationship Grenada had with Cuba made us proud of our nation and our revolution.”
In 1983, a Stalinist-minded faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard overthrew the workers and farmers government, opened fire on thousands of workers who fought to restore it, and murdered Bishop and other revolutionaries who fought with them. This opened the door for a U.S. invasion.
The “In the Footsteps of Che” brigade will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto Che Guevara, who was killed by the CIA and troops of the Bolivian military dictatorship in October 1967 while he was helping lead a revolutionary war against the dictatorship.
Guevara, originally from Argentina, met Fidel Castro in Mexico and became a leader of the July 26th Movement, organizing one of the columns that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He held many leading posts in the Cuban government and represented the Cuban Revolution around the world (see accompanying article).
“The objectives of the brigade are to contribute to a greater understanding of the Cuban reality,” ICAP said in its letter inviting people to join. “Voluntary work will be carried out in support of agricultural development and the country’s productive sphere. Visits will be made to important centers linked to Che in the provinces of Havana, Pinar del Río, Santa Clara and Sancti Spíritus.”
“I’m going to visit Cuba so I can better defend the revolution there,” Charlize Trana, another brigadista from New York, told the Militant. “I want to learn how they have been able to maintain the revolution for so long, under such difficult conditions, like Washington’s decadeslong embargo.”
Trana, 39, was born in Nicaragua, and is an office worker. “I’m especially looking forward to participating in the voluntary work and learning how they organize that,” she said. “I’m not sure if people in the U.S. can do what they did in Cuba. People seem too selfish here. I want to learn more.”
U.S. participants are organizing fundraising to cover travel costs and doing classes together about the Cuban Revolution to make it possible to get the most from going on the brigade. And they are discussing the importance of planning now to organize meetings when they get back. They want to be able to explain to others what they learned about the Cuban Revolution and why they should join in the fight to end the U.S. embargo and Washington’s occupation of Guantánamo.
If you are interested in going on the brigade or making a contribution, contact the Chicago Cuba Coalition at (312) 952-2618 or ICanGoToCuba@gmail.com. There is a waiting list to fill any openings in case someone who already signed up has to forgo the trip.
Che Guevara: A ‘man of ideas and action combined’
‘We can say our revolution is so great and humane’
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