More than 200 people from 21 countries, including 67 from the U.S., arrived in Cuba Oct. 1 to join the two-week “In the Footsteps of Che” International Brigade, organized by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).
The brigade is joining the Cuban people in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Oct. 8, 1967, fall in combat of Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara. Guevara was in Bolivia then, fighting with others to organize a revolutionary movement in the southern cone of Latin America. The brigade will visit many areas in Cuba where Guevara led troops in Cuba’s revolutionary war and after the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship organized political work essential to consolidating workers and farmers rule. Che’s insistence that participation in voluntary labor is crucial to advancing workers’ revolutionary consciousness was the theme of the opening days of the brigade.
“What Che represents is so important,” explained Fernando González, president of ICAP and one of the five Cuban heroes framed up and jailed for years in U.S. prisons for activity in Florida in the 1990s defending the Cuban Revolution from attacks by U.S.-backed counterrevolutionary groups. “Che is an example to follow for his confidence in the capacities of human beings to transform themselves into revolutionaries.”
Brigade members will do voluntary labor on farms near the camp, then travel to Santa Clara, where Che’s remains and those of other combatants who fought alongside him are interred, for the Oct. 8th commemoration.
They will tour areas hard hit by Hurricane Irma and join in hurricane recovery work in Sancti Spíritus. Many brigade members brought gloves, tools and safety equipment, prepared to jump into the effort.
The U.S. delegation is the largest on the brigade, followed by 37 people from Argentina, 26 from Brazil, 20 from Chile, and internationalists from Zambia, Guinea-Conakry, Congo-Brazzaville, Bolivia, Austria, Greece, France and more.