The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) has issued a call for the 13th annual May Day International Brigade to Cuba for April 23-May 6. The National Network on Cuba is coordinating the effort to sign up U.S. participants.
The brigade will offer participants a unique opportunity to learn firsthand the truth about the Cuban Revolution and strengthen efforts on their return to organize activities to demand Washington end its economic blockade of Cuba now; U.S. out of Guantánamo now; and a halt to U.S. government subversive programs against Cuba.
Registration is open until March 16, ICAP says.
“I’m planning to go,” Samir Hazboun, who works on the education team at Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee, told the Militant in a phone interview Jan. 15. “There’s a group of about nine of us organizing to go. They’re Central Appalachian youth from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. We’re planning some fundraising to help cover expenses.
“I urge people to go and see the truth of the Cuban Revolution for themselves,” Hazboun said. He participated in the “In the Footsteps of Che” brigade to Cuba last October. “It helped me understand that the Cubans had a true workers revolution that laid the foundation that made possible in Cuba powerful accomplishments like quality health care,” he said.
One of the highlights of the trip will be participating in the massive May 1 International Workers Day mobilization in Revolution Square in Havana and the International Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba the following day.
Brigade members will be based at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp in Artemisa province, an agricultural area about an hour outside Havana.
They’ll learn about Mella, who was a leader of student protests at the University of Havana in the 1920s and founder of the Cuban Communist Party, seeking to emulate the example of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. After being expelled from school and arrested by the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado, Mella escaped Cuba and make his way to Mexico. Organizing there to return and overthrow the Machado regime, he was assassinated in 1929.
Brigade members will also visit the provinces of Villa Clara and Camagüey. For several days, they’ll participate in voluntary agricultural work along with meetings with members of Cuban groups, workers and farmers.
They’ll visit the Che Guevara Museum, Memorial and Mausoleum; go to factories to exchange experiences with union workers there; and meet with members of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. They’ll visit a municipality affected by Hurricane Irma and see firsthand how working people and their revolutionary government organized to deal with the hurricane’s impact and moved quickly to repair and rebuild damaged structures.
In Havana events will include a workshop on the history of the Cuban Revolution with talks by combatants of the revolution, members of the Federation of Cuban Women and other working-class fighters.
The brigade is a special opportunity for workers and farmers from the U.S. who face the unrelenting effects of the capitalists’ drive to make us pay for their crisis of production, trade and jobs today. The Cuban Revolution is an example of what can be accomplished when our class fights to take power, to take control of our own destiny.
The cost of the package, which includes meals and lodging in Cuba, is $675 plus airfare. The Julio Antonio Mella camp can accommodate up to 220 people, so it’s important for those interested to confirm their participation as soon as possible. After the camp reaches its capacity, all late applicants who can be accommodated will have alternative lodging at a higher cost, the letter says.
The National Network on Cuba is “encouraging people across the country to participate, particularly young people who have not been to Cuba,” Gail Walker, one of the network’s co-chairs and executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, told the Militant Jan. 15. “There’s no better way to be informed about Cuba’s reality.”
“I encourage anyone interested to see what’s possible when you have working people in power,” said Hazboun. “There’s a lot of learning to do and it will be a very inspiring trip.”
For more information on the brigade and to download an application, go to NNOC.info and click on MayDay brigade.