May Day Brigade to Cuba builds in Appalachia

By Brian Williams
February 5, 2018

Supporters of the Cuban Revolution are getting out the word and signing people up to participate in the 13th annual May Day International Brigade to Cuba from April 23 to May 6. Come see Cuba for yourself! The brigade is being organized by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).

“So far about 10 of us are planning to go from Central Appalachia,” Samir Hazboun told the Militant by phone from Knoxville, Tennessee, Jan. 24. They’re young people from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, working together in building the brigade and raising funds to cover expenses.

One highlight will be marching in the May 1 International Workers Day mobilization in Havana and participating in the International Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba the following day.

Brigadistas will go to factories to exchange experiences with union workers, meet with members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, and see firsthand how working people led by their revolutionary government met and overcame the impact of Hurricane Irma — organizing evacuations to save people’s lives and rapidly repairing and rebuilding afterwards.

They’ll visit the provinces of Villa Clara, where Che Guevara led some of the key battles that led to the victory of the revolution, and to Camagüey. They’ll meet with representatives of students’, women’s, union and other mass organizations, and visit museums and sites of revolutionary struggle. Over several mornings they’ll do voluntary agricultural work alongside Cuban farmers and brigadistas from other countries.

“In preparation for the trip, we all recently got together to study The First and Second Declarations of Havana together over an internet video conference,” Hazboun said. (See excerpt from this book on page 8.)

The visit of Cuban literacy veteran Griselda Aguilera to the Knoxville area Feb. 20-21, he said, “will help publicize the brigade and encourage others to attend and raise funds.”

At the age of 7, Aguilera was the youngest participant in the revolution’s mass literacy campaign in 1961 that taught workers and peasants across the island how to read and write. And she has been a staunch participant in the revolution ever since.

Her tour includes a public meeting at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department, and speaking to high school students in the city, Hazboun said. Tour stops also include Boston; Hartford, Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Baltimore; and Washington, D.C.

The National Network on Cuba is coordinating efforts to sign up U.S. participants for the May Day Brigade and it’s being publicized and built by local Cuba solidarity groups around the country. Registration is open until March 16. The cost of the package, which includes all meals and lodging in Cuba, is $675 plus airfare. For more information on the brigade and to download an application, go to and click on MayDay Brigade.