May Day brigade: “I saw power of Cuba’s revolution”

By Joe Swanson
May 28, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. — “I never felt freer as a worker than the two weeks learning about the Cuban Revolution on the May Day Brigade there,” Carl Tyler told a dozen people meeting at the Meadowlark Coffee Shop here May 8. Tyler, bottom right, a 78-year-old veteran fighter in defense of Black rights and former trade union organizer, lives and works in Omaha.

Tyler was one of 290 participants from 31 countries on the 13th annual May Day International Brigade to Cuba. The largest contingent with 74 people came from the United States. Brigade participants met with leaders of the Union of Young Communists (UJC), the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and other mass organizations, and joined in voluntary work on farms near their camp outside Havana. A highlight of the trip was a meeting with veterans of the Rebel Army who were at the forefront of the revolutionary war that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

“The Cuban Revolution is an internationalist revolution, over 400,000 Cuban volunteers helped defeat the racist South African military in the 1980s,” Tyler said. “That led to the freeing of Nelson Mandela and victory in overthrowing apartheid.” Participants included factory and food service workers, a railroad conductor, a retired teacher, a retired meatpacking worker and students. Discussion continued for over an hour. Several said they wanted to go on the next brigade.