Join May Day brigade, learn about Cuban Revolution

By Janet Post
December 10, 2018

Workers and young people from around the world have a special opportunity to learn firsthand about Cuba’s socialist revolution and offer their solidarity with the Cuban people by joining the 14th May Day International Volunteer Work Brigade in Solidarity with Cuba April 22 to May 5.

Next year is the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. On May 1, brigade participants will join hundreds of thousands at the annual International Workers Day march and rally in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

It’s a powerful opportunity to see and meet workers and farmers from all across the island and discuss the impact of the revolution with them.

The U.S. contingent is being organized by the National Network on Cuba, which announced that applications to participate will be available on their website soon. These are due not later that March 29. “Please help spread the word,” it says. “To get on the list now, write:”

The brigade is sponsored by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). Its call for participation explains that 2019 also marks the 80th anniversary of the Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions (CTC). As part of their itinerary, participants will have the opportunity to meet with CTC members and discuss the history and efforts of the union movement there.

Brigade activities will “take place in the provinces of Havana, Artemisa, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus, where participants will carry out voluntary work, and visit places of historical, economic, cultural and social interest,” ICAP said. This will include visits to museums on the revolution’s history, helping on agricultural cooperatives and discussions with Cuban workers and farmers in political and cultural organizations there.

A $551 fee covers expenses, including accommodation, meals and transportation inside Cuba over the 14-night stay. The round-trip airfare to Cuba is extra.

The brigade will be based at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, in Artemisa province, an agricultural area 25 miles from Havana.

Mella was a leader of student protests at the University of Havana in the 1920s and a founder of the Cuban Communist Party. He sought 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 made his way to Mexico. He was assassinated there in 1929, while organizing to return and overthrow the Machado regime.

There were 290 participants from 31 countries on the 2018 brigade, including 74 from the United States. Meeting supporters of Cuba and exchanging experiences was one of the strengths of the experience. Most important was what participants learned about how to take the inspiration of its historic example back to fellow workers.

Many of those returning from the brigade organized to speak out, demanding Washington end its economic war against Cuba and that U.S. forces get out of Guantánamo, Cuban territory occupied by the U.S. for over a century.

Samir Hazboun, a member of the Socialist Workers Party in Louisville, Kentucky, who participated in the brigade last year, plans to go again. Hazboun told the Militant that he has already spoken with some workers and youth he knows around the country who are interested in joining him.

“The May Day brigade is an important opportunity for workers in the U.S. to see the Cuban Revolution for ourselves and find out what it means for our fight against the ruling capitalist class here,” Hazboun said.

“There’s a reason the bosses tell us not to go to Cuba, and it isn’t because they care at all about our well-being!” he added. “It’s because letting us see what Cuban workers have done without a ruling class on their backs might put some big ideas in our heads about what a revolution here could accomplish.”