Sign up for International May Day Cuba Brigade

By Naomi Craine
March 25, 2019

CHICAGO — More than 30 people turned out here for a March 10 film showing to build and raise funds for the 14th May Day International Volunteer Work Brigade in Solidarity with Cuba. The event was sponsored by the Chicago Cuba Coalition.

The documentary, “With Our Memory on the Future,” was produced in 2005 by the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC). It examines the progress women in Cuba have made since the workers and farmers of that country took power in 1959.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. The brigade offers participants the opportunity to learn firsthand what workers and farmers there have accomplished. It is scheduled from April 21 to May 5.

The film highlights the importance placed by Fidel Castro and other revolutionary leaders in encouraging women’s participation and leadership from the beginning of the fight to bring down the U.S.-backed tyranny of Fulgencio Batista. Through interviews in workplaces, schools and on the streets, you see the growing involvement of women in employment, social and political life, and the impact that has on the consciousness of both women and men.

“I liked the interview with the woman who is a crane operator,” commented one participant, who runs a crane here. “The film shows how the revolutionary leadership worked to increase employment year after year,” noted Ilona Gersh of the Socialist Workers Party, who is going on the brigade. “Whereas here in a capitalist society the bosses count on unemployment to keep wages down.” The documentary also captures “how women and men transformed themselves and their lives through mass mobilizations,” she added. “The revolution made education and access to family planning universal, both of which are important for women to advance,” said Howard Ehrman, a leader of the Chicago Cuba Coalition.

Arewa Karen Winters introduced the video and chaired the discussion afterward. Taking part in the May Day brigade in Cuba two years ago was “awe-inspiring,” she said. Winters, whose nephew was killed by Chicago police in 2016, contrasted the conditions of working people in Cuba to the homelessness, violence and incarceration rampant here.

In addition to attending the massive May Day celebration organized by the Cuban trade unions, participants in the brigade will take part in volunteer agricultural labor, meet representatives of unions, the FMC and other mass organizations.

Six people from Chicago have registered to go so far, and supporters of the Cuban Revolution continue working to recruit more. The film showing raised $500 to help those who need financial assistance.

The brigade is sponsored by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples. The U.S. contingent is being organized by the National Network on Cuba. To get more information or to sign up, contact