May Day brigade volunteers aid farmers in Cuba

By Maggie Trowe
May 27, 2019
May Day brigade volunteers aid farmers in Cuba

CAIMITO, Cuba — Some 320 members of the May Day brigade to Cuba from 21 countries took part in voluntary labor shoulder to shoulder with farmers here April 24, to boost production. This was one of the activities they joined in during the April 22-May 5 brigade.

“With help from the brigadistas’ voluntary labor, our field is now cleared of rocks, brush and debris and is planted with avocado and mango,” farmer Rita María Santeestevan told brigade members May 5 at another farm.

Santeestevan, a member of the Cuban Communist Party, gave up her office job seven years ago to begin farming land here in an effort to increase agricultural production. Farm production had fallen sharply after the abrupt decline in aid and favorable trade when the governments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed 1989-91.

“With the deepening U.S. economic war against Cuba we must keep resisting,” she said. The U.S. rulers are further tightening the squeeze, claiming Cuba is responsible for the social crisis in Venezuela today.

The largest delegation was from the U.S., some 65 people. Brigade members took part in educational presentations by Cuban leaders; trips to Artemisa, Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad; participation in a celebration organized by a neighborhood Committee for Defense of the Revolution; and joined the May Day march in Havana and a May 2 international solidarity conference of 1,000 sponsored by the Central Organization of Cuban Workers. They discussed the Venezuelan government’s defeat of a U.S.-backed coup attempt, the Trump administration’s threat of an all-out embargo of Cuba, and the lethal attack on a Jewish synagogue in California.

“I’ve been interested in the Cuban Revolution and socialism for a while,” Nicholas Eddington, a former Comcast installer from Seattle who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2014, told the Militant  May 5. “I wanted to see a workers and farmers government and what the Cuban people have done in 60 years under constant pressure from the U.S. blockade. I can’t wait to go back to the U.S. and tell the truth.”