“I have been wanting to go to Cuba ever since I heard about the May Day brigade. I think it is a great opportunity to exchange culture and check out the political differences between Cuba and the U.S.,” Brian Wickman, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, told Dan Fein Feb. 17. Fein, a member of the Socialist Workers Party in Chicago, is working to build the April 26 to May 10 May Day International Brigade of Voluntary Work and Solidarity with Cuba.
“I look forward to see a system that works without the dog-eat-dog mentality we so often find here,” said Wickman. He lives in Downers Grove, some 20 miles west of Chicago, and works for ComEd, the electric utility.
Wickman is one of hundreds of workers and youth from around the world who are signing up for this year’s brigade, which is sponsored by Cuba’s Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).
A highlight will be joining over a million Cubans on the May Day mobilization in Havana in support of their living revolution and to celebrate the 61st anniversary of its triumph. It’s a powerful way to tell U.S. imperialism, “Hands off!”
The 1959 victory of the Cuban Revolution — led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement — overthrew the U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship and brought a workers and farmers government to power. It opened the door for the socialist revolution in the Americas.
The brigade takes place as the U.S. rulers are stepping up their economic and political war against the revolution, seeking to isolate Cuba and punish the Cuban people. It provides a unique opportunity for its supporters in the U.S. and elsewhere to meet and talk with Cuban workers, farmers and youth, and to become better armed to return home and counter Washington’s lies.
The rulers have launched a worldwide smear campaign against Cuba’s over 50,000 internationalist medical volunteers, who serve in more than 60 countries. Washington slanders them as “slave labor” or claims they foment social unrest wherever they go.
A new book from Pathfinder — Red Zone: Cuba and the Battle Against Ebola in West Africa — tells the inspiring story of the more than 250 Cuban medical personnel who helped lead the fight to stem that epidemic in 2014-15. “The heroic actions of Cuba’s army of white coats will occupy a place of honor,” Fidel Castro said in 2014. Brigade members will have an opportunity to meet some of Cuba’s medical internationalists.
The brigade is also a real opportunity for participants to describe to Cubans the reality of the class struggle in the U.S., Canada and other capitalist countries, and the political activities they have been part of. Last year 320 people from 21 countries, including 65 from the U.S., joined the brigade. The National Network on Cuba, a coalition of groups in solidarity with the Cuban people, is organizing the U.S. delegation.
Participants will be based at the Julio Antonio Mella camp in Caimito, outside Havana. They will join in volunteer labor alongside Cuban farmers in the fields and meet leaders of Cuba’s women, youth and trade union organizations. Brigadistas will visit health care centers, factories, universities, farm cooperatives, museums and cultural venues in a number of cities to learn more about the revolution.
Some of the events are co-sponsored by the Central Organization of Cuban Workers (CTC), Cuba’s national labor union. The May Day mobilization will be followed by an international solidarity meeting in Havana.
Travel arrangements are being organized in accordance with U.S. guidelines by Marazul Tours. Applications are due March 27. Total cost, not including airfare to Cuba, is $725. For the forms and more information go to www.nnoc.info or email iCanGoToCuba@nnoc.info.