For anyone wanting to learn firsthand about the Cuban Revolution, an excellent opportunity is the 15th International May Day Voluntary Work Brigade to Cuba this spring, set for April 24 to May 8. The National Network on Cuba organizes the U.S. delegation.
The brigade is hosted by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). A highlight will be joining this year’s May Day mobilization in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, where Cubans will mark the international workers’ day in support of Cuba’s living revolution. The next day brigadistas take part in an international conference to discuss advancing solidarity with Cuba.
The 1959 victory of Cuban workers and farmers — 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, opening the door for the socialist revolution in the Americas.
The brigade provides a unique opportunity to meet and talk with Cuban workers, farmers and youth and to become better armed to return home and counter Washington’s lies and attacks against the revolution. Over the terms of 13 consecutive presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike from Eisenhower to Biden, the U.S. capitalist rulers have waged a relentless economic and political war against the Cuban Revolution, seeking to punish the Cuban people.
Brigade participants meet and talk with representatives of the revolution’s mass organizations, Union of Young Communists, trade unions, Federation of Cuban Women, and farm collectives. They visit cultural venues, health care and day care centers, factories, schools and museums, and meet with workers there. Brigadistas carry out voluntary agricultural work in the fields alongside Cuban farmers.
The brigade is also a real opportunity for participants to describe to Cubans the reality of the working-class struggles in the U.S. and other countries they come from, as well as the political activities they have been part of. On the brigade in 2019 there were 320 people from 21 countries, including 65 from the U.S., the largest contingent.
For the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba has been unable to host the brigade, due to health considerations and Washington’s travel restrictions. But today there is a resurgence of public activities on the island, such as the Jan. 27 “March of the Torches” that drew thousands into the streets commemorating the 169th birthday of José Martí, Cuba’s national revolutionary hero. The central leader of Cuba’s 19th century independence struggle against Spain, Martí was an intransigent opponent of the U.S. rulers’ efforts to seize Cuba as their colony.
Members of the Chicago Cuba Coalition have produced a flyer to promote the brigade, and are planning to distribute it Feb. 27 at their next monthly protest against the U.S. embargo. Similar events will be organized worldwide on the last Sunday of the month.