As of the final week in April, more than 1,000 representatives from 162 trade unions, social organizations and Cuba solidarity groups from 62 countries on all continents, have confirmed their plans to participate in the national May Day march culminating in Havana’s José Martí Plaza de la Revolución, May 1.
Of this group, 453, to date, are trade union leaders from about 50 countries, with the largest portion from Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica, who have chosen to celebrate the day with the Cuban people, representing 27 solidarity organizations such as the May 1 Brigade, which for years has participated to express its support of the Cuban Revolution and, in particular, opposition to the blockade and the unjust incarceration of the Cuban Five in the United States.
Additionally 102 delegates from 37 countries have confirmed their participation in the 2nd International Conference of Young Workers, called by the World Federation of Trade Unions, April 29-30 at the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC) headquarters, where they will be joined by young Cuban workers as well. (Susana Lee)
Activities begin for May Day International Brigade
“We came to Cuba to celebrate May Day as it should be celebrated, to re-energize and return to our countries committed to fighting for a different kind of nation, with more solidarity,” said Odette López, one of the Chilean members of the May 1 International Brigade, which every year brings together activists from many countries to celebrate the workers’ holiday in Cuba.
López recounted that when she first participated in the Brigade six years ago, she was so moved that she convinced several of her compatriots to make the trip with her and, this year, there are 23 activists from the Chilean city of Iquique participating in the Brigade.
Arriving along with this group at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, located in Caimito outside of Havana in the western province of Artemisa, were 215 Brigade participants from more than 20 countries, who will join the march and, over a two week period, engage in agricultural work, hear reports on Cuba’s current economic and political situation and learn about Cuba first hand.
“In my country, May Day is not what it is here. Celebrating the day among Cubans and participating in the march is a great event for me,” said Ariat Shmanov, from Kazakistan.
“I grew up during the Soviet era and always heard news about Cuba,” Shmanov recalled, “but with the disappearance of the socialist camp, many of us lost our ties to the country. So this trip will allow me to see how the Cuban Revolution has managed to defend its values.”
Many young people on the Brigade are seeing Cuba for the first time. The majority live a very different reality in their countries of origin and say that their stay in Cuba will help them see the world from a fresh point of view.
The Julio Antonio Mella International Camp was inaugurated by Fidel and several international brigades and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.