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Issue #1629      March 5, 2014

United with the Cuban people

31st Brigade to Cuba from Australia – Statement

As members of The Southern Cross Brigade from Australia, now in its 31st year of visiting Cuba, this great country, we would like to thank the Cuban people for the example of strength, valour and solidarity with the people of the world despite the inhuman blockade that they have suffered for the last 56 years.

We had the opportunity to take part in a very impressive and broad social program. We were able to travel through parts of Cuba; we visited polyclinics, local hospitals, cooperatives, organic farms, primary and secondary schools, medical universities where we had talks with the foreign students. Through watching documentaries and discussions with many people we discovered the impact and consequences of the blockade and how the Cuban people have to live with constant shortages, including medications.

At the meeting with the families of the Cuban 5 we had the opportunity to listen to their stories and we realised the hypocrisy of the United States who jailed the innocents while the criminals are walking free. We saw the need to continue to spread the world about their cases so justice may happen and they can return to their families and country.

Our last petition is for Guantánamo Naval base to be returned to the Cuban people and that the prisoners that are kept there have a proper trial in accordance to the International Law.

We observed that the revolution liberated the Cuban people from the exploitation of capitalism and it developed a socialist system for the benefit of the people rather than big corporations. We saw that the education and health services within Cuba are free and focus on a preventative approach. We visited protected ecological areas, and a sustainable organic agricultural enterprise near the city.

At the National Theatre we appreciated the creativity and artistic performance of one of the world’s best ballet companies, the Cuban National Ballet, with their performance of the Nutcracker.

In Santa Clara we were honoured to meet and hear the stories of men and women who had fought alongside Che. We also visited the Che Guevara Memorial Museum and as a result of that visit, the stories and photos we saw we will never forget the history of Santa Clara. We were fortunate in being able to visit Matanzas on its water bays and to spend time at Playa Giron where we visited the museum documenting the invasion of the Bay of Pigs where the imperialist Americans suffered their first defeat in Latin America at the hands of the Cubans fighting to defend their own country.

We visited Mariana Grajales Coello primary school near the Australian sugar cane mill as it was repaired, after hurricane Michelle, with the support and assistance of the Australian Cuban Friendship Society; we were warmly welcomed by the children as they sang and then performed a beautiful ballet commemorating the life and death of Che and we taught the children a little about Aboriginal Australian culture.

Life in the Julio Antonio Mella Camp give us opportunities to work on the agricultural fields alongside the workers from the camp and we were able to share the true spirit of solidarity and friendship.

We are extremely gratefully to all ICAP workers for the well thought out and organised program, their dedication, warmth and professionalism; during our stay they welcomed us like members of their own families and we were able to learn and experience life in this beautiful country and to know its people.

When we return to our country and our homes we will do our best to ensure that the Australia people and our government know what is happening in Cuba and also we will ask the United States government for:

  • The return of The Cuban 5 to their families and country
  • The cessation of the blockade against Cuba
  • The return of the Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay to Cuba.

We are united with the Cuban people in their struggle

We will win!

Long live Cuba

31st Brigade to Cuba from Australia – La Brigada Cruz del Sur – January 20, 2014

Next article – Trans-Pacific Partnership – Act now!

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