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Issue #1637      May 7, 2014

May Day in Cuba

The International Brigade for 1st of May was held at CIJAM, International Camp Julio Antonio Mella, close to Caimito about 50 kilometres west of Havana, with 250 people from 30 countries taking part.

The camp was named after Julio Antonio Mella, 1903 to 1929, a revolutionary student activist and foundation member of the Cuban Communist Party who was assassinated in Mexico in 1929 by the repressive regime’s secret police who followed him there where he had fled for his safety.

The leaders of the Cuban revolution could see very well the need for international solidarity and so ICAP (Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples) was formed in 1961 in response to imperialism’s attempt to isolate the young Cuban revolution in order to destroy it. The camp was established by ICAP in 1972 and since then has hosted numerous brigades from all over the world, with thousands of people taking part over the years.

A number of the workers in the Camp have interesting stories to tell of their personal experiences in the struggle to defend the gains of the revolution, including Professor Ezequiel Morales, who has been the ICAP coordinator of the Southern Cross Brigade for many years and is well known by the Australians who have been on Brigades.

There are approximately 15 different Brigades held at the Camp each year including the Southern Cross Brigade from Australia and New Zealand, which has been taking part since 1983, with people going to the camp to express solidarity with Cuba in their three main struggles which are:

Firstly, the liberation of The Cuban Five (see story page 9).

Secondly, the lifting of the cruel blockade.

Thirdly, the US vacating the illegal base at Guantánamo.

The highlight of the Brigade was going to the Plaza of the Revolution to see the huge May Day march in which over a million people took part from their places of work and also as individuals with trade union banners, red flags and hand-painted signs expressing support for the revolution and against imperialism and colonialism. The march was led by workers from Cuba’s first class health system.

We went in different groups to schools, museum of fine art and the museum of the Revolution in Havana where there are many exhibits on the history of the brutality and repression imposed on the people prior to the revolution.

I would encourage anyone who has the slightest desire or interest to take part in a brigade to see first hand the gains of the revolution and express solidarity for their future success, either in the Southern Cross Brigade held at the end of December, or one of the International Brigades.

For more information on the Solidarity Brigades see the Cuban site www.icap.cu or the ACFS website at www.cubabrigade.org.au

Next article – Party for the Pilliga

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