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Issue #1684      May 13, 2015

Million Cubans march on May Day

The 1st of May Brigade takes place between the April 26 and May 10 in what Cuban officials are calling an epoch of change with the release of the remaining three of the Cuban Five, and ongoing negotiations.

May Day celebrations in Havana Square (Plaza de la Revolución), Cuba. (Photo: Keith Headland)

The highlight of the Brigade was attending the May Day march in the Plaza, and seeing one million Cubans taking part in solidarity with the revolution, and in support of Venezuela with President Nicholas Maduro in the Presidium with Raul Castro and other Cuban leaders.

Faced with hostility, threats from imperialism, attempts to isolate the country and destroy the Cuban revolution, the revolutionary government under Fidel Castro established ICAP (Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples) on December 30, 1960 to lead the struggle and coordinate international solidarity with the revolution. As part of this process CIJAM (International Camp Julio Antonio Mella) was opened on February 25, 1972 at Caimito, about 40 kilometres west of Havana, as a place to hold the solidarity brigades.

The camp hosts about 15 brigades a year, both international and by country or region including the Southern Cross Brigade from Australia and New Zealand.

The program includes some work at the camp and an agricultural cooperative, meetings with specialists on different aspects of Cuban life and reality, a visit to Santa Clara to the Che Guevara memorial and also to another province.

The May Day brigade this year went to the Bay Of Pigs (Playa Giron) for several days and visited various places of interest and had meetings with local people.

For the first time Cuba took part in the Summit of the Americas held in Panama.

In this new atmosphere on Friday April 10 a historic meeting took place between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Following this a meeting was held between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.

Cuba, as an outcome of the negotiations, has been taken off the list of countries that patronise terrorism, which it should never have been on.

While we are aware of the ongoing attitude and actions of US imperialism as regards national liberation and independence movements and conspiring against the Venezuelan revolution, it is notable that following the December 17 statements of Raul Castro and Barack Obama to begin negotiations to establish diplomatic relations, and the prisoner exchange of Alan Gross and another American agent in jail in Cuba for the remaining three of the Cuban Five, for the first time in many years the governments of Cuba and the USA are sitting at the negotiation table to try and establish normalisation of diplomatic relations, which would be of huge benefit to the Cuban people.

The annual International Meeting of Solidarity was held at the Palace of Congresses in Havana on the May 2, with the Five Cuban Heroes attending the event together with over 1,000 participants from over 70 countries, including government representatives from Cuba and other South American countries, trade unionists and solidarity activists. It also included the 1st of May Brigade with 230 people from 30 countries, and the Che Guevara Brigade from Canada with about 60 people.

During a ceremony at the Conference a number of activists in the solidarity movement, including comrade Vinnie Molina, CPA President, were presented with the Friendship Award by the Five in appreciation for their work in support of Cuba.

Ana Teresita Gonzalez, Cuban Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, in her speech at the conference said that the announcements of December 17 are a very important victory for Cuba that nobody can minimise.

She also said that the threats against Venezuela by Obama were a huge mistake, as it mobilised all the countries of the region in support of their struggle.

We should never lose sight of the class and anti-imperialist nature of the struggle to defend Cuba, but the negotiations offer a unique opportunity, combined with international solidarity, to continue the struggle to lift the blockade and leave Guantanamo and return the occupied territory to the Cuban people.

Faced with internal pressures from US business and farmers to take advantage of the neighbouring market opportunity, combined with pressure from the international working class and solidarity movement the combination makes for formidable forces pushing for change.

As stated by a number of speakers, the result of 55 years of blockade to isolate Cuba has ended up with the US itself being isolated in the international community and in the UN.

May Day 2015 – marching through the streets in Adelaide. (Photo: Craig Greer)

Next article – Only strong unions can end this exploitation

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