This year’s brigade is in honor of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Castro was the central leader of the 1959 revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. He led Cuba’s workers and farmers to overthrow capitalism and start on the road to control their own destiny. He died last November.
Guevara was a central leader of the revolutionary struggle and later an internationalist combatant in Africa and Latin America. He was killed in Bolivia in 1967 by CIA and Bolivian army troops, while helping to lead a revolutionary struggle against the dictatorship there.
Pat Scott from Seattle told the Militant she is eager to learn firsthand about the revolution’s history and accomplishments. She is preparing for the trip by learning as much as she can. She started with the documentary Maestra, which recounts the 1961 Cuban literacy campaign. Thousands of volunteers, mostly young women, many of them teenagers, traveled across the country teaching 700,000 adults how to read and write, transforming themselves in the process. This campaign enabled workers and farmers who had been illiterate to deepen their participation in the unfolding revolution.
“The literacy program, that was pretty amazing!” said Scott, who has worked at Walmart for 18 years. Like many signing up for the brigade, it’s her first trip to Cuba. “I’ve never even been outside the U.S.”
The two-week brigade features participation in the massive May Day march in Havana celebrating international workers day in Revolution Square. The next day is an International Meeting in Solidarity with Cuba.
Brigade members will begin April 24 with a week of work and learning, based at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp. They will spend four hours each day in agricultural labor alongside Cuban workers. For the rest of the day they will take part in talks and discussions, meeting cadres of Cuban mass organizations and visiting surrounding cities.
Then it is on to Havana for the May Day march and international solidarity conference.
For the second week, those who choose will attend the May 4-6 Fifth Seminar for Peace and for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases in Guantánamo, near land the U.S. has occupied since Cuba lost a war of independence in 1903. In 2002, the U.S. government set up a notorious military prison on its navy base there.
Other brigade members will travel to Cienfuegos and Villa Clara provinces to learn more about the history of the revolution there. They will meet with students from the University of Medicine and visit with members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.
The entire cost for the brigade, including meals, housing and travel inside Cuba, is $512. Airfare to Cuba and back, which is relatively cheap today, is extra.
Applications to join the U.S. brigade are due by March 30. To get more information about how to apply and what you will need to participate, contact the Chicago Cuba Coalition at (312) 952-2618 or email: ICanGoToCuba@gmail.com.
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