The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 81/No. 22      June 5, 2017

(Special feature article)

Canada brigade members experience Cuban Revolution

VANCOUVER British Columbia — Thirty-four people from Canada joined the 25th Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade to Cuba April 28 to May 12. The Canadian Network on Cuba organized the trip in cooperation with the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). The aim of the brigade is for participants to learn about the accomplishments of Cuba’s socialist revolution and become better prepared to organize opposition to the ongoing U.S. economic war against the Cuban people.

An important part of this year’s brigade was participation in a conference against foreign military bases that discussed building activities to demand the U.S. get out of Guantánamo.

Brigade members joined in the May Day march in Holguín in eastern Cuba. Some 200,000 workers organized by their unions took part to demonstrate their support for their revolution.

The brigade also visited the provinces of Santiago and Guantánamo, engaging in a wide range of discussions with students, workers, farmworkers, artists, soldiers, medical workers and others.

They met with leaders of the Central Union of Cuban Workers (CTC), Union of Young Communists, Federation of Cuban Students (FEU), Federation of Cuban Women, Union of Cuban Writers and Artists, delegates to the provincial and national assemblies, and the Combatientes Association, whose members are retired combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba.

Brigadistas also did voluntary work, including weeding vegetable gardens.

At a meeting with the FEU at the University of Holguín, one brigade member asked what the organization is doing to protest Washington’s campaign against the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

“The president of the FEU participated in the recent meeting of ALBA in Havana to defend Venezuela,” said Rosalina Gretel Ramírez González, the campus president of FEU. ALBA is an alliance of a number of Latin American governments, including Cuba and Venezuela. “We discuss the situation in class and express our firm support,” said Ramírez.

Another question centered on the U.S. occupation of Guantánamo.

“It is illegally occupied. They are taking a part of us,” Isney Fonseca Mendoza, a student at the Alcibiades Blanco Mejias High School at San Benito de Mayari in Guantánamo province, answered. “There is a U.S. prison there where people are killed and tortured.”

The brigade met with a dozen members of the Combatientes Association, all of whom had been workers or peasants before the revolution from the Second Front Municipality — a large area in Santiago province that was liberated from the dictatorship and where a revolutionary government was established before the seizure of power in Havana. The retired military representatives told us they meet every week with area youth to discuss the politics and history of the revolution.

On May 7, brigadistas met with Cuban border guards who defend their country’s frontier around the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo. Half were women, reflecting the composition of the border guards as a whole. A soldier named Isley said their purpose was “defending our sovereignty and the conquests of the revolution, and we request the support of the rest of the world.”

Mishan Pastitshi, 16, the youngest participant in the brigade, is an Innu, one of Canada’s indigenous nations. “I like it way better than our country,” he told the Militant. “Here people are united together. The houses might not look too great, but they have each other. And they don’t have to pay tuition and health care.”

Vera Oriava said she heard about the trip from some friends who had been on previous brigades. “Cuba is everything I wish Canada was. Health and education is the primary focus, she said. Asked what she will do after getting back to Canada, Oriava said, “I will tell people how amazing Cuba is and work to dispel the propaganda against the revolution that permeates our society.”

All the brigade participants intend to do the same.
Related articles:
Conference in Cuba demands US get out of Guantánamo
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home