The Cuba brigade, set for Oct. 1-15, is being organized by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). It is named for Ernesto Che Guevara, a central leader of the Cuban Revolution, of its revolutionary government, and of efforts to aid workers and farmers worldwide to follow its example. He was killed 50 years ago helping to lead a guerrilla struggle against the military dictatorship of René Barrientos in Bolivia.
“We have 26 people signed up so far, from ages 19 to 70,” Steve Eckardt, brigade national co-coordinator, told the Militant July 9.
Eckardt explained that the brigade will meet with members of Che’s family and combatants he fought with during the Cuban Revolution and in Bolivia, and participate in a national mobilization to honor Che’s legacy on Oct. 8. They will also do “voluntary agriculture work alongside Cubans,” said Eckardt, as an expression of solidarity with the Cuban people and their revolution.
Brigade members will visit a number of Cuban provinces where Che led combat units during the 1956-59 revolutionary war. They will tour Santa Clara, Cuba’s third-largest city, where Che’s column defeated the army of Fulgencio Batista, sealing the fate of the U.S.-backed dictatorship.
They will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC) and the Union of Young Communists (UJC).
Joe Kapsner, 31, a warehouse worker at a valve manufacturing plant in Minneapolis, will be making his first trip to Cuba on the brigade. “The working class in the U.S. is getting the crap kicked out of it,” Kapsner told the Militant. “Cuba is the one place where that is not happening. We need to bring Cuba and its socialist revolution into the discussion that is going on in the working class. To go to Cuba and bring that experience back will help me do that.”
The World Federation of Democratic Youth has been organizing festivals in different countries around the world since 1947, providing an opportunity for anti-imperialist young people to come together, debate politics and plan common actions against war, exploitation and oppression.
Some 20,000 delegates from over 120 countries are expected for this year’s festival. The motto for the gathering is “For peace, solidarity, and social justice, we struggle against imperialism. Honoring our past, we build the future.” It is dedicated to Fidel Castro, the central leader of the Cuban Revolution, who died Nov. 25.
All across Cuba revolutionary-minded young workers, soldiers and students have been meeting to discuss resolutions for the festival and elect delegates. Overall, Cuba is organizing to send 250 young revolutionaries to the gathering.
“It’s a high honor for me and a deserved recognition of the work of the youth in the Border Brigade,” Yaisis Isaac del Río, a first lieutenant in the military unit stationed outside the U.S. Guantánamo base and notorious prison, said after she was elected delegate from Cuba’s Eastern Army to the youth festival. “We are charged with keeping an eye on the perimeter of the illegal naval base that the U.S. government maintains on our territory since more than a century ago, against the will of the Cuban people.”
The Union of Young Communists and other Cuban youth organizations organized events in Granma and Cienfuegos provinces beginning July 10 to discuss and debate proposals for the festival.
Yuliesky Pérez Navarro, a self-employed bicycle cab driver and member of the UJC, was elected as the direct delegate from Cienfuegos.
The conference will be conducted in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
The deadline for registration to attend the festival in Sochi is July 20. For more information and to get an application, contact the U.S. National Preparatory Committee at email@example.com. No money is required to apply.
The deadline for the In the Footsteps of Che Cuba brigade is Sept. 10, but since space is limited, those interested in participating are urged to sign up as early as possible. The cost is $650, which includes housing, food and transportation within Cuba. Travel costs to Cuba are separate.
To sign up or get more information, contact the Chicago Cuba Coalition at (312) 952-2618 or visit: chicagocubacoalition.com/2017/06/30/in-the-footsteps-of-che-international-brigade-2/.
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Miami car caravan protest: ‘Yes to travel to Cuba!’ (photo box)
Sign up for Cuba brigade, youth festival
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