Every year friends from different parts of the world join the Cuban people to celebrate May Day. Photo: Juvenal Balán

More than 200 friends of Cuba from 34 countries make up the 11th May Day Solidarity Brigade, who have traveled to the island to express their support for the Cuban Revolution. The brigade’s activities extend from April 25 through May 8 and include participating in the massive May Day parade in Havana.
Staying at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, located in the municipality of Caimito, Artemisa province, just west of Havana, the “brigadistas’” program includes voluntary work on local farms, talks from experts on the current process of updating the country’s economic model, tributes to Cuban heroes and visits to the provinces of Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus and Havana.

Together with other international delegations who will join the May Day march, the solidarity brigade will participate in the International Solidarity with Cuba Meeting, organized by the Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC), as a space for dialogue with trade unionists, leaders of social movements and political parties.
By participating in the lively parade on May 1st, brigadistas will express their support for the workers of the world in the struggle against neoliberal policies, and demand an end to the subversive campaigns against Cuba, the genocidal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States; and the return of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base.

In turn, they will join the celebration of the achievements of the Cuban Revolution and the 90th birthday of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, together with the 55th anniversaries of the literacy campaign and the victory at Playa Girón over the mercenary invasion of 1961.

The brigadistas join over 2,000 international guests representing trade unions, parties and different organizations, as well as a high number of tourists, who hope to witness and participate in this historical date.
Virginia Vohorquez Martínez lives in Bogotá, Colombia, and was very active in the struggle for the release of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González and Fernando González, unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. She noted, “I have visited Cuba more than ten times, but this is the first time I will participate in the May Day celebrations. Last year I watched the event on Cubavisión Internacional, there were the Five heroes following their release. I was moved on seeing the massive celebration of workers, with beautiful banners, photos of great leaders, flags, music and dance.”
Teruyo Matsutake, vice president of the Japan-Cuba Friendship Association, has been on the May Day Brigade four times and is always very excited on participating in the parade. “I encourage travel to Cuba back in Japan, I want my compatriots to know the reality of this country. Here a society in which social justice and equality for all human beings prevails is being built. For me it represents hope for other peoples.”

Nore Tellrot lives in the city of Mutala, 200 kilometers south of Stockholm, Sweden. He is a social worker, working with young refugees mainly from Somalia, Syria and Afghanistan. He came on the brigade together with his wife Viveka and hopes to see historical leaders of the Revolution during the parade, especially Fidel Castro. He noted that supporters of Cuba in Sweden appreciate the security, gender equality, free education and access to healthcare on the island. As his first visit, he is eager to learn more about the country during his stay.