AsíCubaUmbría coordinador, Serena Bertolucci, notes that the organization will continue to spread the truth about Cuba. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

A delegation of Italians, who visited Cuba to participate in the May Day parade in Havana, highlighted the humanist character of the Cuban Revolution. The trip was organized by the solidarity organization AsíCubaUmbría, based in the Italian city of Perugia.

Speaking to Granma International, the group’s coordinator, Serena Bartolucci, explained that one of the aims of the organization is to spread the truth about the country and counteract mass media lies. She noted that one of the best ways to advance this work is to promote visits by Italians to Cuba.

AsíCubaUmbría arose on the initiative of several Italians who wanted to see the Cuban reality for themselves, following the fall of the socialist camp, Bartolucci explained. She first traveled to the island at that time and promised to take action to ensure Cuba’s social project was known in her own country.

“On that first trip we were astonished as we witnessed profound human warmth. We noted the conscious and consistent participation of the people in the Cuban economic model. In addition, we saw a society different from the one built in Eastern Europe. When we returned to Italy, we decided that we could not simply settle for having had this experience, but that we should be involved by providing our effective support to the island from the European continent,” she explained.

The group is currently focused on informing Italians about the issue of the Guantánamo Naval Base, on Cuban territory illegal occupied by the U.S., as part of discussions on foreign military bases taking place in Italy and across Europe. They also promote participation in the International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, held annually in the easternmost province of Cuba, the fifth edition of which was held this May 4-6.

Biologist Emidio Albertini highlighted the link between the University of Universidad de Perugia and Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

The Italian activist noted: “The idea is to join the two struggles: that of Italians and that of Cubans, against the imposition of foreign military bases, based on the unity of forces. We want to raise awareness among a greater number of people about the issue, because in Italy they are more than 160 sites of this nature, belonging to several countries but mainly the United States. Within this number I include combat units, observation posts, command posts, and others.”

The organization also studies the thought of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, who continues to serve as a guide in the struggles of today. “We recently screened a documentary by Roberto Chile with the assistance of a large number of young people and then debated the relevance of the work of the historic leader of the Revolution to our own reality. We are thinking of carrying out various activities of this type because we can not settle for the odd act or celebration, we must remain active over time to spread the ideas of this great thinker,” stressed Bartolucci, who was presented with the Medal of Friendship, awarded by the Council of State of Cuba, several years ago.

AsíCubaUmbría was active in global solidarity efforts to campaign for the freedom of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists, unjustly imprisoned in the United States. This year the organization is planning a big event in October to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Heroic Guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia.

The event will be an opportunity for debate regarding the importance of internationalism and solidarity in the revolutionary struggle, and the history of Cuba, which offers concrete examples of progress for the world.

When it was founded in the 1990s, AsíCubaUmbría coordinated donations to the island in the midst of the economic crisis following the collapse of the socialist camp and the intensification of the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States. Today the organization is seeking to help establish links between scientific centers in Italy and Cuba for the exchange of technologies and knowledge in different areas, mainly in the production of vaccines, medicines, and biotechnology.

In this regard, biologist Emidio Albertini noted that the University of Perugia and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, located in Havana, are undertaking two joint investigations, one linked to the production of vaccines from plants and the other on modifications to DNA caused by periods of stress.

The Italian professor and researcher noted: "We hope to transfer technologies to Cuban scientific centers and share our experiences. We plan to create a network of European, Cuban and Argentine researchers. We are budgeting for several exchanges between professionals in different scientific events next year."

Albertini described the role played by science in Cuba as fantastic, noting that this sector enjoys state support and resources to solve real problems in society. “I have witnessed the important discoveries for humanity. They research medicines and vaccines extracted from natural products. Here there is state support to develop knowledge and political concern regarding the importance of science for social development.”

Journalist Fabrizio Ricci, expressing a similar view, asserted that Cuba continues to be an example for many Italians. Although he is a passionate reader on the history of the Cuban Revolution, this is Ricci’s first trip to the island.

He stated: “We know of the obstacles faced by the Cubans and we admire them for being victorious in the face of these difficulties. I am referring to the blockade and other imperialist policies. I have seen a people who continue to believe in their social project and also many young people who participate in the construction of socialism. Here one breathes in the hope of advancing on the road to a better quality of life for all.”