Pacific Islands Remember Fidel Castro

The General Director of Bilateral Affairs of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Emilio Lozada, recalled Friday at the 50 Pacific Islands Forum the internationalist vocation of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Castro (1926-2016) was the forefather of Cuba's health collaboration with the small island states of the Pacific, a tweet by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted.

Lozada heads the Cuban delegation participating in the event inaugurated on August 13. In the context of the Forum, the official met with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia V Bainimarama.

In addition, he spoke with the President of Kiribati, Teneti Maamao, with whom he reviewed the work of the Cuban Medical Brigade in that country.

The 50th edition of the Pacific Islands Forum offers a key space for dialogue and political exchange in the Pacific region, bringing together 14 small island states.

  • Published in Cuba

Fidel Castro's legacy

FIDEL CASTRO would have been 93 years old yesterday, but many celebrations took place in Cuba and around the world to honour the man who stood steadfast against the US’s continuing 60-year economic blockade, attempts to overthrow the Cuban government in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, and many CIA-backed assassination attempts.

Fidel Castro (far left), Che Guevara (centre), and other leading revolutionaries marching through the streets in protest over the La Coubre explosion, 5 March 1960
Fidel Castro (far left), Che Guevara (centre), and other leading revolutionaries marching through the streets in protest over the La Coubre explosion, 5 March 1960

Cuba’s example of socialism is a beacon to the rest of the world, demonstrating against the odds that it is possible to build a sustainable economy, provide world-class healthcare, while maintaining an internationalist perspective exemplified by Cuba’s legendary medical brigades.

Twenty years ago the Cuban government established the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM), formerly Escuela Latinoamericana de Ciencias Medicas (Latin American School of Medicine). It is a major international medical school in Cuba and a prominent part of the Cuban healthcare system.

It is one of Fidel Castro’s enduring legacies due to Che Guevara’s medical training and passionate internationalism, committing them to sending medical brigades all over the world to the poorest countries after natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or outbreaks of killer diseases such as Ebola.

Established in 1999 and operated by the Cuban government, ELAM has been described as possibly being the largest medical school in the world by enrollment, with approximately 19,550 students from 110 countries reported enrolled since 2013.

All those enrolled are international students from outside Cuba and mainly come from Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Africa and Asia. Tuition, accommodation and board are free, and a small stipend is provided for students. To date ELAM has graduated 31,000 medical students from 103 countries.

ELAM students come from the poorest communities with the intent of returning to practice in those areas in their countries. Initially only enrolling students from Latin America and the Caribbean, the school has become open to applicants from impoverished and/or medically underserved areas in the United States and Africa. As part of Cuban international co-operation, ELAM is also training 800 medical doctors from Timor-Leste.

ELAM was first conceived by Fidel Castro as part of Cuba's humanitarian and development aid response (known as the Integral Health Plan for Central America and the Caribbean) to the devastation caused by Hurricane George and Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which affected several countries in Central America and the Caribbean including Cuba.

In all more than 11,000 people died in the resulting floods and mudslides. In response 500 full medical scholarships per year for the next decade were offered by the Cuban government to students from four countries — the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua — seriously affected by the hurricanes.

The first class of 1,498 ELAM doctors graduated on August 20, 2005, with 112 from other Cuban medical schools: 28 other countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States were represented by the graduates.

The ceremony was led by Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In June 2000, a US Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) delegation visited Cuba to meet with Castro. Representative Bennie Thompson mentioned to Castro that his district had a shortage of doctors; he responded by offering full scholarships for US nationals from Mississippi at ELAM.

Later that same June, in a Washington, DC meeting with the CBC, the Cuban Minister of Public Health expanded the offer to all districts represented by the CBC.

At a September 2000 speech event at Riverside Church, New York City, Castro publicly announced a further expanded offer which was reported as allowing several hundred places at ELAM for medical students from low-income communities from any part of the US.

Reports of the size of this offer varied in the US press: 250 or 500 places were suggested with perhaps half reserved for African-Americans and half for Hispanics and Native Americans.

The ELAM offer to US students was classified as a “cultural exchange” programme by the US State Department to avoid the restrictions of the US embargo against Cuba. The first intake of US students into ELAM occurred in spring 2001, with 10 enrolling in the pre-medical program.

A cruel irony that Cuba, a poor country suffering under a US economic blockade lasting nearly 60 years, actually trains students from the US to go back to the poorest communities there and help those in need who cannot afford private healthcare.

  • Published in Cuba

Ana Fidelia: Fidel Castro cried for me

We arrived at her house around 9:30 in the morning. Ana Fidelia was taking a shower, after her daily run, because, in her opinion, it makes her feel well and prevents diseases. In a room full of medals, trophies and photos with the Commander in Chief, there began the interview, which lasted a bit over an hour and made me hear a fully different voice that could not hide her emotion, since Fidel’s name was mentioned. There were tears on Fidel’s face the day he decorated her, and there were tears on Ana Fidelia’s too, when she referred to Fidel.

-When did a young woman from Palma Soriano manage to become a sports heroine?

After the triumph of the Revolution, under the doctrine of our Commander that sport is a right of the people, there began the possibilities to practice sports, for both health and high performance. I am a result of that well- thought-out, staggered and inverted-pyramid  system of our Revolution, like so many thousands of athletes who were attracted through talent selection of Physical Education. It was just in that subject that I started to stand out and the professor took me to the sports area of my hometown, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and they saw that I was a talented girl. There they started to follow me up and I went through the different schools existing here in Cuba: EIDE (Sports Initiation Schools), ESPA (Higher School for Athletic Improvement), until reaching the national team.

It’s necessary to highlight that coming from a sporting family helped me too. My sister was a member of the national basketball team, my brother practiced sports too and my father was a professional boxer in the 1960s. I did not have the chance to see him; his friends told me that he stood out in his specialty, but could not reach a bit further because discipline is fundamental for whatever thing in life.

-And how disciplined were you? When did you understand you had a future in sports?

When I started in sports in my home town, my first trainer, Juan Heredia Salazar, used to go to see my mother every day and told her the conditions that I had and that I had to practice, but when you are a child, you only want to play, since you are still unaware of what you want in the future. So, I used to go to the training two days and missed it three, and my trainer used to look for me and talk to my mother. He told her that I was a talent and that I could participate in the pioneer games, which were held in Hungary in 1975. Participating in that competition and winning the bronze medal was what made me start to become aware of what sports could mean to me, and I focused there until reaching where I reached.

-In 1993, life set you a test that, in my opinion, you overcame by far, and in that trance of your accident, Fidel addressed the doctors and told them to do everything possible to save you and that you meant a lot to both Cuba and him. What does Fidel Castro mean to you?

In my professional and personal life, I have gone through ups and downs, life isn’t all roses, and everything you intend to do entails discipline, commitment and perseverance. The people of Cuba and many people in the world know about that fatal accident I had in 1993 with 2nd and 3rd degree burns in 38 percent of my body, and I was always accompanied, since the first hours of my accident by that person who has been unconditional to the human being: our Commander in Chief. He arrived earlier than my mother at “Hermanos Ameijeiras” Hospital, where I was hospitalized. Fidel encouraged me to fight for my life, I am aware that all the Cuban people too accompanied me, followed the news through the media and there were people who showed up at the ward to hear from me, and that was something very positive, which made it possible that I did not die and reappeared like the Phoenix.

Fidel and I are united by many things. Because of my great achievements in sports I was always lucky enough to coincide with him several times: at a decoration, a welcome to a head of state or accompanying him to the inaugurations of presidents; for example, when Fernando Alfonso Collor de Mello took office in Brazil. And at that crucial moment of my life he played a key role in my recovery, not physically, but psychologically, to fight for my life. Fidel was the medicine that I needed to save myself, he was the doctor who I needed to heal my wounds. According to some of my friends, he said at meeting: she won’t die, she and I made a pact with death and she won’t die. His help kept me alive to continue contributing achievements to my country. They were tough moments, hard moments, and that made me stronger than I was before and say: I will continue.

In a moment of so many visits that he made to me and I was awake, I told him: Commander, I will continue running, and now, to tell you the truth, I did not know if I was going to run the same way I had done before the accident. But I knew I had strength in my legs to continue representing Cuba, and I did.

I underwent countless reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries at “Ameijeiras” Hospital with great Cuban doctors who saved my life and returned me back to society again. Running again after the accident has been the greatest achievement of my sporting career, having defeated death. That can only happen in a country like ours, where everything is in favor of and for the sake of society, perhaps, in another country I could have lived, but I could have also had to show my credit card to be assisted or to pay out thousands of dollars.

I went every other day to the (operating) room to be cured under anesthesia, and so the doctors performed skin transplants. In the first stage, I remained in the hospital a year and a few months and later I went home on Fridays and returned on Mondays. I had a companion and that undoubtedly costs some thousands and therefore I should always say thank you so much to both Fidel and this people.

-Which was your first participation in an international event?

When I overcame my seriousness in the hospital and could manage on my own, I started to think about running again. I had a very strong rehab program with doctors from the Ameijeiras and the Institute of Sport Medicine and exercised in the morning and in the afternoon, but also when they were not there, I supported myself on my friends who went to visit me so they helped me do the exercises and massaged me, because the scars of the burnt grow during a year and you should always keep exercising so the damaged parts of your body begin to gain elasticity.

Before the accident I had in mind to take part in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Ponce and then I asked the Athletics Technical Commission to participate. They created all conditions for my training, which was from 7:00 to 10:00 at night, because I could not take the sunbeams. Leandro Civil Jarvés designed a preparation program for me five months before the Central American and Caribbean Games, in which I participated with many limitations, I could not move my arms, my armpits, or my neck and in spite of that, I won the silver medal with 2.05, which meant the gold medal to me, the medal of dignity, of courage, because my race only involved my legs, I couldn’t do the required movement for it.

After achieving that result in those circumstances and without the adequate preparation I convinced myself that after the surgery, I would begin my training to see what would happen. And so I did, I underwent surgical operations, which loosed my neck, my armpits, my arms and my hands, because I could hardly close them to grab the weights. When I realized that I could do all those things I told my trainer: let’s work, I will not disappoint you and we will compete.

All the tests showed that I really could, I should say that there were many people who believed that I could not accomplish it, so I said that if I could not achieve the required time, I wouldn’t participate, because of the prestige I have worldwide. But I was improving in every competition, so much so that I made a mark, which gave me the endorsement to compete in Gothenburg 1995. I also competed in Montecarlo vs my eternal rival María de Lourdes Mutola, she ran 1.57.49 and I (1.57.59), and that made me confident to strive for a medal in the world championship, which final was held on August 13 and I clinched the gold medal. Life gave me the pleasure to thank and congratulate our beloved Commander the day of his birthday with a gold medal for my country, for him and for me. I feel really proud for having given him that present in acknowledgement to all the support I received from him in the toughest moment of my life. One knows people in those circumstances and Fidel was unconditional to me in the moment I needed him. During the period when I was reported as critical every day, he used to go to the hospital, sometimes he went and when he passed through my room I was asleep, because it was the day when they cured me and I was under the effects of anesthesia, even if someone called me I could not reply. He went there many times, when I was already in an open room, and talked to my family, to me and his visit was something very special for me and my family.

-How many Russian female runners were needed to defeat Ana Fidelia?

Imagine that a country can take around three or four runners and there were three Russians who developed a team race in the 1996 Olympic Games and I had to settle for the silver medal, but I can tell you that when they ran individually I was invincible.

-From the point of view of the best athlete of Cuba for several consecutive years, what did Fidel Castro mean for Cuban sports?

Fidel means a lot for Cuban sports, since he was young, Fidel loved sports and practiced different games at the university. He played basketball, over there I have a photo of him winning the 800 meters, he also run 1500. In the few hours that he had to rest at midnight, he used to go to the Sports City (Ciudad Deportiva) to play basketball in a sort of guerrilla warfare with players from the national team and the game was never over until he picked the victory, he disliked to lose in anything.

Fidel has meant a lot for all the results of the Cuban sporting movement, he has been the main promoter of all the achievements of our sporting movement. He is not physically today, but he is still present, because his example is alive, his legacy is alive in our country, his deed is intact.

-Of the moments of satisfaction experienced with the Commander, which is the one you remember the most?

I remember them all, they are all very beautiful and have a great meaning, but the one that marked me the most and the one that makes me cry whenever it comes to my mind, and I cry because it moves me to remember that he is a person of flesh and blood, with feelings towards any human being, although he/she does not belong to his family, happened in 1993, after I returned from the Central American and Caribbean Games at the Universal Hall of FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces), which brought together all the delegation that participated in Ponce Games and he decorated me with the Order of Sporting Merit. It seems that when he saw me, he was very sad because of the conditions in which I competed, he gave me a hug and when I went to my seat I turned around and saw tears running down his face and that’s the moment I keep with more affection, to see that he cried for me.

-Does your name have any relationship with Fidel or is it chance?

No, it’s no coincidence: my mother named me Fidelia because of Fidel. I come from a purely revolutionary family, we have a humble origin and my grandmother, my mother and my aunt were always closely linked to the causes of our Revolution.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Fidel Castro's Legacy in Cuba's Foreign Policy Stressed

The prestigious legacy of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, in the foreign policy of the island was highlighted in Havana to mark the 93rd anniversary of his birth.

On the regular Mesa Redonda (roundtable) TV program on Monday, two Cuban diplomats highlighted Fidel's role in the construction of the Caribbean nation's revolutionary diplomacy.

One of the first Cuban ambassadors posted abroad following the triumph of the Revolution, Jorge Bolaños, highlighted the diplomatic position of the island, linked to truth and solidarity.

For his part, Ambassador Alejandro Gonzalez also recalled his beginnings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), where he discussed several issues related to the country's foreign policy with the Commander-in-Chief.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel stated a few months ago that the continuity of Cuba's foreign policy is guaranteed and called to defend Fidel Castro's legacy in diplomatic matters.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban hamlet safeguards Castro family's legacy

Nestled amid the lush green landscapes of the Cuban countryside, the small village of Biran was cast into the spotlight as the birthplace of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who would have turned 93 on Tuesday.

The Castro family homestead in this tiny hamlet in Cuba's eastern Holguin province, named the Biran Historic Complex, has become a must-see attraction for Cubans and foreigners alike interested in the legacy Fidel and his brothers Raul and Ramon left behind.

"Here you can see the whole process of the historical development of this place ... from the turn of the 20th century until the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the process of distributing the land to the farmers," said the complex's director Lazaro Castro, who is unrelated to the Castro family.

Looking back in history, Spanish-born Angel Castro Argiz and his Cuban wife, Lina Ruz Gonzalez, owned a 26-hectare sugar plantation on which they raised seven children, including two future presidents, Fidel and Raul.

After the triumph of the 1959 Revolution, Fidel launched Cuba's agrarian reforms by giving away the plantation to the peasants who worked the land.

What draws people's attention first to the complex is the family pantheon that holds the remains of Fidel Castro's parents, grandparents and siblings. Castro himself requested that his ashes be deposited at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the nearby city of Santiago de Cuba.

The family's 10-room home, destroyed in a fire in 1954 and later rebuilt, serves as one of the main buildings and historical repositories. Though being mostly a replica, it preserves the room where Castro was born, as well as the part of the house the three brothers shared.

A small schoolhouse preserves the 33 desks at which local students sat, including the one that young Fidel occupied in the front row when he was learning to read.

A little further away is the spacious house Angel built for his son Fidel after he graduated from law school, hoping he would return to live and work on the family plantation. That did not pan out, but the building did serve as an alternative family residence following the 1954 fire.

Visitors can also stop by the mail-telegraph office, butcher shop, home of Grandma Dominga, the hotel, main street, bakery-candy store, La Paloma bar and cockfighting ring. The small cinema is long gone, but endures in the memory of the locals.

The complex, which displays some 1,700 objects of historical value, was declared a national monument in 2008.

"Angel Castro built a small community where you could find all the services the more or less 150 residents who lived here might need," said Lazaro Castro.

"In every corner of this place, both Fidel and Raul, and the other siblings, are alive and teaching us more and more how we can and should do things," said Lazaro Castro.

  • Published in Cuba

Tribute in Mexico to Fidel Castro

A tribute to the Cuban revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, Mexicans paid Saturday in the auditorium Ernesto Velasco, of the electricians'' union, on occasion of the 93rd anniversary of his birth that will be celebrated next Tuesday.

The ceeremony in his honor was organized by the Resistance and Rebellion Networks, Support Networks for the Indigenous Government Council, the Mexican Union of Electricians and the Solidarity Movement with Cuba.

A presentation by Mexican academics Alberto Hijar, Alicia Castellanos and Gilberto López, and the political advisor of the Cuban embassy, José Alberto Prieto, opened the tribute also attended by Venezuelan diplomats.

After the references to the life and work of Fidel, folk dance groups, poets, singer-songwriters, troubadours and musical groups, performed on the spacious stage of the union, in which lobby a photographic exhibition was inaugurated.

The academics divided their exhibitions into four main themes related to the importance of Fidel Castro's political thinking today, his life and work, the ideological definitions and his vocation as a full-time revolutionary, and the socialist conception in Cuba.

The idea that prevailed among the speakers was that Fidel lives through his ideas and his political thinking, like José Martí's, is more valid than ever and that, without a doubt, he is the revolutionary and statesman with greatest relevance in the real world.

Recalling the presence of the Cuban leader in Mexico, participants recounted passages from the preparations for the necessary war, the military training, the house of María Antonia as a meeting place, and among the memories arose anecdotes of Antonio del Conde 'El Cuate' and the acquisition of the Granma yacht that set sail from Tuxpan with 82 expedition members to start the war in the Sierra Maestra.

The role of Fidel in confronting the aggressions of the United States after the triumph of the Revolution and events that set the tone in Cuba and in the world were also highlighted.

They recalled the invasion by Playa Giron, the rocket crisis in October 1962, the persistent blockade and criminal actions such as the introduction of viruses that caused deaths and economic damage such as dengue and hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, or swine fever.

Prieto thanked in Cuba's name the lectures of academics and praised how in such a short space of time they made a historical tour from the assault on the Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953 until the physical disappearance of Fidel on November 25, 2016.

  • Published in Culture

Cuba, SA and international solidarity

On July 26, 1953, the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba was the site of an armed attack by a group of 135 revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro.
This attack is widely accepted as the spark that ignited the Cuban revolution. Castro was charged and ended his legal defence with the now-famous closing argument: “History will absolve me.” This resonates with Nelson Mandela’s statement from the dock that ended: “It is an ideal for which I hope to live and see realised ... but if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Cuba’s relations with African liberation movements began in 1963, soon after the struggle’s triumph over the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Members of the Cuban leadership travelled to Algiers to build formal relations with the Algerian National Liberation Front, and Che Guevara’s trip around Africa in 1963 was a significant turning point in strengthening Cuba’s relationship with liberation movements around the continent.

Thus from 1963 until 1991, Cuba supported interventions in 17 African countries involving hundreds of thousands of Cuban soldiers, doctors and social workers.

Another aspect of Cuba’s foreign policy was its strong stance against the apartheid regime at international fora. Cuba’s support for UN Resolution 435, as well as direct support to Angola’s struggle to defend its independence from 1975 until 1988 against apartheid military incursions, formed the centrepiece of Cuban policy towards southern African liberation movements.

Indeed, history did absolve Fidel Castro and continues to absolve him. The evidence indicates that the Cuban revolution created a better life for all its citizens, which included wiping out illiteracy; free, quality education from early childhood development to tertiary level; returning the land and houses to the people; and free health care and social services, which increased the quality of life and life expectancy, thus giving back dignity to the ordinary people of Cuba.

Despite different ideologies and degrees of development, Cuba and South Africa share aspects of a historical legacy of colonisation, racism, slavery, liberation struggle, revolution, and post-colonial reconstruction and development.

As South Africa proceeds through another decade of transformation and post-apartheid rule, her relationship with Cuba is bound by our mutual developmental agenda as the country balances its internal needs with competitiveness in the global arena.

Equally, born more than half a century ago, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) embodied the collective identity and aspirations of newly independent nations in Africa and Asia.

The genesis of the NAM is relevant as a voice advocating for the poor, less-developed countries and highly indebted countries. Deepening South-South solidarity and using NAM as a pivotal instrument to build bridges with the North and highly industrialised countries of the world may present the best interlocutor for international diplomacy.

As we begin our next 25 years of democracy, we will continue to support our friends such as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Palestine, Nicaragua, Western Sahara and every other country which suffers from unilateral economic blockades, violations of international law and territorial sovereignty.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba celebrates the rebellion that triggered a revolution

It’s Bayamo’s turn this year on July 26. The capital city of Granma Province in eastern Cuba is hosting Cuba’s Day of National Rebellion. From 6:30 a.m. on this morning, President Miguel Díaz-Canel and other Cuban leaders have been presiding over a day which celebrates young revolutionaries who, 66 years earlier on another July 26, attacked military barracks in Santiago de Cuba and in Bayamo.

Their leader was a young lawyer named Fidel Castro. They wanted to set off a national rebellion aimed at removing dictator Fulgencio Batista from power. In 1952 Batista had staged a military coup to depose the liberal president Carlos Prío Socarrás.

Fidel Castro (center) and other Moncada rebels released from prison, May 1955. | Granma

Most of the revolutionaries died, mainly at the hands of their Batista captors. At his trial three months later, Castro delivered a speech titled “History Will Absolve Me” that became a manifesto of principles for the revolution that would follow. Castro identified independence leader José Marti as the revolution’s intellectual author. The year 1953 was the centennial of Marti’s birth.

Festivities and gatherings are taking place in cities and towns throughout the island and indeed in cities throughout the world, wherever supporters of Cuba’s revolution are concentrated. Each year the 15 Cuban provinces compete in a contest of economic and social achievements to be chosen to present the central event of the day. The Political Bureau of Cuba’s Communist party designates the winner.

Ceremonies began in many places yesterday, on July 25. In Bayamo the “Ceremony of the Flags” took place in honor of both Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a nearby resident who in 1868 assumed leadership of Cuba’s First War for Independence, and Pedro Figueredo Cisneros, author of Cuba’s national hymn.

Invited to the July 26 event in Bayamo’s “Plaza of the Homeland” are thousands of guests and many more from the 13 municipalities of Granma Province. Cultural events involving some 300 actors, singers, musicians, and other performers are proceeding throughout the day. In the evening a “political gala” called “From Moncada to the Future” takes place in a remodeled theater.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel speaks at the sunrise celebration ceremony in Bayamo, Cuba, July 26, 2019. | Granma

Prominent among themes highlighted in Bayamo and elsewhere are the “victory of ideas,” and “from Céspedes and Martí to Fidel” and “loyalty to the nation and its revolutionary principles.” Speakers this year, including President Díaz-Canel, are denouncing all forms of U.S. aggression. Their ire is concentrated on Title III of the U.S. Helms Burton Law of 1996, which as of May 2019 is being implemented for the first time. The U.S. purpose behind this is to drive foreign investments away from Cuba.

Actually, the U.S, government and its interventions have long set a perverse tone at Cuba’s National Days of Rebellion. That’s because the day commemorates the beginning of struggle that finally did achieve Cuba’s national liberation – from the United States.

The U.S. government and many Cuban exiles living in the United States prefer May 20 as an independence day. But it doesn’t count because shortly after rebels had defeated the forces of colonial Spain in 1898, the United States rushed in to assert political and economic control of the island.

The façade of a government independent in name only ended on January 1, 1959 when a revolutionary government took power, enabled by the struggle that began on July 26, 1953. That’s another patriotic day in Cuba, but it plays second fiddle to the one celebrated today.

July 26 is about fighting a revolution and much more. As reflected in Fidel Castro’s “History Will Absolve Me,” Cuba’s revolution seeks true national liberation and also social justice. Speakers on July 26 have long evoked the memory of José Marti. Doing so, they testify to the continuity of Cuba’s revolutionary struggle. Presumably they are sending a message to U.S. policy makers.

Every year Cuba solidarity groups in the United States and Puerto Rico visit Cuba as July 26 approaches. Members of the various delegations are invited to attend the day’s festivities, including the principal event at which the Cuban president speaks. Visiting in Cuba now are the Venceremos Brigade, this year defying U.S. regulations with its 50th annual visit to Cuba, and Puerto Rico’s Juan Rius Rivera Brigade.

The New York-based Pastors for Peace delegation, having completed its 30th solidarity visit to Cuba in mid-July, won’t be on hand specifically for the celebrations today. Cuba’s invitations to these groups to attend the celebrations attest to Cuba’s appreciation of faithful support over many years.

  • Published in Cuba
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