The 47th European José Martí voluntary work and Cuba solidarity brigade, composed of over 75 individuals from some 10 countries, is brining a message of support for the Cuban Revolution, as participants learn and become more familiar with the island’s people, during their stay in the country.
Based at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, in the province of Artemisa, the group is undertaking activities July 3-21; including voluntary agricultural work, visits to sites of historic interest, communities, schools and institutions in the provinces of Villa Clara, Sancti Spíritus, and La Habana.
Brigadistas will also attend conferences by Cuban experts on the life and work of José Martí; the island’s economy and the updating process currently underway; its political system and participative democracy; as well as the damage caused by the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the Cuban people by the United States; the political thought of Ernesto Che Guevara, and other relevant issues.
Two participants, Juan Guirau and Schneider Benedet from France – both members of the Marseille branch of the Cuba-France Friendship Association – spoke with Granma International.
This is Guirau’s fifth visit to Cuba with the brigade, while it is Benedet first. Both talked about the work of their organization and its efforts in the struggle against aggressive and interventionist policies toward the island by successive U.S. governments. They also highlighted actions undertaken by the Association to disseminate information about the island’s reality, in order to combat anti-Cuban media campaigns waged by the traditional press in their country.
Meanwhile, their comrade Kasper Libeert from Belgium and representing the Cuba-Socialist solidarity movement, explained that his organization is preparing a day of tributes in September, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of heroic guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara in Bolivia.
“We’re going to have a huge festival,” stated the Belgian. “We are inviting Cuban intellectuals and artists, Aleida Guevara (Che’s daughter), Harry “Pombo” Villegaswho fought alongside Che in Bolivia. There will also be peace activists from the U.S. and a delegation from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).”
The group is planning a two-day event in Brussels in November, where participants will visit Parliament to explain to members the negative impact of the U.S. blockade on the Cuban people, and call on them to publically denounce the genocidal and unjust policy.
“Our organization opposes the occupation of the Guantánamo territory, where an illegal U.S. military base is located,” stated the young activist, noting that this is one of many issues addressed by the group through their Cuba solidarity work.
Recently the organization has denounced the step-back in the process of rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba, initiated under former President Barack Obama, following a change in the country’s policy toward the island announced in June by current President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, retired university professor Luisa Carvalho, representing the Portugal-Cuba Friendship Association, chose to join the brigade in order to contribute, in some way, to the construction of socialism and at the same time get to know more about the island and its people.
“I’ve read information that circulates about Cuba in Europe. There are two different positions on the subject: that disseminated by leftist parties and organizations with articles defending the Revolution; while right wing groups exploit any negative detail to totally condemn and slander the social construction of the country. We must be ready to refute this kind of information which is being circulated around the world,” she added.
Spanish sisters Rosalía and Luzía Mendez Senra agree. The two brigadistas, perhaps the youngest members of the group: the former 18 years of age and about to start university, and the latter a 16 year old high school student, are visiting the island to meet and talk with the Cuban people, experiences which they will report back to their friends and classmates.
“Over there they spread a lot of lies about Cuba and we want to see what it’s really like,” noted the young women.
During the welcoming ceremony, ICAP First Vice President Elio Gámez, thanked those present for their personal sacrifice and work to support the Revolution from their countries of origin, and for deciding to visit the island as part of a solidarity brigade. “Cuba is proud of its friends and solidarity around the world which has stood the test of time,” he stated.