Young Trade Unionists’ May Day Brigade in Cuba, a report from South West delegate Ella Peters

“My time in Cuba revealed both the harsh effects of the inhumane blockade and the resilience of the Cuban people”

On Sunday 21 April, I travelled to Cuba with 379 delegates from 33 countries to join the Young Trade Unionists’ May Day Brigade.

Over 12 days, we gained insight into the US Blockade’s impact on Cuba. At Julio Antonio Mella International Camp in Artemisa, we faced power cuts and water shortages, experiencing Cuba’s struggles firsthand. Even fundraising was hindered online due to the word “Cuba.”

Working with local cooperatives highlighted Cuba’s reliance on traditional farming methods. We laboured with hoes instead of machinery, producing 70,308 Cuban Pesos worth of work, equal to a farmer’s annual wage. Lectures informed us about the blockade’s impact on various aspects of Cuban life, especially since Cuba’s addition to the US’s “State Sponsor of Terrorism” list, which has severely affected tourism.

The Cuban people’s warm welcome was deeply moving. At the Palacio de las Convenciones, we heard Carlos Fernandez De Carcio discuss Cuba’s solidarity with states like Palestine, and President Miguel Díaz-Canel denounce the blockade’s economic and media attacks.

A visit to a Havana cinema offered insights into the blockade through the film “Hardliner on the Hudson,” available on YouTube via Belly of the Beast. The brigade also delivered essential supplies to hospitals and children, highlighting the severe shortages caused by the blockade. Thanks to local branches for their donations to the Cuba vive medical aid programme, which helps alleviate these shortages.

Despite US restrictions, Cuba maintains an excellent healthcare system. My time in Cuba revealed both the harsh effects of the inhumane blockade and the resilience of the Cuban people. The blockade is illegal (as voted by the UN, with only the US and Israel opposing) and unjust. I am grateful for the Cuban people’s hospitality and hope to see more societies embodying their resourcefulness and solidarity. Vive Cuba!