A special brigade to Cuba

By Chela Weitzel

In December and January, the 26th annual Southern Cross Work-Study Brigade will visit Cuba and take part in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the triumph of Cuba’s revolution against US domination. The brigade is organized by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society.

Cuba is a country that’s taking a different path in the world, which values health, education, the environment and the development of its people. Cuba is also a country that needs international solidarity, because it’s under constant and immense pressure from Washington to abandon its revolution. The brigade offers both the chance to experience the Cuban reality and to stand in support of the Cuban people and their revolution.

When you visit Cuba, you experience a lively culture and a fascinating history as well as participating in diverse activities. But more than that, the brigade takes you places that a normal tourist simply can’t go. For Cuba, tourism is an industry but brigadistas are offered a behind-the-scenes journey. The brigade is a unique opportunity to see a country that can feed itself, provide education to all and provide universal health care with a small fraction of the wealth of countries like Australia.

Of course, these ideas are dangerous to the rich and powerful, and the Cuban way of life faces a sustained threat to its existence and independence. Through small but symbolic acts of solidarity, brigadistas can show their support for the Cuban Revolution.

What will brigadistas do? Brigadistas participate in social, cultural and political activities. A typical day could include planting guavas at a local cooperative farm in the morning, attending a talk on Cuban democracy in the afternoon, then salsa dancing lessons in the evening! This year, the brigade will visit medical centers, schools and universities, and have discussions with representatives of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions, the Federation of Cuban Women, Cuba’s communist youth organization and other mass organizations. The brigade will also include some mornings of light agricultural work. This is a lot of fun and a great way to see where your food comes from! This year brigadistas will be hosted by Cuban families in Amanas, offering a unique opportunity to participate in everyday Cuban life.

The brigade runs from December 27 to January 21, and costs A$1000, which covers all accommodation, food, transport and activities within Cuba (airfares to and from Cuba are not included). If you want to participate, phone Sydney brigade coordinator Chela Weitzel on 0422 665 099 or email chela[dot]weitzel[at]gmail[dot]com. Bookings close on November 8.