Members of the U.S. 48th Venceremos Brigade returned home after an eye-opening trip to Cuba allowed the group to study socialism in motion, experience the island’s culture and learn about its revolution.
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The group, challenging the economic, commercial, and financial blockade enacted by the U.S. against Cuba, traveled to the island nation, visiting its historic sites, speaking to its residents, learning their customs and participating in the National Day of Rebellion celebrations which took place on July 26, honoring the rebel attack on the Moncada Garrison.
According to members, the trip opened their eyes to the truth of Cuba’s reality, revealing the media’s heavy influence on the world and its misrepresentation of the island’s social and economic situations.
Brigade members told Granma International that traveling to Cuba allowed them to reflect on the differences between the two nations.
Frangy Pozo, a sociology student at the University of Pennsylvania whose parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic, explained that the U.S. is far from the paradise they expected, with a society continuously fighting racism and police brutality in order to create a better society for future generations.
“We live in a very violent country, where the people are kept in a perpetual state of fear. Black and Latino communities are afraid of the police,” said Pozo.
“Around me, I see a political system which excludes the vast majority of the population,” she continued. “I came here to learn about Cuban socialism and see how they solve their social problems. I have also met and spoken to young people about building a more just society.”
Another brigade member, Hector Rivera Toledo, stated he came for similar reasons. Similar to the projects he oversees at his artwork shop at a community center in New York, Rivera Toledo said he always wanted to come to Cuba in order to join in community projects and people-to-people activities.
All we want is for the U.S. to follow international law. #toomuchtoask? #FreedomToTravel #Resist pic.twitter.com/ZNsez48Ilo
— Venceremos Brigade (@VB4Cuba) July 27, 2017
“I’ve read about the Revolution,” Rivera Toledo said, “especially its leaders: Fidel and Raul Castro, Ernesto Guevara and others. I’m here to learn. I want to meet and talk to Cubans and make friends. I’m also interested in learning more about Cuban culture, which is similar to that of Puerto Rico’s, where I’m from. Above all, I want to contribute my personal efforts to productive work.”
Nadir Ruben Romo Quesada, a seasoned traveler who returned Aug. 4 from his third trip to Cuba with the brigade, explained, “I am here in Cuba to show my solidarity, a human principle which I believe needs to be cultivated, above all among Spanish-speakers. It’s important to develop these types of connections between people, these types of cultural exchanges."
He said the U.S. blockade against the Cuban people and its restrictions on travel violate the constitutional right to travel to any nation where one is welcomed.
“If, when we return to the United States, they demand we show a license, we will practice civil disobedience and demand our rights. We will use the mass media to expose our case and generate a great public debate to explain how they (the U.S. government) want to destroy the Revolution and re-colonize the island.”