In Cuba, This Was a Different May 1st

By Elio Delgado Legon

Photo: Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — When I say different, I’m referring to two aspects of what this May Day was in Cuba. Different from previous occasions because this time, the workers’ celebration has been mainly dedicated to young Cubans, to their leading role in all of the Revolution’s efforts and for being the force which will relieve past generations, who made and have upheld the Revolution for almost 60 years, always moving forward, in spite of Imperialism’s war against it to destroy it.

I also say different because May 1st celebrations in Cuba are a true celebration of the people, who showed their unconditional support for the Revolution and its leaders and their commitment to follow the ideas of the late Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, masterfully summarized in his Concept of the Revolution, which was announced precisely on May 1st in 2000. And this doesn’t happen in other countries, where workers make the most of the events on this day to demand their rights, which are being taken away. And I won’t give examples because there are many HT readers who know what I’m referring to.

In Cuba, the week before International Workers’ Day, events and marches were held in every Cuban municipality, where you could clearly see the people’s support for their Revolution and their rejection of the genocidal blockade which the United States continues to apply against our people for over half a century.

The parades held on May 1st in every provincial capital have been the largest and most militant in recent years, because it’s the first to take place after the passing away of the Revolution’s historic leader, Fidel Castro, among other reasons, and everyone wanted to express their affection, respect and support for his ideas.

From abroad, over 1,600 representatives from all over the world took part, as a symbol of their support and the solidarity of the global workers’ movement for Cuban workers and their Revolution. It is particularly noteworthy that as all these representatives pay the cost of their trip and expenses in Cuba. Many tourists also participated in provincial events and in those in Havana too, many of whom travel every year to Cuba at this time to share the Cuban people’s enthusiasm for International Workers’ Day. Some interviewees noted that they don’t see the same passion on this date in their own countries.

In the Jose Marti Revolution Square, in Havana, the main leaders of the State and Government were at the Presidential podium, headed by Army General Raul Castro, President of the State Council and Council of Ministers, accompanied by Danny Faure, president of the Seychelles.

The capital’s march, under the slogan “Our unity is our strength”, began after the Secretary General’s speech from the Central Workers Union of Cuba (CTC), Ulises Guilarte, and was led by a block of 5000 young Cubans, among them were students, scientists, soldiers and workers from every sector, who showed their enthusiasm and joy throughout the entire march.

Photo: Elio Delgado Valdes

Several blocks followed them, representatives from 17 CTC affiliates and other Havana residents, carrying banners, made by themselves, where they revealed their complete support for the Revolution.

In both the capital as well as in the rest of the country, banners also expressed the Cuban workers’ unconditional support for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and the government of Nicolas Maduro, in the face of the Fascist opposition attack, which has left many people dead and a lot of economic damage.

The workers also expressed their support for the rest of Latin America’s revolutionary projects, in the face of neoliberalism’s attack, in an attempt to conquer these nations.

Other banners continued to demand the end of the US blockade against Cuba and the return of the illegally occupied naval base in Guantanamo. After an hour and a half of marching in the capital’s Revolution Square, the march ended to the beat of conga drums.

Like always, the Revolution’s detractors will say that workers only attended the parades because they felt obliged. However, any intelligent onlooker will see the enthusiasm and joy which Cuban workers and their families’ have when they march here, and will have to agree with me when I say that these spontaneous appearances can’t be because they are forced to do them, but because of their revolutionary conscience.



Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

Elio Delgado Legon has 246 posts and counting. See all posts by Elio Delgado Legon

15 thoughts on “In Cuba, This Was a Different May 1st

  • It is increasingly obvious that you know next to nothing about the reality of life for the average Cuban. My wife, members of her family – I am related to well over sixty Cubans, my friends and neighbours have yet to experience an open free vote in their lifetimes. All candidates in elections in Cuba are members of the Communist Party of Cuba. There are those who through either ignorance or innocence have swallowed the Party line promoted by the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba. No doubt you regarded Stalin as an elected leader along with the Kim family in North Korea, the Asad family in Syria and the Castro family in Cuba.
    Fidel Castro only ever stood for election prior to 1953 and Raul Castro was appointed by Fidel Castro. Like other innocents, you have not examined facts. Re-read my first paragraph! Can you deny or correct any of it?

  • Raphael, Gregory Elias was the donor and paid over $7,000,000 to ship everything presented to the Cuban audience as a gift. See a few seconds of the show on YouTube. The best footage is from Cuban themselves who seemed to delight to a spectacular show. The logistics to get the equipment and video props was insane. Mr. Elias is a self made millionaire and quite generous. I’d state he leans a bit more towards capitalism vs. communism but I’m not preaching just the facts.

  • Are you serious? Cuban ballots have 10 candidates for 10 positions. You call that choice?

  • You are right. Like most everything else, “they do a pretty shitty job”. 

  • Yes the opinions of Cubans count for a lot, as they are the ones who elect the members of the National Assembly who elect the Council of State and presidency.

  • What do the Rolling Stones have to do with capitalism?? LOL

  • ’employers’ do you mean managers, they are elected by the Union so they are not capitalists. 50% of the population didn’t attend the march, either they wanted to ‘sleep late that day’, too old, too young, or just didn’t feel like going. If the government forces people to go to the march than they do a pretty shitty job. And also as somebody who has himself and know others who have been to Cuba, I know that May Day parades are completely voluntary

  • They go to vote as they know that their failure to attend would be recorded, but they leave their voting paper blank. Similarly those who are designated to attend PCC events comply because failure to do so is recorded. Yes, as their are 11.1 million Cubans only those selected attend.

  • !Belated May Day greetings from “The People’s Republic of Vermont,” Elio! We had a great May Day here, too. I carpooled with contingent from the Workers’ Center, here in Brattleboro, to Burlington, three hours north, where we marched from the North End to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream parlor on the Church Street Mall in downtown Burlington, where we protested the working conditions of the migrant workers who work for some of Ben and Jerry’s suppliers (Ben and Jerry sold their company to Unilever, a Dutch multi-national, more than a decade ago). From there we marched onward to the Federal Building for more speeches, mostly protesting the round-up of migrant workers, before adjourning to Battery Park for a bar-b-que.
    A feature this year was that many speeches were in both Spanish and English, and many migrant farm workers and their supporters spoke. I’d say 80% of the those marching were in their teens, twenties and thirties: students, farm workers, young families with their children. Due to May Day being on Monday, a required working day up here, there were not as many folks this year’s march as in the previous two years (maybe 500 to 700, contrasted with twice and sometimes thrice that the previous two years, when it fell on a Sat. and a Sun.) Still, it was an energizing experience.
    I’ll always remember marching from the Capitolio, at 6:00 a.m. to the Plaza de la Revolution (arriving at 7:45 a.m., in 2006, where i was fortunate to hear one of Fidel’s last public speeches. Hope to march in at least one more Habana May Day.

  • Dan, not all employers ENFORCE the requirement that employees attend the march. Some bosses simply forge the paperwork. Conversely, there are actually a few workers who want to attend. There are no absolutes here. However, the MAJORITY of Cubans would rather stay home May 1 and watch the march on TV. Or not watch at all and sleep late that day.

  • If attendance is enforced, than why do I know so many, many Cubans who don’t march ? And why do they all laugh at the thought that they would get in trouble for abstaining ?

  • Elio, the only reason Cuba looks half way decent is due to the private sector that’s now giving great venues for eating and evening entertainment. Did you witness the joy that over 400,000 Cuban’s were able to enjoy when The Rolling Stones came to town? That was a donation by a Capitalist for the people of Cuba. The show is on YouTube and one of the best I’ve ever seen. Go down the line and you’ll witness homes being refurbished, farms that are producing abundant crops all due to the private sector. Granted, education and medical advancement are great but you’re blind to what the common Cuban is striving for.

  • Raul Castro’s successor has already been selected by Raul Castro – the opinion of 11.1 million Cubans counts for naught. Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez will take over as President. But the economic power will remain with GAESA as the military holding company for its 57 subsidiaries. GAESA’s boss is General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Callejas, Raul’s son-in-law (married to Deborah). GAESA controls well over 80% of the economy. Forget Tony Castro the play boy, look instead at brother Alejandro Castro Espin who heads up all the so-called security services – Cuba’s overseas and internal spy agencies (CDR)
    In suggesting that Elio is secure in thinking that leaders will do the right thing for Cuba, you have to decide wheher you mean the citizens of Cuba or the Communist Party of Cuba. Elio is a well-known supporter of the latter. he has swallowed all the exhortations of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba and will like a poodle follow in the footsteps of his dictator.
    Whereas Elio is an enthusiastic supporter of the Castro regime, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that he represents the view of the average Cuban – he doesn’t! Fidel Castro’s “Socialismo” doesn’t require to be two tier to be immoral – it is immoral.

  • Elio will not respond to your comment. He never does. He is only programmed to regurgitate Castro-speak. To respond to a comment would require original thinking and the Castro revolution made that illegal in 1962.

  • Elio, get real. If attendance and expressed enthusiasm were not forced, why are there sign-in sheets?

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