Cuba’s Showcase May Day Parade Cancelled

From a past International Workers Day Parade in Havana.

After first announcing the celebration would go on as usual despite the crisis, Miguel Diaz Canel has now gone to a Plan B

By Javier Herrera

HAVANA TIMES – The ability or willingness of the ruling regime in Cuba to turn setbacks into victories is incredible, at least in its discourse. A speech that few Cubans, or connoisseurs of the Cuban reality, believes or supports.

Amid an epic fuel crisis, real or provoked, for the first time in 64 years since the 1959 revolution, the government suddenly renounced the realization of the May Day Parade in the Plaza de la Revolucion, the old Civic Plaza built during the government of Fulgencio Batista.

The annual event, organized by the government Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, the only legal trade union organization in Cuba, traditionally took place in the main squares of each capital city of the country, with the central act taking place in the Plaza de la Revolución of Havana, also attended by supporters from many countries.

The celebration was always marked by a long parade of workers organized in unions, workplaces, and education centers. Soldiers paraded alongside the workers, flaunting the island’s military might. And as the culmination of the parade, the leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro, gave a speech that could last for several hours regardless of the inclement tropical sun.

In this year 2023, coinciding with the fuel crisis that the Islands are suffering and with the moment of least support for the regime, with a volatile social situation, the ruling leadership decided to drop the central celebration, which served to show the world, fundamentally to friends, the supposed support that the government and its leaders had. The real reasons for the massive participation of the population in said event is enough for a complete article because beyond the real support that it could have, it is necessary to take into account coercion, fear of losing a job or simply being singled out at one’s neighborhood or study or work center.

This time they have decided to take the celebrations to the municipalities and will hold a miniscule central act with the assistance of just four municipalities surrounding the Havana boardwalk. Regardless of the veracity of the causes of the fuel crisis, and of almost everything, the event itself entails expenses that are useless and unnecessary in the midst of the great social, migratory, food and political crisis that the island is experiencing these days.

Once again, with a more than changeable attitude, instead of acknowledging the failure that the non-celebration constitutes, they disguise it as a victory by saying they will “multiply the parade”, as if we Cubans were not used to interpreting their euphemisms.

Are there hidden reasons for not carrying out the central act with the assistance of thousands of people concentrated in a single square? Are they remembering the tragic end of Romania’s Nicolas Ceaușescu, who called a mass demonstration trying to regain the support of the people and quickly went on to be booed, carry out a massacre and be hunted down and shot in the space of a couple of days?

In short, the conditions that led to the fall of the disgraceful Romanian dictatorship are taking place in Cuba almost identically: brutal repression of any type of dissent, loss of support both within the population, the army, and even among the secret police, total shortages, misery, hunger, massive emigration…

Perhaps this is good news… perhaps this is the last May Day celebrated in Cuba under the aegis of the Communist Party, for now there is no longer a massive central event.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

4 thoughts on “Cuba’s Showcase May Day Parade Cancelled

  • After decades of stiffing creditors, which began when Fidel seized foreign businesses without compensation, no one will lend Cuba a dime. The world’s largest sugar producer now imports it.

    The Revolution is dead. The Cuban people are seething with anger. When will it finally end?

  • How good it is to see that Michael Ritchie is addressing the reality of Cuba, which I endeavored to describe in ‘Cuba Lifting The Veil’ written in 2015, when he was supporting the May Day farce and the PCC, and published in April 2016.

    Much better late than never Michael, to recognize the incompetence, repression and dictate that is described as the Government of Cuba.

    The sooner those “fat asses” you describe get kicked out of power, the better! Dictatorship must go, whether that of a Batista, Castro or a Castro puppet.

    It is now over eighty years since Winston Churchill opined:

    “The inherent vice of socialism is the equal spreading of misery”

    Today it can be seen from one end of Cuba to the other! The line-ups are endless and hunger knaws.

  • I have attended several May Day celebrations in Havana, beginning in 2015. At that early date I was an admitted and ardent Fidelista. El Jefe was still alive. The PCC meant nothing to me really.
    Those Premier de Mayo celebrations were inspirational, with the voices of Cuban leaders blasting over the massive plaza from giant old stadium speakers, echoing their Revolutionary message far beyond the plaza.
    Yes, I knew that attendance of all the union workers was mandatory. But those I saw (some I spoke with) all managed to make the best– even a party– of the rare day off. Which is the way of the wonderful Cuban people. Peanut sellers lined the closed 4-lane parade route, people blew horns, families shared small picnics.
    People waved Cuban flags and posters picturing Fidel.
    This was all before the stoic, somewhat ignorant Miguel Diaz-Canel became ringleader of the Cuban circus.
    The excitement now has been replaced with hunger pangs and real fears of poverty.
    It’s not so easy being a Fidelista any more.
    Diaz-Canel and the fat old Generals of the PCC saw the food shortage and the fuel shortage and the monet shortage coming.
    They sat on their fat asses and did nothing about it.
    Truth is they didn’t and still don’t know what to do about any of Cuba’s problems.
    They will continue to sit there until another Fidel comes along and kicks those fat asses.
    Maybe then Premier de Mayo will once again be a day of celebration at Plaza de la Revolucion.

  • Communism quits working when it runs out of other people’s money.

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