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May 29, 2023

The Cuba Solidarity Committee in Puerto Rico has not let FBI harassment of members of last year’s brigade to Cuba stop it from organizing to oppose the U.S. economic war on Cuba and tell the truth about Cuba’s Revolution. The committee is working hard to promote this year’s Juan Rius Rivera Solidarity Brigade, set for July 13-30.

The brigade will visit eastern Cuba to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the July 26, 1953, attack on the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship’s Moncada barracks in Santiago, led by Fidel Castro. This was the opening gun of the Cuban Revolution. This year is also the 125th anniversary of Washington’s invasion of Cuba and Puerto Rico. While Cuba eventually won its independence, Puerto Rico is still a U.S. colony.

Militarily the Moncada attack was a failure, but Castro’s defense speech concluding his trial — published and distributed clandestinely throughout Cuba as History Will Absolve Me — laid out a program for a thorough-going land reform, political rights, measures to raise the standard of living of working people, and solidarity with struggles throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, winning support for revolutionary struggle across the country.

Commemorating July 26 “helps us break the mentality of impotence that the colonial rulers try to impose on us,” Milagros Rivera, president of the Cuban Solidarity Committee, told the Militant by phone from San Juan May 2. “The example of Moncada shows that when you have a spirit of struggle in spite of whatever obstacles you face, you can plant the seed of freedom.”

This year’s brigade is also important because “it’s part of a continental network of solidarity,” Rivera said. “We’re going to be joining with other brigades from Latin America to demonstrate against the blockade of Cuba with a single voice.”

Last August the FBI called or visited over 70 people in Puerto Rico, most of whom had been on the 2022 brigade, claiming the political police were investigating either a “violation” of federal law or Cuban “infiltration” of the brigade.

The committee rapidly organized a press conference and protests denouncing the FBI harassment and advised people to not talk to Washington’s political police. They won support around the world for their right to organize trips to Cuba and the FBI probe stopped. “Who knows what false charges the FBI would have come up with if we hadn’t denounced what they were doing,” Rivera said.

Everything the Cuba Solidarity Committee and the brigade have done is open and public, Rivera noted. The FBI harassment failed; instead it spurred the committee to step up its work. This year for the first time the Cuba Solidarity Committee was formally part of the coalition organizing the International Workers Day march in San Juan May 1. Rivera chaired the main rally. Committee members marched, prominently wearing shirts with slogans in solidarity with Cuba. They were well received.

“Other marchers came up to us and gave us donations so we can bring more solidarity to Cuba,” Rivera said.

Rivera expects more than 30 people on this year’s brigade, many for the first time. They will perform voluntary work alongside Cubans, meet with mass organizations and participate in a Caribbean solidarity conference.

“This year’s brigade will also be a way of saying that Puerto Rico is a nation,” Rivera said. “Of saying that Puerto Rico continues its fight.”

You can contact the committee at solidaridadprcu@gmail.com.


By US-Cuba Normalization Committee

Organizing Committee, International and Nationwide Conference for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations.