Watching The May Day Parade In Havana, Cuba

Way back in 2011, I was lucky enough to witness the May Day Parade in Havana, whilst in Cuba with Cuba Solidarity Campaign.  Some people think Cuba is very corrupt, that citizens are treated badly and that the state controls a little bit of what people see, similar to North Korea. That’s not the impression I got at all, everyone I met during my trip (whether officially through organised trips or unofficially during our free time) certainly gave the impression they were happy and proud of their country. A lot of the negative stereotypes about the country come, in my opinion, from America, and the way they treat the country. Cuba struggles with the embargo that’s been placed on them by the US-any country who wants to trade with America (that’ll be all of them, then) can’t trade with Cuba, so they’re missing essential items as basic as painkillers, sanitary items-lots of basic things you’d expect everywhere to have.

Every May Day (that’s the first of May, for anyone who doesn’t know) over a million Cubans march through the centre of Revolucion Square in Havana, in celebration of their country, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and the Cuban Revolution. I was lucky enough to witness this for myself in 2011 and I thought I’d share some photos and my thoughts about the experience.

Seven people holding a Cuban flag wearing matching Cuba Solidarity Campaign t-shirts

Five people wearing Cub Solidarity Campaign t-shirts stood in Revolucion Square, Havana

May Day Parade, Havana, Cuba

We were stood in a VIP area up a grassy bank, just in front of Fidel and Raoul Castro, from 7am. The night before had been a heavy one for us and we woke up to find the camp had run out of bottled water-Cuba doesn’t have a supermarket on every corner so we had to do without until we got back. The parade itself took a couple of hours to file past us and it was amazing to see how many people turned out. I’ve been a part of a fair few marches through the Trade Union Movement, but we are always marching AGAINST something, a march to support something blew my mind. Whatever your thoughts on Cuba as a country, if you happen to be there on the 1st May I’d really recommend going to watch the parade.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

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