Wednesday, 17 January 2018 17:09

Antonio Maceo Brigade: Forty Years Defending the Cuban Revolution

Written by Nuria Barbosa León
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At the Colon Cemetery in Havana, representatives of the Alianza Martiana Coalition paid tribute to General Máximo Gómez and victims of the 1976 downing of a Cubana de Aviación aircraft over the coast of Barbados. At the Colon Cemetery in Havana, representatives of the Alianza Martiana Coalition paid tribute to General Máximo Gómez and victims of the 1976 downing of a Cubana de Aviación aircraft over the coast of Barbados. Photo: Orlando Perera

The struggle to defend Cuba's sovereignty continues within the United States, supported by members of the Antonio Maceo Solidarity Brigade, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

 

This according to journalist Andrés Gómez Barata, national coordinator and founder of the renowned group of youths who had the audacity to travel to the island in 1977, at a time when relations between the two nations were tense, putting themselves at risk of reprisals or attacks by far-right sectors within the Cuban-American community in Florida.

"Our organization has fought hard against the U.S. government's support to terrorists," stated the intellectual, citing the assassination of one of the founders of the brigade, Carlos Muñiz Varela, in 1979.

"After all these years none of his murderers or those who hired them to kill him have been questioned by the relevant authorities at either a state or federal level, despite all the work that has been done to see the criminals charged and brought to trial, as demanded by law," he stated.

Today, the group works within the Alianza Martiana Coalition, which supports efforts to end the criminal U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba for almost 60 years.

It also works to strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries, a process which recently suffered various setbacks, after the Donald Trump administration imposed obstacles on the path to rapprochement between Washington and Havana, initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.

The group also supports the right of Cubans residing abroad to travel to the island, around 400,000 of whom visit the country every year to reconnect with family and friends.

Their support also extends to U.S. citizens, who are currently prohibited from visiting the island as tourists due to blockade restrictions.

In the past the brigade fought to secure the return of little Elián González to Cuba in 2000, and the release of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists who were unjustly imprisoned in the U.S.

Their activities included public protests and motorcades which would drive around the main avenues of Miami denouncing and distributing information on the cases.

What is more, Gómez condemned the current media campaign fueled by the U.S. government around alleged "sonic attacks" on its diplomatic personnel in Havana, which saw the Trump administration withdraw the majority of staff from its embassy in Havana and expel Cuban officials from the island's diplomatic headquarters in Washington, practically paralyzing the visa processing system and complicating the movement of peoples between the two nations.

"Cubans currently can't immigrate to the United States and the U.S. government has no intention of complying with its migration agreements which stipulate no fewer than 20,000 persons a year," stated Gómez.

Regarding the Alianza Martiana's efforts, Director of Radio Miami, Max Leznik, noted that the organization works on the ground in the United States and defies all manner of threats and hostile actions in its efforts to defend the Cuban Revolution. "Every time Cuba is attacked we will respond, we will do more," stated the political activist.

Cheryl La Bash, a leader of the National Network on Cuba, noted that last September during the 3rd Days of Action Against the Blockade, a series of activities which take place every year, the damage caused by the genocidal policy to Cuba's healthcare sector was presented. It was shown that the blockade not only affects the Cuban people but also U.S. citizens, who are unable to access new and effective medicines and treatments developed by Cuba.

Cheryl explained that activists in Washington and Maryland, as well as from other parts of the U.S., Sweden and Canada, visited Congressional offices to speak with Senators and Representatives about Cuba-U.S. relations. They also met with college students and religious leaders, and shared information on the blockade.

La Bash was also invited to participate in the Antonio Maceo Brigade's 40th anniversary celebrations, paying homage to the legacy of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, and included an intense program of activities that took place in Cuba in the month of December. These included tributes to student leader Julio Antonio Mella at the University of Havana, and to independence fighter Antonio Maceo in a park dedicated to him in the capital. Participants also visited the Carlos Muñiz Varela Elementary School and met and spoke with the Cuban people.

Another invitee, Emelia Gutiérrez Arimoti, who has lived in the United States for over 60 years and is a member of the José Martí Cultural Association, recalled that the Antonio Maceo Brigade gave youth in the 1970s the opportunity to learn about and reconnect with their country of origin, to speak with the main leaders of the Revolution and personally meet Fidel Castro.

"Thanks to this example, every time Cuba calls me and needs me, I'll be there," she stated. (Granma)

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