“My 91-year-old heart is full of joy,” the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, declared as the massive May Day march to Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución concluded, captured in a video posted on social media
May 4, 2022
May dawned full of hope, flooded by a patriotic avalanche. Once again, the firm steps of millions of Cubans, parading proudly in tight ranks, swept away any illusion our enemies still harbor that this people will turn its back on our Revolution. There is no better date to reaffirm our commitment than International Workers’ Day.
We took to the streets not only to maintain a beautiful tradition, but also because this is a country of men and women who do not sit back and watch how the present unfolds, or impassively await what the future may hold; but rather work hard, with dignity and dedication, so that both the present and the future are better. Two very difficult years preceded this date, and although nothing had stopped us from celebrating May Day at home and in virtual settings, we longed to return to the plazas and streets of the country, to march together, to demonstrate our intention to uphold the principles that together we defend, the engine that drives us – a yearning that beat in the soul of all revolutionaries.
This was a May Day of reunions and joy, of confidence in what we are capable of doing as a nation. A May Day of well-deserved tribute to the collective sacrifice that allowed us to survive the worst pandemic humanity has experienced in the last century, and to do so without ever neglecting our defense of the Homeland, knowing that our enemies were ready to pounce. (Although as usual, whenever they make such attempts, they are the ones who end up losing.)
The truth is that neither the coronavirus or the virus of hatred prevented Cuban workers and farmers from doing their jobs, developing a variety of strategies and alternatives. Thus, with the efforts of many who never rested, despite the undeniable economic limitations, essential services were available; production continued of goods necessary to avoid an economic collapse provoked by the U.S. blockade; and the people’s basic needs were met.
The mettle of Cuban workers shone among our healthcare staff, who not only protected the lives of the people at all costs, risking their own, but also gave us a resounding example of internationalism and solidarity. Our talented, dedicated scientists are also workers who, with unconditional devotion, gave us the enormous privilege of having our own vaccines – in an unequal and unjust world in which what should be an inalienable right was denied many.
Deserving of honorable mentions, as well, are those who, faced with the temporary suspension of their usual work, stepped forward like heroes in the red zone to support their brothers and sisters in the COVID-19 battle. Much dedication and love was also expressed by non-state workers who – as important actors not only in the economy, but also in our collective construction in the broadest sense – led noble missions and took initiative to solve specific problems, fill gaps and help the most needy.
The truth is that, in an exceptional, historic manner, Cuban workers responded en masse (and continue to do so every day) to the homeland’s urgent call. Each one, in their own place and their own way, did their duty, convinced that individual commitment cannot be postponed if our collective well-being is at stake.
For these reasons, on the first day of May, the country’s plazas were filled with much more than flags and colorful banners bearing slogans. In all the streets where millions of Cubans came together, there was loyalty, respect for history, revolutionary consciousness and dignity, much more than what our enemies are capable of measuring or understanding.
And we are not alone, because whoever sows love and solidarity reaps sisters and brothers. This May Day was also filled with the human warmth of those who, from dissimilar nations, came to join us in what also became a resounding demand for justice for all those suffering exploitation and poverty around the world, deprived of the most elementary labor rights.
Cuba lives, because of the willpower of her children, because of the resolve and strength that unity gives us. Cuba works, because revolutionaries know we can’t take the low road if we intend to reach the stars. Cubans are made of a metallic alloy of resistance, creativity and patriotism. This material, for the record, doesn’t rust or rot, much less break.