Published on 1 May, 2017.
It is 6:30 a.m. and the sun begins to rise above Miel Bay. On our balconies we can feel the sea breeze and the morning light flooding everything. From loud speakers downtown all the way to this hill you can listen to the opening chords and lyrics of Silvio Rodríguez’ “Vamos a andar” (“Let’s get walking”)*:
Let’s get walking / In verse and life, attentively / Uplifting the foundations / Of bread and truth…
Each year on International Workers Day, a great party takes place in Cuba. Baracoa is no exception – and you better show up very early at the Malecón, as unions start to align one after the other getting ready for the parade that affirms and celebrates workers.
Past and present – the struggle of multiple generations
Let’s get walking / Sinking down the powerful / Lifting up the lazy / Rallying everybody else…
At the forefront, senior women and men, their chests covered in medals and their stare conveying dignity wait for the moment to start the march. They’re the veterans who fought for the victory of the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s.
Let’s get walking / killing egoism / so that, for that reason / friendship can live again…
This year, youth opened the parade and lead the unions. The new generations know they constitute a relay and they carry the baton with pride. As workers in the making, these youth undertake the march with energy and determination.
Women workers – Cuban pride
You just need to watch the May 1st parade to realize that women workers are a significant component of the Cuban labour force from a quantitative point of view.
Furthermore – it is important to recall that Cuban women constitute a solid proportion of highly qualified and direction positions in various spheres of the country’s economic life.
For instance, Cuba’s National Statistics Office (2014) indicates that women constitute 56.31% of the economically active population who have a higher education degree.
Baracoa’s workforce – multi-talented and vibrant
In Baracoa, International Workers Day parade contingents show the variety and vitality of the activities that define the profile and culture of the region: unions linked to port operations, to agriculture, forestry, health, education, culture, tourism, science, sports…
Friends from all over the world
Let’s get walking / With all the flags / Intertwined to ensure / There’ll be no solitude
Global solidarity responds to the call and gathers in Cuba. Friends of the Cuban people and Revolution from numerous countries come here every year to celebrate May Day, inspired by the famous Workers of the World Unite!
Conga drumming, guantanameros’ rhythm and soul
Where else in the world can you experience such a fusion of solemnity and festive joy? Let there be no doubt – this is a parade to defend accomplishments made through wars and guerrillas, at the cost of much blood and lives. But you have to listen to and feel the congas drumming along, marking the rhythm of this unique May Day! You have to enjoy the guantanamero music groups that make revolution rhyme with celebration and dance!
Plan for a vacation in Baracoa around next year’s May 1st!
Come to discover our region and our people next year. On top of enjoying our natural, cultural and culinary wonders, you can join in the celebration of International Workers Day. Thus you’d be able to combine solidarity and festiveness – and contribute to Baracoa’s development through sustainable tourism.
For more information, you can contact us clicking here.
* This blog entry has been pieced together with observations, impressions, photos and video footage from the International Workers Day parade in Baracoa over the past 4 years.