Skip to content

Arrival of Canadian friends of Cuba

23 April, 2010

Havana, April 22nd.- The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) announces the arrival of the 18th Contingent  of the Work-Study Solidarity Brigade “Ernesto Che Guevara” from Canada. More than 30 Canadian nationals from accross the country came together in the same interest: To get to know hands-on about the Cuban people and participate in the world-wide known May Day Rally at the Revolution Square together with the Cuban workers.

ICAP reported they are ready to receive their Canadian hosts at the “Julio Antonio Mella” International Camp (45km east of Havana City), where all the conditions have been set, including an excellent itinerary that will also take “brigadistas” to Matanzas and Pinar del Rio provinces.

We invite you to keep track of our posts that will cover every single event in the 21-day itinerary prepared for this solidarity with Cuba project.

Read more on the About the Brigade page.

Experiences of a marvelous trip to Cuba

15 May, 2010

Brigadistas express their experiences and feelings during the brigad days:

Although this is my first time in Cuba, I´m very positive it will not be my last. Cuba is a wonderful “bonito” country filled with life. The people are amazing and so friendly. I have to admit, I was very shy in the beginning of the brigade…

I really enjoyed my stay at camp “Julio Antoino Mella” and I look forward to coming back again next year and the year after, if they are not sick of me by then.


During my visit to Cuba two very important things stood out for me. One, the idea of community was a recurrin theme throughout the trip. People all over Cuba, whether in Pina Del Rio or Havana, treated us and eachother like family. I have never come across such a friendly and loving people in my life. Wherever we went they shared with us what they had in terms of shelter, electricity, and food without restraint or regret. This was something touching since it truly showed how a group of people could practice true equality. This was important since equality is one of the main characteristics of the idea of democracy. Which leads us to the fact that the self proclaimed capitalist demoractic nations of the world claim that Cuba is a dictatorship and not a democracy. Another characteristic of a democratic nation is the idea that the people hold the power. One only has to look to the turnout of the May Day Parade to see that Cuba truly is one of the only democratic nations in the world. In what Western democratic country does over 70% of a nation turn out to support the country. In no Western country does this happen. Not even 30% will come out. These facts in particular, among many others, exemplify the fact that Cuba is truly a democratic country.

Roozbeeh Mazarel

May 1st, 2010

Our brigade joined 3 million other people today for the annual International Worker´s Day march in Havana. International Worker’s Day, also known as May Day, was started in the 1800’s by the International Workingman’s Association and intended to be a one-day general strike by all workers to assert their rights. Cuba has gone above and beyond that tradition, where Cuban workers and their families celebrate their victories over 52 years of revolution.

We had to get up bright and early in order to arrive in town on time to get a good view of the parade. In the middle of Plaza de la Revolucion, we watched the sunrise with brigadistas from all over the world. After a rousing speech from members of the Cuban government and getting to see Raul Castro with our own eyes, the amazing march began. Words can’t truly describe what it was like to be a part of such an energetic crowd. Cubans of every possible background marched in the parade: The Cuban Women’s Federation, trade unionists, young workers and university students, parents carrying their kids; you name it and they were marching! It took an amazing two and a half hours for the entire parade to pass us by.

It was an inspiring day that I know I will remember for the rest of my life, and from it our bridage is more motivated than ever to fight for social justice abroad. ¡Viva Cuba! Workers of the World, Unite!

J.D. Hutton
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


Today the brigade visited the only museum of humour in Cuba. Situated in a small town called San Antonio de los Baños in Havana province. The small rural town which hosts the museum is named after the rivers which run throught it. Folklore tells that the waters of the river were capaple of giving good health to those who bathed in it.

The museum set in one of the largest, oldest and most beautiful buildings in the town was filled with paintings, photographs and artworks ranging from hysterical satire to thought provoking political commentary.

Many new pieces of art were commenting on the ¨help¨ provided by the U.S. government to the people of Haiti after the earthquake there. Showing that the U.S. governments interest was to send troops to Haiti not doctors as Cuba has done.

Some pieces humourized the history of the Cuban Revolution and some of its´chief instigators, while other pieces were created just to poke a little fun at life.

Brigade members stopped to laugh and to think throughout the gallery which brought humour in a very Cuban style to all of us.

Noah Fine
Vancouver, BC
5 time brigade participant

See you with new comments! Raul


3 May, 2010

Today all 33 members of the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade from Canada have arrived. They were able to participate in the May Day rally and in the Solidarity Meeting at the National Convention Pallace.

The brigade started by laying a wreath at the Julio Antonio Mella Monument in the International Camp. Comrades Esperanza Luzbert, Director of the Northamerican Division of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and Juan Carlos Machado, Director of the International Camp, gave the welcome speeches on behalf of ICAP. During the meeting Raúl Cardoso, official and Director of the brigade this year, together with Tamara Hansen, leader of the brigade explained the program of activities that will be carried out during 21 days in Cuba.

More than 2 million cubans participated in the May Day rally. Our brigade had the possibility of being invited to see it by the tribune at José Martí Revolution Square, lead by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba. It was a greatly emotional event to all the participants, seeing the enthusiasm, the happiness and the proudness of the courageous and heroic Cuban people.

The solidarity meeting was held at the National Convention Palace, celebrated on May 2nd. The meeting gave all the participants the possibility of learning more about Cuba, their battle against imperialism, the position against the northamerican blockade and the battle for the freedom of the Five Cuban Heroes who are imprisoned in US jails, for fighting against terrorism. At the same time proposals for continued support for Cuba were declared.

Today we are departing for Varadero, together with the May Day International Brigade. The May Day Brigade has more than 250 members from more than 20 countries this year. If you would like to experience this interesting, dynamic and fun brigade join us next year for the 2011 Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade. Join us to learn about Cuba, its heartwarming and hard-working people, looking for a better world for everyone.


3 May, 2010


You can ask about their experiences living in Cuba for 21 days.

Tamara – A 25 year old student from British Columbia. Six time brigade participant and 2nd year as Brigade Coordinator. She is also the co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba.
Lynne – A 66 year old retired nurse, from British Columbia.
Eli – A 24 year old landscaper from British Columbia.
Mark – A 61 year old farmer from BC.
Tristan – A 25 year old student from BC.
Amy – A 24 year old student from BC.
Jahanzeb – A 21 year old student from Pakistan, living in BC.
Kerri – A 24 year old student from Vancouver, BC. Five time Brigade participant and an active member of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba.
Payvand – A 21 year old student from Vancouver, having her second experience as a brigadista. Also an active member of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba.
Noah – A 24 year old young man from BC, a 5 time Brigade participant.  One of the leaders of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver.
Daphne – A 24 year old student from BC, born in Chile and having her second experience as brigadista.
Aldo – A 66 year old italian-canadian man from BC.
Joel – A 21 year old student and barista from BC.
Veronika – An 18 year old Russian student from BC.
Andrew – A 27 year old electrical apprentice from BC.
Nicolas – An 18 year old student from BC.
Carmen – A 57 year old Canadian born in Honduras. Active in the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Honduras.
Kevin – A 19 year old unemployed proletarian from BC.
Antoine – An 18 year old Landscaper from BC.
James – A 43 year old man from Manitoba. Active in the Manitoba Cuba Solidarity Committee.
Iwan – The youngest member of our brigade, only 6 years old and very actively trying to learn about Cuba.
Kristin – Iwan’s mother, a 23 year old woman from Manitoba and second time Brigadista.
Angel – A 19 year old Banquet Server from Manitoba.
Dave – A 70 year old retired man from Ontario. President of the CCFA-Niagara and Executive member of the Canadian Network on Cuba.
Harrison – A 20 year old student from Ontario.
Aaron – A 38 year old from Ontario. 
Brian – A 64 year old custodian from Ontario.
Katie – A 21 year old student from Nova Scotia.
Mary – A 63 year old retired nurse from Nova Scotia. Active in the Nova Scotia-Cuba Friendship Association.
JD – A 20 year old from Nova Scotia. A University Student, Hospital Worker & Trade Unionist.
Alison – A 24 year old North American girl, who works with Pastors for Peace.
Tzinia – A 52 year old Mexican woman, participating this year in the Canadian brigade.
Roozbeh – A 22 year old, born in Iran and living nowadays in Ontario.


28 April, 2010

Wednesday, April 28
8:25pm Arrival at José Martí International Airport
CU 181 28 April 2010 DEP TORONTO 14:10 ARRIVE HAVANA 20:25
Transfer to Julio Antonio Mella International Camp (CIJAM). Accommodation.
Thursday, April 29
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:30 AM Laying a wreath for Julio Antonio Mella.
Welcome meeting by ICAP officials.
Information meeting.
12:30 PM Lunch
02:00 PM Visit to three different community projects, divided into groups:
– The girl and the boy
– Muraleando
– Pogolotti
07:30 PM Dinner and cultural activity at the Friendship House.
08:30 PM Cuban film.
Friday, April 30
Morning: Breakfast to go
Volunteer work
12:30 PM Lunch
02:30 PM Visit to the Latin American School of Medical Sciences
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Preparing to participate in the International Workers’ Day (Mayday) Rally.
Brigade Meeting
Saturday, May 1
Morning: Breakfast to go
Morning: Participation in the International Workers’ Day (Mayday)Rally
Afternoon: Return to CIJAM. Lunch.
Afternoon: Sports Day with participants of the International Primero de Mayo Brigade
OPTIONAL – free in Havana City after the rally.
6:00 PM Return to CIJAM
07:00 PM Dinner
8:30pm: Cuban Film Screening
Sunday, May 2
07:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
08:30 AM Solidarity Event at Lazaro Peña Theatre
12:30 PM Back and lunch at CIJAM
05:00 PM Brigade meeting
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Night: Dancing and Music at CIJAM.
Monday, May 3
07:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
08:30 AM Volunteer work
12:30 PM Lunch
02:00 PM Departure to Matanzas province. Check in at Mar del Sur Hotel, in Varadero.
07:00 PM Dinner
Free night
Tuesday, May 4
07:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
08:30 AM Volunteer work in an organic farm
12:30 PM Lunch at the hotel
02:00 PM Free at the hotel
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Meeting with the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution
Wednesday, May 5
07:30 AM Wake up and breakfast.
09:00 AM Depart for Cardenas Municipality.
10:00 AM Visit to the Museum “Battle of Ideas”.
12:30 PM Back to the hotel and lunch
02:30 PM Meeting with the Association of the Cuban Revolution Veterans.
05:00 PM Back to the Hotel.
07:00 PM Dinner
Free night activities
Thursday, May 6
07:00 AM Breakfast
Free Time in the hotel
12:30 PM Lunch
01:30 PM Hotel check out.
02:00 PM Departure to CIJAM
07:00 PM Dinner
Night Recreational activities at the camp

Friday, May 7
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Solidarity Meeting of both brigades with the Presidency of ICAP.
12:30 PM Lunch
02:00 PM Brigade meeting
06:00 PM Dinner
INTERNATIONAL EVENING – Cultural show of the different countries represented at the Camp and exposition of countries´ items and typical dishes.
Saturday, May 8
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Depart for Pinar del Rio
10:00 AM Oficial welcome meeting with the authorities of the province. Explanation about the
economical resources of the province.
+ Free in the city
12:30 PM Lunch in the hotel
02:00 PM Free time in the hotel
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Night Recreational activities in the hotel
Sunday, May 9
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Departure to Viñales.
+ Visit to Indian cave
+ Visit the Mural of Prehistory
12:30 PM Lunch on site
02:00 PM Free time in Viñales municipality.
05:00 PM Depart for Pinar del Rio.
07:00 PM Dinner
Night Recreational activities at the hotel. Celebration of Mother’s Day
Monday, May 10
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Volunteering in an organoponico garden
12:00 PM Lunch in the hotel
02:00 PM Lecture: Cuban Democratic System at the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Meeting with the leaders of the Young Communist League in their headquarters.
Tuesday, May 11
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Volunteering in an organoponico garden
12:00 PM Lunch in the hotel
02:00 PM Visit to the Ophthalmology Centre “Abel Santamaría Cuadrado”. Discussion and exchange about Cuba’s healthcare system
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Meeting with leaders and officials of the CTC (Cuban Trade Union)
Wednesday, May 12
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Volunteering in an organoponico garden
12:00 PM Lunch in the hotel
02:00 PM Visit to the Rum Factory “Guayabita del Pinar” and the Cigar Factory “Casa del Habano”
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Meeting with foreign medicine students and the Cuban University Students Federation at the Provincial Headquarters of ICAP.
Thursday, May 13
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Volunteering in an organoponico garden
12:00 PM Lunch in the hotel
02:00 PM Visit to the cultural community project “With love and hope” for Down syndrome persons.
04:30 PM Brigade meeting at the hotel
07:00 PM Dinner
08:30 PM Meeting with leaders and officials of the FMC in a neighbourhood.
Friday, May 14
07:00 AM Breakfast
08:00 AM Volunteering in an organoponico garden
12:00 PM Lunch in the hotel
02:00 PM Check out – Hotel
03:00 PM Depart for CIJAM
07:30 PM Dinner
Saturday, May 15
07:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
09:00 AM Visit to the Humour Museum in San Antonio de los Baños.
11:00 AM Visit to José Marti Forest
12:30 PM Lunch at CIJAM
Free in the Camp
07:30 PM Cuban Evening
Night: “ASK CUBA” Discussion and exchange about Cuba with the Cuban Delegation and workers
Sunday, May 16
08:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
09:00 AM Depart for Havana City
Free day and lunch in the city
05:00 PM Back to CIJAM from the Museum of the Revolution.
07:00 PM Dinner
OPTIONAL EVENING with Amistur´s proposals to:
– El Cañonazo Ceremony
Monday, May 17
07:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
08:00 AM Depart for the Friendship House
09:00 AM Meeting with relatives of the Five Heroes and victims of terrorist actions.
12:30 PM Lunch at the Friendship House.
02:00 PM Meeting with CENESEX representatives related to the Day against Homophobia in Cuba
04:00 PM Back to the Camp
06:00 PM 07:00 PM Dinner
Documentaries “The process” or “El Mayor Amor”
Tuesday, May 18
07:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
09:00 AM Visit to San Pedro Monumentary Complex.
12:00 M Lunch
02:00 PM Final brigade meeting and assessment. Results of the voluntary work made in Cuba
during the brigade days.
Afternoon: Preparation for Brigade Night
09:00 PM Brigade Night (Brigadistas cook, decorate and provide entertainment!)
Wednesday, May 19
03:00 AM Wake up and breakfast
04:30 AM Depart for the Airport
CU 180 19 MAy 2010 DEP HAVANA 07:00 ARRIVA TORONTO 13:10


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.