By C. T. Weber
Posted on September 20, 2016 by the Communications Committee
Taking a vacation and going to interesting places is always something we should try to squeeze into our busy lives. However, it is more significant and satisfying if the trip has a purpose in addition to relaxation and enjoyment. This year I was privileged to make such a trip. An invitation had been made to the Sacramento Central Labor Council from Raymundo Navarro Fernandez, the General Secretary of the Worker’s Central Union of Cuba, to bring a labor delegation from California to Cuba in order to participate in International Workers Day activities and attend a Solidarity Conference of labor leaders from around the world. With U.S. capitalists waging its war against the Cuban people, I wanted to see the damage caused by the embargo and the United States in its continuing efforts to try to change it back to the way it was under Batista.
Like many of the others in our delegation, I arrived a little early so that I could join them and expand our trip beyond Havana. We visited Cienfuegos and Trinidad, a world heritage site, on the south coast of Cuba before we turned inland to a preserved tropical rain forest where we spent the night in a very nice government motel. After marching through the jungle for a few hours, we continued on to Santa Clara where we visited the memorial where the ashes of Che Guerra and other revolutionaries are kept. There is also an eternal flame in their honor. Then it was back to Havana, a 16th century city on the north coast of the island.
We received word that our host, the Workers Central Union, that they had a surprise for us. We would not march in the parade but instead we would be in the viewing stands for guests and important Cubans labor and government leaders. The enthusiasm of the Cuban people was contagious and we did not mind standing and watching nearly a million march by us. People were lined up across a ten lane boulevard walking past us at what seemed to be a fast pace for hours.
The next day we attended an international solidarity conference with hundreds of labor leaders and movement activists from 68 countries. The messages were clear. End the U.S. embargo of Cuba, close the Guantanamo Bay military base and prison and return it to Cuba, support unrestricted travel to Cuba. Cuba is exploring ways to open Cuba up for small businesses but will insist that the goal of the revolution is preserved, a socialist Cuba.
Back in Sacramento, we met to go over a proposed resolution and clean it up so that it included the main goals of the international solidarity conference; end the embargo, close Guantanamo, and support unrestricted travel to Cuba. The resolution was submitted to the Sacramento Central Labor Council. It was passed and was sent to the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. The resolution further called upon the Cal Labor Fed to encourage each California Central Labor Council to contact each member of Congress in their jurisdiction and ask them to officially support these goals. The resolution passed the California Labor Federation which will now encourage members of each of the California Central Labor Councils to visit Cuba during the celebration of workers’ solidarity in Havana, Cuba on May 1, 2017. Finally, the resolution is now on its way to the National AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka asking him to forward the resolution to each AFL-CIO state federation in the United States.
C. T. Weber is an officer at large of the State Central Committee from Sacramento County, and chair of the Legislative Committee.