[Marxism] Yuri Kochiyama: The Trip To Cuba on the 19th Venceremos Brigade

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 12 16:07:04 MDT 2004

As I prepare for leave for the 15th Friendshipment
Caravan organized by Pastors for Peace, I wondered
how previous visitors experienced their voyages and
have scanned and posted the section on Cuba in Yuri
Kochiyama's just-published memoir PASSING IT ON.

Walter Lippmann

Yuri Kochiyama: The Trip to Cuba
The 19th Venceremos Brigade
>From Passing It On, A Memoir by Yuri Kochiyama
UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press 2004

It had always been my dream to go to Cuba with the
Venceremos Brigade, but I didn't think that would be
possible as I was in my sixties sixty seven years old to be
exact when I applied. I didn't think that anyone as old as
me would be accepted, but I later found out there were
others even older than I was! I filled out my application,
turned it in, and was accepted. I thank my husband for
being supportive and helping me with the funds needed and
taking care of the family while I was away.

I was also very grateful to Vilma Ramirez, a Chilean
activist who kept encouraging me to try and apply. I was
surprised to learn that of the 149 North Americans
comprising the 19th Venceremos Brigade, some fifteen were
senior citizens. The 1988 Brigade to Cuba ranged in age
from fifteen to eighty-one.

After Cuba's victory, so many activists wanted to see what
a socialist country would be like. The Venceremos Brigade,
a left wing solidarity organization, developed work
brigades to give grassroots organizers and activists an
opportunity to go to Cuba to work together with the people
there and experience first hand their way of living. It was
such a golden opportunity to work, study, and learn about
global liberation struggles and socialism in Cuba. There
are still Brigades going to Cuba today.

Under the slogan "No More Contras Anywhere," the Brigade
represented a broad cross section of students, workers,
professionals, and retirees from all over the U.S. The
gender breakdown included seventy two women and sixty nine
men; the ethnic composition was sixty two whites and
seventy-nine people of color (thirty-eight Latinos,
thirty-two Blacks, three Middle Easterners, three 
Native Americans, and three Asians). The wide array of
Brigadistas, however, was unified in their praise and
admiration of Cuba's concerted efforts through self
determination, its continuous struggle against the vestiges
of racism and colonialism, and its effort to build a solid
foundation for nurturing tomorrow's new socialist men and
women. FULL:

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