Greetings to our friends in ALBA from the International Brigade Memorial Trust, keeping alive the memory and spirit of the volunteers from Britain and beyond.We salute the work of ALBA and will continue campaigning alongside you to remember those who, as part of the legendary 15th Brigade, fought and died at Jarama, Brunete, Aragón and the Ebro.Our two organisations share a common purpose: to preserve the inspirational legacy of the International Brigades and make sure it is passed on to new generations of activists, internationalists and anti-fascists.¡Viva la Quince Brigada!Jim Jump, ChairmanFriends of the International Brigades Ireland (FIBI) extends international solidarity and comradely greetings across the Atlantic to our fellow activists in ALBA on the auspicious occasion of their commemorative Gala to honour the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.Our members regularly join with representatives of ALBA to pay tribute to ‘the comradeship of heroes’ who came from the four corners of the globe to defend democracy and freedom in Spain. FIBI is particularly proud of those Irish members of the Lincolns, such as Brigaders Charlie Donnelly, Tom O’Flaherty and Andrew Delaney, whom we regularly honour on the battlefields where they fell.We hope that the bond between our organisations will continue to flourish and strengthen in the challenging years to come as we once again meet the rising fascist tide with unstinting resolve and commitment.La lucha continúa! Beirigí bua!Gearóid Ó MachailPRO
Dear Friends, Queridos Amigos de ALBA,
In these social-distancing times, we want to reach out to you and remember that physical distance does not imply being socially cut-off from each other. We embrace and hold the spirit of the International Brigades close to our hearts; closer in fact now than before coronavirus arrived and we were all confined to our homes. International solidarity, without borders, will be in heavy demand in the upcoming months, when we shall see the poor, the vulnerable and the working-class suffering the effects of the tremendous financial strains dictated by the current pandemic.
We have all seen the crucial role that essential workers play in keeping us alive through food and medical care. We hope to see that the vulnerable are not weakened and abandoned by the system. We want to see that the incredible solidarity we have witnessed in our neighbourhoods can go beyond our districts and reach a national level. Let´s see if the lives of the working class do matter, then. Let´s make sure we live up to the standards of solidarity set out by our relatives and friends in the International Brigades!
Almudena Cros, President
Please, receive this friendly solidarity and best wishes message for ALBA Live Online Gala, from the son of Cuban internationalist Victor Pina Cardoso (1910-1997) , one of the main organizers of the Cuban internationalist help for the defense of II Spanish Republic, and after the SCW in the support of the Spanish Republicans and the fight against Francoism during decades.
Since the first moments of the World solidarity with Spain during the Spanish Civil War (SCW), Cubans and US Abraham Lincoln Brigade (ALB) internationalists fought together in that first struggle against International fascism. After the end of the SCW the reciprocal comradeship created during those war´s years stayed for ever.
The biggest amount of International Volunteers for the defense of the II Spanish Republic from Latin American countries went from Cuba. Until now are documented 1225 Cubans who fought in the SCW in the defense of Spain, the first battle against the International fascism. Some historians consider that Cubans occupied the first place, proportionally to the Cuban population of those years, in comparison to the proportions of internationalists / populations of the other countries from which volunteers went to defend the Republican Spain (53 of the 66 countries that existed then). For many is difficult to understand how that amount of volunteers went from a small island in the Caribbean, thousands of kilometers away from Spain, just 35 years after Cuba got its independence from the Spanish Colony and persecuted by the governments of then and the Non-Intervention Committee. But it is a fact.
Around 150 of the Cuban volunteers departed from New York. On August 7, 1931 was created in Harlem, New York, the Julio Antonio Mella Club, that was named in honor of the Cuban revolutionary students young leader, and one of the founders of the Cuban Communist Party in 1925 , who was assassinated in Mexico City by order of the Cuban dictator of those times. Mella Club was the tribune for the Cubans and others from Iberian and Latin American countries antifascists living in USA in those years. Many Cubans were forced then to emigrate due to revolutonary activities or for economical reasons. Mella Club had a constant participation in the anti-fascist campaigns in NY, organized frequents massive meetings in Madison Square Garden against the non-intervention committee and the weapons embargo of the US Government against the supply of defense equipment for the II Spanish Republic. Mella Club contributed, too with an important economical help for the Spanish people. Cubans internationalists created in Spain the “Centuria Guiteras” a group of combatants of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, named in honor of another Cuban revolutionary who was assassinated in our country for his revolutionary activities. Many Cubans, not only those who went from USA, but from Cuba, too, fought as part of the XV Ingternational Brigade with their ALB comrades. Even Cuban medical doctors were part of the ALB, as Dr. Eduardo Orio Pérez, who went from USA to Spain as member of the US doctors and nurses and Dr. Luis Diaz Soto, Captain doctor was Head of the Surgeons of the Lincoln-Washington battalions of the ALB. During the Cuban Revolution one of the most important Cuban military hospitals was named in his honor. Dr. Luis Diaz Soto Central Hospital in Havana. At present, during these days of pandemic days, it became one of the main hospitals for the active struggle in Cuba against the COVID19.
Many of the Cubans who fought in Spain, after the end of the SCW continued, in different ways, the fight in support of the Spanish Republican Exile, the fight against Francoism plus the revolutionary struggle in Cuba and contributed to the triumph of January 1st 1959 Cuban Revolution. And after, some of them participated in internationalist help to other countries, no matter their non-young ages.
In 1981 was created the (Agrupación de Veteranos Internacionalistas Cubanos que Combatieron en España, 1936-1939 (Association of Cuban Internationalists Veterans who Fought in Spain, 1936-1939 / ACIVFS, 1936-1939), association that had a constant relation with the ALB since its creation. The Cuban Revolutionary Government always supported and honored the Cuban internationalists in Spain, and created the important award Medal of the Internationalist Combatant. Cubans who fought in Spain in defense of the II Spanish Republic received the Award of First Class, the highest one, based on the agreement 42 of the Cuban Council of State, signed October 8, 1981 by its president Fidel Castro. And, in honor to them, only after the Cubans who fought in Spain were awarded, began the process for the others who deserved that important recognition, due to their participation, during the Cuban Revolution, in solidarity with other peoples.
Along all the years after the SCW Cubans internationalists received the constant friendship, support and help from the ALB combatants. After the January 1st, 1959 Triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the ALBA solidarity, was and is present, in many different ways, first personally by ALB internationalists, and later by the Family and Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (FFALB) members. Many of them visited Cuba and personally gave their support and important help to the Cuban Revolution, as for example, just to mention a few of them: Milton Wolff, Moe Fishman, George Cullinen, Ted Velfort, Nicolas Papas, Milt Felsen, and Sam Walters, who always, rebel and defying the US blockade against Cuba, asked and organized before his death, to be buried in Cuba, where in 2000 in the Havana´s Colon Cemetery was its farewell with the presence of many of Cubans internationalists and the last words were said by his Cuban comrade, Mario Morales, then President of the ACIVFS, 1936-1939.
The heroic example of internationalism shown by those fighters for the defense of the II Spanish Republic has being present in the 60 years of Cuban Revolution:
– in the education, helping to eliminate illiteracy in many countries and preparing citizens from different poor countries in different specialties;
– in the medicine with thousands of Cuban doctors and other medicine specialist helping along these years in dozens of countries and preparing doctors and other medicine specialists (including some from poor populations in the USA) at the Cuban Latin American Medicine School with the only compromise that after graduating serve poor populations in their respective countries. Some US citizens graduated from that Cuban medicine school are during these days in NY and other cities fighting against the pandemic;
– helping different countries that suffered hurricanes, earthquakes and other nature disasters, epidemics, including these days of the COVID19 pandemic with 25 Cuban Henry Reeve Brigades (named in honor of Henry Reeve, a young US soldier that fought with Cubans patriots against the Spanish Colony during the XIX century, specialized brigades that were created during the Katrina hurricane for helping US, but the US Government didn´t authorized that Cubans went to help the citizens of the affected areas ) and other Cuban doctors, nurses and medicine specialists helping in 68 countries of Latin America, Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia in the fight against this terrible pandemic that is affecting all the World;
– and in the military field with hundreds of thousands of Cuban soldiers that contributed in Africa in the struggle against South Africa, with the elimination of the Apartheid and the liberation of African countries as Namibia and Angola.
Víctor Pina Tabío,
Havana, May 16, 2020.
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