Over 2,000 unionists, leaders of social organizations and solidarity movements from 260 organisations in 73 countries of the world attended May Day celebrations in Havana on 1 May. Included in this figure were 65 delegates from Britain participating in the CSC Young Trade Unionists Brigade, May Day Study Tour, Cuba Cycle Challenge, and a high level delegation from Unite the Union and sister Canadian unions the United Steel Workers (USW).
Raymundo Navarro, member of the National Secretariat of the Cuban Workers’ Confederation (CTC) said that the participation of so many visitors in the march in Havana’s Jose Marti Revolution Square conveyed special meaning because it also payed special homage to Bolivarian leader Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Revolution.
Chavez’s face appeared on many of the posters and signs carried by Cubans to celebrate International Workers Day. A large banner of Chavez hung from a nearby building, with the same caption, "Our Best Friend" which came from a newspaper column written by Fidel Castro after Chavez' death in which he said the Venezuelan socialist had been Cuba's best friend ever.
Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz presided over in Havana the central rally and march to mark International Workers’ Day.
Hundreds of thousands of workers, farmers, students, artists, retired workers and people from all walks of life staged a nearly-one-and- a-half-hour march starting at 7:30 am on the Jose Marti Revolution Square.
In his opening remarks of the ceremony, General Secretary of the Cuban Workers Confederation (the CTC) Salvador Valdes Mesa, began his remarks by recalling the Venezuelan leader who died March 5 after a nearly two-year battle with cancer.
"We pay special homage to the unforgettable commander Hugo Chavez Frias and express our deepest affection and admiration for that giant," said Valdes in the speech kicking off the parade.
He noted the celebrations also paid homage to National Hero Jose Marti on the 160th anniversary of his birthday and added that Cubans all over the country were parading "to express the unity of the people and their indisputable support for the revolution, socialism, Fidel and Raul."
The CTC leader also emphasized solidarity with Venezuela’s new president, Nicolas Maduro, and expressed Cuba’s determination to continue proceeding together with Caracas “on the road to the true and definitive integration of our peoples.”
Valdes also reaffirmed the Cuban people support of all workers of the world amidst the current crisis, which has a severe impact favoring the growth of unemployment, the loss of social benefits, and the increase of poverty.