International Workers' Day  - May 1 at Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba
Version Francais
 by Lucy Taylor
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans filed through Havana's Revolution Square on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 in a May Day parade that paid tribute to Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader…A sea of workers, many wearing red shirts like those favored by Chavez and carrying signs with his image, paraded past a giant statue of 19th century Cuban independence hero Jose Marti in the vast square where Cuba holds its biggest political rallies.

This was actually somewhat lower key than during many years’ past when upwards of a million people would gather to listen to one of Fidel Castro’s invariably long speeches. Whatever your politics this is a chance to experience and feel the atmosphere and energy which remains in the Cuban revolution and to get an insight into Cuba today. You should remember that it starts and finish early (typically you should aim to get there for 8am), so put your walking shoes on, a hat for the drenching sun and Vamos a la Plaza!

Photos by Humberto Mayol, © All rights reserved.

History and background to May Day

May Day, or Worker’s Day, is celebrated in honor of the Martyrs of Chicago, seven company employees in the US who were killed in 1886 for going on a strike demanding an eight-hour workday. During the Congress of the Second International held in Paris in 1889 with representatives of workers from several European countries, the French delegation presented the initiative of preserving the memory of the Chicago martyrs through public demonstrations for better working conditions.

One year later, the first May Day was celebrated in different parts of the world, including Cuba. Until 1959, the May Day demonstrations were held to denounce the exploitation of workers in the country. With the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959, May Day became a holiday of the working class who every May 1 fill Plaza de la Revolución joined by students, agricultural workers and the armed forces in support of the Revolution.
International Workers' Day - May 1 at Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba
April 2014
This article formed part of the April 2014 issue of What's On Havana
What's On Havana - April, 2014
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all National Days Articles
  January 28, 1853: Birth of José Martí   
  Marcha de las Antorchas: A tribute to José Martí    
  January 1, 1959: Triumph of the Cuban Revolution   
  November 16, 1519: Havana's birth   
  July 26, 1953: Anniversary of the attack on Moncada Barracks   
  Approaching the future from Havana's past (Nov 16)   
  Caldosa & rum for the fiesta del barrio   

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