International Workers’ Day

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 Chávez, 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 José Martí 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 finishes early (typically you should aim to get there at 8am), so put your walking shoes on and a hat for the drenching sun. Vamos a la Plaza!

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.


  • Cubadisco: Cuba’s premier music awards show

    Cubadisco: Cuba’s premier music awards show  LH 5

    Nothing to do with discotheques, the International Cubadisco Fair begun in 1997 as a way to bring to national and international attention what the Cuban recording industry has been up to. It includes …

    Marabana—The 2012 Havana Marathon

    Marabana—The 2012 Havana Marathon  LH 5

    Marabana is Havana’s annual marathon. Typically an exercise for me in making resolutions to get fit and participate in the race the next year, or a reminder that last’s year’s resolution is now forfei …

    64th Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament

    64th Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament  LH 5

    Like all the best fishing stories, mine began in a bar. One evening in Havana, I was introduced to a man called Stewart, an affable commercial manager in a London building firm. It turned out he was p …

    1st Havana World Music Festival

    1st Havana World Music Festival  LH 5

    Organized by a nonprofit group led by young Cuban singer and composer Eme Alfonso, the 1st Havana World Music Festival (February 7-8, 2014) sought to open a window from Cuba onto the world and from th …

    The Marabana – Run Charlie run

    The Marabana – Run Charlie run  LH 5

    Race experience (Nov 2010) It is dark outside, 5.30am. Wishful thinking that I could simply sleep in and let the Havana marathon wait another year. I have, after all, been signed in various times over …

    Harley Davidson Varadero Rally, 2012

    Harley Davidson Varadero Rally, 2012  LH 5

    Part of Cuba’s attraction undeniably is its pre-1960s vintage from the classic American cars through Tropicana and Buena Vista Social Club to simply the feel and look of the place. That it also harbor …

    The Rotilla Festival in Jibacoa

    The Rotilla Festival in Jibacoa  LH 5

    Founded in 1998, the Rotilla Festival started as a rave between friends and grew over the years to become Cuba’s largest annual concert (attracting over 20,000 people in 2010). While it started out li …

    Cine Pobre: Cuba’s alternative film festival

    Cine Pobre: Cuba’s alternative film festival  LH 5

    Cine Pobre is authentic, charming and off-the-beaten track even in Cuba. Traditionally held in Gibrara, a small fishing village which sleeps the rest of the year away, for a week in April, this become …

    The Lucas Music Video Awards

    The Lucas Music Video Awards  LH 5

    Lucas, the Cuban TV show dedicated entirely to national music videos, will have been on the air for 16 years in 2013. Passionately championed by some and flatly rejected by others, almost no one remai …

    Carnaval de Santiago de Cuba

    Carnaval de Santiago de Cuba  LH 5

    The origins of the Santiago Carnival go back to the end of the seventeenth century when processions would wind their way through the city streets celebrating the day of the patron Saint Santiago. Duri …

    1 of 8 pages »