May Day in Cuba, a Retrospective

April 27, 2009 | Print Print |

By BILL HACKWELL*

HAVANA TIMES, April 26 – Of all the public events I have photographed in my career nothing matches the collective enthusiasm and evident pride of the May 1 demonstrations that take place in Cuba every year.

May 1 in Havana 1992

May 1 in Havana 1992

Since the revolution in 1959, Cuba has elevated International Workers Day to a national holiday honoring workers who produce all the goods and provide all the services in society.

International Workers’ Day began to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886, when Chicago police fired on workers during a general strike for the eight hour work day, killing a dozen demonstrators.

May Day in Santiago de Cuba 1996

May Day in Santiago de Cuba 1996

The march held each May 1 in Cuba draws delegations of labor organizations from around the world.

Bill Hackwell is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and you can see his attractive website with lots of excellent photographs at: www.billhackwell.com

May Day in Santiago de Cuba 1996

May Day in Santiago de Cuba 1996

Click on the thumbnails to see all the photos in this gallery


What's your opinion?

  • Jose da C. Viegas

    People around the world are working more than 40 hours every week. Some workers earn US$ 1.00 /diem, some earn US$10.00 /diem, some earn US$100.00 /diem, some earn US$1000.00 /diem and more. Any revenues earned are the result of values and quality every human being possess. Do you ever think of that?
    Why some countries are poorer than other countries? Why within a country, some people remain richer while other remain poor?
    Of course, different natural resources demand different workers with worth salaries. in fact, the grassroot workers are remmunerated with low payment while a CEO in company or a president is paid insanely expensive.
    Maybe the value is very lied on the quality of brain-work result rather than phisical efforts result.
    In this 21st century, there are so many workers could not provide employment for themselves and so must rely on companies or profit organizations to survive. Actually, any kind of jobs are acceptable but not acceptable if harming or might result in health problem or death.

    We thank to those people in the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886. It was a strong demand of life change to be better. One lesson from this event is, Employers should think of not just looking for profits but life improvement of employees in all aspects as much as possible.

    Last but not least, this world will be no more war if people have the same supply. Leaders are the managers to keep rules to this possibility.
    Whether capitalism or socialism, its goal is to bring a better life mankind. So, it support each other!

  • Michael N. Landis

    Thank you for your photos, Bill! They bring back fond memories of May 1st, 2006, when I had the priviledge of marching in Havana’s May Day and listening to one of Fidel’s final public speeches. Today, I’ll participate in more modest festivities here in Vermont, where we will gather on the Brattleboro Common, (I’ll be partcipating in a short dramatic program by giving a short, thumb-nail biography of one of the Haymarket Martyrs), listen to music and speeches, sign petitions, greet comrades and friends, eat hot-dogs and hamburgers, sing the Internationale and other labor songs. There will be a larger demonstration up at the state capital in Montpelier which is urging the adoption of a “single payer” (i.e. socialized) health care system. Folks from there will be returning to our demonstration afterwards. Hope the rain stops by then!

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