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  • Members of the 2016 Juan Rius Rivera Brigade

    Members of the 2016 Juan Rius Rivera Brigade | Photo: Juan Rius Rivera Brigade

The delegation began their tour in Holguin to pay tribute to the leader of the Cuban Revolution at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

A delegation of 40 members from the Juan Rius Rivera Brigade representing several social organizations in Puerto Rico celebrated the 56th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs victory last week in Cuba, showing their commitment to the elimination of foreign military bases in the world including the illegally occupied U.S. base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay.

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At the site of the failed military invasion of Cuba by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary forces, Puerto Rican activists showed solidarity with Cuba and the ideals of the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. The brigade seeks to highlight the solidarity between to the two island nations by organizing delegations to Cuba every year.

As part of the exchange with the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, the brigade members were also informed of the progress the town of Caimanera located at the border of Guantanamo has made.

The delegation began their tour in Holguin to pay tribute to the leader of the Cuban revolution at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery. They are also expected to visit the town of Biran, where Fidel Castro was born in 1926.

According to the Cuban News Agency, Guantanamo will be one of the main destinations for the solidarity brigade on their next visit to Cuba in 2018. They will also visit the residents of Baracoa, who were hit by Hurricane Matthew in October.

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The Puerto Rican members highlighted how Cuba has always shown solidarity with their struggle for independence from U.S. colonial rule. Cuba was one of the countries that called for the release of revolutionary leader Oscar Lopez Rivera from U.S. prison and the socialist island will celebrate his complete release from house arrest on May 17 after serving 35 years in prison.

Members of the solidarity brigade also shed light on the state of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques that the U.S. used as a military base for over 70 years storing its weapons and also using it as a bombing site. Although the U.S. stopped military operations in 2001, the island remains contaminated.

According to the Environment Protection Agency, the small island still consists of contaminants such as unexploded ordnance, mercury, lead, copper, magnesium, lithium, napalm, depleted uranium along with other unspecified materials. Saul Gonzalez, representative of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and a member of the delegation said the U.S. Navy left the island in 2003 but the clean-up process is still underway.

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