It Takes Roots Delegation to Havana, Cuba 2019

#ItTakesRoots delegation members- comprised of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Right to the City Alliance members, as well as representatives from the Movement for Black Lives, and the Rising Majority have returned to our various homes, communities, territories, and struggles from our deeply transformative time together this month.

50 social justice activists from across the United States and Puerto Rico traveled to Havana, Cuba from October 30 - November 2, 2019 for the It Takes Roots delegation to the Continental Convergence for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism, called the #JornadaContinental.

The Convergence included commissions on specific topics such as youth and indigenous sovereignty, as well as side discussions, where members of It Takes Roots were able to strategize with our International partners.

The Jornada Continental is a process of strategic coordination across social movement forces in the region. In 2015, movements to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The agreement was proposed to further advance the North American Free Trade Agreement enacted in 1994, and would have established a free trade zone across the americas. In addition to celebrating this people’s victory, the movements gathered launched the Jornada Continental as a process of articulation in defense of democracy and against neoliberalism. Given the political context across the americas and in particular the rise of a right wing surge, the Jornada has been seen as a way to converge forces toward sharing a common struggle and vision.

After meeting in 2017 in Uruguay, this year the Jornada Continental aims to bring together close to 1500 people from social movement forces from across the globe and the continent. Over the course of three days, participants will share deep assessments of the current political moment including the landscape of right wing fascism and the assault on democracy. From this assessment participants will consider what is needed and work to develop strategies for joint struggle.

Our goals for this delegation were to:
1. Build relationships both within US delegation and with allies regionally and globally
2. Deepen understanding and analysis of regional political context and the right wing surge.
3. Engage in strategy development and consideration of international joint action
4. Exchange with and learn from International movement allies.

The delegates build deeper relationships, affirmed the principles of solidarity and grassroots internationalism, and are continuing to fight for a systemic transformation against capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism and racism. The ITR delegation also exchanged ideas with community groups in spaces like Casa Tomada MirArte and the Martin Luther King Center for Human RIghts, joined hip hop performances, met with artists, farmers, children, government agencies (e.g. the Cuban Women’s Federation, and the Center for Sex Education), spent an evening at the Puerto Rican mission in Havana, and much more.

We're excited to bring what we have learned back to apply in our communities. We'll stand with all peoples who are struggling against the authoritarian imposition of a neoliberal agenda, and who are facing a state violence that is sacrificing lives and is increasing the criminalization of our social struggles.

All Photos taken by Justin Marks with Marks Media, unless otherwise indicated.
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It Takes Roots utilizes the common frame to protect our land, water, homes, and bodies. We engage in both trans-local power building and mass mobilizations. We come together to share tools, exercise power, and engage a rapid response committed to building resistance and visionary opposition to oppression, extraction, and exploitation.

The It Takes Roots Member Alliances are:

Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) brings strategies for a Just Transition and reinvestment to a regenerative economy

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) brings connections with global movements and grassroots feminism and gender justice

Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) brings a strong framework of environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights

Right To The City Alliance (RTC) brings deep experience in housing & land rights and in coordinating translocal actions

Read more about our beautiful time together in the photo essay with more information on our daily exchanges and be on the lookout for more information and reflections on the delegation, as well as a recap video publishing soon!

The following are selected highlights. To see the full photo album visit the GGJ Alliance Facebook Album

#ItTakesRoots Delegation Arrival Day in Havana Cuba:

On the evening of October 30th, all delegates arrived safely in Havana, Cuba- We began our time together with a political grounding and introductions by the sea and later in the evening attended a #ItTakesRoots welcome dinner at Melen Club with invitees from ICAP, Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples.

Once all delegates arrived safely, we grounded with one another and kicked our delegation off with a beautiful Cuban dinner and live music together to prepare for the packed schedule ahead.

Day 1 of #ITRCubaDelegation: Building with ground-partners: Centro Martin Luther King & GALFISA and discussing Cuban frameworks in popular education.

The #ItTakesRoots delegation gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Havana, Cuba for the first day of the historic delegation.

We exchanged with Joel Suarez and Llanisca Lugo leadership of the Centro Martin Luther King to learn about their work and deeper analysis of current political framework: Democracy, Anti- Imperialism and Sovereignty in Cuba

Jonathan Alingu, ITR Member, in discussion during the first day of exchanges at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Havana, Cuba.

Hanging the It Takes Roots flag on the Center’s wall amongst several Latin and Global social movements.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center was founded on April 25, 1987, as an initiative aimed at promoting values such as solidarity and justice, as well as the social development of the neighborhood where it is located: Pogolotti, belonging to the Havana municipality of Marianao. Committed to the Cuban people, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center promotes integration, learning and solidarity between Latin American and North American nations.

From the work with the community, the institution assumes as its purposes the popular participation in the social processes, from a critical and liberalizing theology that defends the full life of human beings without discrimination.

It Takes Roots engaged in a visit and exchange at the Institute of Philosophy-El Grupo América Latina: Filosofia Social y Axiología, for further discussions on methodologies of popular education and participatory action research (IAP) as well as their contributions to social movements in Cuba, Latin America, and Caribbean.

Day 2 of the #ItTakesRoots Delegation/ 1st Day of The Anti-Imperialist Solidarity Meeting, for Democracy and against Neoliberalism, The Jornada Continental 2019.

It Takes Roots at the Jornada Continental-  - a global meeting with thousands of people representing 90 countries strategizing to combat Neoliberalism and Imperialism. As visitors from the North, we stand in solidarity with our global south family, stand in support of self- determination, and denounce US Imperialism as well as the economic and trade sanctions and attacks on the Cuban people.

The It Takes Roots Delegation participated in the Jornada and held a “Land and Food Sovereignty” Fishbowl discussion between La Via Campesina and It Takes Roots at the Continental Convergence for Democracy and Against Imperialism in Havana, Cuba.

In the evening, we were met warmly by the Cuban people representing their communities with delicious food, revolutionary songs and tributes, and lessons on the revolutionary history, current process and organization of the CDRs- Communities for the Defense of the Revolution-  a massive network of organized neighborhood committees across Cuba. 

Formed in Cuba on 28 September 1960, early goals of the CDR included mobilization and unification of the people, and advancement of revolutionary ideals.

Delegates also attended an Anti-imperialist tribune in the community in support of just causes, where we heard live performances, igniting speeches from leaders of Cuban and Latin American social movements, and from our own Cindy Weisner of GGJ who spoke to the crowd of thousands about #ItTakesRoots and of our commitment to radical grassroots internationalism and solidarity, building an international united front and growing and uniting the movement left inside the United States against Colonialism, Imperialism, Capitalism and the social diseases of Patriarchy, Racism, Homo/ Transphobia, and Xenophobia.

 

Day 3 of the #ItTakesRoots delegation / Day 2 of the Jornada Continental- - a global meeting with thousands of people representing 90 countries strategizing to combat Neoliberalism and Imperialism. As visitors from the North, we stand in solidarity with our global south family, stand in support of self- determination, and denounce US Imperialism as well as the economic and trade sanctions and attacks on the Cuban people.

Delegates broke up and attended 5 different thematic commissions, - Solidarity with Cuba and other Just Causes, Peoples before Free Trade and Transnationals, Decolonization and Cultural War, Youth: Strategies and Continuity in Struggles,  Democracy, Sovereignty and Anti-Imperialism, Strategic Communication and Social Struggle,  Integration, Identities and Common Struggles.

Brianna Gibson organizer with #BYP100,  #Movement4BlackLives and Ta’kaiya Blainey, youth land and water protector from Colonial Canada,  fiercely brought the voices and struggles of Black and Indigenious Youth in North America into the Youth Strategies Commission

ITR Delegates attended a strategy meeting held by GGJ, the US Chapter of the World March of Women and several international chapters of the World March of Women family.

We ended the day meeting in discussion with social movements throughout the Americas, the Coordination Meeting of Articulations to share and strategize against Imperialism, Neo-Liberalism, and the swelling violence and attack of rightwing Neo-Facism in our regions and territories.

We ended the day meeting in discussion with social movements throughout the Americas, the Coordination Meeting of Articulations to share and strategize against Imperialism, Neo-Liberalism, and the swelling violence and attack of rightwing Neo-Facism in our regions and territories.

 

Day 4 of the #ItTakesRoots Delegation/ The third and final day of the #JornadaContinental- a global meeting with thousands of people representing 90 countries strategizing to combat Neoliberalism and Imperialism. As visitors from the North, we stand in solidarity with our global south family, stand in support of self- determination, and denounce US Imperialism as well as the economic and trade sanctions and attacks on the Cuban people.

During the closing plenary, the room erupted in applause and chants as global revolutionary leaders Raúl Castro, the current President of Cuba- Miguel Díaz-Canel, and the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros entered and addressed the Jornada. 

They along with the thousands of participants listened as the presentation of the final report and joint articulation of the #JornadaContinental2019

You can read the full Report of Joint Articulation and Action HERE

 

Day 5/ Day 1 of on the ground Organizational and Cultural Exchanges with the Cuban people.

After breakfast, we grounded and reflected together on the full and emotional days in a morning circle up by the sea.

The It Takes Roots Delegation then hit the ground running after 3 intense days of political discussion and exchange at the #JornadaContinental exploring the themes of Gender Equity, Intersecting Identities, and Feminism in Cuba.

"Women in Cuba have always been on the front line of the struggle." - Tete Puebla, 2nd in command of the Mariana Grajales Platoon

The #ItTakesRoots Cuba delegation visited the Federation of Cuban Women, to learn about feminism and gender equity in Cuba & to exchange ideas and have discussion. 

We then visited a community program of the Federation of Cuban Women, where the delegates were all smiles as we played and learned with children and their families and caregivers about the programs and structures of free childcare available across the country.

Cuba is a world leader in early childhood development. 99.5%+ of young children attend a nursery. A combination of State programs & family involvement are key to Cuba's great strides in nurturing young children and supporting families.
It Takes Roots met with Cuban families for 1st hand information.

We then traveled to Marianao, which was definitely one of the highlights of the #ItTakesRoots Cuba delegation.  

 

We partook in discussion/ exchange with Mirna, LGBTQI+ activist and founder of Casa Tomada MirArte, a community project that is using popular education and art to explore issues of race, gender and sexuality. We also got to meet with Norma Rita Guillard Limonta, social psychologist, investigator of gender, sexuality, race and identity, and co-founder of Grupo Oremi, a lesbian discussion group in Cuba. Both of them and others who we met at Casa Tomada MirArte are part of the Allianza Afro-Cubano. We were then blessed with performances from local hip-hop artists.

We ended the evening with Vegan Tapas and Sunset with Companerxs: Hosted in the home of renowned, revolutionary painter, Diana Balboa where we shared in revolutionary joy and art.

Day 6 / Day 2 of on the ground Organizational and Cultural Exchanges with the Cuban people:

The It Takes Roots delegation explored the themes of Antimilitarism in the Cuban Context.

 

Cuban Movement of Peace: The #ItTakesRoots met with the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (MOVPAZ) to discuss antimilitarism efforts. MOVPAZ shared insightful information and taught the delegation about its powerful work around efforts to close the Guantanamo prison, push for nuclear disarmament, fight for climate justice, and more.

The It Takes Roots Cuba delegation then visited the Puerto Rican mission in Havana for a conversation about the fight for the independence of the Puerto Rican people, the historical relationship between Cuba and Puerto Rico, Indigenous peoples in both countries, the US embargo, the continued impact that#HurricaneMaria has on the island,#JustRecovery, about ways that we can work together, and more.

 

 

 

Day 7- Final Day of on the ground Organizational and Cultural Exchanges with the Cuban people:

The final day of the historic #ItTakesRoots delegation to Havana, Cuba was spent exploring the theme of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Just Transition.

We were able to engage with the CITMA (Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment) leadership and their role in “Tarea Vida” - Tarea Vida” is a roadmap that includes adaptation/mitigation actions such as transitions to clean energy and improved energy efficiency- the delegation also heard from Cuba’s Civil Defense, which mobilizes the public before, during and after climate disasters, and otherwise.
We also discussed “Just Transition” and areas for collaboration and synergy.

 

The delegation then took a scenic bus ride to visit the Finca Marta led by founder, Fernando Rafael Funes Monzote.

Finca Marta is a family agroecological project that combines practice with scientific knowledge to contribute to the transformation of the Cuban agri-food system from a local experience. Dedicated to the memory of Marta Monzote Fernández (1947-2007), it began in December 2011 on an eight-hectare estate, in the Caimito municipality, Artemisa province, Cuba.
Finca Marta applies the principles and foundations of agroecology to a specific socio-economic process and geographical environment to design, in a participatory manner, strategies for prosperous and sustainable life in the countryside.

You can learn more about the amazing Finca Marta here: http://fincamarta.com/quienes-somos/

Meeting with NGO FANJ La Fundación de Antonio Nunez Jimenez (see www.fanj.org) to learn about Cuba’s path and commitment to sustainable development and this legacy of Humanity and Nature especially in the face of climate change.

We closed the It Takes Roots delegation with a closing ceremony by the sea where we debriefed collectively, discussed upcoming It Takes Roots strategy and action, and more. We were graciously visited by the renowned El Coro Diminuto- an all girls choir for a Farewell performance.