Representatives of Cuba last Saturday joined Barbadians for the first time in commemorating July 26 as a Day Of National Significance.
In Barbados, July 26 marks the start of three days of disturbances in the fight for freedom by Clement Payne and others, while in Cuba the day recalls the 1953 attack on the Moncada and Cespedes garrisons that sparked the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
Fewer than two dozen people gathered at the historic Golden Square in The City for the ceremony that included the laying of wreaths. And portraits of Clement Payne, Israel Lovell, Cuban national hero José Martí, revolutionary leader Che Guevara, Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey featured.
David Comissiong of the Clement Payne Movement said the activity was held to celebrate the contributions of “great men and women” whose fight for freedom had led to the current Barbados and Cuba.
“Freedom is not some perfect state; you will never find a perfect society or any perfect condition. Freedom is not the total absence of obstacles, but freedom is when men and women say we are not going to be defeated by those obstacles and oppression,” he explained.
We are going to target them, we are going to confront them, we are going to fight them and move forward, and that is what Clement Payne symbolized,” Comissiong added.
The first wreath was laid by Barbados Workers’ Union representatives Hugh Arthur and former senator Yvonne Walkes.
“We, in the Barbados Workers’ Union, are calling on all Barbadians to place July 26, 27 and 28 –– the three days over which the disturbances spread –– as special days of commemoration. While it may be difficult for Barbadians under the age of 30 years or even 40 years to understand the significance of the July 26, 1937 Disturbances, since they may not have experienced the hardships which Barbadians of earlier decades faced. We must never believe that our achievements came without struggle and sacrifice,” Walkes later said in a statement.
Also present was Barbados Labour Party member Trevor Prescod, who cautioned his party against straying from the ideals of the 1937 revolution.
He said: “The Barbados Labour Party will not, at any time, remove itself from the roots of the struggle of the revolutionary movement of 1937 as long as I am part of it. If it drifts, and there’s always evidence of institutions shifting from the centre, it will come back to its equilibrium based on the position that I’ve taken . . . as long as I am a member of the Barbados Labour Party.”
He said institutions shaped from the circumstances of the revolution needed to get back to the common objective of “elevating our people”.
“We know the obstacles that we had to face, and this journey was not aimless or without a destination. We knew what we were trying to achieve and we have not fully achieved it yet; and there are counter-forces, both within and [outside], that are forcing back that achievement of that revolution, people who could not even establish their own persona,” Prescod added.