What an honor to be in Cuba for the first celebration of One Billion Rising to end violence against women!
One hundred fifty of us from the United States had traveled to Cuba with CODEPINK: Women for Peace in the largest delegation of Americans to visit Cuba since the December 17, 2014 announcement of opening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Realizing that our delegation called "To Cuba With Love" would be in Cuba on February 14, Valentine's Day, we asked our host organization the Cuban Institute with the Peoples (ICAP) if there was a venue in Havana where we could dance in the worldwide campaign to end violence against women.
The dynamic ICAP director and member of the Cuban Parliament Kenia Serrano suggested that we have the dance at the annual Cuba International Book Fair held in the San Carlos de la Cabana fortress, the scenic fort located across the harbor from Old Havana.
Dance at a Book Fair we asked?
Yes, she responded, "the Book Fair will have tens of thousands of Cubans each day -- it is one of the highlights of the year for Cubans. We will be able to have thousands of Cubans to join the dance to stop violence against women."
And she was right! On February 14, called "The Day of Friendship" in Cuba, there were tens of thousands attending the fair. Hundreds of vendors at bookstands set up inside the massive walls of the fortress were selling books to Cubans for less than $1. Cuba has 100 percent literacy after a remarkable one-year program in 1961 in which over 250,000 Cubans spread out over the entire country to teach their fellow country persons how to read and write. In one year, Cuba was certified as going from an illiterate country to a literate country. Cuba's technique for teaching reading and writing is one of its greatest exports. Catherine Murphy, a member of our delegation, has directed a documentary film called "Maestra" that gives details about the extraordinary literacy program and its effect on Cuban society and the world. More about the film HERE
While buying books, Cubans listened to music provided by bands on various stages.
We were asked to dance at the scenic main stage with Old Havana as a backdrop. Facing thousands of Cubans, our group joined Cubans and took the stage and danced for ten minutes to the universal song to end violence against women.
We are so proud to have been able to dance with our friends in Cuba in the global campaign to end violence against women!!