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The Venceremos Brigade is a politically motivated international organization based in California founded in 1969 by members of the Students for a Democratic Society and officials of the Republic of Cuba.[1] Carl Oglesby, Bernardine Dohrn, Julie Nichamin, Brian Murphy, Allen Young (writer) and other members of SDS were primarily responsible for the idea, organization and negotiations with Carlos Rafael Rodríguez[2] and other members of the Cuban government. The first trip in November 1969 numbered 216[3] and left from Czechoslovakia to avoid breaking the U.S. government's restrictions on travel to the island.[2] It was formed as a coalition of young people attempting to show solidarity with the Cuban Revolution by working side by side with Cuban workers, challenging U.S. policies towards Cuba, including the United States embargo against Cuba. The yearly brigade trips, which as of 2010 have brought more than 9,000 people to Cuba, continue today and are coordinated with the Pastors For Peace Friendship Caravans to Cuba.

Thompson Library tower

The first Brigades participated in sugar harvests and subsequent Brigades have done agricultural and construction work in many parts of the island, although the "work" portion of their trips has become largely symbolic.[4]

According to debriefing statements made to the FBI by a Cuban Intelligence officer who defected in 1983, the Veceremos Brigade was controlled by Cuban Intelligence officer Alfredo Garcia Almeida, chief of the North American Section of the Americas Department and former political counselor at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in NYC.[5]

Despite this accusation, the organization as a whole has experienced little censure from U.S. authorities. But the FBI has questioned individual travellers over the years. In 2010, at least 12 brigade participants enjoyed visits from the Bureau, but were left in peace when they declined to be interviewed.[6]

A contingent of Latinos led by Young Lords' Field Marshals David Rivera and Raul Lugo traveled from the Young Lords People's Church in Chicago in 1969.


  1. ^ Sale, Kirkpatrick (1973). SDS. Random House. ISBN 0394478894. 
  2. ^ a b Oglesby, Carl (2008). Ravens in the storm : a personal history of the 1960s antiwar movement. Scribner. ISBN 1416547363. 
  3. ^ Venceremos Bridgade : young Americans sharing the life and work of revolutionary Cuba. Simon and Schuste. 1971. ISBN 0671208810. 
  4. ^ Venceremos Brigade Report back 2009 YouTube video
  5. ^ Debriefing of former Cuban Intelligence officer, Jesus Raul Perez-Mendez to FBI upon defection in 1983.
  6. ^ FBI Questions American Travelers to Cuba

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Category:Political organizations Category:Socialism Category:Cuba–United States relations