What is the International Work Brigade?
The International Work Brigade consists of groups from solidarity organisations of several Northern European countries. Members of the brigade (brigadistas) live for three weeks on a purpose-built camp near Havana where they carry out agricultural or construction work alongside Cubans. Brigadistas also take part in a full programme of activities including educational and political events and visits to factories, hospitals, trade unions, schools etc. Work brigades are essentially political and educational – the participants get the opportunity to learn about Cuba and the Cuban people and also to express support for Cuba’s right to self-determination. Work brigades have been going to Cuba for about the past thirty years and have played an important part in the establishment of a worldwide network of solidarity organisations. Irish participants join with brigadistas from Britain, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands to form the Northern European Brigade.
Who Can Go?
Brigadistas must be members of Cuba Support Group (you can join when you apply). We aim to select a balanced group from all backgrounds, ages and from different parts of Ireland. Brigadistas must be able to work co-operatively under sometimes pressured conditions and should be prepared to undertake solidarity work for Cuba on their return.
When Do The Brigades Go To Cuba?
Twice a year for a period of three weeks. They take place in September and December and are organised in conjunction with the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). ICAP is the organisation in Cuba which maintains contact with solidarity organisations throughout the world.
The Cuban Embassy
2 Adelaide Court
(off Adelaide Road)
Telephone: +353 (0)1 4752999 / +353 (0)1 475 0899
Consular opening hours: Monday to Friday (10.00 am to 2.00 pm)
E-mail inquires or requests for visa application forms can be made to the following address:
The requirements for tourist visa are:
- Completed and signed application form.
- Photocopy of the main page of the passport (valid for 6 month after the departure from Cuba).
- Photocopy of your return ticket or letter from your travel agent confirming you have a return ticket.
- If applying by post, a registered self-addressed envelope to send the visa back.
- A Visa fee of 22.00 Euros (cash or money order payable to the Cuban Embassy are acceptable. If applying by post cash is not acceptable).
Visas are issued for ONE entry in Cuba, for a maximum of 30 days. Longer stays will require extensions made in Cuba.
For information on other types of visas (press or business visas) contact the Cuban Consulate.
The camp is about one hour’s drive from Havana near the village of Caimito. It is a purpose built facility which provides basic accommodation and services for up to 200 people. Facilities include a canteen, shops, outdoor bar, dormitory-style sleeping accommodation, conference hall, entertainment areas with telephone and e-mail access.
The camp is situated on an orange plantation and much of the work is centered around the maintenance of the plantation or the harvesting of the fruit (depending on the time of year). However, be prepared also to engage in other agricultural work and construction work. The work can be hard and the conditions, especially the heat and humidity, can be tough. Not all work in done at the Camp which presents opportunities to work in various other activities, which may include coffee or banana plantations.
What Does It Cost?
The cost of the trip will be approximately €1,300. This covers air fare, insurance, food, accommodation and some visits. You will need spending money and money to cover the costs of optional excursions. Some brigadistas raise funds for their trip by approaching their trade union, political party or other organisations.
How Do I Apply?
The brigades travel to Cuba in September and December. The closing date for applications is end of June and end of September. A preparation day will take place before departure where you will be given background information on what it is like to go to Cuba and work as part of a brigade. Attendance at this preparation day is compulsory and conditional for a place on the brigade.
You can download this years Work Brigade program by clicking here.
If you are interested in finding out more about Cuba and if you are interested in working not only with Cubans but also with brigidistas from all over northern Europe then this will be an experience of a lifetime. There is ample free time and the opportunities to make new friends and enjoy new experiences are limitless.