The Cuba Corps embodies the spirit of every Cuban in exile: a longing to see Cuba free once again and the desire to take part in rebuilding the nation from its current state of destruction – both physical and moral – and position it as a beacon of light and prosperity in the Americas, which is her rightful place.
The mission and objectives of The Cuba Corps since its inception have been to support and aid those who seek a peaceful democratic change in Cuba, and actively help them build a civil society, even in very small steps.
The Cuba Corps was founded in 2005, at the time of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, with the idea of being prepared for the moment of change in the island. Since “Next year in Havana,” after 53 years, is the hope and the frustration of Cuban-Americans, it was evident that activists within Cuba needed help to break their isolation, establish links with exiles, and find support from the Cuban-American communities.
The initial plan describes and maps out how to send teams of volunteers to small towns throughout Cuba to help clean the water supply, provide emergency water and food, and create a project (in the style of Habitat or the Peace Corps) to renovate one or more houses in a block, in a joint team of locals and Americans (of Cuban ancestry, Cuban Americans or plain Americans) sent by The Cuba Corps. The volunteer teams would also introduce neighbors to democratic group decision-making as part of their every day work [Cf “Emergency Aid for Cuban Towns, The Cuba Corps, 2006].
From that initial plan, came the idea of establishing strong contacts in as many small towns as possible, and the Network of Trust was created. An immediate result of the Network of Trust was the obvious need to find out what the real needs of each town were, and thus followed the Humanitarian Information Matrix, an informal collection of data to be updated on a periodic basis about each town to be able to offer pointed and precise help when the time comes.
The trust and the information has been obtained by The Cuba Corps over the last 7 years by holding at least three telephone conversations per month with dissidents, members of independent NGOs, ex-political prisoners, opposition figures, independent journalists and librarians, etc. Today we have strong links with 25 towns throughout the island.
It was this link which sparked the creation of the Children’s Project, listening to the anguish of parents and grandparents about their children’s education and formation. The Cuba Corps suggested an after-school program in private houses, where kids could meditate and learn relaxation techniques, watch Disney movies (where evil is always defeated by the forces of good!), paint at the tune of Beethoven or Mozart or Mahler or Bernstein, learn proper diction and manners, and be free to be kids—not little political machines. In January 2010 there were three such programs, with some 15 children. Today, there are 11 projects, with nearly 400 children; 20 to 30 adults lead the programs or help with them; the programs are reaching some 900 family members. A cardinal rule of the programs is not to speak at all about anything political. There are 6 “units” prepared for the leaders, but they keep their independence in designing their curricula and activities: the Cuba Corps helps and supports. Of the eleven projects, 4 have internet access directly or through relatives or friends. The others receive their information via telephone.
The last program currently developed by the Cuba Corps is the Community Leaders’ program, focusing on getting young leaders involved in offering help to the neediest in their neighborhoods or communities. At this time, there are 11 such leaders in Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, the Sancti Spiritus area and Havana.
Please refer to “Programs in Cuba” for more information on these activities.