I arrived in Havana the night before the big event and stopped at a hotel were they were to leave their address. No luck after multiple times visiting the hotel. Either I got the hotel wrong or they didn’t make it to Havana as planned. Plan B, look for them during the rally under the “statue of Che”, but again no luck. In fact the portrait of Che attached to the side of a building was blocked off, so no one could actually wait there.
President Raul Castro would be speaking very early, perhaps at 7:00 AM. I left my hotel at 6:15 AM and followed the crowd to the plaza. Unfortunately the mass of people that I was with was held on a side street until it was time for that group to parade in front of the monument, so I missed Raul’s speech. I wouldn’t have understood it anyway. The idea was to simply be in the crowd and feel the energy. After waiting for 30 minutes I walked out of the crowded street that I squeezed through earlier and went two blocks further west to get into the main thoroughfare that was moving. Of course when I got to the street that was held by guards, it was released and moving along the parade route…
All the big names of Cuban socialism were championed: Che, Fidel, Raul, even Hugo Chaves.
The crowd became increasingly more excited at we neared the monument to Marti and President Raul Castro’s position.
Raul is that tiny speck directly under Marti’s head. I waived to Raul and I am pretty sure me waived back to me. =)
The parade ended with military and civic groups carrying large flags and fields flags.