Letter from ALBA
Dear friends and comrades:
On May 7th over 200 family, friends and supporters of the women and men of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade met at Japan Society in Manhattan for an afternoon of poetry, socializing, and song. Together we commemorated the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the defense of Madrid, and the arrival of the first contingents of International Brigadistas. We also honored the co-recipients of the Sixth ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho detailed her ongoing campaign to expose the connection between corruption and government impunity with violence against women and children. She also described the significant physical and emotional personal cost of her activism. Jeremy Scahill provided a detailed account of the human and political toll of the U.S.’s so-called war on terror. Fittingly, both honorees described how their commitment to exposing oppression and abuses of power was inspired by personal connections with the internationalist antifascist struggles of the past–including, in Scahill’s case, with Lincoln veteran Clarence Kailin.
As always, the atmosphere of the celebration was upbeat. However, we could not ignore the fact that this was the first reunion since the death of Delmer Berg, the last known surviving veteran of the Lincoln Brigade. Del’s passing led to an outpouring of expressions of sympathy and admiration from numerous individuals (including an editorial “Homage to a Communist” in The New York Times by Senator John McCain!) and was widely reported by national and international news outlets.
In her acceptance speech, Lydia Cacho said: “we know all of the Lincoln Brigade brave men died. Today I am here, alive, and I want to dedicate this award to every one of us, and ask you to remember, always, when you are afraid, when you want to give up, that you, too, are the utopia.” With the loss of our comrade, the last voice of those who left the United States to fight fascism in Spain is silent. It is up to each one of us to ensure that their history and example continue to live on. ALBA will continue to do its part to educate generations to come about the importance of the struggle for social justice. Would you continue to stand strong with us in our historic march?
P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at our special Bay Area 80th celebration weekend on October 22-24