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What if we dared to envision an economic system that puts people at its core?

Despite a crushing economic blockade, for over sixty years Cuba has built up a system that puts people over profit. What do they mean when they say they’re building socialism? And how has it played out in practice?

Join us for an introductory exploration of socialism, beginning with a critical examination of racial and colonial capitalism — how it functions, how it fails, and how it has shaped the neo-colonial relationships between the Global North and the Global South. We will then learn about the alternative form of political economy known as “socialism,” which takes as its primary objectives the well-being of people, rather than the accumulation of profit.

As a contemporary case study, we will explore some of the successes, achievements, and challenges of Cuban socialism, including a brief history of the 1959 Revolution and some of the structures which make up Cuban society today. From its world-renowned healthcare to its localized and environmentally sustainable agriculture, from its systems of democratic political engagement to its celebrated artistic and cultural landscape, Cuba presents a hopeful alternative to a profit-oriented capitalist economy. It is also a country that continues to pay dearly for daring to create another way of life. We will end with an overview of the challenges Cuba has faced along its journey, with a particular focus on the US economic blockade against Cuba, as well as an invitation to study abroad in Cuba with the Autonomous University of Social Movements to experience the Cuban context firsthand!

Sabrina Melendez (they/them) is a queer Puerto Rican activist, artist, and scholar, as well as an alumnus of the Autonomous University of Social Movement’s study abroad program in Cuba. They studied alternative political economies at Bennington College and the California Institute of Integral Studies, and co-founded a grassroots university for activists which has graduated over 600 students in the span of almost 5 years. Sabrina directed a summer camp for queer and trans youth for 4 years, has taught JEDI (Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) trainings for 3 years, and has participated in struggles toward migrant justice, abolition, labor solidarity, climate justice, animal liberation, feminism, and socialism for over a decade.

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