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   Vol. 69/No. 36           September 19, 2005,         SPECIAL ISSUE  
Socialist Workers Party candidates
respond to Gulf Coast social disaster
HOUSTON—The Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Houston, Anthony Dutrow, and his supporters have been campaigning to explain the need for a working-class alternative to the capitalist parties, a need that is highlighted by the social catastrophe unfolding in New Orleans and the surrounding region.

The SWP campaign filed September 6 to place Dutrow, a meatpacker, on the ballot. The socialist ticket in Houston includes garment worker José Aravena for controller and Amanda Ulman, a meatpacker, for City Council At-Large-1. The same day the mayor’s office informed Dutrow that his name will be placed on the November ballot.

The socialists have taken their campaign to factory gates Northwest Airlines picket lines, protest actions against death penalty, and to working-class neighborhoods throughout the city. Through this campaigning they raised the required $1,250 filing fee.

The socialist candidates found a lot of interest in the campaign among working people from New Orleans, thousands of whom are being sheltered at the Astrodome.

“The social disaster in New Orleans points to the pressing need for working people to organize independently of the capitalists and their parties, the Democrats and Republicans,” Aravena said while campaigning in the Sunnyside community near the Astrodome. “Those parties defend the interests of the wealthy ruling families—with the devastating consequences we have seen for the majority.

“We have to look to our own collective power and solidarity, starting with the need to organize unions and to use union power, to defend our interests. And we also need to organize in the political arena—a labor party, based on a fighting union movement.”

“I like what you are saying about a public works program,” Naúmah Zulu of New Orleans told Aravena. “There are a lot of us that could go to work on that right away if the government would fund it.” He was referring to the socialist campaign’s call for a federally funded public works program to put millions to work at union scale and to rebuild the housing, hospitals, roads, and other pressing needs.


BIRMINGHAM—Clay Dennison, Socialist Workers candidate for City Council, visited the Jefferson County Civic Center here September 3 to speak with working people displaced by Hurricane Katrina who had made it as far as this city to find shelter. He was accompanied by Jeanne Fitzmaurice, Socialist Workers candidate for Birmingham School Board.

“We left New Orleans just in time. My family is safe, but all those other people who didn’t get out—that’s what messes you up,” said Davey Cross, a construction worker from the Kingston District in eastern New Orleans. The authorities, he said, “had ample time to get the levees up to par since Betsy hit,” referring to the last hurricane that directly hit New Orleans, in 1965.

“All that matters in this society is the bottom line. There was a problem of homelessness in New Orleans and nobody cared. A lot of people were looking for work and nobody cared. Now they’re concerned? I don’t buy it.”

Dennison pointed to the example of how Cuba, where workers and farmers have their own government, confronted similar disastrous storms. “The government and mass organizations worked together to prepare, to make sure people, and also animals and personal possessions, were evacuated from the path of the storm beforehand. They reinforced buildings to minimize fatalities, injuries, and damage. They also rebuilt quickly to get people back to their homes and jobs.”

Cross was interested to learn how the Cuban government and people responded during similar crises. “The [U.S.] government had ample time to do what the people in Cuba did,” he said.

At least 35,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana are staying in Alabama.
Related articles:
Gulf social disaster: twin capitalist parties at fault,
workers need labor party based on fighting unions

2005 Socialist Workers Party election campaigns, candidates list  
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