The devastation facing millions of working people in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, from Haiti to North Carolina, is a social catastrophe caused by the workings of the capitalist system, not a “natural disaster.” The response of the U.S. ruling families and their government to the storm and the death and destruction it wrought exposed once again the brutal “values” their profit-driven system is based on.
The revolutionary government and working people of Cuba provided an opposite example — how the working class in power can organize socially, mobilizing their full human and material resources, and not leaving anyone to fend for themselves.
“Flee” was the advice given to millions in the storm’s path by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. “Do not expect us to be there to help you,” the mayor of Savannah, Georgia, told residents who stayed. Authorities put the onus on workers to figure their own way out of the storm’s path, doing little or nothing to organize an evacuation to safety. Workers in eastern North Carolina, where floodwaters submerged working-class communities well inland, are left in the lurch as well.
My campaign calls for emergency government-funded housing and aid, and for a crash public works program to put people to work at union wages rebuilding homes, schools, medical facilities and infrastructure.
The toll on workers and farmers is particularly heavy in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. This proud land of the first successful slave revolt in the modern era has been subjected to centuries of semicolonial domination and imperialist plunder.
More than 1,000 were killed in the storm itself, as the government and the imperialist rulers responsible for desperate conditions there took practically no measures to evacuate the island’s southwestern peninsula where the storm made landfall. The destruction of crops, livestock and fishing boats pose the prospect of food shortages, and cholera is on the rise again. The Socialist Workers Party demands Washington send massive, unconditional reconstruction aid to Haiti, to Cuba and other Caribbean nations affected by the hurricane.
Though Hurricane Matthew hit eastern Cuba with similar force as in Haiti, causing extensive damage to buildings and crops, not a single life was lost. The entire population, led by President Raúl Castro, was mobilized to face the danger — evacuating more than a million people, making sure communication was organized in areas that might be hard to reach after the storm, and advancing preparations to immediately begin restoring power and rebuilding. And in the midst of their own recovery efforts, the Cuban people stepped up aid to their brothers and sisters in Haiti — where over 600 Cuban medical and other internationalist volunteers are stationed — and offered a hand of solidarity to anyone else who needs it.
Working people in the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico, while they weren’t in the path of this storm, face a growing social crisis caused by the same profit-driven dog-eat-dog capitalist values under U.S. colonial rule. I just completed a solidarity fact-finding trip to meet with workers and youth there to discuss our common battle against the rulers in Washington.
My campaign supports protests against the U.S.-imposed fiscal junta; demands freedom for Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López, held for 35 years in U.S. prisons; and champions struggles by Puerto Rican workers and youth to defend jobs, wages, health care, education and living standards.
Workers need our own party to advance these struggles, to fight to end the rule of the capitalist exploiters and to organize society based on solidarity as our brothers and sisters in Cuba have done. The Socialist Workers Party is that kind of internationalist, working-class party — join us!
Cuba’s response to hurricane — the difference a revolution makes
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