The catastrophe facing millions of people - mostly workers and peasants - in Central America is much more a social than a natural disaster. The substandard housing and shoddy infrastructure that was swept away by stormy rainfall, winds, and mudslides is a result of the imperialist domination of those countries and the unceasing siphoning of much of the wealth workers and peasants produce into the coffers of foreign banks and other imperialist institutions through debt slavery.
Washington is the number one culprit. It has spent billions over decades to maintain this domination not only through its policies of economic plunder but through direct military interventions to prop up dictatorial regimes and defeat attempts by the toilers to take the destiny into their own hands - from Guatemala to El Salvador and Nicaragua.
The U.S. rulers' callous and imperial indifference and contempt for working people in Central America in the face of the current disaster stands on the shoulders of this unbroken record. With plenty of U.S. military bases and helicopters in the region, Washington is not providing the resources it could to help transport relief supplies to areas only accessible by air. Not a word has been uttered by the White House about canceling or even postponing debt payments by those countries to use funds for much needed reconstruction. The aid pledged by the Clinton administration is a paltry $70 million, and even this amount is slow to make its way south. And faced with calls by the heads of the capitalist governments themselves in Central America to halt deportations, the Immigration and Naturalization Service - the hated la migra - has announced it would delay expulsions for two and a half weeks!
The capitalist regimes in Nicaragua, Honduras, and elsewhere in Central America have compounded the human toll and misery by their unwillingness and inability to take preventive measures before the hurricane and their efforts more recently to fix potholes in well-off areas, rather than concentrating on rural and other regions. The position of the Nicaraguan regime, which has refused much needed aid offered from Cuba, stands out for its inhumanity. This stands in stark contrast to the recent life-saving efforts of Cuba's revolutionary government when Hurricane Georges hit the Caribbean.
The only shining example in the middle of the unfolding social catastrophe is indeed revolutionary Cuba. The Cuban government immediately canceled Nicaragua's debt and has offered to send all the medical personnel needed to Nicaragua. Cuban doctors have already arrive in Honduras. This selfless internationalism will show to more working people in the region that only through taking state power out of the hands of the capitalists and landlords can imperialist plunder, class exploitation, and the social catastrophes they breed be eliminated once and for all.
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