AMERICAN RED CROSS—GREAT AT RAISING AND WASTING MONEY

By Al Harkins, October 19, 2017

Image: A woman receives warm meals from a Disaster Relief truck run by the American Red Cross in the Midland Beach neighborhood in Staten Island

As many writers have observed, the American Red Cross (ARC) is very good at one thing: raising money, with annual revenues of over $2.6 billion.  But they aren’t very good at delivering help to those who need it.  In 2010 when the earthquake struck Haiti, killing an estimated 100,000 to 316,000 people, ARC staff swung into action doing what it does best: raising money. Their appeal to “save lives,” aided by endorsements from President Obama and celebrities and fueled by a pioneering text message campaign, raised an incredible $488 million.

However, soon it became clear that the organization’s biggest problem would be figuring out what to do with all that cash. The U.S. chapter had just three full-time staff in Haiti at the time of the disaster. They soon transferred more staff to Haiti and subcontracted staff from the local Haitian Red Cross.  But there wasn’t much they could do.  The American Red Cross isn’t a medical aid group à la Doctors Without Borders. It doesn’t specialize in rebuilding destroyed neighborhoods. What it does best is provide immediate assistance—often in the form of blankets, hygiene kits or temporary shelter.  As destructive as the earthquake was, there wasn’t half a billion dollars of tarps and hygiene kits to hand out.

ARC staffers came up with all kinds of clever ways to unload the money, including handing it off to other aid groups that could make better use of it – after ARC had taken its customary nine percent administrative squeeze.  They say they provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the actual number of permanent homes the group built in all of Haiti was just six.  ARC says that building the homes was delayed by Haiti’s awful land title system, but other charities had to deal with the same land title system and built 9,000 homes compared to the Red Cross’ six[i].  Where did all that money go? Two years later, the American Red Cross is still scrambling to explain why the half a billion dollars it took in made almost no difference in the survivors’ lives. A meaningful breakdown of its spending after the Haiti earthquake has never been produced.

The American Red Cross Loves Publicity

The American Red Cross is very fond of publicity – at the expense of everything else!  In the aftermath of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012, the ARC had an internal review that concluded that the distribution of relief supplies was “politically driven.”  During the Hurricane Isaac operation, ARC supervisors ordered dozens of trucks, usually deployed to deliver aid, to be driven around nearly empty as an advertising ploy.  During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground because they ran out of trucks to do disaster relief.   But it doesn’t stop there!  Also during Sandy about 1000 victims (mostly poor and black) were placed in Manhattan hotels soon after the storm with no way to get food or clothing, not having been given any money or food stamps.  But the Red Cross refused to help them when begged to do so!  The victims had to organize three demonstrations at their offices.  Aid was provided only after there was television coverage of their demonstrations.  Once again, publicity, this time negative, was the deciding factor, not helping people.

Red Cross blog NGOs trickle down Oct 2017Concept of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Charities are a subset of organizations known as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  As the term implies, they are organizations that are independent of the government of the countries in which they operate, and they may or may not also have branches in other countries.  For example, Doctors Without Borders was started in France and now has offices in most developed countries and operations all over the world, typically in places that are in deep stress from famine, flood, war, disease epidemics, etc.

Unfortunately, a large fraction of NGOs only collect money and do absolutely nothing. And those that do something can have sticky fingers for cash.  In a University of Warwick survey of 600 NGO directors, most respondents gave no thought to their own accountability.  In a study of 300 Uganda NGOs, Burger and Owens (2008) found that despite claims to the contrary, 69% of the NGOs did not consult the community before or after they initiated an activity and 25% of those who claimed to provide financial information on request did not do so or lied about it. The basic idea of accountability is simple.  How much money did the NGO raise?  The NGO should provide a breakdown of the cost of operations and expenses.  A double check should be made that the work of the NGO corresponds with its claims.

“Relief” in Haiti

Red Cross in Haiti Oct 2017

Let’s use the example of Haiti. In the 21st Century, Haiti had to endure all of the following disasters:

  • September 2002 Hurricane Lil
  • November 2007 Hurricane Noel
  • August 2008 Hurricane Gustav
  • September 2008 Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike.
  • On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, there was a magnitude 7.0 Earthquake that was followed by a Cholera epidemic when the disease was brought in by UN troops.
  • October 2016 Hurricane Matthew
  • September 2017 Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma.

Haiti is everyone’s favorite basket case. Relief funds could not be given to the extremely corrupt Haitian government so it was bypassed in favor of NGOs.  Nobody really knows how many NGOs there are in Haiti let alone what they supposedly do or how their funds are spent. There are somewhere between 3,000 and 20,000 NGOs in Haiti depending on whom you ask.  What do they do?  Most are completely opaque, not providing any information about their finances or operations.  Did the NGOs work bear any fruit?  Timothy Schwartz, a critic of NGOs and former consultant in Haiti, writes[ii]:

But while individual NGOs have educated children, drilled wells, planted trees, and saved tens of thousands of lives through vaccination and clinic programs, they have accomplished little detectable change in the country as a whole. Haiti remains the most underdeveloped nation in the Western hemisphere and over the past three decades, precisely when NGO activity flourished, it has sunk further into abysmal poverty

Conclusion

Capitalists are aware of how corrupt charities are, but they are quick to suggest to their employees that they should contribute to the United Way or some other charity as a payroll deduction.  This is done so that they can appear to be concerned about the poor of the world when in reality it is their policies that cause much of this suffering.  Observe that the charitable donations come at your expense, not theirs. Some supervisors who want to make themselves look good to upper management push employees to give to the United Way or other charities. Sometimes employees are threatened with having their requests for absences “carefully reviewed” or with other possible sanctions. This is in the face of your right to spend your money as you please.  This could also be viewed as extortion since your employer is claiming to be part of your paycheck and threatens to punish you if you fail to contribute.  Most people I know give some money so as not to draw attention to themselves.

So charitable giving isn’t as easy as it looks, and you can be well assured that there are plenty of fakes out there.  The list of organizations that rate charities, listed below, might be helpful.

If you are in doubt, try and give to small local organizations or individuals that you know will use your donations as intended.

Most importantly, we should keep in mind that the aftermath of natural disasters are almost always exacerbated by pre-existing underlying conditions, such as a lack of warning systems, shoddy housing, or destruction of natural protections like flood plains; all of which would cost money to correct. Those that suffer the most when disasters occur are almost always the poor, whose welfare is of no more importance to wealthy capitalists after a disaster than it was before. They just have to seem to care when the whole world is watching – and why not make a few bucks with some fake charities while the giving is good?

[i] https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes

[ii] http://timotuck.com/wp/index.php/category/ngos-part-ii-save-ngo-sector-from-itself-and-haiti-from-the-ngos/

 

Black Communists Fight Racism with Multiracial Solidarity Part 2, Paul Robeson

by Karyn Pomerantz, October 19, 2017

Introduction

This series of blog posts reviews the immense contributions of black revolutionaries fighting racism and capitalism, primarily in the United States during the early to the mid-20th Century.

This is not close to a comprehensive review; see a brief bibliography below for further reading.  These inspiring stories can help advance our own antiracist movement.

Many people view Marxism and communism as a white thing, and the most famous revolutionaries, such as Marx, Lenin, and Mao, were white or Asian.  The history books largely ignore the revolutionary contributions of American black communists, such as William Patterson, Paul Robeson and Lucy Parsons. They and many of their comrades advocated for working class unity to topple capitalism around the world in spite of Jim Crow atrocities, the patriotism pushed during World War II, and McCarthy era imprisonments and black lists.

Many white communists and socialists believed that eliminating capitalism would automatically abolish racism.  They minimized the destructive nature of racism and did not strongly engage in anti-racist struggles.  While eliminating capitalism removes the reasons for racism (creating more profit and dividing workers), black Marxists like Paul Robeson, William E.B. DuBois and William Patterson recognized the need to prioritize the fight against racist ideas and practices. Many all black revolutionary groups, such as the Marcus Garvey (Return to Africa) Movement and the Black Panther Party, promoted a nationalist perspective instead of building united working class organizations and movements.

Paul Robeson, Antiracist Communist Organizer

Paul Rbeson with WorkersPeople remember Paul Robeson as a distinguished athlete, singer, orator, actor and lawyer. Plays and biographies about him often minimize his immense contributions as a communist and antiracist fighter in the 20th Century.

He made extraordinary and diverse contributions to sports and the arts.  He was an All American football player at Rutgers in spite of his fellow racist team members and opponents assaulting him and breaking his nose, crushing his fingers and taunting him with racist names during games. Because he was black, Rutgers never listed him as All-American and refused to enter him into the Hall of Fame. Robeson also excelled in basketball, baseball, and track and field.

https://youtu.be/eh9WayN7R-s Robeson singing Old Man River

Paul Robeson OthelloHis work in the theater and film included Show Boat where he brought down the house singing Old Man River, and the leads in Othello and Emperor Jones.  He refused to play roles that demeaned African Americans and longed to play race neutral roles.

He performed throughout Europe and the US, enabling him to reach 1000s of people.  During his stay in London, Robeson met members of the socialist party, including George Bernard Shaw.  He adopted communist principles and returned to the US as an organizer with the Communist Party USA working with William Patterson (see our September 2017 blog piece below) and William E. B. DuBois.

Robeson advocated for the destruction of capitalism and racism, support for anticolonial struggles around the world, and unity between workers of all racial categories and nationalities.  He recognized the potential of the labor movement to fight racist discrimination practices on the job although many unions excluded black workers.  Some unions like the meatpackers countered racism in neighborhoods where black workers lived.  Robeson denounced these segregated conditions in housing, schools, and sports, campaigning successfully to end segregation in baseball.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 overthrew the czars and established soviets where workers controlled manufacturing, health care, and farming under the state.  The Soviet government nationalized industries, collectivized agriculture and household work, outlawed racism, and provided free education.  Their victory inspired workers throughout the world and threatened the US corporate class.  The Soviet Union declared its support of liberation struggles in the US and anticolonial uprisings in Asian and African countries.

Paul Robeson in USSRMany black revolutionaries, including Patterson, DuBois, Richard Wright and Langston Hughes visited or moved to the Soviet Union.  Robeson’s family lived there for 5 years during the 1930s, enrolling his son in Soviet schools.  “Here I am not a Negro but a human being.  Here for the first time in my life, I walk in full human dignity (Freedomways, p 76).”

The US experienced economic depression during the 1930s.  During this time, 50 percent of the population suffered unemployment.  Workers lost their homes and jobs.  Thousands of WWI vets descended on Washington demanding the bonus pay promised to them.  They set up camp on the Anacostia River and marched through DC streets.  Communist membership soared as the wealth of the corporate class rose.

The CPUSA dominated labor and the arts.  Its members led unemployment councils, moved evicted workers back into their homes, and built the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the CIO, the leftist association of unions that admitted black and immigrant workers.  The Harlem Renaissance thrived as Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry and Paul Robeson contributed to the arts as writers, actors, and novelists.

Terrified that a revolution loomed, Roosevelt established his New Deal programs to preserve capitalism in the face of these rebellions.   Yet even these programs reinforced racism.  They paid black workers less and excluded black farmers, domestic workers and Mexican farmworkers from Social Security.  African American civil rights organizations fought these discriminatory practices, triggered by Roosevelt’s compromises with Southern democrats.

Upon his return to the US in 1939, Robeson boldly defended the Soviet Union as a model of racial equality to end white supremacy.  “For they (Soviet people) have no minorities in our sense of the word.  There of all people of whatever color or culture enjoy complete equality. (Baljai, p. 203).”  He traveled to Spain during the Spanish Civil War to sing for the American volunteers in the Lincoln Brigade who fought against the fascist Franco supported by Nazi bombing raids and munitions.

The development of fascism in Germany and Italy raised strategic decisions for the left.  The US government called on the unions, civil rights groups like the NAACP, and the various political parties to create a Popular Front to oppose Nazism and support the war effort.  It softened its racist rhetoric in order to win the backing of black citizens.  The Army required unity among its soldiers in order to win the war.  In response, many communists denounced the Popular Front and the government.  They asked why African Americans and antiracists should support the war when the US ruling class oppressed black workers for centuries.  Yet the leadership of the CP joined the Popular Front and softened its attacks on US capitalism.

DuBois and the Marcus Garvey party, a large black nationalist movement, sided with the Japanese fascists because they were not white.  DuBois defended this line: “I believe in Asia for the Asiatics.”  Robeson countered with a class analysis: “As a persecuted minority, we are on the side of the persecuted and colonial peoples. … As far as any sympathy for the Japanese because they make some dent in white civilization, this is fantastic (Baljai, p. 92)”.  DuBois and Garvey’s analysis demonstrates nationalism’s worse feature where allegiance to people based on skin color and nationality outweighs allegiance to class.  (DuBois later changed his support for the Japanese).

The level of anticommunism dropped during WWII as the US and Soviet Union became allies.  However, the US only entered the war when the Soviet army repulsed the Germans and advanced on Berlin.  Once the war ended, anticommunist rhetoric and attacks increased dramatically.  Right wing politicians like Richard Nixon and Sen. McCarthy dragged leftists before congressional hearings to demand that they admit they belonged to the CPUSA and to name those who did.  They destroyed the careers of film makers like Dalton Trumbo, expelled the leadership of the CIO, jailed communists and sympathizers, and implemented policies that increased segregation.

Attacks on the antiracist movement increased and generated different responses.  The NAACP softened its demands preferring to maintain its mainstream status.  Robeson and Patterson among others refused to squelch their communist principles and organizing in spite of vicious assaults and imprisonment.  In 1949, organized fascists beat thousands of people attending a Robeson concert in Peekskill, New York.

Paul Robeson Here I Stand Oct 2017

The government deprived Robeson of his passport, making it impossible for him to travel, and blacklisted him from performing in the US, ruining his career and ability to earn a living.  This led to a decline in his health but not in his political activity.  He and Patterson published We Charge Genocide that denounced the US ruling class for racism throughout the world, eventually submitting it to the United Nations.  In 1958, Robeson wrote Here I Stand that illuminated his political positions.

PRINCIPLES

Robeson and his comrades stood for:

  • Multiracial organizing and solidarity of the working class while prioritizing the liberation of black workers. They believed in multiracial unions and supported the CIO.
  • International solidarity against racism and imperialism condemning the ruling classes of the imperial powers. However, he also supported new anti-colonialist leaders, such as Nkrumah in Ghana, Kenyatta in Kenya, and Nehru in India, without calling for an end to capitalism in their countries. In later years, Nehru lost Robeson’s support when he arrested Indian communists.

    Robeson strongly condemned allying with the British and French during World War II because they colonized people in Asian and African countries. Robeson and DuBois strongly supported the liberation struggle in South Africa while the US backed South African fascism, continuing to send aid to South Africa from the 1940s to the 1980s. This internationalism influenced the left to support liberation struggles in Latin American, African and Asian countries.

  • Support of the Soviet Union’s practices of criminalizing racism compared to the US’ oppression of black workers. They and their comrades witnessed many occasions when people were punished and ostracized for racist bullying. Soviet people welcomed Robeson and others with love and solidarity.
  • Reliance on the grass roots to fight discrimination, using the electoral and legal systems as tactical interventions. He rejected the Popular Front that suppressed the antiracist struggles while the NAACP and the Communist Party joined the Front to oppose Nazi Germany.  The decision to join or oppose US imperialism proved extremely difficult for the left, but Robeson consistently condemned support for colonial powers that exploited the working class, especially African, Asian and African American workers.
  • Building a mass movement among black and white workers to oppose racism. The NAACP primarily relied on the judicial system to abolish racist practices. While trained as a lawyer, Robeson only practiced for a short time.

Making the antiracist and communist movements invisible was the worst attack on Robeson and his thousands of comrades.  Their histories have been denied to later generations grappling to vision a non-capitalist future and to create multiracial movements.  We can benefit from studying and implementing many of their antiracist principles and actions.

Read On

Robeson, Paul.  Here I Stand.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1958, 1988.

Balaji, Murali.  Professor and the Pupil: the Politics and Friendship of W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson. NY: Nation Press, 2007.

Freedomways.  Paul Robeson: the Great Forerunner. NY: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1978.

Duberman, Martin Bauml.  Paul Robeson. NY: Knopf, 1988.

THE SECOND AMENDMENT WAS DESIGNED TO PRESERVE SLAVERY

by Ellen Isaacs

From the earliest days of this nation, built on racism, the carrying of arms has meant the suppression of people of color. It was that way in the 1700s, and it is that way today. Like much of the policy laid out by the founders of the U.S., the real point of the second amendment was to protect profits, which at that time meant insuring the survival of slavery. To quote an article in the Guardian on 10/17 by Alan Yuhas, what the second amendment says is:

 

  “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed….

Carl Bogus, a law professor at Roger Williams University, has argued that James Madison wrote the second amendment in part to reassure his home state of Virginia, where slave owners were terrified of revolts and wary of northerners who would undermine the system. ‘The militia were at that stage almost exclusively a slave-control tool in the south,’ he said’ You gave Congress the power to arm the militia – if Congress chooses not to arm our militia, well, we all know what happens.’

  The federalist Madison’s compromise, according to Bogus, was to promise a bill of rights. After weeks of tense debate, his federalists narrowly won the vote to ratify the constitution. He writes an amendment that gives the states the right to have an armed militia, by the people arming themselves.

  A year later, the federal government passed a law requiring every man eligible for his local militia to acquire a gun and register with authorities. (The law was only changed in 1903.)”

 

In fact, Georgia had passed laws in the 1750s requiring all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in order to watch for any sign of an uprising. This was necessary because, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South.

 

During the Revolutionary war, British generals offered freedom to escaped slaves who joined their forces, and other freed slaves served under George Washington. Slave owners and supporters such as James Madison, George Mason and Patrick Henry worried that the new Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise an army, could be used as a tool to free slaves. Thus they also saw the states’ rights clause of the amendment as a protection against any federal government attempt to end slavery. (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery)

 

INDIVIDUAL GUN RIGHTS IS A NEW CONCEPT

 

In the 1970s, the National Rifle Association was taken over by a group who touted gun ownership as a sacred individual freedom, something not intended by the writers of the Constitution. Only in 2008, for the first time in the country’s history, did the Supreme Court explicitly affirm an individual’s right to keep a weapon at home for self-defense. In fact, there was a British tradition going back to the 14th century that prohibited civilians from going about with arms, which was incorporated into colonial law as early as 1682. (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/the-origins-of-public-carry-jurisprudence-in-the-slave-south/407809/)

 

Although many gun owners use their weapons for purely recreational purposes, such as hunting or target shooting, many also see their weapons as necessary for self-defense. However, studies have shown that neither crime in general or crimes against individuals who own guns are mitigated by gun ownership. (http://fair.org/extra/the-self-defense-self-delusion/). In addition, individual gun ownership remains, two centuries later, correlated with racism. Most gun owners, who are disproportionately white, and who picture themselves as potential victims of individual crime, imagine the criminals to be men of color. Not surprising in our very racist and segregated society (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/gun-ownership-racism_n_4220727.html). When Philando Castile, a law abiding black man, told a cop he had a gun in his car during a traffic stop, he was seen as a threat and murdered.

 

At times, guns have been used by the oppressed to protect themselves, such as during the civil rights movement. The Deacons for Defense used weapons to keep safe anti-racist marchers, even Martin Luther King, and to fend off murderous bands of the KKK. The response of the FBI was to intimidate and infiltrate the Deacons, not the racist groups they were defending against.

 

Of course the most heavily armed persons in our society today are the police and the military, who kill thousands of civilians every year at home and abroad, most of whom are non-white. Racism remains the rationalization for these killings, from the cop who shoots an unarmed black man and has little fear of retribution – not one has been convicted of murder- to the soldier who is won to slaughter “gooks” or “ragheads”. However, there are times when the ordinary workers inducted into the armed forces have recognized that they are being asked to fight against other workers and die for a cause against their own interests. One such time was during the Russian revolution when the soldiers turned on the czar instead of the armies of other imperialist nations. In the US, blacks and whites, fought to end slavery in the Civil War, and in Vietnam about 25% of enlisted men refused to fight by the end of the war and even “fragged” their officers.

 

And so we must think about the question of guns in this society, as about all other questions, by asking who is making laws or using weapons – be it guns or the media or the education system or the police – for what ends? As in all other areas, we see that gun laws are made and enforced so as to protect the wealthy and those who have been won to accept their racist policies. If we choose to learn to use or own a gun, it should be for the day when we will, in concert with others, be called upon to defend against racism and oppression.

HURRICANE RESPONSE IN PUERTO RICO -Supposedly, A Great Job

PR hurricaneby Al Simpson

 

 

 

On September 28th, Donald Trump said: “The governor of Puerto Rico is so thankful for the great job that we’re doing. . . . The governor said we are doing a great job. . . . We have had tremendous reviews from government officials . . . and this morning, the governor made incredible statements about how well we’re doing. . . . So everybody has said it’s amazing the job that we’ve done in Puerto Rico, we’re very proud of it. . . . I think we’ve done a really good job . . . and we are going to do far more than anybody else would ever be able to do and it’s being recognized as such.”

Just maybe this is a bit of exaggeration, or maybe there really was an intent to do something other than a great job. The President did not fail to remind Puerto Ricans of their $74 billion debt to the US.

Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria on September 20 and 21, and on Friday, September 29, the U.S. finally started to coordinate aid to the Island after it suspended the Jones Act the day before.  The Jones Act, which made it much harder to transfer emergency goods to the Island, states that any goods ferried port-to-port in the U.S. must be carried by American vessels and crew or the recipients must pay extra taxes, tariffs and fees. Jones is only one factor that combined to make the cost of living 13% higher than on the mainland. Everything got worse since 2006, when the US Congress let tax breaks for businesses in PR expire, and they left.  The only break Puerto Ricans got since was to make borrowing easier, and since then PR has had to institute tax increases to pay off the debt to US banks, and cut back on public services and infrastructure.  The fragile electric and communication and health care systems, among others, have made the devastation so much worse.

PR demo against military in ViequesWHAT WILL THE ROLE OF THE MILITARY BE?

On Thursday, September 28, the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship, was dispatched toward Puerto Rico as part of the large military intervention on the Island. Other amphibious assault vessels, such the USS Wasp, will also be sent. Although the move has been presented as a necessary response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, it is also aimed at containing possible civil unrest. In addition to the 1,500 troops of the Puerto Rican National Guard currently involved in rescue efforts, thousands more US Army and National Guard soldiers will be sent. This will be one of the largest US military interventions in Puerto Rican history. The ostensible purpose of the military operation is to make up for the collapse of physical infrastructure that has left vital supplies sitting in Puerto Rican ports with no means of getting them to the people in the Island’s interior.

The military effort is under the command of Brigadier General Richard Kim, whose previous tenure includes combat tours in Iraq and most recently in Afghanistan. He is currently Deputy Commanding General of the United States Army North Division. He will be in charge of the entire US “recovery” operation in Puerto Rico with responsibility over the military, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other government agencies, and the private sector, thus effectively superseding the local government.

History of the US and PR

Puerto Rico has long been of use to the US military; the US annexed it in the Spanish American War of 1898. In 1917 citizenship was granted to the islanders, which allowed 18,000 to be drafted into WW1. In 1941, the U.S. established military bases in the islands of Vieques and Culebra. For over 60 years, the U.S. Navy used Vieques for target practice in Navy bombing exercises, dropping napalm, Agent Orange, and between 300 and 800 tons of depleted uranium-tipped ammunition. In total, the Navy dropped nearly 3 million pounds of bombs on Vieques, until stopped by mass protest in 2003.  One must wonder if a plan for military bases in a less populated Puerto Rico might be part of the thinking of Washington now.

LONG TERM EFFECTS, EXACERBATED BY RACISM

Just consider the conditions on October 1 according to the New York Times:

“Life remains far from normal on the island, 11 days after the storm made landfall. The electricity system was devastated, and it could be months before residents get back regular electric service. The governor said that more than 720 of the island’s 1,100 gas stations had reopened, but there are still shortages and distribution problems. Some stations in San Juan had short lines of customers on Sunday, but others in outlying areas were still choked with lines that stretch hundreds of cars long.  According to a Puerto Rican government website tracking the recovery, 11 percent of cellphone towers are working, and 5 percent of the electric grid. Authorities said that 46 of the island’s 48 dialysis centers were operating, using diesel-fueled generators. Nine hospitals now have regular electricity service restored, and dozens more are running on generator power.”

There is concern about epidemics in coming weeks caused by toxic sewage, and other pollutants.

trump in PRAccording to the Associated Press, President Trump said of Puerto Ricans: “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”  But this a racist lie!  In effect calling Puerto Ricans lazy.  Puerto Ricans are trying the best they can under difficult conditions.  Only recently, after almost 10 days, were supplies finally delivered. The Puerto Rican People are getting things done!

Comedores Sociales in Caguas provides food for 500 people each day, and Calle Salud Salud in Loíza, prepare 300 lunches.  Doctors and nurses are visiting every home to assess and treat residents’ medical conditions.  In Utuado, people cleaned up a street and rebuilt it to span a river.

“We need, one, relief that does not come with strings attached. We don’t need any more loans with high interest. We need repair and investment for 119 years of exploitation and then the amount of money that has been made off Puerto Rico. We need the repeal of the Jones Act and all other laws that limit the capacity of Puerto Rico to be a sustainable place to live. We need demilitarization of humanitarian help, and allow the people of Puerto Rico, not just here, but in the United States, to be able to share their solidarity and their help in a horizontal, direct way, without trying to control at a moment where lives are at stake. We need a commitment to just rebuilding, no displacement, no evictions. We’re already hearing from communities where FEMA is telling them that they cannot rebuild their home where it currently is. And that is starting to lift up grave, grave questions about what is the agenda behind telling people who have lived in a place for a very long time, in a moment like this, that they cannot rebuild their home there. We need debt relief. And we need to end colonialism, which is at the heart, it is at the core, of this issue. (Interview with Xiomara Caro Diaz, director of New Organizing Projects at the Center for Popular Democracy, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/10/2/san_juan_activist_after_hurricane_maria)

jose_andres_paella PR

Feeding 1000s of people by residents and World Central Kitchen

This is in sharp contrast with Trump’s racist remark.  Unfortunately, I have heard this ignorant trash repeated.

One woman I know told me that Puerto Ricans are lazy.  I said right away: “You think so, then prove it to me.”  Racism should be challenged right away.  Racism smooths the way for workers to be exploited.  Whether it’s steering minority workers into low paying and dangerous jobs in factories, racial and ethnic discrimination in housing and other types of exploitation, racism is a main tool of the capitalists to divide and exploit the working class.  It must be fought.

Puerto Rico was a poor Island, even before the hurricane.  Now with a destroyed infrastructure, the Island has no way to pay its debts and will be under the control of Wall Street for some time to come. Already one hears talk of privatizing sectors like electricity. Unlike Ukraine, where for strategic reasons the U.S. assists with its debts, there will be no such help for Puerto Rico.  Even natural disasters are not handled in an efficient fashion, despite the fact that Puerto Ricans are United States citizens.

Conclusion:  Puerto Rico’s residents are aware of the neglect and studied incompetence they are receiving from Washington, and there may be protests struggles against the “great job” that is being perpetrated on them. So, it not surprising that a military response was made. It’s important to understand that the problem is NOT Donald Trump – look at the horrors that transpired in Haiti during the time Obama was President. This included a Cholera epidemic that was brought in by UN troops!  Under capitalism, third world countries and similar areas are neglected and viciously exploited.  Only the strength and unity of workers around the world can put an end to capitalist racism and exploitation.

Al Simpson is a mathematician who lives in the United States.