PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, July 18 — Health workers, teachers, and students from the U.S. joined with our counterparts in a show of international solidarity in the class struggle. The first week of the Summer Project included organizing a health clinic and a freedom school. By relying on friends and comrades we were able to see 150 patients from two tent camps.
More than one million are forced to live in tents because the January 2010 earthquake either destroyed their homes or made them structurally unsound. The people in camps have been waiting on the government for help while trying to survive in these “temporary” facilities for the last year and a half.
The goals of the health clinic included trying to provide clinical health services and building awareness of public health issues like cholera, asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes. We provided information and had discussions on how many of these diseases are related to social class, and ones’ ability to access clean water, enough food, and medical care. Many complained of gastrointestinal ailments that may have been due to a lack of food; also vaginal infections which may have been attributed to frequent douching, which changes the pH of the vagina.
In the clinic’s waiting area, people said that they were disgusted with the government’s inaction, and the UN troops which occupy Haiti. We were told that the troops spend most of the time on the beaches, and raping women. We used this opportunity to have political discussions on the struggle against our common enemy, the capitalist ruling class.
Haiti is a vivid example of capitalism’s use of racism to exploit workers. It has kept black workers there in virtual slavery for centuries and now has failed to alleviate the suffering from the earthquake that tore the country apart. This has produced super-profits for imperialist bosses.
One of the highlights of the week was when we joined workers on their picket line. About 800 workers had been laid off from the mayor’s office, but were never paid what they were owed. They sued and won in court, but under capitalism, the courts are just another branch of the government, working for the interests of the ruling class.
The workers have still not been paid after four years of struggle. We chanted in French/Kreyòl, “Workers Should Be Paid,” and “Justice for Workers.” We heard drivers’ horns blow in support of the picketers from the busy street. International solidarity was the order of the day.
The freedom school was attended by many students eager to exchange ideas that spanned broad social issues. The classrooms were overflowing with students enthusiastically discussing what is taught in the schools and what ideas are important to the working class, as well as the unity of teachers and students, and an analysis of capitalism and imperialism. Ninety percent of the schools in Haiti are private, so many have no opportunity for an education. People hunger for more education.
The friends we have made in Haiti signifies many new opportunities for building PLP. The future is bright!