Tag Archives: Haiti Earthquake

Remembering Quake Inspires Brooklyn; Students Solidarity with Workers in Haiti

BROOKLYN, January 11 — More than three hundred students at Clara Barton High School, along with about twenty-five staff members, attended an inspiring commemoration of the second anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.  It was organized and led by students who belong to an after-school club that has been fighting attacks by the school administration against teachers and students for many years. Important ideas were raised about imperialism and the roots of Haiti’s poverty, and why students in the U.S. need to build solidarity with the working class in Haiti. Students and teachers grasped the communist ideas of solidarity with workers around the world, of multiracial unity, and of fighting for a better future than the bosses’ plan for wars, drastic cuts in social services, and increased racism.

There were speeches and performances, ranging from spoken word and debate to singing and step dancing. The program stressed unity, solidarity and the struggle for a better world.

One song was sung in both Creole and English, with many in the audience learning the Creole words for the first time. This was symbolically important because students from Haiti have endured a lack of adequate programs and services at the school. There was also delicious food donated by area restaurants, as well as by staff and parents. As many students and teachers commented afterwards, the whole program was “amazing.”

The preparation for the event was as significant as the commemoration itself. The multi-racial student organizers were from Africa, South Asia, China, the Caribbean and the U.S. They were clear from the start in their goal to send a strong message of unity and solidarity with the workers and students who struggle for a better life in Haiti, where 600,000 still live in tents. Their collective effort inspired more and more students and teachers to come forward and offer to help. Each day, more students joined committees and got involved in the planning. The enthusiasm spread.

The fighting spirit at Clara Barton comes out of a long and vibrant history of activism. Students went to New Orleans to help after Hurricane Katrina, organized anti-racist mass assemblies, and marched in New York and in Washington against imperialist war and budget cuts.  More than 300 CHALLENGEs are distributed outside the school. Members of Progressive Labor Party have defended the rights of both students and teachers against attacks by the school administration, which regularly harasses teachers with accusations and investigations. PL members and friends have withstood these attacks and continue to fight for what is in the best interests of students and staff.

Although the Bloomberg administration has built fear and passivity in many schools in New York, the fighting spirit at Clara Barton has not wavered. To sustain and spread the resistance to more friends and other schools, many more people need to be recruited to commit to a lifelong struggle to build a communist world. Join the Progressive Labor Party!

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Racist Imperialists Looted Haiti for 500 Years: Capitalism+Earthquake = Mass Murder

Profit-hungry — mainly U.S. — racist capitalists, having looted Haiti for 100 years, have condemned more than 200,000 of its working class to die in the recent earthquake. Just as disgustingly, these same bosses, led by liberal phony Obama, seek military and political payoffs from the slaughter through media-hyped “relief” efforts that benefit their own class far more than they do workers.

(A New York Times’ op-ed article (1/14) reported: “Money that private aid organizations rely on comes from the United States government, which has insisted that a great deal of the aid return to American pockets — a larger percentage than that of any other industrialized country….Many projects…serve not impoverished Haitians but the interests of the people administering the projects.”)

The first wave of killings came on January 12, when shack-like homes in overcrowded shantytowns collapsed on desperately poor and mostly jobless workers and their families. Public buildings cheaply constructed with no concern for workers’ safety also fell. Tens of thousands of lingering deaths follow, due to “bottlenecks” hindering Obama’s “humanitarian” aid effort, which, in fact, fronts for yet another U.S. invasion of Haiti.

Haiti’s Working Class: A Super-exploited ‘Reserve Army of Labor’

The horrific destruction of Haiti’s slums results directly from U.S. rulers’ and their allies’ exploitation of the country’s almost entirely black population as what Marx called a “reserve army of labor.” Keeping one group of workers jobless and/or grossly underemployed and, when working, grossly underpaid, helps imperialist capitalists hold down wages throughout their sphere of influence. U.S. rulers’ racism super-exploits black, Latino and Asian workers in Africa, Asia and Latin-America. But their racism reaches new heights in Haiti, a more effective wage suppressor for U.S. and allied bosses than even Africa is for their European and now Chinese rivals.

The Progressive Policy Institute reports (5/1/08): “Haiti’s per capita income is $450 per year. This is barely a tenth of the $4,045 figure for Latin America and the Caribbean, and well below the $746 average for sub-Saharan Africa….Between 200,000 and 350,000 of Haiti’s nearly nine million people have permanent paid work.”

U.S. policies deliberately enforce Haitian workers’ perpetual impoverishment and largely jobless urbanization, which both boost U.S. rulers’ profits and vastly magnified the earthquake death toll. U.S. Coast Guard and federal immigration cops brutally deter immigrants from Haiti, towing their rickety boats back out to sea and jailing those who do make it to U.S. shores.

U.S. garment bosses, with Bill Clinton, the UN’s “Special Envoy to Haiti,” shilling for them, and backed by an Act of Congress, lured workers to Port-au-Prince with promises of sweatshop jobs at less than $2 a day. All but one of Haiti’s textile plants — which accounted for 90 per cent of its exports — were in Port-au-Prince. And U.S. interests destroyed what there was of Haiti’s farm economy (see page 3), increasing migration from the countryside to the capital.

“In the 1980s and 1990s, under pressure from international financial institutions and the United States, Haiti lifted tariffs that protected the livelihoods of its rice farmers, leaving local producers unable to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness.” (Boston Globe, 5/5/08)

Clinton Aids U.S. Rulers’ ‘HOPE’ for a Permanently Poor Haiti

Last April, Haiti’s U.S. puppet prime minister Michele Pierre-Louis told NY garment manufacturers they could count on “250,000” ultra-low-wage factory workers in Haiti “before 2011.” She was touting the Haitian Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, or HOPE, passed by Congress in 2006 and strengthened in 2008. It guarantees U.S. bosses investing in Haiti “duty-free status and lower labor costs [our emphasis, Ed.]…for the next 10 years.” (Women’s Wear Daily, 4/14/09)

In September 2009, Bill Clinton, pushing HOPE in Port-au-Prince, spoke of 100,000 garment jobs while betraying his true class loyalty: “All of our efforts will have to be judged by…whether we perform for the investors and make them a profit.” (CBS-TV, 10/1/09) Blatantly imperialistic, HOPE forbids Haitian subcontractors to “engage in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests.”

U.S. Military Invasion, Cloaked in ‘Humanitarianism’; Half-baked ‘Relief’ Pales Beside U.S. War Efforts

When the quake hit, geopolitics suddenly replaced economics as Obama & Co.’s chief concern in Haiti. Warmaker-in-Chief Obama immediately grabbed the chance to assert U.S. military dominance over the Caribbean Basin, dispatching 10,000 Marines and soldiers under humanitarian cover, to quell any potential rebellion by angry, starving, jobless workers.

As a warning to Venezuela and Cuba, and their Chinese and Russian pals, U.S. forces immediately summarily seized the capital’s airport and sent warships steaming to Haiti’s shores. While the Navy flotilla includes a hospital ship, it also boasts two guided missile cruisers, which, bristling with weapons, deal only in death.

The day after the quake, Douglas Fraser, the U.S. general in charge of the Haiti operation, made it clear that wielding power, not providing relief, was Job One: “We’re focused on getting command and control and communications.”

Delays in relief have caused thousands of needless deaths. Pentagon brass blame Port-au-Prince’s battered one-runway airport and the “logistical nightmare” of distributing food and water. What nonsense! During World War II, U.S. construction battalions would build mile-long airstrips in days while under enemy fire. And today, the remotest U.S. Afghan outposts get regular supplies of food —and ammo — by the ton. Saving Haiti’s workers is simply not a priority for the U.S. war machine.

One positive thing coming from the Haiti horror is the outpouring of working-class solidarity for the victims. But it will all go for nothing without a class outlook. Applauding Obama’s militarizing “relief” or giving to Doctors Without Borders (really, Capitalists Without Scruples) can only bolster U.S. imperialism.

The class solidarity and militancy of Haiti’s workers amid the catastrophe shows the way. We must unite with them in solidarity by raising the above ideas in unions, shops, on campuses, in barracks, churches and community organizations. And we must expose the real looters — U.S. bosses — while collecting aid to send directly to Haiti’s workers on the streets, by-passing the phony relief groups serving U.S. imperialism.

These workers are battling the U.S.-led “security” apparatus to get food and water to share with their communities. What’s needed even more is an internationalist party that embraces such struggle with the outlook of eventually eradicating the life-sucking billionaire class in a communist revolution. That’s what the Progressive Labor Party is building. Join us.

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