U.S. communists urge solidarity with people of Caribbean

The following is a press statement released by the Communist Party USA on the recent devastating hurricanes. Spokespeople are available. Contact Jarvis Tyner, (646) 437-5310. For more information go to www.cpusa.org.

The Communist Party USA notes with alarm the heavy loss of life and massive property and economic damage inflicted by three powerful hurricanes in succession – Gustav, Hanna and now Ike – on all the nations of the Caribbean, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba.

Such storms are not mere “acts of God.” For years, scientists have been warning that global warming would lead to increases in the incidence of this type of disaster. Hurricanes are nourished by the heat energy of the sea, and as the sea gets warmer, we can expect more frequent and more intense storms of this type. To prevent this from happening will require drastic action by governments, especially those of nations like the United States whose energy use contributes most to global warming. Yet the Bush administration, faithful ally of the oil companies, pays no heed to these warnings.

The high death toll in Haiti (several hundred people from an incomplete count) is also related to other preventable factors. Extreme poverty in Haiti has let to the denuding of hill and mountainsides of forest that have been cut down for fuel, thus removing natural barriers that used to absorb rainfall and protect people from storms. Housing for millions of people in Haiti and its neighbors is inadequate for providing protection against storms. There is no money for infrastructure improvements that would mitigate the impact of hurricanes. The poverty of Haiti and its neighbors is directly related to a world economic order in which the inhabitants of poorer countries are made to suffer so that multinational corporations can enjoy ever greater profits. The CPUSA denounces the current U.S. government for acting as the “enforcer” of this brutal state of affairs.

Nor are the people of our own country immune from these disasters, which show that the lives of our people on the Gulf Coast and Southeastern United States are intimately linked with those of our Caribbean neighbors. The example of Hurricane Katrina three years ago, nearly repeated by Hurricane Gustav last week, show that these are not things that just happen to “other people.” We need solidarity between our own nation and neighboring nations like Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic if more massive loss of life is to be prevented in the future.

The Communist Party USA salutes the government of Cuba, whose commitment to policies of human solidarity has produced impressive mechanisms for protecting its people from natural disasters like the hurricanes. We are impressed, as always, by the way in which Cuban authorities, the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban civil society organizations have worked together to bring people and livestock out of harm’s way, leading to little loss of life in Cuba so far. Even though we know that thousands of houses have been destroyed, we know that nobody will be left homeless or be forced to fend for themselves in this crisis situation. Reports from Cuba indicate that there will be considerable economic damage, but we know also that reconstruction will be carried out with the wellbeing of the whole Cuban people as the goal. And we know also, that whatever damage Cuba has suffered, the Cubans will be at the head of the line of countries offering disinterested help to those more gravely affected.

Nor have we forgotten that when Hurricane Katrina all but destroyed a major U.S. urban region, Cuba was quick to offer disinterested aid, which was churlishly rejected by the same Bush administration which so callously failed to help its own citizens victimized by Katrina, many of whom still have no homes to return to 3 years later.

We also agree with the millions of U.S. people and their numerous organizations that President Bush’s restrictions on family remittances and travel of Cuban-Americans to the island be suspended in order to help overcome this disaster. We would add that the Bush restrictions be ended completely and permanently and that the new Congress and president abolish the shameful, 49 1/2-year economic blockade of Cuba.

Finally, we call upon the American people to respond to the natural disaster by giving generously, but also demanding changes in U.S. policy toward the region.