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Vol. 76/No. 42      November 19, 2012

Social disaster caused by capitalism

A social catastrophe created by the dictatorship of capital. That describes the ongoing devastation inflicted by Hurricane Sandy on millions of working people on the East Coast, especially in the New York and New Jersey areas that were inundated by flood waters.

People were left to fend for themselves before, during and after the hurricane hit. The government—federal, state and municipal—did little to prepare or protect the population.

The Socialist Workers Party candidates have called for a massive, emergency government-funded program to put workers desperately looking for jobs to work; provide badly needed food, medicine and other basic necessities to those most deeply hit; reconstruct devastated areas and rebuild infrastructure neglected for years by the capitalist rulers.

The man-made character of the capitalist social disaster in the U.S. is brought into sharp relief when contrasted with the response to the hurricane in Cuba. There the government prepared people for the hurricane and led an organized evacuation for those most at risk. It is marshaling a massive mobilization of volunteer work brigades and army units for cleanup and reconstruction, especially in hard-hit Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city.

In the United States, basic necessities in the hardest-hit working-class areas became scarce. Their prices skyrocketed as capitalists, big and small, sought to profit off the misery. In Cuba, the priority was to provide shelter, food, and medicine to those who needed them.

In the United States the evacuation was simply an order, which many saw in their best interest to ignore. In Cuba it was organized. No one is left behind. Saving people’s belongings and pets is part of the plan. Even entertainment was organized to keep up people’s spirits.

Workers’ desire and efforts to help each other are led and organized by the government in Cuba. In the U.S. cop harassment and curfews impede these efforts.

In the U.S., when workers’ homes are destroyed, they are out of luck if they don’t have the right kind of insurance, which is most often the case. Insurance in Cuba? There is no such thing. Instead, a massive effort to rebuild homes began the day after the storm hit.

In the United States the president flies over in a helicopter and the mayor is run out of the first working-class area he attempts to visit for a photo op. Raúl Castro, president of Cuba is still in Santiago, where he walks the streets, talks with working people and has vowed to stay until power is fully restored.

The difference between the U.S. and Cuba is class-rooted. In Cuba, workers and farmers made a socialist revolution. The government is theirs and they use it to defend their interests.
Related articles:
Gov’t response to hurricane shows true face of capitalism
‘Nothing was done to prepare us for this’
Hurricane Sandy: Cuba gov’t leads effort to meet needs and rebuild
Atlantic City: ‘We stayed to protect what little we had’  
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