The Puerto Rican government and its colonial masters in Washington left people on the island to fend for themselves in the aftermath of last week’s earthquake, just as they have for over two years since Hurricane Maria wrecked havoc there.
No one can stop an earthquake or a hurricane. But their effects are not a “natural” disaster, nor a result of “climate change.” It’s a result of the way capitalism works — to maximize profits for the bosses and bankers — disregarding the lives of working people, from shoddy construction to lack of any real preparation for storms, earthquakes or other disasters. In Puerto Rico it is made many times worse because of the economic distortions and superexploitation imposed by U.S. colonial rule.
The Cuban Revolution shows that society doesn’t have to be organized that way. As Raúl Castro explains, in Cuba no one is left on their own. Working people there are organized to minimize the loss of life and to rapidly begin to rebuild whenever disaster strikes. But this is only possible because working people made a revolution and took power out of the hands of a U.S.-backed dictatorship in 1959, replacing capitalist rule with a workers and farmers government and winning real independence.
The response by working people across Puerto Rico — immediately organizing to get food and supplies to earthquake-stricken areas in the face of the government’s indifference and completely inadequate response — shows that they are capable of doing the same.
Today, while thousands in Puerto Rico are living in tent cities or in the open air, capitalist bondholders — backed by Washington — continue to demand payment on Puerto Rico’s billions of dollars of debt.
Working people in the U.S. join with the workers and farmers of Puerto Rico to demand: Cancel the debt! Abolish the U.S. imposed Financial Oversight and Management Board! Immediate, unconditional U.S. aid for reconstruction!
Fighting for these demands, and setting out to follow the example of Cuba’s workers and farmers, will put working people in Puerto Rico in the best position to organize to put an end to U.S. colonial rule.