Archive for the ‘Caribbean’ Category

by The Spark

September 20 marked one year since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. President Trump referred back to that storm, and the death count on the island, when he was warning people in North and South Carolina to flee Hurricane Florence.

He said that the death count in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria – reported in recent studies to be over 3,000 people – was fake.

Trump defiantly excluded any number larger than the handful originally reported, including all the people who died after the storm as a result of the failure of the US government, backed by Wall Street, to provide the massive federal emergency aid required to stop the death toll from rising.

Puerto Rico is an island about the size of Connecticut with a population of about 3 million people. It is a territory of the US, acquired through US military occupation. While citizens of the US, Puerto Ricans have no representatives in Congress. Since the US invasion, the island has been used by U.S. corporations as a source of cheap labor.

Working class people have a far lower standard of living there than in any state in the US. The poverty imposed on the Puerto Rican population by US imperialism means that (more…)

Advertisements

Our 1968 coverage continues although, strictly speaking, this is October 1967. . .

Che was executed without trial in Bolivia on October 9, 1967.  The Cuban leadership declared 1968 “The Year of the Heroic Guerrilla” and supported revolutionary movements throughout Latin America in particular.  Che’s reputation, already very high among newly-radicalising young people around the world, grew significantly in 1968.

Below is the speech about Che delivered on October 18, 1967 by Fidel Castro to a rally of several hundred thousand people in Havana.

I first met Che one day in July or August 1955. And in one night — as he recalls in his account — he became one of the future Granma expeditionaries, although at that time the expedition possessed neither ship, nor arms, nor troops. That was how, together with Raúl, Che became one of the first two on the Granma list. 

Twelve years have passed since then; they have been 12 years filled with struggle and historical significance. During this time death has cut down many brave and invaluable lives. But at the same time, throughout those years of our revolution, extraordinary persons have arisen, forged from among the people of the revolution, and between them, bonds of affection and friendship have emerged that surpass all possible description. 

Tonight we are meeting to try to express, in some degree, our feelings toward one who was among the closest, among the most admired, among the most beloved, and, without a doubt, the most extraordinary of our revolutionary comrades. We are here to express our feelings for him and for the heroes who have fought with him and fallen with him, his internationalist army that has been writing a glorious and indelible page of history.

Che was one of those people who was liked immediately, for his simplicity, his character, his naturalness, his comradely attitude, his personality, his originality, even when one had not yet learned of his other characteristics and unique virtues.

In those first days he was our troop doctor, and so the bonds of friendship and warm feelings for him were ever increasing. He was filled with a profound spirit of hatred and contempt for imperialism, not only because his political education was already considerably developed, but also because, shortly before, he had had the opportunity of witnessing the criminal imperialist intervention in Guatemala through the mercenaries who aborted the revolution in that country.

A person like Che did not require elaborate arguments. It was sufficient for him to know Cuba was in a similar situation and that there were people determined to struggle against that situation, arms in hand. It was sufficient for him to know that those people were inspired by genuinely revolutionary and patriotic ideals. That was more than enough.

One day, at the end of November 1956, he set out on the expedition toward  (more…)

Workers protest for better conditions and increase in minimum wage; pic – Elysée Luckner Vil/Haïti Liberté

In Haiti, over the past year, workers in the industrial park in the capital, Port au Prince, fought to eliminate income tax for workers earning the minimum wage. The government retreated! Following is an article from the Haitian newspaper Workers’ Voice, published by the Organisation of Revolutionary Workers.

Thousands of workers rose up as one to protest when the bosses imposed the income tax. The scrooges and their lackeys did not expect this virtually instantaneous reaction!

After the protests, the government reformed the tax. It raised the cut-off income from $950 a year (60,000 gourdes in the Haitian currency) to $1,900 a year (120,000 gourdes). This new floor means almost all workers at the outsourced factories do not have to pay the income tax. A hard year’s work doesn’t even earn them $1,900! At the minimum wage of $5.55 per day, they earn $1,332 a year in the best circumstances.

First workers in (more…)

by Lutte Ouvriere

“I am not Santa Claus” was the first declaration that French president Macron made when he arrived in French Guiana in late October. In this part of the old French colonial empire, half the families live below the poverty line and one youth in two is out of work; some of the inhabitants have neither running water nor electricity.

Right next door to the population living in extreme poverty is the Kourou space center from where the Ariane rockets are launched. All the equipment in the space center is ultra-modern and there’s a medical center strictly for employees only. This shocking contrast is revolting! When the population demands that the state put an end to injustice, it’s not asking for gifts, it’s asking that the state respects, at long last, the population’s right to live decently!

Last spring, the Guianans mobilized during five weeks to make their rights heard. Guiana was paralyzed by a general strike and barricades where the (more…)

The Trump administration has come in for criticism for its lackadaisical attitude to the plight of storm-battered Puerto Rico.  In the article below, a Puerto Rican Marxist outlines the wider appalling impacts of US imperialist domination of this Caribbean island.

by Héctor Reyes

My uncle picked me up at the airport and took me directly to Pavía Hospital in Hato Rey, a relatively new hospital. Afterwards, we went to his home to brace for the storm. As we made our way to his house, which lies atop a hill that oversees San Juan, its airport, and the city of Carolina, I watched as the neighbors of a condominium complex joined a crew of workers in frantically clearing dozens of large branches and trees that had been downed by Hurricane Irma less than two weeks earlier.

When Maria hit, there were several regions on the Island that had not recovered yet from the damages caused by Hurricane Irma. There were people who were still waiting to have their electrical power restored. Irma devastated the Island’s infrastructure, which had been in a state of neglect for a long time, particularly the power grid. The condition of the infrastructure on the Island is the product not only of the economic crisis that Puerto Rico has been trapped in for more than a decade, but even more so of the criminal conduct of the U.S., having kept the Island under colonial control for 119 years.

The colonial trap

Since the early 1950s, the U.S. has proclaimed to the world that Puerto Rico was not its colony, that it had made a special arrangement with the Island (the Estado Libre Asociado, ELA), only to recognize last year, through all three branches of the federal government, that it was not true, that Puerto Rico was an (more…)

On July 5, we ran an article on an important strike by banana workers on the island of Guadeloupe, one of France’s colonial possessions in the Caribbean Sea.  We can now report the banana workers have won!  Below is an article from the French revolutionary weekly Lutte Ouvriere (July 7) reporting on their victory.

After 42 days on strike, the banana workers of Guadeloupe have made the bosses give in. Wednesday, June 28, they agreed to pay the workers what they owed them for holiday pay, overtime, and other things.

The strike committee already made sure that a calculation was made for each worker for what was owed for the last three years. For some, this came to a few thousand euros. The bosses also agreed to pay for the days of strike and they made a first payment of 700 euros to the workers on Monday, July 3.

They also agreed on some first steps to improve the terrible (more…)

The following article was translated by the US-based Spark group from a leaflet put out by Combat Ouvrier, a revolutionary workers group  active on the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique which are still run by France.  The conditions of these workers are a reminder of the impact of imperialism and the division of the world between imperialist countries like New Zealand and the super-exploited masses of the Third World, like the Caribbean banana workers.

The Reasons for their Anger

The banana workers have been on strike in more than 17 plantations around the districts of Capesterre-Belle-Eau and Saint Claude on Guadeloupe. The strike began on May 18. A mobilization this big hasn’t been seen in more than 30 years. The victory of the strike at the plantation “Bois Debout” inspired the workers on the other plantations to strike as well. The workers at this plantation won between (more…)