Thirty-two years have passed, but Cuba has not forgotten. On December 7, 1989, the remains of 2,289 combatants who gave their lives on internationalist missions in Africa were returned to the arms of the homeland
Thirty-two years have passed, but Cuba has not forgotten. On December 7, 1989, the remains of 2,289 combatants who gave their lives on internationalist missions in Africa were returned to the arms of the homeland, in an effort entitled Operation Tribute. All the country’s cities received the remains of their prodigal sons, and honored to them in Pantheons of the Fallen established in all municipalities. General Antonio Maceo’s mausoleum, in El Cacahual, hosted the symbolic national ceremony with the remains of 16 internationalists, one from each provinces and the Isle of Youth special municipality, on the date when the Titan and his faithful assistant Panchito Gomez Toro fell in battle against the Spanish colonialists. “These men and women, to whom we give an honorable burial today, in the warm land where they were born, died for the most sacred values, they died fighting against colonialism and neocolonialism, racism and apartheid, plundering and exploitation of the peoples of the Third World, for independence and sovereignty, for the right to wellbeing and development of all peoples, for socialism, for internationalism, for the revolutionary and dignified homeland that Cuba is today,” said Fidel at that time, reaffirming the commitment follow their example. Of these internationalists, 2,085 were participating in military missions in the defense of the nascent independence of the People’s Republic of Angola, and 204 took on civilian tasks, as part of the 377,033 Cuban volunteers who fought in that country during the 15 and a half years of Operation Carlota. The Cuban government always informed families of the death of each internationalist (in combat, due to accidents or illness), but it was impossible, in the middle of the war, to repatriate their corpses and bury them in their hometowns. But the Revolution did not forget any of its sons and daughters, and to fulfill that humanitarian commitment, Operation Tribute was organized. As Army General Raul Castro Ruz said on December 12, 1976, “From Angola we will take with us only the intimate friendship that unites us to that heroic nation, the gratitude of its people and the mortal remains of our dear brothers and sisters who fell in the line of duty.” And so it was.
Beijing, Dec 5 (Prensa Latina) China today described the US blockade against Cuba as the worst example of the continuous and serious violation of human rights, denouncing Washington’s disregard for democracy.
The Foreign Ministry criticized in a document the persistence of that hostile stance kept for decades and the application of unilateral sanctions that infringe on the freedoms of the peoples of both countries.
“For more than 60 years, overlooking the multiple resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the United States kept intact its blockade against Cuba, based on embargo policies and domestic laws such as Torricelli and Helms-Burton,” it added.
He also remarked that it is the “longest and cruelest trade embargo, economic blockade and financial sanctions in modern history”, since they seriously obstruct development on the island and caused losses of more than 100 billion dollars.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s text in three chapters listed several facts, figures and opinions of experts and international organizations about the flaws of democracy in the United States, in reaction to a summit on the subject to be held by Washington this week.
He criticized the disadvantages of the American democratic system, as well as the overexploitation of the issue to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations.
He denounced the predominance of money in politics, the abuse of power by the elites, the invisibilization of ethnic minorities and the injustice in the rules of the electoral process there.
He emphasized that the crisis in democratic practices led to the unprecedented assault on the Capitol, exacerbated racism, contributed to the mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, widened the gap between rich and poor, and undermined the freedom of speech.
He also cited as other consequences of the imposition of the American model the outbreak of “color revolutions” to undermine stability in countries and regions of the world, humanitarian tragedies and abuse of sanctions also against Syria, Venezuela, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that violate international regulations
Before the Europeans arrived in America, Portuguese seafarers snatched the first Africans from their homelands to be sold and exploited in the Iberian Peninsula. Documentary evidence indicates a date: 1444. In 1510, 18 years after the first voyage of Columbus, the monarch Fernando de Castilla authorized the transfer of consignments of Africans to Hispaniola, in order to leave their lives in the mineral veins of the island, like the aborigines. Cuba in 1886 and Brazil in 1888 were the last to abolish slavery in this part of the world.
Between one and the other chronological marks, four centuries of infamy, forced uprooting, exploitation without limits, premature deaths, family fractures, twisted destinies, cultural alienation and massive violation of the most elementary human rights run through history.
Conservative estimates place at about 12 million enslaved Africans who arrived on American soil. To the statistics must be added the children of the victims of trafficking born here, also enslaved, and the numbers of those who died during the journeys.
To the infamy described should be added the sequel to horror, racism as an ideological construction that justified African exploitation and, above all, the immanent and systemic nature of the exploitative process.
In the memory of the Cuban people that trace is not forgotten. Therefore, the wake-up call on the eve of August 23, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, must transcend formality and be projected as an instance for reflection and understanding of what the African legacy means in the world. historical and current fabric of the nation.
The Haitian Revolution
The day, proclaimed by UNESCO, evokes the massive uprising of slaves in the French colony of Saint Domingue, at dawn on August 23, 1791, which began the Haitian revolution, and seeks not only to highlight the indissoluble link between freedom , social justice and defense of human dignity, but also contribute essential historical background to the fight against all forms of oppression and racism that persist on a global scale today.
For years, Cuba has developed the La Ruta del Esclavo program with appreciable results, supported by the coordinated actions of academic and cultural institutions that respond to the educational and cultural policy derived from the revolutionary transformations that have taken place among us for more than half a century. .
Publications, scientific events, promotional actions of social impact in festivals and artistic programs have made possible advances in the study of trafficking and slavery, the heritage values related to the subject and the vindication of expressions of African origin integrated into our identity.
There are conditions for all of this to be further strengthened with the implementation of the National Program to Fight Racism and Racial Discrimination, approved by the Council of Ministers, led by the President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and in the that more than thirty state agencies and socialist civil society organizations are involved.
This will, of course, be a way of honoring a concept expressed by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro, when on December 22, 1975, at the closing of the First Party Congress, and publicizing Operation Carlota, of combative solidarity with Angola, He said: “We are not only a Latin American country, but we are also a Latin African country.”
Reneging on George Floyd Promises: The Minneapolis Police Name-Change Con
When Black Lives Matter chapters demand “abolition” and “defunding” of the police, rather than community control of the cops, they play into the hands of charlatans and misleaders on city councils and in the halls of Congress.
“The proposed charter amendment was at best a symbolic gesture and at worst lessened police accountability for past and future crimes.”
At the height of the Minneapolis rebellion a majority of the city council announced they would move towards “disbanding” their police force, in response to Black Lives Matter “abolition” demands. It turned out that what the councilpersons were actually proposing was a name change, retaining a force of armed cops in a new “Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention” with a “holistic, public health-oriented” mission. But even this palliative was too much for the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which voted to delay putting the police reorganization question on the November ballot, effectively killing the measure. The city is currently required to maintain a set ratio in the number of cops per resident.
The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J), which was formed in the wake of the police killing of Jamar Clark in 2015, never bought into the city council’s name-change game. “The proposed charter amendment was at best a symbolic gesture and at worst lessened police accountability for past and future crimes,” the TCC4J’s Jae Yates told a press conference. “In opposition to the charter amendment, TCC4J instead demands community control of police [CPAC], which will meaningfully curtail the as of yet unchecked power of the MPD to terrorize Black, brown and low income communities. The CPAC legislation puts all oversight of police misconduct back into the hands of the communities that are being policed and provides continuous engagement for community members to address grievances. CPAC consists of a directly-elected all-civilian council, and has final authority over discipline, up to and including subpoena power and the convening of grand juries. In short, the CPAC legislation has all of the details that the city council’s proposal lacked.”
“Community control of police will meaningfully curtail the as of yet unchecked power of the MPD.”
The Minneapolis coalition was among the 800 activists that gathered in Chicago last year to organize a nationwide campaign for community control of the police, under the umbrella of a relaunched National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Nineteen of Chicago’s 50-member board of aldermen have endorsed legislation to create a Civilian Police Accountability Commission (CPAC). “Nothing short of CPAC is what we need and demand,” said Minneapolis organizer Daphne Brown at last week’s press conference. “We don’t want no Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department! Council members, mayor and government in city hall, we don’t want that piece of shit y’all trying to give us. We do not want it. We want what we demand, which is CPAC. That’s the only thing that’s gonna give us the power back to protect our community, protect our families and protect ourselves.”
Brown has been organizing against killer cops since 2013. She doesn’t hesitate to name the Black misleaders that are in on the con. “To the council members that came up with this, you went behind our backs! Andrea Jenkins, Jeremiah Ellison, y’all know that’s not gonna help us.” Brown continued, “We still got killer cops out here y’all. How can we accept anything from these people, knowing we still got killer cops on our streets?
Jamal Clark’s sister, Danielle Burns, sees through the “good Council-bad Commission” con game that’s being played to keep the blue army of occupation on the streets of Minneapolis. “it’s these same folks putting forward a fake fix with their city charter amendment. Changing the police department’s name, that’s not justice,” she said.
“We don’t want no Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department!”
The same hustle-and-jive plays out across the nation, as mainly Democratic city officials attempt to reconcile protesters’ demands with their obligations to the Lords of Capital, the architects of the US police state. When Black Lives Matter chapters demand “abolition” and “defunding” of the police, rather than community control of the cops, they play into the hands of the charlatans and misleaders on city councils and in the halls of Congress, for the simple reason that no legislative body will totally abolish local armed security forces. Nor would Black communities support measures that would remove the cops without replacing them with some other security force. Since “abolition” of the police is not immediately possible, elected officials are free to “interpret” the intent of protesters’ demands. The result will always be “that piece of shit y’all trying to give us as,” as Daphne Brown put it.
The Minneapolis Charter Commission is taking it upon itself to fill in the blanks that were left by the city council, and before that by protesters’ simple demands for “abolition” and “defunding” of the cops. As the Washington Postreported on August 5:
“The council says, ‘Trust us. We’ll figure it out after this is approved. Trust us,’ ‘ Barry Clegg, a Minneapolis attorney who chairs the commission, said ahead of Wednesday’s vote. ‘Well, I don’t. … We need more time to fill in these blanks so voters can make a decision based on an actual specific plan and not the promise of one.’”
Unless Black community activists spell out precisely how security for communities will be maintained, and to whom those forces will be accountable, the demand to “defund” the police — like “abolition” — is an invitation for officials to engage in word games, obfuscation and lies. As we wrote in the July 1 issue of BAR:
“Cuts in police budgets may rightly count as victories for the protesters that demanded cuts (or, it may actually be the result of across-the-board cutbacks due to collapse of tax revenues in the Great Depression Two). But diminished budgets do not make the police accountable to the people or allow the people to reinvent policing (or whatever folks choose to call the mechanisms of their security). Transfer of duties previously (mis)handled by cops to more competent agencies is a good thing, but will not result in People’s Power unless those agencies are brought under community control, along with the police.”
Thus, not only must we demand community control of the police, but also community control of those social service agencies that purport to serve the community, and to whom police funds would supposedly be transferred under a “defund the police” policy.
As Frederik Douglass famously said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Power will also use every opportunity to reshape people’s “demands” that are vague or open-ended – such as “abolition” and “defunding” of the police. Angela Davis, the prison and police abolition scholar most often cited by Black Lives Matter activists, was on hand for the relaunching of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression last year in Chicago, and is 100 percent behind its community control of police campaign.
“Angela Davis is 100 percent behind its community control of police campaign.”
The same democratic and self-determinationist imperatives that require black community control of police are applicable to a broad range of other services and resources – most especially schools. Community control is not a reformist demand, because it calls for real transfers of power from the oligarchs and their politicians, to the people. General demands for “abolition” and “defunding,” however, invite a reformist and trickster response from Power – as we see unfolding in Minneapolis.
“’Reforms’ that leave power in the hands of the oppressor and his flunkies succeed mainly in making the enemy look good. It buys the oppressor more time to harm the people – which is what the Democrats were seeking when they adopted the vocabulary of protest and embraced ‘reforms’ they had previously rejected in the face of a Black-led popular insurgency. Movement organizers must avoid providing opportunities for scoundrels, sell-out artists and Democratic Party operatives to pose as friends of ‘the community.’
Demonstrators march outside the U.S. Capitol during the Poor People’s Campaign rally at the National Mall in Washington on Saturday, June 23, 2018. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Poor People’s Campaign events for June 21-22, 2020, were held online, part of a nationwide “Virtual March on Washington.” | Jose Luis Magana / AP
WASHINGTON—From eradication of poverty, an end to U.S. racism, to dismantling the war machine and creating a Green New Deal with thousands of well-paying jobs—especially union jobs—hundreds of thousands of people demanded a complete reversal and creation of a better society in three virtual mass marches on D.C. the weekend of June 20-21.
The point of those New Poor People’s Campaign events was to reiterate an interlocking list of demands for specific measures to end poverty and racism in the U.S. And to set the stage for the next part of the mass movement: Registration and voting.
“This isn’t about conservative versus liberal. That’s too puny,” said the Rev. William Barber II, the NPPC co-chair, with the Rev. Liz Theoharis. “It isn’t about right versus left. It’s about life versus death.”
To further their cause, the NPPC released a new and more comprehensive Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform available on its website.
Poverty alone may be approaching half the population, Barber said, due to the current depression, which has thrown at least 40 million people out of work, on top of the 140 million who were poor even before the crash hit.
The Moral Justice Jubilee Policy is a 14-page set of specific demands of ways to root out entrenched racism, dismantle the U.S. war machine and redirect military money, which totals $718 billion this year, towards education, health and social welfare, demilitarize the police and bring them under control and create a new and just economy that includes strong workers’ rights and millions of new well-paying jobs, especially union jobs, via the Green New Deal.
They demanded massive pro-green change to the economy, including an end to fracking and refinery and pipeline construction. One video speaker, former Vice President Al Gore, pushed that point, adding all problems they’re fighting against—poverty, exploitation, and climate destruction—are interwoven.
“For far too long, the poor, the immigrants, the people of color have been blamed for society’s problems,” Theoharis said before quoting Biblical prophets Micah and Jeremiah and the gospel of Matthew, on social justice. “We’ve been fed the lies of scarcity in a society of abundance…We want to break through the lie that only small changes are possible, or the lie that the rich and powerful can save us.”
Political change, particularly curbing corporate interests and their power over the rest of us, was a strong theme, too. “Fearsome and illegitimate power and money are combining to destroy what remains of our democracy,” Barber declared. “Ignoring the poor and protecting the rich is evil,” Theoharis added.
Barber pointed out, however, that the NPPC does not endorse candidates, but mobilizes voters—notably poor voters whom politicians of both parties have ignored, and who are discouraged as a result.
But economist Julianne Malveaux took aim at GOP President Donald Trump, too, though not by name. Citing his “Make America great again” slogan, she scornfully asked: “Great for who?”
“Black Americans and poor Americans have always been in crisis. The way capitalism works is the poor at the bottom are being exploited so the others can make some money. It’s the function of a predatory capitalist economy.”
At least one rank-and-file speaker, a woman from Dallas, was even more pointed. “We are being attacked by the corporate KKK,” she said. “White supremacy used to be wrapped in a sheet. Now it’s in a corporate business suit.”
Barber and the NPPC platform didn’t spare right-wing preachers either. One plank in their platform demands combat against “the distorted narrative of religious nationalism.”
The hundreds of NPPC co-sponsors, including 12 unions, ranged from Advocates for Youth to the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Many teamed up to broadcast the rallies on social media, accounting for the huge turnout: At least 150,000 attended the first 3-1/2-hour session that began at 10 a.m. June 20, and thousands more tuned into rebroadcasts that night and the following evening.
Union sponsors included the United Electrical Workers, the Auto Workers, the Communications Workers, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Government Employees, both big teachers unions, the Steelworkers, the Postal Workers, Fight For $15 And A Union, the Service Employees, the Painters and Unite Here.
The NPPC’s first session alone far outdrew right-wing President Trump’s campaign rally at an arena in Tulsa, Okla. Trump defied health warnings about large crowds spreading the coronavirus. As of 7:30 p.m. June 20, that pandemic has sickened 2.251 million people in the U.S., and killed 119,654 nationwide.
The high NPPC turnout was also driven by current events, including the economic depression, the pandemic, police murders of unarmed African Americans—with no justice in those cases—and subsequent daily mass marches nationwide demanding fundamental change to root out entrenched racism in police and society as a whole.
Other deep causes exist, Barber, Theoharis and other speakers said.
They include a government beholden to corporate interests, systemic poverty used as a method of repression, consistent high joblessness—ranging up to 75% at one Native American reservation—for people of color, and divide-and-conquer tactics of the elite used against people of color, poor whites, women and union workers.
“Less than 50% of Black adults have a job,” due to the depression, Unite Here Vice President Nia Winston noted. She was one of four union leaders to speak, along with Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson, and AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
The problems also include deep-seated police attitudes towards people of color, plus police militarization. “No police should be walking around with military equipment, with tear gas, with tanks,” said Claudia De La Cruz of the South Bronx. “It’s crazy.” One platform plank calls for an end to the Defense Department turnover of heavy military equipment to local police forces.
All this should lead to systemic societal change via systemic governmental change, Barber said—change achieved peacefully through the ballot box, he emphasized.
Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, Barber explained: “It is the right of the people to alter or abolish any form of government that becomes destructive of these ends (human rights) and to institute a new form of government.
“It is time to change this long train of abuses,” he added. Government “can be altered and a new and better government can be instituted.”
Other speakers took up other causes in the NPPC agenda.
“My co-workers and I started organizing a union,” at their Starbucks in Orlando, Fla., barista Olivia Williams said. “We were frustrated by management’s refusal to provide personal protective equipment” against the coronavirus. “We’re not afraid to fight.”
“Where we try to fight, our ability to do so is taken from us by right-to-work” laws, said one coal miner from Southwest Virginia. “As long as we’re divided, they”—the corporate elite—“can conquer.”
“Black and brown students whose schools were denied half a trillion dollars are now being told by the Republicans in the Senate they should return to schools in the fall—schools with even less funding” than before the pandemic, added Weingarten.
The NPPC originally planned a mass physical march on Washington, but the coronavirus pandemic and the fear of infection in large crowds shelved that. The virtual march far outpaced the campaign’s first march on Washington, almost exactly two years ago, which drew 25,000 people, Barber said.
“America must hear herself and see herself,” he declared. “It’s time for transformation, reconstruction and a moral revival….Now is the time for eloquent rage.
“We came…to build a movement to rise up together and shift up the moral narrative. Somebody’s been beating our people and we won’t be silent anymore”—a common theme from speakers during the virtual event.
Community Control of the Police – and a Whole Lot More
Abolition of the police begins with community control, in which community representatives not only hire, fire and oversee the cops, but decide the nature of the policing that is necessary and acceptable.
“Movements are about amassing power to the people, not collecting promises from corporate flunkies.”
The wave of people’s protests across the nation, backed by solidarity actions in cities around the world, has caused the corporate oligarchy and its servants to make promises they can’t keep and give lip service to programs they have always resisted. The Congressional Black Caucus, the vast bulk of whose members backed militarization of local police and elevation of cops to the status of “protected” class, now claims to favor limits on police arsenals, less legal immunities for cops and a grab-bag of other reforms they previously dismissed out of hand. Mayors that know damn well they will have to cut spending across the board due to catastrophic loss of tax revenues during the current, Covid-induced Great Depression, now profess that they plan to withhold funds from cops in deference to the “defund the police” movement. They’re a bunch of Kente-clothed liars, of course, but movements are about amassing power to the people, not collecting promises from corporate flunkies. That means demanding community control of the police, and of those funds that local governments are supposedly diverting from the police to social programs.
If anything has been learned from the past half century of Black reliance on Democratic Party politicians, it is that no lasting victories can be achieved without the transfer of control of public resources directly to the people. That was the meaning of “All Power to the People” when the phrase was coined, and must remain the goal of the movement, today.
“No lasting victories can be achieved without the transfer of control of public resources directly to the people.”
Although there is no intrinsic contradiction between the three most-voiced demands of the current movement — community control of police, defunding the police, and abolition of policing as we know it – only proposals for community control of the police directly confront the issue of power in the here and now, and also address demands for direct democracy and Black self-determination. Community control of the police was essential to the formation of the Black Panther Party, and has been an active demand of Chicago organizers since 2012. Support for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) has grown from only one of the 50-member city council (board of aldermen) to 19 co-sponsors of the enabling legislation. Last fall, more than a thousand activists from across the country met in Chicago to endorse the concept of community control of police, and pledged to fight for its enactment in 22 cities – a list that has grown with the wave of George Floyd protests.
Although community control of the police is within reach of becoming law in Chicago, a majority Black and brown city with the second largest concentration of Blacks in the nation, the demand has gotten less traction in nationwide demonstrations than the call for defunding the cops, or eventual abolition. That’s undoubtedly because Black Lives Matter demands have been pervasive in the current demonstrations, and BLM supports defunding of police. However, Black Lives Matter is more a quilt than a monolith, and many Black Lives Matter chapters and individuals also support community control of the police, while CPAC activists also back defunding and abolition of the cops as a logical outcome of community control. The elements of Black Lives Matter that are resistant to community control of police are those under the influence of hashtag founder Alicia Garza, who is now a Democratic Party political player and go-to person for corporate philanthropy.
“Black Lives Matter is more a quilt than a monolith.”
A serious, methodical program of defunding the police requires a community control approach. Ninety percent of actual police duties do not involve making felony arrests, and there is a consensus that cops should not deal with domestic disputes, mentally disturbed people, or a host of social contradictions – and maybe not even traffic control, which long ago devolved into pretexts for criminal charges. Therefore, defunding of police leads directly to the funding of specific public services, some of them currently badly performed by cops and all of which should be overseen by the publics most directly affected. Absent community control, defunding of police will only result in a shrinkage of the domestic army of occupation, not a change in the lethally oppressive relationship, and any social services that receive new funding will be answerable only to the legislators that had previously starved the community of services.
Abolition of the police begins with community control, in which community representatives not only hire, fire and oversee the cops, but decide the nature of the policing that is necessary and acceptable. Community control is a prerequisite to communities policing themselves to the greatest degree possible.
Indeed, communities should control, not just the police, but much of the rest of their neighborhoods’ vital services and resources. The right to self-determination is not confined to the criminal justice system. Therefore, community control of police advocates would be in principled agreement with the Los Angeles Movement 4 Black Lives position: “The most impacted in our communities need to control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, and police department.”
“Abolition of the police begins with community control.”
Community control is how we build socialism within the framework of people’s right to self-determination – the principles by which, along with solidarity, we de-colonize and dis-imperialize our world. ”Power to the People” means disempowering the capitalist and white supremacist. Everything else is a diversion, conjured up by the Kente cloth-soiling Black Misleadership Class in service to their bosses, the oligarchs. They have betrayed us repeatedly and laughed at our willingness to trust them yet again. In George Floyd’s name, let this be the end of it.
The US is the most profit-oriented, business-controlled society on Earth, and therefore the least able to cope with a national health emergency, which requires sacrifice of profit for the greater good.
“U.S. imperialism offers no solutions to address the coronavirus outbreak now that it has reached U.S. shores.”
The coronavirus outbreak in China has made its way across the world, infecting thousands in nations such as Iran and South Korea. While confirmed cases in the United States remain low (likely due to underreporting), a cloud of fear and racist hysteria hangs over the U.S. populace from centuries of imperialist aggression toward China and its people. Racist attacks against Asian Americans are on the rise. The corporate media has predictably used the outbreak to demonize China’s system of economic and political governance. Yet as fear of the coronavirus’ spread increases, it becomes clearer that U.S. imperialism is the true drag on humanity, not China’s market socialist model.
The U.S. corporate media has lamented over its assessment that China’s “authoritarian” government is behind why the country has been able to address the coronavirus outbreak with such strength and vigor. This is a cynical admission that the United States and its imperialist allies are not prepared to effectively address a similar outbreak. One person based in Miami has already reported receiving a bill of over $3,000 to get tested for the coronavirus. A 2019 survey found that up to half of all participants avoided seeking medical caredue to the cost of the for-profit healthcare system. This alone places a large section of the population at risk should the number of coronavirus cases increase as predicted.
“One person based in Miami has already reported receiving a bill of over $3,000 to get tested for the coronavirus.”
The real story of the coronavirus outbreak is not the virus’ lethality but rather the difference between an imperialist world order and the alternative system located in China. U.S. imperialism and its allies across the world had over a month to take preventive measures and learn from China’s containment strategy. Instead, the corporate media and official Washington have provided ordinary Americans with nothing but a steady dose of anti-China fear mongering and non-stop coverage of the virus’ spread.
China, on the other hand, has been praised by the World Health Organization for its aggressive response to the outbreak. New coronavirus cases have been steadily declining in mainland China from over 3,247 new cases in mid-February to around 442 new cases at the beginning of March. The number of deaths per capita in South Korea and Italy have already surpassed those in China.
China’s impressive response
Because of U.S. imperial hostility toward China, few people in the U.S. understand just how impressive China’s response to the coronavirus really is. Over sixty million people in mainland China remain quarantined to their homes. While economic activity has gradually returned, people are being asked to quarantine themselves for fourteen days if they have travelled outside of the country. Security has been administered to all residential areas for regular temperature checks. Television programs across the country are providing around the clock education on measures to prevent the virus’ spread.
“U.S. imperialism and its allies across the world had over a month to take preventive measures and learn from China’s containment strategy.”
Perhaps even more impressive, China’s central government has commanded companies to produce medical supplies to make up for shortfalls. The mandate to produce medical supplies includes completely unrelated sectors of the economy such as smartphone technology and the automotive industry. Two massive hospitals were built to assist in the treatment of the virus within a three-week span. The hospitals increase the number of hospital beds in China to treat the disease by over two thousand. Over forty-one thousand medics have been sent to Hubei province as part of China’s national patriotic health campaign to contain the virus. Health experts in China estimate that the coronavirus will be under control within the country by the end of April 2020.
U.S. imperialism, on the other hand, offers no solutions to address the coronavirus outbreak now that it has reached U.S. shores. The CDC has discouraged the use of masks prior to infection even though the novel coronavirus can take up to two weeks before symptoms become evident. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has already warned Congress that there is a massive shortage of surgical masks and other medical supplies in the U.S. to protect health workers in the case of an outbreak. While around 1,000 people are under a federally enforced quarantine in Washington state, such measures implemented nation-wide would cause serious disruptions to the already stagnating U.S. capitalist economy. Many people are without sick days to cover large absences from work and the recent stock market dip indicates that financiers on Wall Street are growing increasingly concerned about their profits should the coronavirus prompt the demand for more extensive measures.
“Health experts in China estimate that the coronavirus will be under control within the country by the end of April 2020.”
The U.S. ruling class has been spreading fear about the coronavirus to avoid the reality that its social system is organized to generate massive private profits for the rich at the expense of the oppressed and toiling masses. An emergency response system does not exist in the United States beyond the channels of a security state designed primarily to wage war on the oppressed. That system is not equipped to serve the people and thus cannot be trusted to use its massive resources to address the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. imperialism is the most dangerous disease of all. U.S. imperial aggression toward Iran has already starved the country of the resourcesnecessary to address its own coronavirus cases.
The racist hysteria spread by headlines such as the Wall Street Journal’s “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” negate the U.S.’ historic role in spreading disease and death around the world since its inception. Indigenous peoples were poisoned in the millions by diseases such as smallpox which settlers spread intentionally to free land for capitalist exploitation. Tens of millions of Africans died from disease, malnutrition, and colonial violence after being captured and enslaved by invading European powers, including the United States. In the last half century alone, U.S. imperialism has killed tens of millions more and deployed biological weapons such as Agent Orange and depleted uranium that have left generations vulnerable to birth defect and cancer in Vietnam, Iraq, and beyond. The consequences of U.S. imperialism’s regime of austerity and endless war have also been felt on the mainland of Empire. Diseases of despair have eroded the life expectancy of the middle-aged white male population while mass incarceration and racist state terror has destroyed countless Black lives and placed Black life expectancy well behind that of whites.
“An emergency response system does not exist in the United States beyond the channels of a security state designed primarily to wage war on the oppressed.”
U.S. imperialism is designed to produce such historical and contemporary maladies in the name of profit. All the fearmongering of China’s “authoritarianism” has done is revive the tired white supremacist and anti-communist ideology of the Cold War that serves to justify the existence of U.S. imperial hegemony. This is the same ideology that not only allowed the ruling class to threaten nuclear war on the Soviet Union, China, and Korea after using nuclear weapons on Japan, but also terrorize and demonize radical and progressive Black movement leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. It is past time that the left reject the anti-China, new Cold War trap created by the capitalist class. While Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All policy is much needed to address problems such as the coronavirus and the many millions who are suffering without adequate healthcare, Bernie Sanders’ decision to fight the DNC’s attacks with anti-China and anti-Russia talking points is the wrong way to go. China’s so-called “authoritarianism” has successfully mobilized an entire country to contain the outbreak of a deadly disease, eradicated absolute poverty for nearly a billion people, and offered a new model of global economic cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative that respects international law and the right of nations to self-determination.
“China’s so-called ‘authoritarianism’ has successfully mobilized an entire country to contain the outbreak of a deadly disease.”
The declining conditions of workers and poor people in the U.S. and the West indicate that more “authoritarianism” is needed, not less. Authoritarianism is a racist dog whistle for socialism. Socialism, rather than Bernie Sanders’ New Deal social democracy, requires public ownership of the means of production and the control of the state by the oppressed. Only when masses of people have the power to plan and direct economic activity can their interests and needs be placed in command of society. In order to get here, capitalists must be unseated from their thrones in the corporate boardrooms and political offices that empower them to privately usurp much of the wealth produced by labor.
The most socialist-oriented section of the U.S. population, Black America, knows full well what it is like to be dehumanized and criminalized for seeking the power to control its economic and political destiny. White supremacy is the bedrock of U.S. imperialism and it is being whipped up to reinvigorate the U.S.’ war on China at the expense of Black Americans and the rest of the exploited classes right here in the mainland of Empire. As a larger section of workers are subjected to the economic conditions that have plagued Black life for centuries, U.S. imperialism becomes increasingly exposed as the drag on human progress that it always was. A coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. will just add fuel to a growing fire of hatred toward the conditions of imperial decay. We must fight anti-China demagoguery to ensure that popular anger is channeled where it belongs: at the system of U.S. imperialism itself.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News–From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached email@example.com, on Twitter @spiritofho, and on Youtube at The Left Lens with Danny Haiphong.
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