No electricity, no running water, mounting trash and spreading disease.
Imagine being forced to live under these circumstances weeks after being struck by one of the world’s deadliest hurricanes. That’s what it’s like for over 2.7 million Puerto Ricans who remain in dire need of help.
On Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria pummeled the Caribbean island with heavy rains and 155 mph winds, leaving at least 48 people dead.
Subsequent infrastructural and health effects were just as deadly. Electrical grids were shut down, water pipes were destroyed, uncollected trash began piling up and bacterial diseases like leptospirosis started spreading.
Today, weeks after the hurricane struck Puerto Rico, conditions remain the same, if not worse.
Not only did U.S. President Donald Trump, the de facto leader of the colonized island, take several days to address the mass humanitarian crisis. He also sent extremely meager and ineffective support to the island compared to mainland U.S. states that underwent similar natural disasters.
Florida, for example, lost 65 percent of its power on Sept. 11 when Hurricane Irma passed over the state. Within six days, at least 90 percent of power was restored, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Puerto Rico, which lost 100 percent of its power on Sept. 20, has only had roughly 22 percent of its power restored since then.
To top it off, Trump had the audacity to chauvinistically complain about sending aid, saying Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.”
But it’s not just Trump who’s standing aside and refusing to adequately help residents on the island. It’s also millions of U.S. citizens.
Take the case of Fred Maddox, a Texas resident who received federal aid after Hurricane Harvey devastated his state and believes Washington should limit its involvement in Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts. Maddox, like Trump and many U.S. citizens, have taken a “it’s not our problem” approach to the situation and have pushed responsibility for ongoing chaos onto the colony’s “lack of leadership.”
Washington’s pathetic response to Hurricane Maria and widespread apathy for Puerto Rico among millions of U.S. citizens proves that the Caribbean nation is in desperate need of socialist revolution — one that declares total liberation from the North American empire.
The United States, the progenitor of modern capitalism, will never help its colonial possessions in times of need for two reasons.
First: it’s not profitable for the capitalist ruling class and its bought-off citizens on the mainland. Second: most U.S. citizens, especially whites, don’t see Black and Brown Puerto Rican people as their equals because of imperialist chauvinism and racism.
The only people who will liberate Puerto Rico from its dire straits are Puerto Ricans themselves. In order to do so, however, they must directly confront the capitalist-imperialist system which the U.S. has imposed on the island and introduce a new way of living.
An anti-imperialist and pro-independence revolutionary movement guided by communist leadership must launch a people’s war against Washington and declare national independence.
Upon winning independence from the U.S. imperial grip, Puerto Rico can begin to move toward socialism, placing its poor masses ahead of profits and foreign wealthy elites. Under a socialist system independent from the U.S., it can allocate enough food, water, clothing, shelter and medical aid for all residents without having to rely on the North American empire.
This would require the nationalization of U.S. capital on the island and the forging of ties with Latin American blocs like the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA.
Most importantly, it would require the mass mobilization, education and empowerment of Puerto Ricans in the fight for revolutionary socialism against capitalism-imperialism.
To those naysayers who say this is a utopian vision, just take a look at nearby Cuba, which is internationally recognized for its hurricane preparedness and overall good standard of living. There, the revolutionary socialist government makes sure that all of its citizens are safe and healthy, since it puts its people over profits.
The disgusting U.S. response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has not only made socialist revolution a possibility, given mass frustration with the way things currently are. It has also made it the most probable outcome.