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Burning Spear News

Colonialism makes hurricanes deadly

Nov 6, 2022

Staff of The Burning Spear photograph flooding along the highway while delivering supplies to the African community south of St. Petersburg, FL


ST. PETERSBURG, FL—In late September 2022, Hurricane Ian blew into the Caribbean, moved across Florida and then up the east coast of the U.S.

At least 120 people died as a result of the hurricane. The vast majority of the dead were in Florida, most of them drowning in the storm surge that tossed around trucks, buildings and large commercial fishing boats as if they were children’s toys.

The deadly nature of hurricanes is directly tied to the system of colonial capitalism.

Climate change caused by imperialist industrial pollution is making all types of storms and weather more and more deadly: including storms, flooding, droughts and extreme heat or cold temperatures.

The history of colonialism has devastated natural processes by decimating or removing Indigenous and African populations from their lands, replacing their systems with that of the colonial mode of production.

Colonized peoples bear the brunt

Hurricanes in the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. have taken the greatest toll on the African and Indigenous peoples of that region.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,800 people and reduced the population of New Orleans by one third, through death and displacement.

It wiped out the historic African communities of New Orleans and dispersed the African population to distant destinations like Houston from where they have still not been able to return or rebuild.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. colonial territory of Puerto Rico, killing nearly 3,000 people and destroying what little infrastructure was there.

The island had not recovered from that devastation when, on September 18, 2022, Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico. After Ian hit the wealthy white communities of Florida, relief efforts for Puerto Rico were forgotten.

Puerto Rico feeds the U.S. economy with the production of pharmaceuticals, computers, clothing, canned tuna and rum, while its people starve.

Socialism cares for the people

Although Hurricane Ian knocked out Cuba’s entire power grid, the country’s population of 12 million people only suffered 2 deaths from the hurricane.

A socialist country, Cuba is well-known for its efficient and fair hurricane preparedness, providing bus transportation and shelter to all citizens in the path of the dangerous storms that regularly slam the island.

By contrast, in the U.S., individuals must fend for themselves. This leaves African and other colonized people vulnerable.

In Florida, some African families report that they were not informed of evacuation notices; others were unable to evacuate because they don’t own vehicles.

This was also the case in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, where African families had no means to escape the rising waters.

After Hurricane Ian, many Africans are still without electricity or clean water and are not able to access needed supplies because they don’t have cars to get to the sites where these supplies are available.

African self-determination is only solution

The only way forward for African and other colonized people to survive and thrive is to build the movement for African independence and self-determination.

WE can turn back climate change with a social and economic system that puts people first instead of colonial-capitalist profit.

Down With the Colonial Mode of Production!

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