Street and slum dwellers, housing insecure, hit hardest by pandemic

ILPS Commission 18 Statement

The COVID 19 pandemic has not only unleashed a virus upon the world but it has also painfully laid bare the longstanding problems and public health vulnerabilities of the toiling masses. It is undoubtedly street dwellers, the housing insecure and those living in close quarters inside slums who will suffer most from the disease as their living conditions forces them to contend with the impossibility of physical distancing and stay at home protocols, when there is little ‘home’ to speak of to begin with.

Moreover, the response of many governments has been to further criminalize the people and deprive them of their most basic needs like food, in this time of crisis. Societal shutdowns have made access to work, income and badly needed medical and sanitary items an even more difficult struggle. This crisis has further revealed the base character of reactionary states who have readily abandon its most impoverished constituents.

While we may not be able to fault imperialism for unleashing the virus, it is certain that they have, failed to contain it, are doing an awful job at helping people get through it, and have overall exacerbated the situation. This is reflected most acutely in countries like Kenya, India and the Philippines where mass hunger, state sponsored violence, mass arrests and the criminalization of the poor and their respective movements have taken primacy over the often touted responsibility of governments to aid its people.

Fascist governments all over the world, the most rabid defenders of imperialism and neo-liberal policies have been scrambling to avoid accountability and the ire of the people and instead have resorted to repressive policies to stifle free speech and the clamor for basic services.

We laud efforts of comrades worldwide who despite the pandemic have managed to embed activists in communities to continue organizing on the basis of mutual aid, demanding basic needs and condemning fascist attacks. Movements in the United States, for example, have managed to hold an occupation by the homeless to highlight how the public health adversely affects working class people. In Guatemala, despite the lockdown people’s movements were able to hold protest actions while safeguarding against further spreading the virus. .

We look to the example set by Cuba, which has made life-saving strides globally to address the pandemic with the principle of internationalism. Their longstanding resistance to the neo-liberal model has made their healthcare system better equipped to handle the situation despite facing relentless sanctions imposed by imperialist nations.

We join hands with so many others in encouraging comrades and movements worldwide to continue their political work to agitate and mobilize people through various means while still maintaining public safety practices. Fascists of the world would like for nothing more than for the poor, homeless and displaced to put all political work to a stop, we must not give them the satisfaction. The naked contradictions and crisis is an opportune time to strike against imperialism and to continue it further once current quarantines may permit. Let us struggle to demand food, shelter, medical services and other forms of aid for the most vulnerable while incessantly condemning governments who have exacerbated the situation and exposing the rotten system that has rendered most countries of the world helpless.

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