Coronavirus: the government, businessmen and transnationals should pay for the crisis, not the working people

By Partido Socialismo y Libertad
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The worldwide spread of the Coronavirus (Covid 19), turning what began as an epidemic in China into a pandemic, is exposing the deep crisis of the world capitalist system.

There is real capitalist global chaos. Stock markets around the world have fallen precipitously; the world’s major economies have become paralyzed. Oil prices have collapsed.

As most economies were already stagnating or falling, the coronavirus pandemic has only aggravated a pre-existing situation, in a world economy that still would not fully recover from the crisis that erupted in 2008.

Without a doubt, imperialism and the various national governments will deepen the adjustment policies they had already been implementing to sponsor the recovery of profits and profitability of the companies affected by the crisis as well as the impact of the pandemic on whole economies.

They will move forward with the overexploitation of the working class and the peoples of the world, as well as with the ravaging of natural resources, particularly in Latin America by applying economic adjustment and pillage plans.

In Venezuela, the government of Nicolas Maduro established a series of measures to confront the situation. Quarantine was decreed throughout the country, commercial activities were restricted and schools at all levels were suspended. The military was placed in charge of directing the whole operation. A public health emergency is being placed in the hands of the Armed Forces and the police, when it should have been the domain of hospital directors, doctors, nurses and health workers.

In these first days of the declaration of a “collective social quarantine”, as the government has called it, it has become clear that this consists on the implementation of repressive measures carried out by the security forces. These actions clearly show that the government is taking advantage of the health emergency to test its social control devices.

But very little is done to respond to the problems and structural deficiencies of the health sector, and of the country’s public services in general.

In our country we have all suffered a real social tragedy for several years now, which makes the daily life of the workers and popular sectors really difficult.

The majority of Venezuelans are really worried about the arrival to the country of the coronavirus, because we are aware that we are immersed in a deep economic and social crisis, aggravated by the adjustment package that the government is implementing. Who can believe that we have the resources to face this serious pandemic? We all know that our lives are particularly difficult, with starvation wages, scarcities of medicine and food, hyperinflation and basic public services in a disastrous state.

The country’s infrastructure has been in ruins for years. There is no steady supply of drinking water, as is particularly evident in the capital; there are continuous power failures throughout the country, with a particularly harsh situation in the west. There is no cooking gas, gasoline is scarce, public transportation is in shambles.

The health care system is in a devastated state, following the precarization of workers’ conditions and wages. Health centres lack the basic materials to provide medical care. Some hospitals have been without running water for months. Essential medicines, gloves and masks, essential in a context such as the present one, are all scarce. For its part, the Ministry of Health has not published the epidemiological bulletin since 2016, depriving doctors of a necessary instrument to know the evolution of the different diseases in the country.

Therefore, we say that the government is lying when it says that it has the resources and tools to solve the crisis. They lie when they talk about 46 so-called ”sentinel” hospitals, when we all know the situation of health centers in Venezuela.

On the other hand, Maduro’s government has been applying a severe economic adjustment plan, implementing measures such as the Memorandum 2792 that has meant the liquidation of collective contracts, hunger wages and terrible working conditions, criminalizing the struggles of workers who defend their rights.

In this context, instead of authoritarian measures executed by security agencies, what we need is to ensure that the workers are not the ones paying the consequences of the coronavirus and the economic crisis created by the government, businessmen and transnationals. Let the capitalists and the officials who have become rich from the government pay for the crisis!

Maduro’s government has spent more than 80 billion dollars in foreign debt repayment since 2013, which explains the decay of all public services and the budget cuts for health and education. In that sense, we propose holding back the millions of dollars in military expenses, and end spending money on expensive military exercises. We need to tax on the capitalists and transnationals to provide hospitals with the necessary resources to face the pandemic! Let oil be 100% state-owned without mixed companies or transnationals! We demand the confiscation of the wealth of the corrupt and fraudulent importers! We reject the sanctions of imperialism that only affect the people. Let Trump immediately lift the sanctions!

In this regard, we must demand from the government that in this emergency context an integrated national system of free health care be established; living wages for doctors, nurses and all health workers; that water, soap, masks and gloves be supplied to all health centers in the country, not just to the 46 ‘sentinel’ hospitals. We demand guarantees for all quarantined workers to retain their jobs, wages and contractual benefits. No lay-offs or suspension of workers!

Workers, beyond taking all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, must be vigilant and mobilize to demand that we are not the ones who pay the consequences of the crisis and the pandemic.

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