'Cancel inaugural bash!'
By G. Dunkel
The International Action Center has called for a demonstration Jan. 5 at the New York office of the Republican National Committee to demand that the RNC cancel its grossly decadent, $40-million celebration of Bush's second inauguration and cancel the debts of the 12 countries devastated by the tsunami of Dec. 26.
At a well-attended mobilizing meeting for the demonstration, held Jan. 4 at the IAC office, speakers pointed out that cancellation of the inauguration gala is not unprecedented. Other presidents, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, have called off these festivities during natural or social disasters.
Alex Majunder, who lived in eastern India, told the meeting that the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami in Southern Asia was so great that "The area will need hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to reconstruct its infrastructure and economy."
Sara Flounders, a co-director of the IAC, pointed out: "To put the U.S. tsunami aid in perspective, consider that what it has pledged is about what it spends in Iraq in a day."
Dustin Langley charged, "Any warning would have saved thousands of lives. But the priorities of the United States are war, destruction and the search for immense profits."
LeiLani Dowell, who chaired the meeting, urged the importance of building the anti-imperialist struggle by coming out against the RNC on Jan. 5, mobilizing for the counter-inaugural in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, and building the anti-war protest in New York's Central Park on March 19.
The day after the tsunami struck, the IAC issued a statement which read in part, "The U.S. and British governments owe billions of dollars in reparations to the countries of this region and to all other formerly colonized countries. The poverty and lack of infrastructure that contribute to and exacerbate the scope of this disaster are the direct result of colonial rule and neocolonial policies.
"Although economic and political policies cannot control the weather, they can determine how a nation is impacted by natural disasters. We must hold the U.S. government accountable for their role in tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of deaths. We must demand that it stop spending $1.5 billion each day for war and occupation and instead provide health care for the victims of this tragedy, build an early warning system, and rebuild the homes and infrastructure destroyed by the tsunami." (iacenter.org)
The statement, available online at www.iacenter.org, was read worldwide, translated into Spanish, Hindi, Bengali, Italian and Russian. It helped formulate a political response to the disaster.
Reprinted from the Jan. 13, 2005, issue of Workers World newspaperThis article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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