HAITI MAY DAY
Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 6:40PM
Challenge_DesafĂ­o

HAITI, May 1—On May Day in Haiti, Progressive Labor Party (PLP) continued to denounce capitalism while raising the consciousness of the masses about the conditions of workers and the atrocious exploitation and domination by the bosses. In one small city, comrades organized a day of activities, including a conference-debate during which we presented the history of May Day and the situation of the working class in this region; a dinner and cultural evening of militant song and poetry. Other comrades participated in a mass march of workers in the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
Prior to May Day, comrades had invited a local labor leader to participate in a regular weekly local radio show that they host, to speak about the May Day march. Our comrades put the emphasis on class struggle, ending capitalism and fighting for a just, worker-led egalitarian society—communism.
Every day our Party is creating confidence in the masses. More and more, those close to us are becoming class conscious and coming closer to the struggle that we fight for. In order to organize our May Day activities in the town, we relied on local and international comrades for financial support. Workers and students living abroad and in Haiti contributed what they could to make the day a success. Despite the threat of rain (there had been serious flooding in this town for the week prior to May Day), close to 100 people participated enthusiastically in the day’s activities, which lasted seven hours.
The speakers denounced the attempts of the ruling class to expropriate May Day from the workers. The bosses try to make the day one of mindless festivity, food and fairs. They call it the Day of Agriculture and Work, but several speakers noted what a lie that was, since Haiti has neither prospering agriculture—there is instead systematic deforestation and total lack of support for small farmers and farm-workers—nor work—the Haitian working class faces an unemployment rate of 83 percent, with most people involved in the below-subsistence level informal sector and the 7 percent employed in the private sector rarely earning the $5/day minimum wage (the remaining 11 percent are in government jobs).
Despite a mass struggle since 2009 for an increase in the daily minimum wage—now $5/day—workers have been suffering. Despite election box approval, the bosses, the State and the Council on Salary have continued to lie and deceive. Horrible, crushing inflation has not changed the rulers’ minds; to the contrary, there have been firings in the factories for those who dare to complain. And that’s only among the formally employed: for homemakers, market sellers, drivers, cultivators and sharecroppers, things are maybe even worse. For teachers and office workers, the situation is also precarious, especially given the devaluation of the Haitian gourde (prior to the 2010 earthquake, there were 40 gourdes to the U.S. dollar; today it’s 68.5). A high school teacher working 6 hours a day earns less than $160 (all wages cited in $US)/month (and often is owed at least 6 months wages); a bank cashier earns about $245/month; women house servants earn between $28–$80/month. So-called “free workers,” that is, those without a fixed job in the informal economy can earn $3–5/day; a mason can earn $7.8–$11.70 for a day’s labor. These workers have no benefits, unemployment nor health insurance and can be fired at will by the bosses.
Other speakers stated emphatically that this was all really just another form of slavery. Many examples were given, including newspaper reports that in some U.S.-owned businesses, workers face such intense speed-up that they have to wear diapers because the bosses don’t allow them time to take care of their needs; there are factories in the free trade zones that don’t give workers enough time to have a meal during the work day. It is clear that the capitalist system tries to dehumanize workers, who create all value and profits for the bosses. “We can’t accept these conditions!” several workers exclaimed. “We have to fight back against them and the bosses who profit!”
One leader of a local women’s group, with whom we have been working since our forum for International Working Women’s Day last March 8, noted that women must take part in the class struggle of the working class. Several participants made clear that they understood that the working class is exploited and dominated everywhere in the world and that workers must get together to fight for their liberation.
In order to end once and for all the system of exploitation and domination that is capitalism, PLP raises class awareness in several countries at the present time. We are growing, despite the problems that workers face in this dark night. It shall have its end. PLP comrades are respected and they have the confidence of many workers. Workers everywhere, join us for communist revolution.

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (http://www.plp.org/).
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