Statement from Unión del Barrio
The coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency is unfolding on a scale that has impacted all of us as a species. This moment represents a new global consciousness that is spreading across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people quickly coming to the realization that only as a species can we hope to deal with this crisis. Within the U.S. this pandemic has unmasked the moral and institutional bankruptcy of the most advanced for-profit healthcare system in the world as one that is designed primarily to maximize profit, while proving largely useless for addressing the foreseeable COVID-19 health emergency.
Parasitic U.S. private insurers and the healthcare industrial complex shamelessly double dip to grow their already overblown profit margins. Nearly $4 trillion was spent on healthcare in 2019, making the U.S. model the most expensive, and least effective healthcare system in the capitalist world. Corporate executives and investors argue that this incredible sum of money was never intended to provide a viable health safety net for the entire U.S. population – much less so in a time of crisis. As the for-profit healthcare system is now faced with a national healthcare crisis, private medical interests once again turn to the public to pay the bill, and happily accept $8.3 billion of public funds allocated by the federal government (March 6, 2020 H.R.6074 – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020). Furthermore, private medical companies and HMOs are ready to access another $50 billion in public funds with the March 13, 2020 national emergency declaration.
This has been a publically enacted and politically sanctioned act of national insurance fraud. This fraud is being perpetrated and celebrated by Donald Trump and his minions, who convene press conferences and applaud the corporate C.E.O.s and the “public-private partnerships” that will save us from the coronavirus. Away from the cameras, central bankers have flooded private industries with “free” money to the tune of $1.5 trillion dollars in order to prop up the collapsed stock market. Very soon the U.S. federal government will announce massive bailouts of private airlines, oil companies, and the cruise industry. These aggressive economic interventions need to be understood as focused entirely on the health of the capitalist system only – equivalent to the toilet paper hoarding and destructive individualism currently being displayed by so many regular people in our society, and none of it is intended to support the urgent healthcare needs of this society.
Indeed, when we take a minute to look past the buffoonish trumpian boasting and incompetence, the true nature of the capitalist system becomes apparent in times of crisis. The rotten core of individualist consumer culture is exposed and in the end the only thing we can be sure of is that this grotesque system of monetized chaos and social inequity will likely condemn many of our communities to elevated levels of viral exposure.
We have no doubt that as this health crisis escalates, there will not be a sufficient level of political nor moral discipline demonstrated by elected officials to advocate for brown and black communities within the U.S. We must also recognize the lack of institutional motivation and organizational capacity needed to provide the necessary medical services to our barrios. Long before trumpista fascism took hold of this country, our communities have historically been denied institutional support and resources in times of crisis (during massive fires, earthquakes, and previous epidemics). We have no other option than to assume that trumpista fascism, especially when it is operating under a scarcity of healthcare resources, will intentionally deny institutional support to many of our communities during this healthcare emergency.
Therefore, the primary task for Unión del Barrio in the coming weeks and months is to implement as robust a set of emergency procedures we can muster. We must prepare ourselves to provide active solidarity to our members, our extended families, our political allies, and the neighborhoods where we have an on-the-ground organizational presence. To the degree that we can be disciplined in maximizing solidarity among those closest to us, will be the measure of how we can challenge the hysteria and neoliberal individualism promoted by the mainstream capitalist media. All of our organizational capacity must be channeled towards building community-based hubs of social solidarity. Unión del Barrio must do our part to advocate for the health and security of our barrios.
Unión del Barrio Community Guidelines for Addressing the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic
Securing the wellbeing of UdB membership:
- Each member of UdB (and solidarity-minded people in general) should secure the following consumables and store them in our homes to prepare for a general quarantine-household “lockdown.” Any person that is not able to gather these materials, please inform your local leadership in order to request guidance and/or support for securing these materials:
- 30-days of non-perishable food. For example, gather items such as canned goods, frozen foods, etc. that can be stored for a month.
- 2 weeks of any required medications, if any.
- 5 days of emergency drinking water.
- Fill the gas tanks of all vehicles to which you have access.
- Gather cash in hand, as much as possible up to $500 per person.
- Identify and check in with comrades who are unusually vulnerable, for example those members do not have access to medical services.
- If you are a member that feels ill, inform your local leadership and self-isolate. Do not attend any meetings or events at least until you receive some form of medical advice and have spoken to your local leadership.
- All UdB-led public events (community meetings, youth activities, rallies, protests, etc.) scheduled during the month of March should be immediately postponed. These postponements may have to be cancellations, and may also have to be extended to activities planned for April. All new updates that relate to this point will be available via this website: <http://uniondelbarrio.org/main/?page_id=4368>.
Securing the wellbeing of UdB allies and supporters:
- Unión del Barrio members and allies should immediately begin to centralize a list of allied organizations and collectives (as well as contact information for their leadership) that can be potentially mobilized if there is a need to bring together an organized mass-based community response to this health crisis. Email this information to <[email protected]>.
- Unión del Barrio members and allies should begin to centralize a list of supportive medical workers and institutional services (as well as contact information). Email this information to <[email protected]>.
Securing the wellbeing of our broader communities:
- Unión del Barrio members, allies and general community members should report to a centralized location any potential “security threat” perceived in our barrios that represent a risk to families or communities. This includes unusual movements of local, state, and/or federal police, ICE, or other governments agencies, as well as the presence of white supremacist/ fascist individuals and/or groups. Email this information to <[email protected]>.
- Unión del Barrio members, allies and general community members should report to a centralized location a list of the following community services offered by school districts and/or local agencies that provide food distribution and no/low cost medical services. Email this information to <[email protected]>.
- Unión del Barrio members, allies and general community members should report to a centralized location a list of the following community health related “hot-spots” of vulnerable people within our communities. This list should be centralized at minimum for the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, and will serve as a guide for us to prioritize all of our public political and advocacy work. Of course all sectors of our communities are vulnerable, but we should expect these sectors will be intentionally marginalized (and potentially repressed) by local, state, and federal authorities. Email this information to <[email protected]>. We must remain vigilant if a need arises for UdB and allies to intervene as an organized force on behalf of these sectors:
- Large concentrations of undocumented gente.
- Large concentrations of vulnerable students.
- Large concentrations of older people.
- Large concentrations of homeless people, especially when these populations are within our barrios.
- Large concentrations of agricultural and industrial workers.
- Local jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers.
Unión del Barrio calls on our members, comrades, and allies to immediately implement this plan until further notice. We must demonstrate the best attributes of a people’s revolutionary organization to protect the health of our members, allies, and our working-class communities. We are guided by the fundamental principles of human solidarity and active rejection of bourgeois tendencies of hoarding, selfishness, and neoliberal individualism.
Email all questions, updates, or pertinent information to <[email protected]>.
UdB national phone number is 619/398-6648.
The primary UdB COVID-19 webpage for updates is: <http://uniondelbarrio.org/main/?page_id=4368>.