The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Pajaro, California:
Another Working-Class Town Sacrificed at the Altar of Capitalism

Mar 20, 2023

On the night of March 10, as heavy rains hit Northern and Central California, a levee near the town of Pajaro broke. Rising waters from the Pajaro River flooded this town of about 3,000 people, mostly farm workers and their families.

While many families had no choice but to leave their inundated homes, some residents defied the evacuation order and stayed behind without power and running water. People said that, when Pajaro was flooded back in January, they were not allowed to return to their homes for a whole week. This time around, officials said the evacuation order might last for months, while there are not nearly enough shelter places available, and these farm workers don’t have the money to stay in hotels.

In fact, the flooding of the town was totally avoidable. Since the 1960s, local officials had been requesting federal funds to rebuild the levee. But despite several floods since then—including one that killed two people in 1995—the federal government ignored the repeated pleas of the community. As an Army Corps of Engineers expert put it, this levee never cleared the agency’s “benefit-cost ratios” because, he said, “It’s largely farmworkers that live in the town of Pajarothe value of property isn’t all that high.”

Yes, you read it right: In capitalist society, everything has a price tag attached to it, including human life. And the lives of these low-paid immigrant farm workers were simply ignored by government decision-makers!

Only a month ago, the people of East Palestine, Ohio were poisoned—sacrificed to another “benefit-cost analysis,” made by a railroad company, with the complicity of government officials who have been ignoring the railroad industry’s egregious safety breaches in the name of more profit. Now it’s the people of another working-class town, Pajaro, California, that are being sacrificed.

Who will be next?