Nov 5, 2007
At least half the population of the Mexican state of Tabasco has fled floods following a week of rain. Tropical Storm Noel did not enter the Gulf of Mexico but its effects were felt in the Caribbean, with at least 65,000 fleeing rain waters in the Dominican Republic, 20,000 seeking shelter in Cuba and at least 14,000 fleeing the rains in Haiti. The death tolls are incomplete, as government officials have told the press in all these countries.
In Tabasco the governor already announced the loss of all crops. People have lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods, forced into shelters if they can find them. Flooding is also expected to affect other parts of Mexico on the Gulf side.
After everyone is rescued and all the damages added up will come questions about how the crisis was handled. Did a river in Mexico known to flood every year have sufficiently high banks built up? Clearly not.
And comparisons will be made to another recent disaster, not in a poor state of Mexico nor in the poorest countries of the Western hemisphere, but rather a disaster in the richest country in the world: New Orleans.
There too, the poor lost everything while the government did nothing but make things worse. In Louisiana the politicians ignored every warning given by every expert on water, climate and levees. And their friends pocketed funds made available to build stronger levees.
But countries like Mexico and those in Central America and the Caribbean and South America have an added burden when it comes to infrastructure: they are impoverished by the heavy weight of U.S. exploitation of their countries.
They don’t lack resources. On the contrary, they have many riches. But their resources have enriched U.S. corporations first and foremost, and, to a lesser extent, the European imperialist partners like Britain and France now and Spain and Portugal in the past.
More storms are on the horizon. The next ones should be produced by a population unwilling to pay such a high price anymore.