The Spark

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

The Return of the Ebola Virus

Aug 5, 2019

The following article is translated from Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs (The Power of the Workers), the journal of the Union Africaine des Travailleurs Communistes Internationalistes, the revolutionary workers group active among African workers.

This disease has caused the death of 1,700 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since last summer. The recent Ebola death of someone in Goma, the second biggest city in the country, led the World Health Organization to classify it as a current epidemic at the level of a “world health emergency.” This city situated by Lake Kivu is an important crossroads in the region because it is close to the borders with Rwanda and Uganda. As a result, there is a big risk that the virus could circulate into the interiors of these three countries and spread even further.

The Ugandan authorities have begun a sort of hunt for the man on the pretext of putting their hands on the people who might have crossed paths with this contaminated person.

Remember that during an earlier wave of this epidemic that hit between 2014 and 2016, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were hit hard, with at least 11,300 deaths and untold more uncounted. In these three countries, enormous military forces were deployed around the villages infected with the virus, to impose a quarantine on populations that are already miserable in normal times. People in these villages were banned from going to go to work in their fields, or from exchanging products with the neighboring villages. In many places the result of this was to make people die of famine, in the end as much as from the Ebola fever. The aid promised by local dictators as well as the great powers was never seen in the villages hit by the epidemic.

Today in the region of Goma, many people who have a fever are not saying it, out of fear of being put in the treatment centers that have the reputation of being centers of death, deprived of even the minimum resources.

The dismay and suffering of the population do not at all impede capitalist exploitation. The soil and the sub-soil of this region produce enormous riches, for example the tin ore extracted by Alphamin, a rich U.S.-South African company.

It is true that science has not yet reached the point of discovering an effective treatment against this deadly disease that hits the populations of a number of African countries. An experimental vaccine exists, but the available quantity of doses is totally insufficient to confront the current epidemic.

The experts of the emergency committee that met in Geneva publicized the deception of the big powers about financing aid to confront Ebola. Research into treatments for this disease stagnates due to a lack of resources.

As for the capitalists who control the pharmaceutical industry and the production of vaccines, they are only interested in what can make them a profit. From their point of view, the African populations are too poor to be able to pay for the necessary treatments for this grave illness, as for many other less grave illnesses that nonetheless continue to kill.