I woke up feeling very calm. I’d just dreamt of Liliane Tigresse born Simonet, my mother-figure and a member of LALIT from its earliest days. I understand the timing of the dream. Had she still been alive, she would be my mentor today as de-confinement starts. Just as she was always my mentor in any major shift in political life, over so many struggles. In the dream, she was driving a car – she never did drive – and we had just picked up a new member somewhere near Beau Bassin. She knew where we were going. Dreams are the weirdest things. I need her, so when I sleep, I encounter her.
And then, I realize how much we need all the experience of the past and all the wisdom gleaned from past struggles to help us face the world we are waking up to after the lockdown ends today.
We have woken up to a different whole world today. It is terrifying. The epidemic has torn the veil off capitalist ideology, for all to see. On this day of my last “lockdown blog”.
Two days ago I wrote about the murder in cold blood by police officers of the unarmed, already-handcuffed black American man George Floyd in “Day 70 - You don’t just wake up in fascism”. I was warning of the need to oppose each step towards a fascist state – in the US as elsewhere.
Now this morning, we wake up to twenty-five American cities in justified uprising against the American state, a rebellion triggered by this murder coming on top of a history of systemic racism and police violence, and a history of class oppression throughout colonization and slavery. The fury of the usually invisible oppressed classes in America, has broken into action.
First there were demonstrations with demands. Then, attacks on police stations. Then provocateurs linked to murky elements of the state are reported to have moved in. Then attacks on signs of conspicuous consumption. We, in Mauritius, know the pattern of such uprisings. Then opportunist looting. Then arson. But all this is particularly raw during an epidemic.
Suddenly, the social distancing rules had to be abandoned. Massive crowds of protestors, shoulder to shoulder, hit the streets. Young working class people, women and men. And they faced up against, not just local police, but state police, and not them either but in 12 cities, to the federal police, the national guard. All – protesters and police officers – were in masks for the coronavirus. 25 states out of 50 are under state of curfew.
And during this rebellion, I see the fascist danger already in power: Trump and his mameluke stand there, maskless or barefaced (as in liars) at the White House for a press conference, and do not mention that the USA is already in a state of uprising. Trump, their trumpeter, all-but declaring war on China instead. Trumpeting that the USA is, mid-pandemic, leaving the World Health Organization. Trump accusing the WHO of being “too pro-China”. Trump accusing China of not respecting Treaty obligations about Hong Kong. (Forget that Trump just took his Nuclear Arms Treaty obligations over Iran and tore them up in public.) And after making these war-threats while never mentioning the murder of George Floyd or the massive demonstrations already erupting, he and his mamelukes all just walked out. No accountability. No questions taken from the Press. And Trump re-tweeting: “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” and then he, and then later the White House itself, tweeting the notorious racist threat, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
And meanwhile, two new Reports are out on Trump’s nuclear weapons plans. One Report is “Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos: The Trump Administration After Three Years” by the American Nuclear Policy Initiative. The other is “Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear weapons concern us all. Not just threaten us all. But, in our case, because Diego Garcia is a nuclear base, it is our responsibility to get it shut down. The nuclear button is under the index finger of Trump, now exposed further as a fascist: silencing the Press, threatening death on members of other political parties, instructing the police to shoot and promoting racism.
So that puts on our agenda in Mauritius the struggle to close down the base. Yesterday, we put on the agenda the linked economic items: land and sea for job-creation, food security for the country, housing for all. Deaths in detention have continued during lockdown, so that is to be kept on our agenda. The continued oppression of the Kreol language – not used in the main news bulletin at 7:30 on TV even during a pandemic. And who are those “speaking” to us – little Frenchmen and Frenchwomen? Even in the National Assembly, we have seen a Prime Minister who insists on speaking English and a Finance Minister speaking French, during a state of health emergency. That’s another demand. The State has seen fit to evict “squatters” during the lockdown. So, housing for all stays on the agenda. In the epidemic, we have seen the strengths of our universal health care system as well as of the preventive part of Biro Saniter – but both have been under pressure from insurance and private medicine bosses to get their funding cut. During the lockdown, we have seen the positive effects of less vehicle pollution: the air is clean and children and pedestrians have taken back the streets, so let’s keep that on our agenda. Here is the summary:
1. Close the military base on Diego Garcia, re-integrate Chagos into the Republic of Mauritius, set up regional government, similar to Rodrigues, for Chagos and for Agalega, with an MP each. Get the Mauritian State to call for the complete disbanding of all existing nuclear weapons in the world.
2. Requisition one-third of sugar estate and other big landowners’ land for job creation and food production. Make the sugar estates, at once, set up food preserving and transforming plants, take on workers for these factories, using their existing infra-structure and the raw materials from the land.
3. Set up a proper fishing fleet for Mauritius’ immense territorial waters to be fished sustainably, with factories for preservation and transformation. Take on workers.
4. Open a “national register” for all those in housing difficulties to inscribe, urgent needs like those living in asbestos housing and other dangerous houses, and at the same time, requisition land and build new housing for those who prefer long-leasing a house (thus avoiding the family conflict of “lakaz zeritye”). Take on new housing workers to run the Register, and then to set up a CHA-like institution.
5. Immediately open an inquiry into the deaths in detention, from Kaya’s death until today.
6. Immediately change the Constitution to allow Kreol to be used in the National Assembly, alongside the existing two languages. Take on staff to train those who need training.
7. Universal Health Care for all. This means at once stopping the proposed privatization that Pravind Jugnauth has announced – whereby public funds will be transferred to Insurance Companies to then pay clinics and private pharmacies in the name of all civil servants. Develop the capacity of preventive measures, including canal and stagnant water cleaning up, as well as contact tracing. Take on workers to do this.
8. Phase out all pollution – of the air from fossil fuels, of the earth, rivers and sea by chemicals used in sugar cane and factories – and re-kindle bio-diversity in natural reserves, which must expand.
9. Ensure that everyone has a monthly revenue – either from a stable job or a guaranteed income.
10. Stop all repression for social problems – this means no prison or punishment for drug-users, no prison or punishment for women who have recourse to an abortion, no imprisonment for people who cannot pay a fine or who cannot find bail money.
These are all already part of LALIT’s program. We need these issues to be massively adhered to. We need actions based on them.
So, I sign off. My last, 72nd blog of the lockdown. All who have helped put ideas into this blog, and all who have helped proofreading, translating, uploading, it’s been fantastic co-operation within LALIT. And you, readers in and not-in LALIT, have been my sustenance. I thank you. In my name, and in the name of LALIT. And it has been a pleasure being in touch with you all, via this strange formula of:
for LALIT, a personal view. I will miss you all.