Statement on the occasion of May Day 2020
May Day in Cuba – this year workers will be asked to stay safe, stay at home
There can be no doubt that May Day 2020 will be unlike any other in living memory. The entire world is locked in a struggle with the coronavirus, Covid-19, and social distancing will prevent the mass gatherings we would normally associate with this day of celebration and commemoration.
While May Day is so often a gathering to celebrate it will, this year, be much more focussed upon commemorating the many thousands of ordinary people across the world who have fallen victim to this deadly virus.
Men, women and children, across the globe have been lost to their friends, families and loved ones through no fault of their own. In many instances the cause lies firmly elsewhere.
It lies with governments like that in Brazil, who failed to take the threat of the virus seriously enough.
It lies with politicians like those in the UK, who underinvested in their primary care and public health systems, cutting corners for profit and failing to address the growing health needs of working people.
It lies with dictatorial regimes, like that in Saudi Arabia, where the grasp on democracy and accountability to the people cannot even be described as slim. Where a ruling elite are dedicated to lining their own pockets from their oil wealth, rather than share the benefits with their people.
Covid-19 can attack both rich and poor, it does not discriminate in that respect. However, there can be no doubt that the poor are hit the hardest and due to inadequate diet, poverty living conditions and poor health care, die in greater numbers.
May Day 2020 must be the occasion to remember all those who have fallen victim to Covid-19 but it must also be the opportunity to redouble our efforts not to allow such disasters to continue to wreak havoc across the planet.
Campaigns worldwide for peace, democracy and human rights are central to the campaign against Covid-19 because they are central to the struggle for equality and against injustice.
While the body count in the United States from Covid-19 continues to mount, the US President can still find time to tighten sanctions against Cuba and attack the exemplary work carried out by Cuban health professionals across the world to combat the current pandemic.
In spite of the clear and evident need for international co-operation to defeat the virus the United States insists on maintaining sanctions against Venezuela and Iran too, thus weakening the capability of those states to recover.
Wars of intervention continue to rage, to the detriment of the people’s of many countries in the world. Western presence in both Syria and Iraq continues to be an obstacle to a democratic solution, based upon the will of the people of those nations, and their ability to assert their right to self determination.
Self determination is also an issue in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people. Their land continues to be occupied, in contravention of United Nations resolutions, by Israeli forces. Daily life continues to be uncertain due to the Israeli land, air and sea blockade imposed upon Gaza, which restricts access to basic goods and health care provision.
The continued and bloody intervention of the Saudi led coalition in Yemen, effectively being used as a testing ground for high tech Western arms, is a further reminder of the consequences of foreign intervention in internal affairs.
Refugee crises across the globe follow as a result of occupation and injustice. The Rohingya Muslim communities, driven into Bangladesh by the authorities in Myanmar are one example, the growing refugee crisis on the southern borders of the European Union is another.
The poverty, injustice and uncertainty in the daily lives of working people across the world is exacerbated by war and occupation. It is exacerbated by the climate crisis and increasing environmental degradation. It is exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no social distancing in a refugee camp.
This May Day will be one on which we must stay home in order to save lives, where we must socially distance in order to prevent surge upon our health care services, where we must curtail our visits to friends and families to prevent the spread of this disease.
As we do so, we must take time to consider those displaced and homeless across the globe who will have no home to stay in; we must remember those who do not benefit from a well organised professional health service to come to their aid; we must spare a thought for those whose families have been dispersed, due to the uncertainty of war and foreign intervention.
They need our practical support and our solidarity more than ever. We must take this opportunity to redouble our efforts to provide that support and turn 2020 from a year of international tragedy to one of international solidarity and international action to defeat injustice.
In addressing the current crisis and afterwards, in the rebuilding of a post CoVID-19 world, international cooperation and solidarity are essential. This has been emphasised by the Secretary General of the United Nations. He is calling for a global ceasefire, a lifting of all economic sanctions and the sharing of knowledge and resources if there is to be any hope of lasting recovery.