The oil slick caused by the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker is an environmental, economic and social disaster.
An environmental disaster because its effects on marine life are extremely serious and will last for many years. An economic and social disaster because fishing and shellfish farming are the main activities for thousands of people, either directly (fishermen and shellfish farmers) or indirectly (food transformation industries, transport, etc), who are now suddenly deprived of their source of income.
But oil slicks are not natural accidents. Convenience flags, old tankers in a state of disrepair, the illegal washing up of tankers in open sea, the flouting of existing law, etc are all the result of the greediness of capitalists, always searching for higher returns. The interests of the oil companies and the pirates who transport their goods are considered more important than the interests of the majority of society.
It is the same search for economic profitability which drives all aspects of the Popular Party policies, both in the Spanish government and in the regional Xunta government, from their policies on education, to health care, labour policies, housing, etc. Workers and youth cannot expect anything else from the right wing politicians other than their open defence of the interests of Capital. The facts speak for themselves: there is a scandalous lack of resources to fight against the oil slick (there are just a few kilometres of anti-pollution barriers, and other means are just not there). But this is not by chance. The regional fisheries minister, Lopez Veiga, already made it very clear that Galicia would not buy an anti-pollution ship since there is only one accident every ten years. So, since this is not a profitable investment, it is not worth making. If the PP takes this line of argument to its last consequences we will not be surprised if they propose the closing down of the fire service! The PP is shedding crocodile tears.
But on top of the complete inefficiency of the Spanish and Galician governments, there are also serious political responsibilities. The PP is lying and manipulating information in the same way we were used to under the Franco dictatorship, something we already witnessed during the June 20 general strike. One must have a lot of nerve to deny the very existence of the oil slick! The PP government is also increasingly using more repressive measures: in the last few days it has banned a demonstration against the Education "Quality" Law and got the police to charge against a demonstration of agricultural labourers in Malaga.
The Marxists of El Militante make an appeal to all workers and youth to participate in the demonstration in Santiago on Sunday December 1. We must demand the necessary subsidies and this should last in time for as long as they are needed for all those affected by the oil slick. At the same time demand the adoption of prevention measures regarding maritime transport and the establishment in a Galician harbour of an anti-pollution union equipped with the most modern materials in order to guarantee a quick and effective intervention when faced with this kind of situation.
But we must also put a stop to the dictatorship of the market which is based only in profits and condemns hundreds of millions of human beings to squalor. Oil slicks like this, the climate change, the misery, illnesses and suffering of millions are caused in the last instance by the private property of the means of production and the unfair distribution of wealth which the working class has created with its labour. They are caused by capitalism. A clear example of this is Argentina, a country which is one of the world’s largest exporter of food, and where at the same time there are children dying of hunger. Thus, the only real way of preventing a repetition of disasters like the one created by the sinking of the Prestige is to transform society, to put an end to this barbaric and unfair system, because the main threat to the welfare and health of human beings and the environment all over the world is precisely the existence of capitalism.
Join the Marxists of El Militante to struggle for the socialist transformation of society!