Gloria LaRiva (PSL) is in New Orleans as Hurricane Gustav bears down

From the PSL website, by way of Ballot Access News. Malik Rahim, who is mentioned in the article, is a Green Party candidate for Congress.

Socialist Party candidate Brian Moore also told me that the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office will not allow late filings on account of the hurricane.

All of New Orleans will be on lockdown this afternoon. 50,000 soldiers from the National Guard have been activated in the region. The police of several parishes, including Jefferson and Kenner, have warned that anyone in the street will be “challenged.” During Katrina, Jefferson police shot and killed a group of people driving on the bridge. This morning, the Kenner police chief, Steve Caraway, said, “if you are arrested, you will not go to a county jail. You will be taken to Angola prison.” As those around him smirked, Mayor Ray Nagin made the same promise at a press conference this morning.

Yesterday, we visited the Harvey Canal, where construction has quite obviously not been completed. There are still holes in the wall, and the hurricane could thus fill up the Mississippi’s west bank. Harvey is the district right next to New Orleans. Despite the major evacuation plan, the federal government’s failure to carry out levee strengthening to a sufficient capacity means that the natural disaster’s damage will be multiplied due to the government’s criminal neglect.

Campaign Organizer Richard Becker and I spent the night and this morning at the house of Malik Rahim, the co-founder of the Common Ground Collective, an organization whose volunteer reconstruction and health programs have served tens of thousands of people. Malik lives in Algiers, which is on the west bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Since the Mississippi runs a twisted and meandering eastward route through New Orleans, the West Bank is actually the South Side. Algiers was not affected by flooding in Katrina, but predictions are that it could suffer major flooding now. Malik, like nearly everyone in New Orleans, has no flood insurance.

Malik is just one example of what hundreds of thousands of people could suffer. Malik’s house could be flooded and there is nothing he can do. In some parishes, there were only ten sandbags per household available. All his personal belongings may be destroyed. We are doing what we can in the hours remaining. Most everyone we saw leaving had their singular vehicles filled with family members and small amounts of personal items. People who evacuate have to bring their own bedding and food to the shelter. There’s no more gasoline available anywhere.

At Malik’s house, we have been loading up several trucks and carloads of tools, equipment, a refrigerator, a stove, a freezer and other supplies. He will first evacuate to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and then he will travel to wherever the damage is greatest. His plan is to camp with a group of volunteers from Common Ground and begin reconstruction efforts. The volunteers are blocked from entering Algiers right now, so they cannot help evacuate the supplies from Malik’s house. Our plan is to drive with Malik to the Lower Ninth Ward with one of his vehicles, where others will leave with him to Mississippi.

After we leave Malik in the Lower Ninth ward, we will head to Baton Rouge, the state capital. We came to Louisiana several days ago and completed the paperwork to get our presidential campaign on the ballot here. It may be very difficult to get to Baton Rouge because of the impending storm, and closed off roads, but Tuesday, Sept. 2, is the deadline to submit to the Secretary of State.

Traveling through the state these last few days, one cannot avoid the depth of poverty and isolation—the profound legacy of racism and oppression that extends far before Hurricane Katrina. A newspaper story in the Louisiana daily paper this week stated that adult illiteracy is as high as 44 percent in New Orleans.

The story that the politicians and pundits are running with is that the governmental authorities have “learned the lesson” of Katrina, and that FEMA is now fully ready for such disasters. But the real legacy of Katrina is not just of governmental incompetence or of a non-existent evacuation plan. Rather, those crimes have been compounded by three years of systematic exclusion of the poor, mostly Black, communities here.

4 thoughts on “Gloria LaRiva (PSL) is in New Orleans as Hurricane Gustav bears down

  1. Trent Hill

    It seems rediculous that the Secretary of State isnt extending their deadlines for a massive storm like this.

    Looks like Paul/Goldwater isnt going to make the ballot–unless the Post Office is open Tuesday.

  2. Mike Theodore

    “The story that the politicians and pundits are running with is that the governmental authorities have “learned the lesson” of Katrina, and that FEMA is now fully ready for such disasters.”

    If they did, wouldn’t they have fixed the levees that failed last time?

  3. Trent Hill

    Mike,

    Levees DO take time to fix/rebuild. And to be fair, the past administration (under Gov. Blanco) didnt do much to repair them. Gov. Jindal has done pretty well with the hurricane–mostly defaulting to the rulings of the local governments. And, to his credit, he has claimed that Highways will be opened tomorrow to allow private aid into Southern Louisiana–something that didnt happen for 4-5 days after Katrina.

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