Fires in Maui leave more than 100 dead, colonialism to blame

On August 8, devastating wildfires swept through West Maui, Hawai’i, killing more than a hundred people with the official death toll of 115– less than what community members believe to be the real total.

More than 2,200 structures in the historic town of Lahaina, Maui have been burnt in the 2170-acre blaze. Eighty-six percent of these structures were residential.

A separate wildfire burned almost 700 acres in Upcountry, Kihei, destroying at least 20 homes.

At least 385 people remain missing, and thousands of families are displaced or without homes.

Due to the lack of proper warnings, when the fires came, many people remained trapped in their homes or were unprepared to escape–leaving many more casualties. Others jumped in the water to avoid the fires, with some staying in the water for five hours while others drowned.

These fires are not natural disasters—it’s colonialism.

Fires rooted in colonialism

It’s been 130 years since the imperialist U.S. overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom and imprisoned Queen Lili’uokalani on January 17, 1893.

The conditions that people face on Hawai’i today can be traced back to the illegitimate settler-colonialist State and the parasitic relationship that the colonizers have imposed, as summed up by the Hawai’i Alliance for Progressive Action: “Many of these corporations [that control most of the wealth in Hawaii] started as sugar plantations—some will recall the leading role sugar plantation owners played in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893—and have transitioned into real estate developers. “This historical and modern plantation economy they seek to preserve has taken a tremendous toll on water in particular, draining Indigenous ecologies of their natural moisture.”

As a result of more than a century of colonial exploitation, Lahaina was changed from being a lush water source to a parched desert, extremely vulnerable to fire.

This history explains why just days after the fires, there were colonizer tourists in boats where there were dead bodies of Indigenous Hawaiians floating in the water.

August 2023 wildfires on Maui have sadly killed more than 100 people, forced tens of thousands to evacuate the island and devastated the historic lands of Lahaina. It was the deadliest wildfire with the U.S. colonial borders in more than a century. PHOTO: STATE FARM, CC BY 2.0 , VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Colonialism must go!

On the centennial of the U.S. invasion of Hawai’i, renowned Native Hawaiian activist Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask, who co-founded the largest sovereignty organization, Ka Lahui Hawai’i, delivered an historic speech: “The United States of America is a ‘death country’. It gives death to native people, and the only way to fight the United States of America is to be political. Hawaiians must learn to be political. They must learn to analyze. “We need to understand what is at stake, Hawaiians—what is at stake […] What matters is: who controls the land, the water, the resources. Who has a government? Who speaks nation-to-nation?”

The African People’s Socialist Party, the Vanguard of the international, anti-colonial revolution can unite with the position put forward by Dr. Trask.

Only under a liberated Hawai’i can the colonial catastrophes be stopped. Colonialism must go!

Indigenous people must be fully in charge of their land and resources, completely free of the foreign and alien domination of U.S. imperialism.

The Party has worked to unite the anti-colonial struggle for more than fifty years, now through the Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition, with the objective to forward the leadership of the colonized and unite masses of people around anti-colonial demands.

The Party is building an anti-colonial free speech movement, uniting with other colonized peoples to destroy colonialism once and for all.

Death to colonialism!

Build the Anti-Colonial Free Speech Coalition!



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