September 17, 2012
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin
Chairperson, BAYAN USA
On the 1st anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA salute and stand in solidarity with all groups in the United States who are organizing against increasing economic inequality and mobilizing in the streets. This includes the inspiring example set forth by the courageous Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) which recently voted to continue on with their historic strike against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s aggressive neoliberal offensive to privatize the city’s public education system, despite the latter’s threats and attempts to thwart their actions.
At a time when the 2-party electoral system in the US is spending gross amounts of money on political mudslinging and celebrity-glitzed conventions, the worsening global economic crisis brought about by the financial oligarchy– also known as the 1%, whose interest both parties represent in government–is driving working people in the US into greater desperation to survive. Despite the superficial economic growth championed by the Obama administration, the real US economy suffers from an ever-increasing federal defense budget, deepening jobs depression, growing public debt crisis, and wide-scale economic deregulation and privatization of the public sector. More and more Americans are left with no choice but to organize and resist increasing neoliberal offensives within the US that are akin to the neoliberal offensives launched by the US government abroad.
TPPA–Washington’s Secret Neoliberal Offensive
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)–the new free-trade agreement being pushed by the Obama administration since 2008–is one of the most egregious examples of how the current administration is renewing US neoliberalism on a grander scale than of the advent of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) back in the 1994. The 14th round of secret negotiations over the drafting of the TPPA, which just recently concluded in Leesburg, Virginia this past weekend, was met with protest rallies organized by multi-sectoral groups, including labor unions, who would be negatively impacted upon the agreement’s implementation. Dubbed “NAFTA on Steroids” by policy analysts, one only need to look at the destructive impact of NAFTA on job industries, labor conditions, rural communities, food and agriculture, the environment, and in social relations within the signatories of the agreement, including within the US, to have a glimpse of what’s in store for the Asia-Pacific region with the TPPA.
US economic intervention and consolidation over the Asia-Pacific region cannot exist without political and military intervention. As such, the Obama administration continues to implement it’s so-called military rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, beefing up its war economy tied to a super-profitable US military industrial complex, all the while sowing an anti-China scare propaganda campaign to justify its military posturing in the region. With a constant threat of war and economic intervention, this pivot to the Asia-Pacific will wreak havoc in the lives of the people in that region. On the other hand, it also spells a bleak future for working people in the U.S. who will be met with increasing unemployment, layoffs, and limited access to basic social services and civil rights.
2012 US Elections: What Matters is Most is People Power
During this US election period, what matters most is not who to vote for in the November 2012 elections, but rather what is the future of organized peoples resistance against neoliberalism at home and abroad, and sustaining a movement for economic equality in the US? Will the union strikes in Wisconsin, Occupy Wall Street, and the Chicago teachers strike be relegated into isolated spurts of class outrage of the 99% versus the 1%, or will they continue on and coalesce into a broader peoples movement for change, with an alternative vision and platform of concrete reforms to demand from traditional politicians in Washington?
There remains numerous examples in world history of how organized people power, built from the parliament of the streets, have challenged the reactionary and anti-people character of state governments, at times bringing traditional politicians to their knees. More recent examples include the Arab Spring, the continuing workers strikes and anti-austerity actions across Europe, as well as others. BAYAN USA believe the worsening economic crisis worldwide and its growing impact on the American people presents the best framework for continuous organizing in the US and the prospects for building a people power movement, especially when organizing against economic inequality in the US is linked in solidarity with counterpart peoples struggles against neoliberalism in developing countries.
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org