Tag: U.S. imperialism

Revive the Spirit of May Day! Unite Immigrants and Workers to Fight Super-Exploitation! — BAYAN USA

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2013

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN USA, email: chair@bayanusa.org

Revive the Spirit of May Day! Unite Immigrants and Workers to Fight Super-Exploitation! — BAYAN USA 

* Click HERE to hear the song “MIGRANTE” by Alpas, Filipino and Tagalog lyrics below.

Filipinos across the US, under the banner of BAYAN USA, march with our fellow im/migrant and all other exploited workers in the US and around the world this International Workers Day 2013. The immigrant struggle is at the heart of the global and US class struggle, where capitalist exploitation is most acute, and from where greater mass movement and resistance signals hope.

Immigration “Reform” Answers the Needs of Big Business

US immigration policy being crafted in Washington seeks to manage the import of foreign labor from poor countries in order to answer the labor needs of big business in the US in a time of crisis. This includes beefing up the US economy’s reliance on its military and prison industrial complexes. It is no wonder that Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo-Group (GG)– the two largest private prison companies in the US– are investing tens of millions of dollars to influence the Gang of 8 to enact an enforcement-heavy immigration bill. The bill includes heavy militarization of the US-Mexico border, increasing the operations of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as building and filling up more immigration prisons across the country.

Another demand of big business in the US is surplus, undocumented labor living in fear. This makes it easier for employers to exploit their workers through wage-theft schemes. Labor trafficking also worsens under the current guest worker or work visa program. Employers connive with illegal recruiters who extract exorbitant fees from foreign workers migrating to the US falsely advertising they will have their work visas processed once they get here, only to have their visa applications shelved and passports confiscated by their employer, forcing them into undocumented status. An example of the modern-day slavery brought about by the exploitation, wage-theft, and trafficking combination scheme can be seen through the struggle of the Grand Isle Shipyard workers in New Orleans.

Philippine LEP as a “Tool for Development”

Over 4,000 Filipino leave their country daily to work abroad. The Philippine government oversees this massive outmigration through it Labor Export Program (LEP). The Philippine economy relies on remittances from its overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to service its chronic debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). While the Philippine government lauds OFWs as so-called heroes, they turn a blind eye to the systemic exploitation, discrimination, and abuse faced by OFWs all over the world, including the US. In 2012, OFW remittances hit a record USD $20 billion. OFWs currently toil in over 110 countries.

The Philippine LEP practice of commodifying migrant workers into cash cows and neglecting their social conditions served as a model for the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in 2007. The GFMD was created out of a UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration that sought to adopt a framework for managing global migration to serve the needs of neoliberalism. Since its founding assembly, migrant workers across the world have gathered to protest every GFMD meeting, and expose it as a tool for the super-exploitation of migrant workers.  The mass movement of migrant workers against the GFMD every year has forced UN member states to re-assess it in another UN High-Level Dialogue this October in New York City. Immigrant workers are gearing up to gather in protest once again to further frustrate their neoliberal agenda.

Advancing the Immigrant Struggle is Advancing the Class Struggle

The immigrant struggle is key in advancing the anti-imperialist struggle in the US, as the US is the world’s biggest labor-hosting state with an increasing demand for foreign workers.

BAYAN USA remains committed to advancing the anti-imperialist struggle in the US by linking the immigrant struggle to the overall class struggle within the US, as well as the struggle against US economic, political, and military intervention abroad. Regarding the current immigration reform discourse, we endorse the platform of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON).

There are approximately 4.5 million Filipinos in the US, 1 million of which are undocumented. The dire economic conditions that force the mass exodus of Filipino workers from their country are tied to over 114 years of US intervention– including 114 years of US military occupation. The Philippines was the first and only direct US colony in Asia and to this day the Filipino people suffer from that colonial-turned-semi-colonial relationship. It is this type of unequal relationship to global monopoly capitalist powers that prevents many labor-sending countries, where the majority of the world’s immigrants come from, to develop the economic capacity to provide for their domestic populations.

All over the world, workers are commemorating International Workers Day by struggling against the neoliberal economic offensive of monopoly capitalism. Immigrants in the US, as economic refugees of imperialism, continue to fight for human rights and dignity under US immigration policy and the pro-deportation stand of the Obama administration. Let us unite to strengthen and advance the immigrant and workers rights struggles in the US to resist and frustrate all exploitative provisions to immigration policy and towards a brighter future for all workers!

Long Live the Spirit of May Day!

Stop the Deportations!

Stop Wage-Theft!

Stop Labor Trafficking!

End Forced Migration!

Scrap the Philippine LEP and GFMD!

No to the Neoliberal Economic Offensive!

Justice and Dignity for All Immigrants and Workers!


——————
“MIGRANTE” Lyrics in Tagalog and English

Tayong lahat ay nagbuklud-buklod
Isiwalat sa buong daigdig
Kapit-bisig nating babaguhin
Sistema sa ti’y nagpapahirap
Prinsipyo’y yakapin ng mahigpit
Upang pagbabago ay makamit

Koro:

Migrante, migrante, mabuhay ka!
Tinataguyod ang kapakanan
At karapatan ng mga manggagawa
Tayo ngayon ay nagsama-sama
Sa iisang mithiing makamasa
Migrante, migrante, mabuhay ka!

Mga manggagawang Pilipino
May paninidigan at prinsipyo
Hindi na tayo papaabuso
Ating hangarin ay pagbabago
Para sa bayan, bayan, bayan ko
At Pagbabago sa buong mundo

Ulitin ang Koro

Migrante (English) 

We all come together
All over the world
Link arms to change
A system that oppresses us
Embrace the principles
Towards genuine change

Chorus:

Migrant, migrant, rise up!
Uphold migrants welfare and
Workers rights
Now, we unite
For one purpose, for the people
Migrant, migrant, rise up!

Filipino workers
Firm in our stance & principles
We will not be abused
Our purpose is to fight for change
For our country, people, our country
And for the entire world

Repeat Chorus

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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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.

Filipino Americans Continue Mobilizing for Justice in the Wake of Obama’s 2nd Inauguration

News Release
January 21, 2013

Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, depsec@bayanusa.org

Filipino Americans Continue Mobilizing for Justice in the Wake of Obama’s 2nd Inauguration

As President Barack Obama takes his inaugural oath for the second time, progressive Filipino American organizations under the banner of BAYAN-USA reflect on his next term with a critical eye, especially as this day also commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and having been critical of Obama’s domestic and foreign policies during his first term.

“Obama’s first term not only continued many of the policies of the Bush administration, it sullied Dr. King’s revolutionary legacy,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA. “In 1967, in a famous speech delivered at the Riverside Church in New York City against the Vietnam War, Dr. King warned, ‘A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.’ President Obama’s track record shows disregard for King’s caveat.”

Dwindling Economy, Burden on Working People

Obama began his second term by supporting the dreaded “Fiscal Cliff”, a legislative move that would implement steep cuts to public services and continue shifting the burden of fixing the U.S.’ $1.3 trillion deficit–caused by spending more than the federal budget’s capacity, overwhelmingly on the military–onto working people.

“Obama has done little to alleviate the pain working Americans are feeling in the middle of the worst economic crisis in history,” states Ellorin. “Instead, he has made the pain worse by maintaining a U.S. economy dependent on the big banks and finance firms, and he continues to make working Americans pay for the financial misdeeds of these banks and firms that caused the crisis by funneling trillions in U.S. tax-dollars from the public sector to bail out banks and private enterprise.”

Military-Industrial Complex and the Asia-Pacific Pivot

The U.S. military budget will amount to $525 billion in fiscal year 2013. This makes up 57% of the total discretionary budget and exceeds the budgets of other departments and agencies combined. “Contrary to Obama’s public support of stricter gun laws, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, the U.S. occupies a monopolistic niche in the global arms market, supplying 78% of the market worldwide,” said Ellorin.

In 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a strategic pivot of 60% of the U.S. military to the Asia-Pacific region. Under the guise of national and global security against China, BAYAN-USA interprets this pivot as a tactic to secure imperialist interests in the region. Said Ellorin, “This pivot is an opportunity for the U.S. to sell more arms to its allies and build a military stronghold to maintain economic dominance. For hundreds of years, the U.S. has used the Philippines as strategic bases.”

More recently, despite the closing of U.S. bases in the 1990s, the U.S. has been increasing its visits to the Philippines and trampling over Philippine sovereignty through the continued implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Last week, the USS Guardian rammed itself into the Tubbataha Reef of the Philippines, greatly harming an endangered natural ecosystem. The U.S. government has only apologized for the incident and refused to reveal vital information about the true conditions of the reef. “The U.S. exercises complete arrogance in this matter. It is equally disappointing that Philippine President Aquino’s administration has not responded swiftly to hold the U.S. accountable and has instead given way to U.S. imperialist reign,” said Ellorin.

Abuse of Migrant Workers

Known for its record number of deportees from the U.S., more than any other previous president, the Obama administration’s pattern of repressive legislation against immigrants in the midst of a failing economy has created the conditions for the proliferation of human trafficking and forced labor in the U.S.

In the U.S., a class action lawsuit is currently being filed against Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS), an oil refinery and exploration company based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hundreds of Filipino workers are stepping out from the shadows to hold the company accountable for human trafficking, dangerous working conditions, slavery, wage theft, and discrimination, among other labor and human rights violations. For years, Filipino workers were forced to work for six to seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day without overtime pay, for up to four straight months on oil rigs offshore, and with thousands of dollars in over-blown “room and board” deductions unlawfully withheld from their paychecks. In November 2012, the Black Elk Platform on which GIS employees were working exploded, killing 3 Filipino workers. BAYAN-USA and other concerned groups claim that deliberate oversight caused the explosion. GIS has been guilty of over 300 labor violations that have not been investigated thoroughly by either the U.S. or Philippine governments.

“This is a blatant case of modern-day slavery. The U.S. was built on the backs of African slaves. The Capitol building that Obama made his inaugural oath on was built by slaves,” states Ellorin. “The U.S. prospers from the exploitation of cheap slave labor, and as a result, Filipino workers and other migrant workers face the dangerous brunt of this while big corporations that work hand-in-hand with Obama profit greatly.”

Justice Through People Power

“We need to build a movement that will push for comprehensive immigration reform to combat the systemic trafficking of our migrant work force! We need to expose the U.S. military’s culpability in violating Philippine sovereignty! We need to fight for access to basic social services and jobs!” exclaimed Ellorin. In the legacy of Dr. King, BAYAN-USA will continue to contribute to building a movement in the U.S. against imperialism, while organizing the broadest support from the U.S. for the Philippine movement for genuine freedom and democracy, no matter who sits in the White House.

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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 Maka bayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of thePhilippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

US Drones, Troops Out of Asia and Africa!–BAYAN-USA

For Immediate Release
January 11, 2013
Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

US Drones, Troops Out of Asia and Africa!–BAYAN-USA

“Only Uncle Toms would welcome in Uncle Sam,” commented BAYAN-USA Chairperson Bernadette Ellorin on the news that the US would end 2012 and kick-off 2013 by sending troops to 35 African countries and two warships to the Philippines, and that a US drone was fished out of Philippine waters less than a week into the new year. “History has shown that US military presence in countries around the world benefits only US imperial interests and the wealthiest 1% in the host countries. The vast majority of people get hit with land theft, human rights violations, toxic dumping, and sexual assault—topped off by losing their country’s sovereignty.”

“The Filipino people learned this through more than 100 years of direct experience with the US military. Unfortunately, President Aquino is continuing the pattern of subservience to Uncle Sam by opening the door even wider to both US economic and military interests. The fact that the docking of the US warships was labeled a ‘routine’ port call shows just how normal the Aquino administration considers the presence of US military in our sovereign nation,” said Ellorin.

The US reported that it would start conducting military exercises and training with several African nations to modernize and strengthen those countries’ militaries and beef up anti-terrorism efforts in the region. Such claims are similar to the pretext given for the basing of 600+ US troops in Mindanao, increased placement of US military advisors in the country, annual “Shoulder-to-shoulder” or “Balikatan” exercises between American and Filipino troops, and provision of military supplies and ships to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “If the Philippine experience is any indicator, this effort in Africa will not only fail to bring peace or stability to the region the way the US claims; it will do the exact opposite—bring increased antagonism and conflict.”

Ellorin continued: “After 13 years of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Philippine military has only improved its ability to torture, abduct, and murder innocent civilians. And the Philippines has practically handed over its sovereignty on a silver platter. These are the same results African nations can expect.”

Just days after the US warships docked in Cebu and Manila Bay, a US drone was found in Philippine waters off Masbate. “The US drone even went unchallenged by anyone in PNoy’s administration.  Knowing that US drones are being used to assassinate people throughout the world, why should we believe the US Embassy’s claims that this drone was unarmed and only being used for US troops’ target practice?” questioned Ellorin.

“The main reasons presidents like Arroyo and Aquino have welcomed in the US military have been to curry favor with the military’s top brass, attempt to legitimize their rule, and line the pockets of their own families and hand-picked friends. There have been no benefits whatsoever for the majority of Filipino people, who are still languishing in poverty,” ended Ellorin.

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Filipino Americans Condemn Israel’s Genocidal Siege on Gaza

For Immediate Release
November 16, 2012

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, chair@bayanusa.org

Filipino Americans Condemn Israel’s Genocidal Siege on Gaza

BAYAN USA Pacific Northwest at Rally Against Israeli Siege of Gaza. Seattle. Credit: Sincere Born.

Filipinos from all over the United States, representing 18 different grassroots community organizations that comprise the progressive alliance BAYAN USA, have been taking part in actions protesting and condemning the recent all-out assault on the people of Gaza by the U.S.-backed Zionist state of Israel.

“Right now the IDF is bombing into the ground what has become the largest open air prison in the world, the Gaza Strip, in order to break the backs of the Palestinian people for their long-standing resistance against the U.S.-backed Zionist state,” said BAYAN USA Chairperson Bernadette Ellorin.  “Despite completely shutting the people of Gaza off to the outside world and subjugating them to some of the harshest conditions imaginable, Israel will not be content until they achieve their goal of guaranteeing that the Palestinians’ right to return to their land, and any plan for a two-state solution or a non-Zionist state, is dead.”

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, since Wednesday the U.S.-funded and -armed Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has injured and maimed over 250 innocent civilians, including at least 62 children, killing at least 19, including 10 civilians.  This ongoing massacre against the people of Gaza has been carried out with the tacit support and approval of President Barack Obama and has even been applauded by the U.S. Senate.  The IDF began its bombing of Gaza with the illegal assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmad al-Jabar on November 14th which was an act in violation of International Humanitarian Law and also the breaking of a truce that Israel had signed with various leading Palestinian organizations.

“The Zionist state of Israel is a key ally in the service and interests of U.S. imperialism,” explained Ellorin.  “A stronger Israel within the region means a stronger presence of U.S. imperialism.  Already, key Israeli figures such as Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak are seeing the current military assault on the people of Gaza as a stage for an Israeli and American intervention in Iran, thus completing the U.S.’s stranglehold on the people of the Middle East.”

“As Filipinos we know all too well the disastrous effects that U.S. imperialist policies can have against Third World peoples,” continued Ellorin.  “Those same policies that have led to the extrajudicial killings of over 114 Filipinos since 2010 and have sanctioned the presence of toxin-dumping U.S. warships and U.S. soldiers on Philippine soil are the same imperial policies that are the driving force of the current death and destruction raining down on the people of Gaza.”

BAYAN USA joins the Palestinian people in calling on Israel to stop its senseless attacks on the people of Gaza and to end the U.S. backed occupations of both Gaza and the West Bank.  BAYAN USA recognizes that the key problem of the Palestinian people is the U.S. imperialist-backed Zionist Israeli state which has prevented Palestinians from being able to return to their land for over 60 years.  In order for there to be genuine peace the U.S. must keep out of the affairs of the Palestinian people and the Israeli state must give up its murderous Zionist path and let the Palestinian people return to their homeland.

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BAYAN USA Northern California at Rally to End Israeli Siege of Gaza. San Francisco. Credit: Lenina Bustamante.

BAYAN USA Northeast at Rally to End Israeli Siege of Gaza, New York City. Credit: Hanalei Ramos.