Tag: U.S. militarization

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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No Matter Who Wins the Elections, the People Must Continue Organizing for Genuine Change—BAYAN-USA

Press Statement
November 5, 2012

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

No Matter Who Wins the Elections, the People Must Continue Organizing for Genuine Change—BAYAN-USA

As the corporate media zeroes in on the 2012 US Presidential election, which will determine who will assume the role of the main spokesperson and commander-in-chief for the largest imperialist superpower since the turn of the 20th century, people’s resistance against the US government’s foreign and domestic policies continues both around the world and within the United States itself. BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 18 Filipino-American organizations across the US working for social and economic equity, asserts that, no matter who wins this year’s US presidential election, people in the US must organize and fight for real and lasting social change and not rely on traditional Washington politics.

On US Foreign Policy

In the midst of the worsening global economic crisis spawned by imperialism’s neoliberal economic agenda, the two US presidential candidates and their political parties may represent different factions of the US ruling elite, but they both loyally serve the interests of the powerful 1%. Both have committed to intensifying the US neoliberal economic offensive abroad, through such tools as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which would aggressively expand a US-dominated free trade zone in the Pacific Rim a la NAFTA.

At the same time, both candidates intend to maintain or even accelerate US military aggression under the camouflage of national defense. Both support US drone attacks against innocent civilians and intend to maintain brutal US military occupations in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, while consolidating military control over the Asia-Pacific region. The two candidates antagonistically referred to China a combined 32 times during the last presidential debate’s 90-minute span, pointing to the increased importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the imperialist objectives of both parties.

For over 100 years, presidents from both the Democrat and Republican parties have used the Philippines as a reliable overseas military hub for the projection of US military might, a dumping ground for cheap surplus US goods, and a source of cheap labor and natural resources. From the Filipino people’s perspective, both candidates will perpetuate the US State Department’s goal of maintaining the Philippines as a loyal neo-colony in the Asia-Pacific. Under the guise of “military training and mutual support,” whoever wins on November 6 will still also adhere to Washington’s pursuit of counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines aimed to suppress people’s movements for democracy and genuine national sovereignty.

On US Domestic Policy

Both candidates plan to maintain a war-dependent US economy and to continue funneling billions of public funds into defense spending rather than into domestic industrial job creation, education, healthcare, housing, and other social services. In the name of national defense, both candidates remain uncritical of a growing wave of repressive and unconstitutional legislation in the US, such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and state immigration laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070.

By pledging to continue neoliberal policies that will drive more people to migrate to the US due to economic desperation, both candidates have abandoned any pretense about overhauling the US immigration system. The system as it stands seeks to divide the working class by creating a surplus of foreign and largely undocumented labor in the US to be exploited by big business for maximum profitability.

Filipinos comprise one of the largest and fastest-growing immigrant groups in the US. Most are new immigrant wage workers and one out of four are undocumented. Many cases of labor trafficking have surfaced in the Filipino community, including stories of migrant workers who arrived in the US with H1-B temporary visas but then were forced into undocumented status by their employers. Despite the optimism surrounding President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) initiative, it still leaves out significant portions of the undocumented immigrant population, offers limited reprieve, is a long and expensive bureaucratic process, and criminalizes immigrants.

Like the vast majority of those affected by the economic crisis in the US, Filipinos are part of the 99% fighting for greater socio-economic equity. In order to create change, this fight must continue past US elections and remain primarily based on the streets.

People Power

History proves that fundamental social change is never borne out of the ballot box. Women’s suffrage, civil rights for African-Americans, and even the defeat of the 2005 Sensenbrenner Bill all came from people’s struggle in the trenches built by years of community organizing. If we want to realize our vision of all people–in the US and worldwide–having a decent standard of living, full employment, adequate and humane working and social conditions, and dignified standards for health, education and housing, we must continue the struggle against US imperialism.  Let us be inspired by examples such as the Arab Spring, the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, Latin American social movements, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, worker and anti-austerity strikes in Europe, and continuing people’s revolutions of US neocolonies throughout Africa and Asia. Let us also build strong solidarity ties among struggles abroad, within the US and with the Filipino people’s fight for national democracy. Let us develop a people’s platform for change that can unite our communities in the US. Let us embody the true essence of people power and keep up the fight in the parliament of the streets.

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BAYAN USA Stands in Solidarity with OWS, Chicago Teachers Strike, & All Efforts to Build People Power!

NEWS STATEMENT
September 17, 2012

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

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

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BAYAN USA Joins March/Rally on the DNC

News Release
September 4, 2012

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

BAYAN USA Joins March/Rally on the DNC
Filipino-American Alliance Raises Issue of Obama Administration’s Military and Economic Pivot to the Asia-Pacific Region

Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA, on stage (credit: Brenda Sandburg)

CHARLOTTE, NC–  Amidst thousands gathered in Frazier Park protesting intensified corporate greed days before the scheduled Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, BAYAN USA speaker Bernadette Ellorin spoke before the crowd about US government’s military rebalance on the Asia-Pacific region.

“Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced it would shift its military focus to the Asia-Pacific region,” Ellorin stated. “It has been reported that there are US drone exercises now being conducted in the Southern Philippines, in Mindanao. The Philippines has lived under the thumb of US imperialist aggression since 1898, one of the longest US military occupations in history.”

BAYAN USA endorsed and participated in last weekend’s March on Wall Street South, as the only Filipino-American organization on stage and at the march through downtown Charlotte, dubbed “Wall Street South” as it is home to some of the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions such as the Bank of America headquarters.

Nearby Bank of America Stadium is the chosen site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech as the 2012 Democratic Party Presidential Nominee this week.

Organizers for the March on Wall Street South addressed urgent bread-and-butter issues in the US such as record unemployment, lack of jobs and wage depression, housing foreclosures, rising cost of food, education, healthcare, and basic commodities in the midst of the increasing federal budget for endless wars of aggression and militarization abroad.

“The people of the Asia-Pacific region do not need more US militarization any more than the American people need an increased federal budget for war. What we all need is basic livelihood, jobs, security, and justice,” Ellorin stated.

Ellorin also stated that the last four years of the Obama administration has proven the economic, social, and moral bankruptcy of the two-party system of the US ruling elite. “Whoever ends up sitting in the White House after these elections, what matters most is we build a viable people’s movement here in the US that can fight for the people’s needs and challenge the system, one that is linked in solidarity with peoples abroad fighting US imperialism in the form of US foreign policy. We have many examples in world history of how organized people power can bring the traditional governments to their knees.”

In addition to addressing the US military rebalance to the region, BAYAN USA is also actively educating and campaigning against the Obama administration’s push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) a new free-trade agreement larger than NAFTA and designed to enforce a US-dominated free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org. ###

March on Wall Street South (credit: Grant Baldwin for Creative Loafing Charlotte)