Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA
US Anti-War Activists, Peace Advocates Gather in Manila for Historic International Conference Amidst Looming US Military Presence in Region
Over 60 US-based anti-war activists composed one of the largest country delegations to the fourth international assembly of the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS), held last July 7-9 in San Mateo, Rizal. They were joined by over 430 delegates from East and West Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Latin America in the largest assembly of ILPS since its founding in 2001. The assembly also marked the 10th anniversary of the global alliance of over 350 grassroots organizations and movements from over 40 countries worldwide.
Delegates from the BAYAN USA, the largest progressive Filipino-American alliance in the US, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) and Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) in San Francisco, the International Action Center, the New York May 1st Coalition, and the Black Agenda Report were in attendance and participated in the various plenary and workshop sessions of the assembly that tackled issues such as US military aggression, US foreign military bases and operations, US-funded counter-insurgency operations, as well as worldwide struggles of workers, migrants, farmers, women, youth, and indigenous peoples in the face of neoliberal policies and continuing foreign economic intervention.
In addition to opposing ongoing US military aggression in in West Asia and North Africa, the assembly also united strongly in support several national movements asserting sovereignty against US domination and intervention, namely US-Israeli occupied Palestine, the Philippines, as well as progressive governments in Latin America such as that of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Mexican singer-songwriter and migrant rights organizer Rosa Marta Zarate-Macias described the large gathering as “encountering a family I have chosen to be a part of. I came all the way from Mexico to the Philippines, only to find out that the struggles of people here in Asia and in Africa are the same as in Latin America. This gathering opened my eyes to our common struggle and our common adversary– the few wealthy families in our countries that serve the interest of the corporations and enslave the rest of the people.”
Kuusela Hilo, Vice-Chairperson of BAYAN USA and newly-elected member to the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), the lead body of the ILPS, stated, “The worsening global economic crisis continues to drive the intensification of the profit-driven US military-industrial complex, at the human cost of the peoples of the world, including the American people. The growing unrest in the US over deadly budget cuts on education, health care, as well as rising unemployment and joblessness must link with similar struggles abroad in order to effectively shake the current system and facilitate change. The ILPS can certainly be maximized as a global coordinating body to realize this.”
Hilo joins newly-elected ILPS Vice-Chairperson of External Affairs Bill Doares of the International Action Center and newly-elected ILPS Auditor Lyn Meza of Chelsea Uniting Against the War in Massachusetts in the ICC.
Key international campaigns adopted during the international assembly were also taken up by several US delegates, including a global campaign to dismantle the US foreign military bases and operations in over 700 posts worldwide.
In addition, San Francisco-based hip-hop performers Power Struggle, Seattle hip-hop MC Rogue Pinay, and acoustic acts Taospuso joined performers from Palestine, the Philippines, and Taiwan in a crowd-pleasing solidarity night and even performed throughout the assembly itself.
Delegates from the United States also committed to building a US country chapter of ILPS by next year. A country chapter in Canada was recently launched earlier this year, joining the roster of ILPS country chapters in Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, and Indonesia.
Earlier in the week, US missile ships dropped anchor in the South China Sea to engage the Philippine Navy in joint military exercises under the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty. The unpopular presence of the US military in close proximity to the Spratly Islands has moved international groups to protest the exercises as a maneuver to take advantage of the territorial dispute to provoke US-directed military aggression against rival superpower China and in the region.