Date: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Locations and Times:
Wilshire Federal Building
11000 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90024
Candlelight Vigil at the Unity Table Monument
Paseo de San Antonio Walkway near South Market Street
Downtown San Jose
*More locations TBA
BAYAN-USA condemns the Obama administration for attempting to take advantage of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea to justify its aggressive maneuvers to increase both its military and economic stranglehold on the Philippines. The visit of Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines under the guise of concern for the Filipino people is a pathetic photo op intended to make the U.S. government look like heroes to a nation in need.
Long before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, Kerry had planned to visit the country to push for the Framework Agreement for Increased Rotational Presence and Enhanced Defense Cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines. The new agreement would expand the deployment of US troops throughout the region as well as increase U.S. military access to ports and facilities throughout the archipelago as part of the US Defense Department’s plans to “rebalance” its forces from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific. Under these plans, the U.S. is set to deploy 60% of American forces to the Asia Pacific, which would turn the Philippines and its neighbors into the new ground zero for America’s reassertion of its global hegemony and as a counterpoint to China’s rising economic status in the world. The military negotiations turn a blind eye to the thousands of people killed, tortured, disappeared, jailed on trumped up charges and forcibly evicted from their homes en masse by the Philippine military under Aquino and the thousands of victims of rape, violence and environmental destruction at the hands of the American military.
The pivot is also painted as a way to boost the flagging U.S. economy, projecting billions of dollars in sales of U.S. weapons to countries in the Asia Pacific region. It would also ensure U.S. control over the Asia-Pacific trade market that accounts for approximately $60 trillion of theU.S. gross domestic product. Absent from the conversation is any mention of how the military industrial complex is already raking in billions of dollars in profits for corporate CEOs while not even pennies trickle down to regular working people.
The massive military presence in the Asia Pacific would provide the muscle to back up U.S. imperialism’s neoliberal economic offensive, barreling down in the form of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Like an octopus with arms reaching into all spheres of vulnerable nations’ economies, the secretive multi-lateral free trade agreement would tear down tariffs and other regulations that developing nations take to protect their domestic self-sufficiency from attacks by private multi-national corporations. The TPPA would also destroy protections for working people, including occupational safety regulations and minimum wage laws. Corporations would even be granted the ability to sue nations should the nations’ policies be considered “threatening” to business investments.
If enacted, the TPPA is sure to have devastating impacts even worse than those suffered by working people after the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed 20 years ago this month. NAFTA is notorious for the loss of millions of jobs and freezing wages at poverty level for millions of American manufacturing workers, creating slave-like conditions in Mexican maquiladora factories, destroying much of the domestic agricultural economy of Mexico, and fueling massive poverty-driven migration from rural areas to cities within Mexico and then north to the U.S.
BAYAN-USA reiterates its calls for the rejection of any military deal between the U.S. and the Philippines, the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Philippines, compensation for the destruction of 2,000 square meters of the Tubbataha reef by a U.S. warship, and the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. It calls on the spineless Aquino administration to start standing up for the sovereignty of the country by ending these military negotiations and also rejecting the Trans Pacific Partnership.
BAYAN-USA also calls on Kerry and the Obama administration to respect the sovereignty of the Philippines and stop trying to buy goodwill with relief aid, especially when the real intention is to dominate the entire Asia Pacific region militarily and economically. The enactment of the TPPA and a new military access agreement would only further drain resources from American taxpayers, at a time when the US congress is on the brink of passing a budget deal which would slash billions of dollars from safety net programs for poor Americans including more than 1.3 million unemployed people whose unemployment benefits will terminate on Dec. 28. Kerry should be working with Congress to find lasting solutions to the U.S. budget crisis, rather than pushing U.S. military and economic agreements that would further fatten the wallets of military industrial giants and cost crisis-stricken US taxpayers billions of dollars.