Some 350 global activists from 36 countries today posed a collective challenge to world leaders that will be meeting next week for the Association of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Malcom Guy, a progressive Canadian film and television director, led delegates from more than 91 international organisations in the opening of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) in Quezon City, Philippines. Guy is secretary-general of ILPS.
“We will not mince our words. APEC claims that it is building a better world and is building inclusive economies. APEC, in fact, is peddling a lie and, in our opinion, the world would be better without APEC,” Guy said.
He added: “APEC is only shaping a so-called ‘better’ world for the 1% of the richest and most powerful corporations and individuals. While the 99%, the rest of us, far from being better off, face environment degradation, rampant militarization, climate change catastrophes like Yolanda here in the Philippines, and precarious working conditions with falling wages.”
“The APEC is peddling lies, and we are here to expose these lies,” said Guy, adding as example his home country, Canada. “Government says it is open to immigration. Not true, unless you are rich and come from the right class background. Canada is now a land where working class applicants are no longer welcome. Instead, Canada, like Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, relies more and more on temporary workers that endure second class status and are used, abused and thrown out.”
Another lie peddled by APEC is that large scale mining is good for APEC member countries. “There are major Canadian mining companies like TVI operating in your country, particularly in Mindanao. This large scale mining has led to environment destruction and loss of lives as increasing military presence displace whole communities of indigenous peoples,” said Guy.
Former party-list Representative Liza Maza, Philippine coordinator to the ILPS, said that while APEC continue to promise better economies for its members, developing nations like the Philippines have in fact suffered from its trade policies.
“The Philippines is an agricultural and rice producing country. But, ironically, it is now the number two importer of rice in Asia. Some 47% of mongo beans and 77% of its garlic supply are imported.
“Philippine tariff on manufactured goods is now only 5%, down from 26% in 1996; tariff on agricultural products went down to 10% from 36% of same year. This influx of imported goods displaced our farmers and workers and stunted our local production, all thanks to APEC neo-liberal trade policies and the gross ineptness of our own government,” Maza said.
She added: “One only has to see the quality of our MRT and LRT to see how much of a failure APEC connectivity—through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in infrastructure, energy, transportation and information—has been.
Leila Khaled, an iconic Palestine activist from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said. “We are not here to negotiate, we are here to get them to listen to our demands. We also want the Filipino public and other citizens around the world to know that there is an alternative point of view. This view is actually the majority’s point of view.”< “The APEC will tell a lot of lies, but don’t believe (these leaders). Just put a bracket there and say: this is a lie,” she added. The ILPS is touted to be the largest global formation of militant, anti-imperialist and democratic activists, with hundreds of member organisations in 36 countries. Its anti-imperialist united front formation was conceived on the eve of the famous “Battle of Seattle” against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1999.