Revolutionary Worker #889, January 12, 1997

In November 1996, the Philippines was the scene of significant conferences and protest actions against imperialism. The Anti-Imperialist World Peasant Summit and the People's Conference Against Imperialist Globalization drew delegates and observers from around the world. Rallies, nationally coordinated actions, and the people's caravan took place. In Manila, walls were festooned with posters and graffiti denouncing imperialist globalization.

The Philippine government spared no effort to prevent protest: foreign delegates coming to attend the conferences were detained, local organizers were arrested, many communities were placed under what amounted to martial law, the government even declared a national holiday to lure students and workers away from meetings and actions.

What was the lightning rod for all of this? It was the fact that the Philippine government was hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Leaders from 18 countries, including Bill Clinton, met near Manila on November 24-25 to discuss trade and investment policies in the Asia-Pacific region.

And it was the fact that revolutionary and progressive forces in the Philippines had seized the time--mobilizing to expose and oppose the APEC meeting and to advance the understanding and unity of forces fighting imperialism.

A Maoist people's war led by the Communist Party of the Philippines is continuing in the Philippines. This is the decisive and central struggle going on in the country against the imperialists and reactionaries. The Filipino ruling class has faced armed struggle by the New People's Army for over 25 years, and the threat of economic and political instability is a major concern. The U.S.-controlled regime of Fidel Ramos, desperate to attract investment capital, sought to use the APEC conference to project an image internationally of political stability.


In the U.S., there is not much awareness about APEC. APEC was established in 1989. It is basically a forum and vehicle through which U.S. and Japanese imperialists in particular are seeking to advance their economic and strategic agendas in this region. Japan is now the dominant economic power in East Asia, while the U.S. remains the dominant geopolitical power.

The spread of sweatshop labor in Indonesia (Nike and others), the grabbing up of natural resources in the Philippines, the growing role in the Third World of imperialist agribusiness and the growing importance of export-agriculture that caters to tastes and markets in the imperialist countries, and the attempts by the U.S. and other imperialist powers to tighten monopoly control over new technologies--these are all part of what APEC represents.

And APEC itself is part of a larger trend in the imperialist world economy. It is a trend that has produced the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the name of "free trade" and "global integration," the imperialists are trying to further pry open and increase their control over the economies of the oppressed nations. They are doing this in order to extract even greater superprofits from the Third World. They are doing this to accelerate the restructuring of capital worldwide. They are doing this to strengthen their hand in global competition with each other.

The imperialists have a certain common agenda. They are institutionalizing global rules that will enable them to more easily invest their capital wherever profits are the highest, while being able to sell, across borders, wherever the markets are the greatest. They are formalizing what are called "intellectual property rights," in order to increase their control over and derive monopoly profits from the accumulated knowledge of humanity.

But there is also economic rivalry among the imperialists--over who will be the dominant force in particular regions, over the exact terms of and the enforcement authority behind their trade and investment rules.

And the Asian-Pacific region is an important arena and battleground...because this is where growth in a world economy gripped by crisis is the most rapid.

This is the background for the conferences and protest actions that took place in the Philippines.


The Anti-Imperialist World Peasant Summit was hosted by the KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas). This is a Philippine peasant organization that is part of the overall revolutionary struggle in the Philippines. The summit was attended by 75 delegates from 31 countries. Speakers talked about the trends and impact of globalization, especially on agriculture, peasant livelihoods, and the peasant struggles. The experience of the armed agrarian revolution in the Philippines was powerfully presented and defended. The summit ended with a militant march on the U.S. embassy.

The People's Conference Against Imperialist Globalization featured presentations and discussions on the global economic crisis, on APEC, and on the strategies of the transnational corporations. There were also reports on the political situation and struggles in different countries and workshops on a range of topics, including migrant labor, land struggles, the environmental effects of globalization, U.S.-Japanese military relations, and a speak-out on the impact of globalization on women's labor and lives. Following the conference, the People's Caravan was launched (see accompanying interview).

There was a wide range of forces from around the world represented with a variety of perspectives, but overall the discussion and debate at the two conferences were marked by a desire to clarify key political issues and to forge unity in the struggle against imperialism. And the conferences provided a valuable opportunity for activists, revolutionaries, and scholars from different parts of the world to share experiences and insights, and especially to learn from the experience of the Filipino revolutionary movement.

Raymond Lotta, a Maoist political economist who promotes the theoretical positions and political work of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, spoke at both conferences on global crisis and the revolutionary road forward. He appeared in the media, where he denounced U.S. imperialism and expressed solidarity with the Filipino people and all those struggling against imperialism. He also lectured in universities and before audiences of activists.

The conferences and protests against APEC took place in the face of threats and intimidation by the government. But the people's determination was raised, and anti-imperialist solidarity was strengthened.


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