Students congregated around the entrance to Philosophy Hall, beating drums and watching a Filipino musical performance in protest of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, Summit, on Wednesday.
Protesters gathered across the Bay Area to advocate against the APEC Summit, which occurred in San Francisco from Nov. 11-17.
Brandon Lee, a member of the U.S. chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, alleged that APEC promotes neoliberal policies that exploit indigenous peoples, the environment and workers.
“The leaders want business as usual, which is finding ways to exploit labor,” Lee said. “Neoliberal policies offshore union jobs to countries with weaker labor laws.”
In addition, Will Wiltschko, director of the California Trade Justice Coalition, expressed anger at world leaders for their lack of climate action.
He alleged in an email that APEC has a “long history” of supporting neoliberal trade policies that promote, for example, a “race to the bottom,” or deregulation, of environmental standards for businesses.
“We continue to hear lip service about sustainability, but nobody in power seems to be taking the climate crisis seriously,” Wiltschko said in an email. “They’re failing us on what is an existential issue.”
Lee alleged that APEC continues to promote false solutions, notably including the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.
The Philippine Mining Act allowed for the exploitation of the indigenous peoples’ land and environment, according to Lee. When indigenous people protested, they were met with state violence, militarization and the bombing of their communities.
Amarra Andresen, student and chairperson of the League of Filipino Students on campus, said in an email that protesting against APEC sends the message that they “condemn the usage of our people and money to fund crimes against our homelands and other countries in the Global South.”
“As Filipino youth living in the diaspora, we must organize against the advancement of anti-people structures that promote the destruction of our homelands and people,” said Andresen in an email. “APEC and the policies it promotes have direct, harmful impacts on poor and working people in the member economies, particularly in the Asia Pacific.”
Andresen also noted UC Berkeley’s role in APEC.
The Berkeley APEC Study Center, or BASC, exhibits APEC’s influence within higher education and can be viewed as “think tanks” for APEC, according to Andresen.
In addition, campus organization Koreans 4 Decolonization member Yuran Park emphasized the disconnect between APEC’s policies and the interests of laborers and oppressed peoples.
APEC’s support for sustainability, diversity and inclusion is contrary to its reduced labor protection, exploitative “coercive” incorporation of women and increased militarization and surveillance, Park alleged in an email.
“APEC brings all of us to the same table,” Lee said. “We’ve all been excluded … We don’t sponsor exploitation, we won’t just sit back and do nothing — we want the whole world to see.”
Wiltschko noted that joining forces across varying advocacy groups creates more power to fight for change.
Andresen also noted the power of anybody being able to engage in conversation and action through performance.
“Cultural performances can capture an audience in ways that speeches or other forms of education may not be able to, allowing for an effective and familiar means of raising political consciousness while still exposing issues faced by the most oppressed and exploited classes,” Andresen said in an email. “Today, even across language barriers, we collectively sang a Filipino song of resistance.”