APEC counter-summit hosts 900 people
San Francisco, CA – On November 11, close to 900 people gathered at San Francisco State University for a counter-summit against the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit later that week.
The day was convened by the “No To APEC Coalition,” which had 160 endorsing organizations. The counter-summit was the first action leading up to a week of activity against APEC.
APEC is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. While the rhetoric that APEC pushes seem to benefit the member economies, the No to APEC Coalition states that it’s a forum for corporations and institutions to push so-called “free trade” to exploit their workers and put the benefits of corporations over the rights of nations and peoples.
The day began at 9 a.m. with opening remarks that reviewed what APEC and IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity) were, and why it’s important to mobilize against them.
The keynote speaker was Brandon Lee, who came out to a standing ovation and chants of “Justice for Brandon Lee!” Lee is an indigenous rights activist who in 2019 was shot in four places by the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, rendering him paralyzed. Lee continues to organize for human rights and is a member of the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.
During his keynote speech, he spoke about how he became an organizer, and the current fight against Chevron. He also joined the chorus to mobilize against APEC and IPEF, “I will continue to fight as long as I breathe. My story is one of many. There are 1000 people here today, diverse and multi-generational, each with their own journey, all united against APEC. And we will not go gently into the night. We will rage!”
After Lee’s speech there was a plenary with speakers from different movements, including organizers from Palestine, Starbucks Workers United, Myanmar, and others.
The afternoon saw two sets of dozens of workshops for people to choose from.
The evening ended with a call to action for November 12 and the march against APEC. It closed out with agitating speeches, that fired people up!