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Detroit day of resistance sends message: “No to APEC! Not in our city!”

By Jacob Smith

Detroit protest against APEC.

Detroit, MI – The International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), Public Citizen, and local organizers united in a day of resistance to APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). The senior officials of APEC stopped in Detroit for some of their U.S. meetings to solidify the IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework) deal.

The IPEF represents more of the same failed policy the U.S. attempts to push on workers both here and abroad – hyper exploitation and investment abroad, deindustrialization and unemployment at home. Much like the embattled TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) which was pushed by the U.S. until 2017, and failed due to a combination of popular pressure and divisions in the ruling class. Organizers are putting the spotlight on the IPEF so it can be defeated in the same way.

Detroit stands as an example of the outcomes of such trade deals, one of the first and hardest hit by NAFTA deindustrialization and the financial fraud of the banks, so it was a natural choice for the APEC tour of the U.S. Detroiters, labor leaders from the East Coast and Midwest, and organizers from a wide variety of struggles spent the first half of the day learning and teaching each other about this trade deal, its likely outcomes, the interests and governments behind it, and what it means for the working class in the U.S. and abroad.

Bayan USA gave a presentation about the negative impact these trade deals have had on the people and the land in the Philippines: rainforests destroyed by reckless, deregulated nickel mining, labor leaders assassinated atrocious working conditions for those who can find a job, 6000 Filipinos being shipped off every day to every corner of the globe in search of work, and the list goes on.

This was only one aspect of the story, however, with the rich history of solidarity within the international working class being another. Many of the nurses who cared for AIDS patients during the crisis in the 1980s were Filipina nurses who left their homes in search of a living. When the CWA (Communications Workers of America) Verizon workers went on strike in 2016, workers in the Philippines chose to strike in solidarity rather than scab, leading to a victory for both groups and a close relationship since then between the CWA and BIEN (BPO Industry Employees Network).

When asked what we in the U.S. can do to show that same solidarity, Anakbayan USA member Diana Balitaan emphasized, “We must continue to uplift and connect the struggles in the Philippines to our struggles locally. Four of our members were arrested two weeks ago for rightfully disrupting and protesting Marcos Jr. and his crimes at a lavish dinner he held for his cabinet members and billionaire friends in Washington DC. Our members were calling out Marcos for selling out the Philippines to U.S. imperialism. We call on all comrades and allies to join our week of action to boost the call to drop the charges and that activism is not a crime!”

One UAW member in attendance pointed out that Michigan and Detroit in particular are in the crosshairs of these trade deals, saying, “Detroit is at the center of investment for electric vehicles, but trade deals like this ensure a race to the bottom,” referring to the fact that time and again, investment in and subsidies for regionally manufactured green infrastructure is overturned in trade deal lawsuits due to the subsidies “causing losses in revenue to companies not covered by the subsidy,” for example, when India sued the U.S. for subsidizing domestic solar technology in 2019.

To close out the presentations Ryan Harvey of Public Citizen summarized the spirit and policy of these trade deals, saying “Imagine if a leader of a major multinational corporation said, ‘Let’s just create a court, which operates in secret, is operated by our agents, can sue other countries for an unlimited amount of money, and there are no appeals for those decisions.’ That’s what we actually have today.”

The teach-in was followed by a rally in the heart of Detroit and a short march to the Westin hotel, where APEC officials were meeting. Demonstrators lined the hotel entrance with banners and chants, scaring off one APEC bus which opted to drop off the delegates elsewhere. The APEC tour next heads to Seattle in July and holding its final summit in San Francisco in November. Organizers are hoping to build the “No to APEC Coalition,” put APEC in the spotlight and let popular resistance put the IPEF in the dustbin of history.

More information on the DC4 can be found here:

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