Chicago, IL - Over 230 Filipinos from across the U.S. and the Philippines joined over 15,000 demonstrators here, May 20, to march in protest against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit taking place just blocks away in McCormick Place. It was the largest outdoor anti-war demonstration in the U.S. in years.
The Filipino contingent was led by BAYAN USA, a U.S.-wide alliance of 18 Filipino social justice organizations and a founding member of the Coalition Against the NATO & G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8), the main organizer of the May 20 demonstration against NATO. Founded in 2005, BAYAN USA is the oldest and largest overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines.
BAYAN USA joined the ranks of the 500-plus contingent of the U.S. chapter of the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS-US), which included Palestinians and Puerto Ricans projecting the role of national liberation struggles as key in the fight against the U.S.-NATO agenda.
"Filipinos are here today because the U.S.-NATO agenda seeks to intensify militarization in the Asia-Pacific region," stated Bernadette Ellorin of BAYAN USA at the opening rally in Grant Park. "As I speak, the U.S. is sending drones, nuclear warships, nuclear submarines and more U.S. troops to engage in military exercises in the South China Sea. They say this is to contain the threat of China, but that is a distortion."
Ellorin spoke of the worsening global economic crisis driving U.S.-NATO powers to secure critical economic investments in the Asia-Pacific region, where the U.S. export position accounts for approximately $1 trillion of the U.S. economy. Therefore, the U.S.-NATO military pivot to Asia is to enforce a new free trade agreement - the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) - that would ensure U.S. economic dominance in the region.