Forge a chain of resistance against imperialist globalization,
fight economic and political persecution
with international and class solidarity!
Keynote Speech of Anakpawis Congressman Crispin Beltran to the 22nd International Solidarity Affair
Warm and militant greetings to the delegates, organizers, and leaders of the 22nd International Solidarity Affair (ISA) and the International Labor Solidarity Mission (ILSM)!
I am honored to be one in the struggle with you all. The chains binding me to detention fall apart when I hear of how we are collectively battling against the oppression waged by imperialist globalization.
Our initial efforts have not gone to waste, dear comrades! The working class has contributed to the increasing victories of countries that have asserted national sovereignty and liberation from the clutches of imperialist plunder and war. We have seen how the people's rising resistance has advanced in countries, such as Australia, India, Philippines, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa, Belgium, France, Germany, Venezuela, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Chile, and Nepal.
The agents and beneficiaries of imperialist globalization, however, will do everything to quash the hard-earned victories of the toiling masses. They are waging economic, social, and political terrorism around the globe in order to retain their grip on power, disregarding the toll of death and destruction this rampage of greed will yield.
Economic and political terrorism against the toiling masses
Comrades, this is an era of great persecution against the workers, peasants, and toiling masses of the world, of assaults against the people's rights to a better life. All around the world, millions are suffering because of the greed of a few.
Economic genocide is systematically carried out by neo-liberal multilateral agencies such the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Bank (WB). These agencies conspire with the local ruling elite and with the kings of monopoly and finance capital to impose structural adjustment programs and free trade agreements that have only devastated the economies and societies of developing nations.
These economic policies and programs are being imposed through force, deceit, and fear. Political terrorism is being waged through the US' imperialist and unilateral wars of aggression and through the repression of trade unionists and progressive organizations and individuals.
Violence is being used against those who struggle for land, wages, jobs, and rights. In the Philippines, over 560 defenders of the peoples' democratic rights have been murdered by suspected military agents ever since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stepped into power in 2001. Last year, these political killings claimed the lives of 31 unionists, worker-organizers, and labor leaders.
In Hacienda Luisita, for example, suspected soldiers shot and killed Ricardo Ramos, President of the Central Azucerera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) last October 25. Ramos was one of the key leaders when Hacienda Luisita farm and sugar mill workers went on strike in November 2004, in protest against low wages, union-busting, and the lack of land reform.
In the Calabarzon industrial region, trade union suppression by foreign multinational companies persists alongside militarization of the countryside by state fascist forces. I remember how motorcycle-riding assassins killed Diosdado "Ka Fort" Fortuna, labor union President of Nestle's local subsidiary in Laguna and the Chairperson of Anakpawis in the Southern Tagalog region, last September 22, 2005.
These killings and human rights violations against labor leaders continue up to now. But not a single person has been arrested or tried in court ever since the start of President Arroyo's term.
The situation in the Philippines reflects the simultaneous assaults on workers all over the globe. Elsewhere, trade unionists asserting their democratic rights are being arrested, arbitrarily detained, harassed, put under surveillance, abducted, interrogated, penalized and brutalized--whether under so-called 'democracies', dictatorships or political dynasties.
Local atrocities, global genocide
Comrades, the atrocities you have seen during your brief stay the Philippines is only part of a global trend of systematic oppression. The situation here is only reflective of the crimes of monopoly capital and imperialism against the toiling masses of the world.
You may have heard about how, just a few months ago, a Filipina was raped by US military servicemen in Subic, the former US military base turned 'special economic zone' and tourist spot. This is no different from the havoc and pain the US has caused to millions of Iraqi workers and their families, in its military bid to control the world's oil reserves. Yet the Philippine government tolerates the rape, just as it has supported the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, because the local ruling elite benefits from US' monopoly capital and military presence in the Philippines.
Upon arriving in the Philippines, you may have noticed the long queues at the airport, full of Philippine overseas contract workers. Every day, 3,000 Filipinos are forced to leave their homeland and work abroad, in the same way that millions from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe have been forced to migrate due to colonial and imperial expansion. The Philippine government even promotes such massive labor export to revive the dying economy. But it has not even uttered a whimper of protest even as millions are up in outrage against the US government's anti-immigration bills, which aim to protect corporate profits and divide the working class.
While reading the news, you may have noticed that President Arroyo wants to change the Constitution of the Philippines at any cost. This should not be seen only as her attempt at political survival. It is also a question of survival and growth for imperialist globalization, which has historically endorsed Charter Change in around 130 countries to open up their domestic labor, key economic sectors, natural resources, and national patrimony to neocolonial exploitation, plunder, and devastation.
In the Philippines and all around the world, many are dying because of the greed and deceit of a few. Everyday, millions of workers and their families are being starved, deprived of education, housing, and health care, displaced from their homes and lands, forced to migrate, and even threatened or killed so that a small number of ruling elite can maintain their empires and kingdoms around the globe.
Comrades, we can no longer allow this era of oppression to continue! We must strengthen our ranks against such assaults on human life, on the lives of the toiling masses. This global state of injustice and inhumanity must eventually come to an inglorious end!
Forge international solidarity for the toiling masses' rights
Lupa, sahod, trabaho, at karapatan! (Land, wages, jobs, and rights!). How many millions have been deprived of these basic needs by the ruling local and global elite? How many millions have been killed and threatened for fighting for these? What is the power of land, wages, jobs, and democratic rights, that makes our oppressors so intent on witholding and depriving such freedom from us?
Lupa, sahod, trabaho, at karapatan! (Land, wages, jobs, and rights!) This are the demands of the toiling masses of the world. But these can only be achieved through victories against the violent sreign of global monopoly capital in collusion with the ruling elite.
As trade unionists, we have the power and the means to unite the broadest number of people to decisively defeat the maneuvers of intensifying imperialist globalization. We must closely link the struggle of the working class to the struggles of the other major productive forces of our respective societies, such as the peasants, women, and youth. Only then will we be able to unite the broadest number of people to weaken the hold of the ruling elite conspiring with the forces of monopoly capital.
At the same time, we must face these challenges with a brand of unionism that will unite the toiling masses of our countries and to the worldwide struggle against the empire of super-profits. We must forge a brand of unionism and workers' unity that will go far beyond localized reforms, one which will encompass the struggles for LAND, WAGES, JOBS AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS and defeat the assaults of monopoly capital on the lives of the toiling masses.
Comrades, we will frustrate the divisive, violent, and deceitful maneuvers of imperialist globalization through TUNAY, PALABAN, MAKABAYAN, AT ANTI-IMPERYALISTANG UNYONISMO! (Genuine, militant, patriotic, and anti-imperialist unionism!)
Whether we be in the belly of the beast, or on the borders of empire, we must unite, and forge a worldwide chain of resistance against the economic and political assaults of imperialist globalization. There is no other way towards a better life for the toiling masses! There is no better time to intensify the struggle but now!
Comrades, the future for trade union resistance against imperialism globalization is bright but laden with challenges. I wish you, brothers and sisters in the worldwide struggle, all the fervor, insight, and strength to bring the fight onwards to victory!
Down with imperialism!
Long live international solidarity!
Victory to the toiling masses of the world!