By Brittany Le
AsAmNews Staff Writer
Outside the Wilshire Federal Building in West Los Angeles, protesters made their voices heard Tuesday night about their stance against President Trump and his tour of the Asia Pacific. Demonstrators publicly condemned what they called Trump’s pro-war, pro-imperialism agenda and called on the U.S. government to redirect some of the massive spending on the military towards social services instead.
Filipino American alliance BAYAN-USA has organized these protests in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, in conjunction with the last three days of Trump’s Philippines tour. Trump’s tour has already been greeted by many protesters in Japan and Korea. He received a similar greeting when he landed in Manila.
“We are out here today, of course, to express rage against Trump and the policies that he’s trying to push on the Filipino people and other Asia Pacific countries because we know that it will lead to more poverty, more militarization, communities that are actually suffering,” explained Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN-USA to AsAmNews. “So this is our moment to really express that we don’t want our U.S. tax dollars being spent to cause more violence in the Philippines, Japan, China, throughout the Asia Pacific region. We feel that we play a very important role here as young people, as people who care about just and lasting peace in the Philippines and throughout the Asia Pacific. We have to speak out about this, and Trump represents U.S. interests and doesn’t represent the majority of the working class and the working people out here.”
Trump was in the Philippines from Sunday to Tuesday, ending his trip by skipping out on the East Asia Summit he was supposed to attend, instead flying back to Washington due to delays in scheduling. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, known for his brutal war on drugs, hosted the summit.
“What we expect to get out of this is mostly to bring attention to what this Trump visit means in the Asia Pacific region,” said Anakbayan LA chairperson Dominico Vega said. “This isn’t just a regular vacation for Trump. This is really to discuss the military and economic hegemony that the U.S. has over the Asia Pacific region.”
Trump’s relations with many controversial world leaders has led to increased attention over this past year on how the president handles foreign affairs. Most of this attention in the Asia Pacific is directed towards threats from North Korea, but protesters say he is overlooking U.S. imperialist tactics elsewhere in this region.
“We see in Korea the warmongering that Trump has already been planting the seeds of with really agitating North Korea and wanting to install THAAD missiles there,” continued Vega. “We see in the Philippines earlier this morning the Enhanced Defense Corporation Agreement, the Visiting Forces Agreement, which essentially allows US bases in the Philippines, which are technically unconstitutional, was reaffirmed between the president of the Philippines and President Trump. The sad fact is not everyone here knows that, and the sad fact is millions and millions of dollars of our tax dollars are going to fund those things, which are affecting and hurting many communities of the Asia Pacific region.”
Megan Foronda, educational officer for GABRIELA LA, closed the rally by drawing a strong connection to home, commenting on the military-industrial complex that resides within U.S. borders. “Here in LA, why we have the deadliest, the most criminal police department in the city that kills black and brown people, that attack poor working-class people, that collude with ICE to detain and deport undocumented folks, and that imprison queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people,” stated Foronda. “It is our duty to continue to struggle. As freedom loving people, we are here today, not because we are just angry, right? But because we love the people, and because we want to see a world where capitalism no longer exists. And when we talk about the fact that there is a war on the poor, that there is a war on workers, we’re not talking about the fact that imperialists are attacking the people. We are also talking about the fact that the people have the right to fight back, and it is war.”
Sponsoring organizations of the LA protest included Bayan Southern CA, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED), Rad Taiwanese, International Action Center, VietUnityLA, PUSO SoCal, Nafcon SoCal, and Party for Socialism and Liberation – Los Angeles,
AsAmNews reached out to the State Department, but it declined to comment.
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