By Valerie Francisco
GABRIELA USA Chairperson and representative
May 24, 2012
Bill Dores, International League of Peoples´ Struggle (ILPS) Vice Chairperson for External Affairs and ILPS-US Country Co-Coordinator, email: [email protected]
CHICAGO, IL– Over 300 anti-imperialist and progressive community activists from across the US gathered last Saturday, May 19th, at the Centro Autonomo in Chicago’s working class and immigrant neighborhood of Albany Park to establish the US country chapter of the International League of Peoples’Struggle (ILPS-US). The successful gathering was held one day before the 15,000-strong outdoor demonstration in downtown Chicago against the scheduled North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit taking place.
The ILPS is an anti-imperialist and democratic formation with over 350 member organizations in 45 countries. Founded in 2001, the ILPS is one of the largest international formations coordinating international campaigns along 17 principal concerns– including US war and occupation, neoliberal globalization, labor and migration, human rights and civil liberties, workers, women’s, immigrant, youth and LGBTQ rights.
The Chicago assembly was opened with a message from ILPS chair and chief spokesperson Jose Maria Sison, who attended by Skype. A political refugee from the Philippines, Sison has lived in exile in the Netherlands for 25 years. He has led the League since its second international assembly in 2004.
A leading historical figure in Philippine revolutionary politics, Sison is also a world-renowned critic and commentator on US foreign policy as well as national liberation struggles challenging US imperialist interests. In addition to his role as ILPS Chairperson, Sison serves as the chief political consultant for National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which is currently engaged in peace talks with the Aquino government on behalf of the 43-year old armed Philippine revolutionary underground movement. In 2002, Sison was listed in the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist list, the same list that once tagged South African anti-apartheid freedom fighter and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela.
Welcoming the assembly was Fred Hampton,Jr. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee/Black Panther Party Cubs and son of the late Black Panther leader. Hampton hailed the gathering for meeting on May 19, the birthday of people’s leaders Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh. He then drew a line between two very different Chicagos– the Chicago of Barack Obama, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and the 1% represented by NATO and the G8 and the Chicago of working-class, immigrant and struggling people of color.
That was the Chicago of Fred Hampton,
Deputy Chairperson of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, who was assassinated in his home during a raid jointly conducted by the Chicago Police Department and the FBI on Dec. 4, 1969.
It was also the Chicago of Albert Parson, George Engel, August Spies and Samuel Fielden, who were framed up and hanged there in 1887 for leading the struggle for the 8-hour workday. May 1 was designated International Workers Day in response to the massive 8-hour-day march of mostly immigrant workers in that city in 1886.
Hampton, Jr. was followed by Consul General Jose Rodriguez y Espinoza of the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, who also welcomed the assembly and spoke of the need for international solidarity against imperialism. Representative Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women´s Partylist in the Philippines (the only all women´s parliamentary political party in the world) also offered fighting words of international solidarity for the assembly.
Local Chicago labor leader Joe Iosbaker, Steff Yorek of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, and Hatem Abuddayeh of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) also addressed the assembly. They were joined by Carlos Montes, an L.A.-based veteran Chicano nationalist activist and founding member of the Brown Berets. Iosbaker, Yorek, and Abuddayeh were amongst the 23 solidarity activists in the Midwest whose homes were raided by the FBI and were issued Grand Jury subpoenas on September 2010. An L.A. SWAT team broke down Montes’ front door at 5 am in May 2011 and he was framed up on phony felony charges. Montes’ trial date is scheduled for June 20.
Talking about their case and received with a standing ovation, Iosbaker expressed that they would “rather go to jail”, than be intimidated by state repression into ceasing their anti-war and international solidarity work. All 23 have been active in international solidarity work for liberation struggles in Palestine, Colombia, El Salvador, and the Philippines for decades.
Convened under the theme “Unite with the Global 99% Against Monopoly Capital,the Source Crisis, Racism, and War; Build a Brighter Future That is Ours!”, 28 US-based organizations signed up as founding members to ILPS-US during the assembly. They include community organizations from across the US such as the Palestinian Youth Movement, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, BAYAN USA, Peoples Organization for Progress, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, Solidarity with Iran, International Action Center and Coordinacion Nacional Agraria y Popular de Colombia (CONAP-USA). Dozens of other organizations participated as observers to the assembly, including members of Grassroots Global Justice.
ILPS-US joins other country chapters of the ILPS in Indonesia, Australia, Canada, and the Philippines, a Hong Kong and Macau chapter and a coordinating committee in Latin America. ILPS General Secretary and ILPS-Canada Chair, Malcolm Guy, and Steve Da Silva from the ILPS International Coordinating Committee and ILPS-Canada were joined by an ILPS-Canada delegation that also attended the founding assembly. Julia Camagong, ILPS Special Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, offered a solidarity message on behalf of the ILPS Latin American Committee.
A country coordinating committee to lead the work of the US chapter was elected. The founding of the US Chapter of the ILPS is a victory for the growing anti-imperialist movement in the US and around the world, said Hilo, elected Country Co-Coordinator of ILPS-US. The severe economic crisis and imperialist wars of aggression are fueling the fires of peoples´ resistance around the world. Uniting with the global 99% to fight against US-imperialism and to broaden the road of peoples´ resistance towards a brighter future is our duty as the ILPS Country Chapter inside the belly of the beast.
A general program of action for the US chapter was adopted for 2012-2015. Resolutions passed included a resolution to join the Coalition against NATO & G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8) as the first mass mobilization of the ILPS-US Chapter, and a resolution to take up the campaign to Stop FBI Repression.
The historic assembly was followed that evening by an international solidarity cultural showcase entitled Road to Resistance, which featured performances from progressive artists and cultural workers such as Rebel Diaz, IZQ, Bandung 55, Bagwis, and Power Struggle.
National Liberation Struggles vs. NATO
The following Sunday, ILPS-US members marched alongside Palestinian liberation activists with the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and Puerto Rican liberation activists with the National Boricua Human Rights Network to form one of the largest marching contingents within the overall protest march organized by the Coalition Against NATO & G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8). It was also the only contingent projecting a united front of key national liberation struggles against US imperialism.
The ILPS was invited to co-emcee the opening rally at Grant Park. Hilo joined Iosbaker in welcoming the thousands of protestors and getting ready for the march against NATO. Speakers Montes, Abuddayeh and ILPS-US coordinating committee member and BAYAN USA Chairperson, Bernadette Ellorin, shared the stage with Reverend Jesse Jackson and dozens more.
As the organizers of the overall anti-NATO summit protest rally and march, CANG8 was met months prior with intimidation and permit-denial tactics by the city administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Weeks before the protest, the Obama administration deployed hundreds of federal security forces and plain-clothes secret service agents to patrol the downtown Chicago area and surveil groups intending to participate in the protest actions against the NATO Summit.
Despite thousands of police and federal security forces lined up along the Michigan Avenue march route in full riot gear to intimidate demonstrators, the protest actions were overwhelmingly successful. Unable to scare away participants, Chicago police attacked people after the main march had ended, brutalizing many and arresting 45 people.
CANG8 and the peoples of Chicago have been fighting against NATO and G8 since last summer, said Hilo. Despite the intimidation and threats, thousands of people from Chicago and across the country asserted their democratic rights to march in solidarity with the peoples of the world that are suffering because of NATO/G8 intervention in their homelands.
For more information about the ILPS, visit www.ilps.info. For more information about the ILPS-US Chapter, [email protected] ###