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Imperialism, national liberation and socialism

Published May 26, 2006 6:23 PM

Berna Ellorin
WW photo: Liz Green

Following are excerpts from an official BAYAN-USA statement presented by Berna Ellorin at the May 13-14 “Preparing for the Rebirth of the Global Struggle for Socialism” conference.

I am a representative of Bayan, the national alliance of people’s organizations in the Philippines that serves as the political center for the national democratic movement for genuine freedom and sovereignty with a socialist perspective. Within the Bayan alliance, I am also a member of Migrante International, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino organizations that strug gles for the rights and welfare of our overseas Filipino compatriots while fully integrated in the overall Philippine national democratic movement against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

In over three decades of the Philippine government’s relentless pursuit of the Labor Export Program, we now have over 8 million Filipinos toiling in 182 counties throughout the world. This is now equivalent to 10 percent of our entire population. Of these 8 million, approximately 4 million live and work in the United States.

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An average of 60,000 Filipinos enter the U.S. every year, composing the third largest immigrant community in the U.S. after Mexicans and Chinese. Over 60 percent of migrant Filipinos are women. Most take up work as domestic workers, nannies, care givers, service workers, entertainers, nurses, teachers. Many women are trafficked in the sex trade, or migrate as mail-order brides.

In 2005, out of a total of 11 billion U.S. dollars in total remittances back to the Philippine economy, $6 billion was generated from Filipinos in the U.S. The Philippines remains not only amongst the top three labor-sending countries in the world, but the most remittance-dependent economy in the world.

U.S-led imperialist globalization, under the implementation of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, and the puppetry of virtually all Philippine presidents in history, imposed and facilitated “structural adjustment” on the economies of our so-called “developing nations.”

In the Philippines, this has resulted in the development of the “export-oriented, import-dependent” economy, wherein the nation’s export of cheap but vast raw materials to industrialized nations for processing is coupled with dependence on highly expensive, processed imported goods.

This “maldevelopment” rather than the misleading term “underdevelopment” results in chronic economic crisis characterized by chronic deficit, which leads to endless debt. While the billions raked in by the sweat of Overseas Filipino Workers —OFWs—keep the crippled Philippine economy afloat in the absence of industry, nearly 95 percent of remittance intake goes toward debt servicing to pay off the Philip pine government’s international loans.

The semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions in the Philippines have kept the country’s basic mode of production—agriculture—backward to the extent that cultivating land for today’s farmers still bears striking resemblance to the cultivation of land in the 15th century under classical feudal times.

Hence it is this chronic semi-colonial and semi-feudal condition that has resulted in an average of 3,000 Filipinos leaving the Philippines every day, just to look for work—the phenomenon of forced, not chosen, migration.

The displacement of peoples from labor-sending neocolonies to fulfill the cheap labor demands of capitalist and imper ialist nations such as the U.S. is principally an imperialist act of aggression and the height of class oppression within the borders of a monopoly capitalist country.

As progressives and class-conscious people, we integrate with what has proven itself to be the truly and deeply mass issue for a large portion of the democratic sectors in the U.S. But we must also recognize that the current momentum of the immigrant rights movement, which is not at all a new movement, against the current capitalist-serving U.S. immigration system, must not end with the struggle for immigration reforms.

The democratic sectors of the American people, particularly the most oppressed recipients of imperialist class oppression within the working class non-immigrant communities, must struggle alongside their new immigrant sisters and brothers.

To “contain” the struggle for immigrant rights within the immigrant community alone would be a mistake, and frankly, would serve the interest of the capitalist state that takes delight in and laughs at divisions sown amongst the ranks of the oppressed masses.

As the overwhelming majority of new immigrants in this country are low-wage to no-wage workers, solidarity within the immigrant, Black, and White working class positions us all for genuine advances in the class struggle in this country.

Whether you are an immigrant from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe or elsewhere, I know the conditions that drove your exodus to the U.S. under the current world imperialist crisis are similar.

I would like to salute the framework under which this conference was conceived: preparing the world for the rebirth of the global struggle for socialism.

For the Philippine movement, the struggle for national democracy with a socialist perspective was born over 30 years ago.

We have always believed, even as overseas Filipinos, that our biggest contribution to the world struggle against imperialism is to win our national liberation struggle. At the same time, we build the highest unities with other peoples’ movements through bilateral and multilateral relationships, seeking the most advanced elements against U.S. imperialism.