Rallying Cry in San Francisco: Activists Gear Up to Challenge APEC’s Corporate Agenda

In the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the powers that be will be convening in San Francisco from November 12-18, seemingly to cement corporate agendas and bolster U.S. geopolitical interests. But a vibrant coalition of activists and human rights advocates is gearing up to turn the tables on this corporate jamboree, aiming to halt APEC’s neoliberal march in its tracks.

APEC, initially a bulwark against the “Washington Consensus,” has now morphed into a tool for perpetuating U.S. dominance, particularly in its stance against China. This shift underscores a grave concern: APEC is no longer just about trade; it’s about asserting control through economic and military might.

The Biden administration, already under fire for its role in the ongoing Gaza conflict, is about to step into the lion’s den, hosting a summit that will not only spotlight U.S. foreign policy contradictions but also serve as a battleground for various human rights causes.

This year, San Francisco will transform into a militarized zone under the pretext of national security, raising alarms about potential rights violations and the suppression of dissent. The city’s marginalized populations stand to bear the brunt of these heavy-handed measures, with small businesses and vulnerable communities caught in the crossfire of the APEC summit’s stringent protocols.

But resistance is brewing. A coalition of local, national, and international organizations is mobilizing for a potent response, planning a “People’s Counter-Summit” and protests designed to echo the spirit of the historic WTO protests of ’99.

The issues at stake are manifold. APEC, a prominent proponent of neoliberal policies, is now in the crosshairs for its role in exacerbating labor exploitation, infringing Indigenous rights, and fueling the climate crisis. Additionally, APEC’s roster includes states notorious for human rights abuses, such as the Philippines and Peru, where authoritarian regimes have weaponized neoliberalism to oppress Indigenous communities and silence activists.

The upcoming protests in San Francisco are not merely about disrupting a global summit. They’re about standing against the free market authoritarianism that APEC epitomizes. They’re about holding the U.S. accountable for its complicity in Israel’s actions in Gaza and for the broader human rights violations perpetrated by APEC-affiliated states.

The “No to APEC” organizers, representing a broad spectrum of movements from the Palestinian Youth Movement to the Black Alliance for Peace, are uniting to challenge not only APEC’s economic doctrines but also its New Cold War posturing against China. These activists are prepared to remind world leaders of San Francisco’s rich history of human rights activism, from the 1934 general strike to the city’s sanctuary movement, setting the stage for a monumental clash of ideologies.

As APEC gears up to celebrate corporate power, activists are ready to shut it down, demanding a world where human rights and environmental stewardship trump corporate profits and militaristic posturing. This November, San Francisco won’t just be hosting a summit; it’ll be a battleground for the soul of global economics and the future of human rights.