Protests Planned in San Francisco During Global Trade Summit

by Warren Seah

Activists Unite Against Exploitative Trade Deals

Activists in San Francisco are gearing up for a week of protests as the city prepares to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ conference. This global trade summit is set to draw President Joe Biden and leaders from nearly two dozen countries. A diverse coalition called “No to APEC” has emerged, consisting of over 100 grassroots groups, rallying against corporate profits, environmental abuses, poor working conditions, and the Israel-Hamas war.

The No to APEC coalition contends that trade deals struck at summits like APEC incessantly exploit workers and their families. While the protests will take place in downtown San Francisco, world leaders are unlikely to witness them due to strict security measures at venues such as the Moscone Center conference hall.

United Against Arms Supply to Israel

One of the organizers, Suzanne Ali from the Palestinian Youth Movement, argues that the U.S. government must be held accountable for providing weapons to Israel in its conflict with Hamas. Through this peaceful mobilization, Ali hopes to send a powerful message to world leaders that the people do not condone their actions.

History of Protests and Real Impact

San Francisco has a rich history of vibrant and forceful protests, particularly in relation to trade talks. In 1999, Seattle saw tens of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets during a World Trade Organization (WTO) conference. The protests effectively delayed the start of the conference and garnered global attention as police resorted to aggressive tactics, such as tear gas and plastic bullets.

Moreover, APEC has faced its fair share of challenges in the past. In 2019, Chile withdrew as a host due to mass protests against economic inequality and political corruption. Last year, when Bangkok hosted the APEC summit, pro-democracy protesters questioned the legitimacy of the Thai prime minister, resulting in clashes with the police.

Preparing for Protests in San Francisco

The San Francisco Police Department Chief, Bill Scott, anticipates multiple protests each day. However, the exact number remains uncertain. Chief Scott emphasizes that while peaceful demonstrations are welcomed, any acts of violence, property destruction, or criminal behavior will not be tolerated. Those who engage in unlawful activities will be arrested promptly.

As the city readies itself to host the APEC leaders’ conference, the voices and concerns of the protesters will serve as a reminder that there is a collective demand for fair and just trade policies that safeguard workers’ rights and protect our planet.

APEC Summit: Protests and Controversies Surrounding the CEO Summit

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, established in 1989, has become a crucial platform for regional economic cooperation. With a membership of 21 countries, including economic heavyweights like China and the U.S., as well as Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines, APEC plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of global trade.

This week, an eagerly anticipated CEO summit is set to take place alongside the APEC conference. However, not everyone is pleased with the event. Critics have voiced their opposition and plan to stage protests on Wednesday, adding to the controversial atmosphere surrounding the summit.

One of the headline events of the summit is a meeting between U.S. President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. This encounter is particularly significant as President Xi rarely faces protests on home soil. To ensure a peaceful atmosphere, China has employed heavy security measures to prevent any disruptions. These measures include increased border checks at transit points such as railway stations and airports. Chinese human rights activists have also been subjected to police visits and phone calls as a warning against engaging in any form of demonstration.

Protests have long been recognized as a means for politicians to gauge public sentiment. The media attention that protests receive further amplifies their impact. Rory McVeigh, a sociology professor and director of the Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame, believes that although many protests may not yield immediate results, certain movements can make an enormous difference. The power of public outcry should never be underestimated.

Various groups have announced their intentions to protest at the CEO summit. The United Vietnamese American Community of Northern California plans to raise concerns about both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong. Another group, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, aims to highlight the rights of indigenous Filipinos and denounce the presence of President Bongbong Marcos, son of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Protesters are particularly disappointed that San Francisco, a city with a history of championing working-class causes, would play host to CEOs and leaders who they believe are responsible for inflicting significant harm. Nik Evasco, a climate activist, expressed their discontent, stating, “It’s disheartening to see the mayor, the governor, and the president endorsing an event that celebrates individuals and companies profiting from the multiple crises we face. It’s truly sickening.”

As the APEC summit approaches, tensions continue to rise. The clash between economic interests and social justice demands promises to make this gathering a focal point of controversy and debate.

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