On October 21st, Sulong UBC joined UBC Sprouts and other organizations to protest the massive food budget cuts by the UBC administration. Learn more about UBC Sprouts and the walkout here and read our statement below:
Our warmest and most militant greetings to you all at this historic event. As an organization of progressive Filipino youth and our allies, Sulong UBC wholeheartedly supports this student walkout for food justice, because student organizing is essential to freedom from oppression. We are joining with you to call out this university for its profit-driven decision-making that starves students in a city where the cost of living skyrockets each year.
But food insecurity isn’t just a problem at UBC. The struggle for food has sparked class consciousness and collective action around the world, including in our homeland, the Philippines. In Sulong, we say that the Philippines is rich but its people are poor. This is because our land is extremely agriculturally productive, but the wealth generated from cash crops like sugar cane only goes to the ruling class. Peasants who harvest rice and fruit for mega-rich landlords starve, while the Philippine government profits by exporting crops and migrant labour to imperialist receiving countries.
The root causes of poverty in the Philippines — big landlords, agricultural monopoly corporations, imperialist states, and a profit-driven puppet government — are also the root causes of poverty here in Vancouver. Our shared enemy is the capitalist system that makes food a commodity and survival a privilege.
Our enemy is also strong and organized. The Canadian state which drives students and workers into food insecurity and debt to make us more exploitable is a state which has police, campus security, a military, and billions of dollars extracted from the rich land and exploited peoples of so-called Canada and neo-colonies around the world.
But we are even stronger than that, because we are organized. Our power is not the power of extraction or of exploitation. Our power is in Filipino workers organizing community pantries to feed people starving under the US puppet regime’s inadequate COVID response. Our power is in Filipino peasants occupying land to grow crops to eat, rather than line the pockets of landlords. Our power is in the correctness of our collective struggle for genuine change, not the embarrassing one-time buy-off UBC offered to preserve their own reputation.
Around the world, people who have seized power have been targeted for it. Activists have been labeled as terrorists by the Philippine state. Indigenous land defenders here in so-called Canada have been arrested for defending the waters and lands that feed them. Campus police stands in front of the doors to the library our tuition fees pay for. But are we criminals? What law have we broken by daring to demand the basic human right of food and dignity?
We have broken the law of complacency, and that is exciting news. Today, we as UBC students have inherited the centuries-long international struggle of people fighting for liberation. Through collective organizing, we are building the power to not only say that food is a human right, but to make it so. We have the power to win food security for UBC students, and in doing so, to break another link in the chain of exploitation that represses workers, peasants, Indigenous peoples, students, and all oppressed peoples, from so-called Canada to Palestine to Haïti to the Philippines!
Long Live International Solidarity!
Abante Estudyante! Palaban Militante!