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Filipino Nurses are not for sale

Bayan-Europe condemns Duterte’s government commodification of Filipino nurses


Bayan-Europe expresses its strong condemnation of the Duterte government’s plan of securing COVID19 vaccine from the United Kingdom and Germany, in exchange of lifting the employment cap for nurses to work in those countries. “It is a shame that the Duterte government exploited the dignity of our Filipino nurses, making them a bargaining tool for the utter incapacity of government regarding the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Gary Martinez, Bayan-Europe Chairperson.

The Duterte government is known to be extortionist. It demanded money from the United States government in exchange for the implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Now, the Duterte government demands vaccines from the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange for the services of the Filipino nurses.

The Duterte government promised the ‘Overseas Filipino Workers’ 5 years ago to end the export of labor by providing jobs and just wages in the Philippines. But Duterte has once again showed his government’s heartless and cruel treatment to our health care workers by treating them as bargaining chips of the Duterte government to access vaccine against COVID19.

From the very start of the pandemic, the Philippine government has never regarded the Filipino medical professionals as important players in the campaign against COVID19. While most world leaders rely on scientific research and expert opinions of medical professionals in their respective countries to address the pandemic, the Philippine government relies on active and retired military officers.

This clique of military officers close to the president, implemented the world’s longest community lock down. They are responsible for the mass arrests of people who demanded the promised aid and support from the government, and the surveillance of political oppositions and dissenters. Instead of promoting mass testing and contact tracing for identification and treatment of those infected; and effective control of the spread of the virus – the Duterte government railroaded the passing of the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act 2020’. The Duterte government ballooned the Philippine debts because of its insatiable borrowings. Meanwhile, the government has allocated significant amount of its national budget to the defense department; and to a task force composed of war-freaks to fight communist insurgency. But it did not instead allocate a bigger budget to the health sector to address the pandemic.

The Duterte government is also known for its harsh treatment to the migrant workers. Last year, when the COVID19 pandemic impacted the hundreds of thousands of land-based Filipino migrant workers and seafarers it resulted in their unemployment in the host countries. But the Philippine government representatives turned them away when they sought the help of the Philippine embassies and consular offices. Here in Europe for instance, there are thousands of Filipino migrants that are unable to receive the promised financial aid from the Philippine government because they are undocumented. The images of Filipino migrant workers stranded in the Middle East scavenging food from trash bins in order to survive are still fresh to our memories. And even when migrant workers are able to return home, the Philippine government is guilty of criminal neglect and abandonment – as hundreds of returning overseas Filipino workers were stranded for months due to lock down. They were forced to stay in the open in the side streets of Manila Airport.

The commodification of our Filipino nurses by this despotic government is in itself an expression of lack of concern on Filipino migrant workers. The dedication of our nurses working to address the COVID-19 virus exemplifies the image of the working Filipinos; sadly, our own government desired to use our Filipino nurses as a means of exchange just to beg for the supply of vaccines… Is this the only solution to address the pandemic crisis?”

said Elnora Held, Gabriela-Germany President.

Bayan-Europe believes that the health of the people is a responsibility of the state and therefore vaccines must be provided for free to the Filipino people by the Duterte government. While Filipino nurses are regarded as key workers who have important role in the care of people affected by COVID19 in the United Kingdom and Germany, the Duterte government should not hold them hostage in exchange of the vaccines. Filipino nurses should not be treated as commodities. Filipino nurses are not slaves and the government has no right to coerced and forced them to work whenever and wherever Duterte wishes.

Philippine Nurses are not commodities!

Stop holding the Filipino Nurses as hostage in exchange of Vaccine!

Gary Martinez

Bayan–Europe Chairperson

Elnora Held

Gabriela Germany President


No Border Assembly

Meeting space to organise resistance against borders


Who are we?

Since 2020, the No Border Assembly is a Berlin-based weekly meeting-space to organize resistance against borders and deportations. We stand for the following:

  • We believe in total freedom of movement & the right to stay for all: no borders, no deportations!

  • We are convinced of the power of non-state, leaderless movements, collective organizing and practical mutual solidarity.

  • The fight against borders and deportations is linked to fights against any form of oppression (sexism, ableism etc.), the fight against racism, neo-colonialism and capitalism.

What do we do?

Currently, No Border Assembly has some ongoing projects, but it is a space open to any initiative for resistance against borders and deportations, including regular demo’s and actions. Current projects include:

  • we manage the Deportation Alarm, where we publish warnings about upcoming charter-deportations, so there are more possibilities to hide and resist. Also, we keep track of which charter-deportations happened, from which airport and with which airline company.

  • we organise the campaign #Abschiebefrei, which targets Lufthansa as Germany’s biggest deportation profiteer. Most deportations from Germany happen on Lufthansa’s planes and so far we held 2 online social media storms to confront Lufthansa and shame them into stopping collaborating with deportations.

  • we visit Lagers and accommodations where people are resisting their deportations: we have collected different tactics people are using and share them in an info-flyer: Resistance against Deportations

  • we promote Soli-Asyl: the practice of opening up rooms so people can hide from deportation.

  • we organise Anti-Deportation Café: a regular Küfa that aims to be a meeting space and a possibility to gather donations in people’s struggle against deportation.

How to take part

This is an open assembly. Anyone who would like to organise against borders and deportations and can live with what we stand for, is welcome to join our assembly.

News from Berlin and Germany: 26 February 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany

Compiled by Tom Wills



Launch of official petition to expropriate big landlords

The race to collect 174,000 signatures and trigger a referendum on the expropriation of Berlin’s biggest landlords has begun. The DW Enteignen campaign is seeking to use Berlin’s ‘Volksbegehren’ direct democracy process to force the city government to take all the housing owned by the biggest landlords (those with over 3,000 properties each) into public ownership. In the latest phase, there is now a four-month window in which to gather support from at least 7% of eligible voters. If that threshold is reached, the question of whether to expropriate the landlords will appear on ballot papers with the elections this autumn. Meanwhile, one year since the introduction of the Mietendeckel rent cap in Berlin, tenants’ representatives have welcomed the news that new apartment prices have stopped climbing, although warn that action must be taken to close loopholes in the law. Source: nd, Junge Welt

Call to ensure right to education for ‘illegalised’ migrant children

The campaign Legalisierung Jetzt (‘legalisation now’) has called for action to make sure children living without papers are no longer shut out of the school system. The group estimates that up to 100,000 people in Berlin do not have official documents, including many children. By law, schools are supposed to accept them and there is an exemption from the usual requirement for public bodies to report on people without papers to the immigration authorities. But schools and district authorities are apparently often unaware of the rules, meaning ‘illegalised’ children are deprived of their education. Source: nd

Suspect of attack on leftist is free to hand out Nazi flyers

A main suspect in the arson attack on Die Linke’s Ferat Kocak has been seen openly distributing neonazi propaganda in Neukölln. Sebastian T was among a group of around 6 people witnessed posting flyers for the party “Der III. Weg” through letterboxes. The man is one of the main suspects for a series of attacks on antifascists and others in Neukölln. He was arrested shortly before Christmas after a long investigation, but soon released. Source:


Berlin launches inquiry into Islamophobia

Berlin has become the first of Germany’s federal states to launch an inquiry into anti-Muslim racism. Dirk Behrendt (Green Party), the city’s senator for justice and antidiscrimination, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “It is unacceptable when in Berlin women’s headscarves are ripped off or even small children are attacked.” The inquiry will be carried out by a panel of experts over the course of a year and make “concrete recommendations” for actions to be taken by the city to tackle the issue. Around half of Germans see Islam as a threat, according to a representative survey by the Bertelsmann foundation. Source: Tagesspiegel


CSU politician resigns over facemask bribery claims

The deputy head of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party grouping in parliament has left his post amid allegations of bribery. Georg Nüßlein’s immunity as a lawmaker was lifted on Thursday morning and his offices searched for evidence. The tabloid newspaper Bild reported that the CSU politician had arranged a deal with a Coronavirus mask manufacturer – including government orders – in return for a commission of more than €650,000 paid to his consultancy firm. Source: nd

Party divided on key issues as Die Linke conference gets underway

At its national conference this weekend, Die Linke is expected to become the first German party to be led by two women. Janine Wissler und Susanne Hennig-Wellsow are the only two well-known candidates in the leadership election. Wissler hails from the left and has built her profile through close contact with extra-parliamentary movements. On one of the key questions dividing the party, she believes joining a coalition government would offer little hope of effecting a politics of disarmament and social-ecological renewal. Hennig-Wellslow, on the other hand, represents the more conservative “realo” wing that advocates working within the system. The conference will also debate policy, including a proposal from the leadership that calls for an end to all overseas operations by the German armed forces.

Source: nd 1 2

Doctor takes fight for abortion rights to highest court

Kristina Hänel, the doctor who was prosecuted for providing information about abortions on her website, is taking her legal fight to the highest court in Germany. Although abortion is allowed under certain circumstances, a law known as “Paragraph 219a” banned doctors from advertising publicly that they carry out the procedure. After Hänel was convicted in 2017 for defying the ban, she appealed and as a result the law was changed so that doctors may now state that they offer abortions – but not give information about methods. Hänel will now argue that the restrictions are unconstitutional and should be lifted entirely. Source: nd

Catholics rush to leave after Cologne archbishop withholds abuse dossier

Leaving the Catholic church in Germany is a legal matter, and in Corona times that means logging on to a government website to book an appointment in court. In a sign of the unprecedented crisis in the church in Cologne, the server crashed last weekend under the weight of demand. Discontent reached boiling point after archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki decided to withhold the results of an independent inquiry he ordered into the church’s handling of abuse. Source: Junge Welt

Far-Right, Racist Attacks on the Rise in Germany

It’s been just over a year since the Hanau attack, and AfD’s fear-mongering rhetoric is radicalising more Germans to follow suit

Over just the past 2 years, Germany has seen a dramatic ,increase in far-right terror attacks. The list of attacks is too long to include in one article. Since 2019, CDU politician Walter Lübcke was ,assassinated by a neo-Nazi, a bar in Lichtenberg owned by a Jewish German was set ablaze, and Ferat Kocak, a left-wing politician with migrant roots in Berlin, had his house ,firebombed by far-right extremists. These are just some of the incidents, and just over a year ago, the worst attack of them all occurred at 2 shisha bars in Hanau.

Furthermore, nonviolent racism is exceedingly common. Just last month, a ,Union Berlin footballer hurled a racist insult at an opposing player of Afghani roots. These violent and nonviolent attacks are so normalized now that minor incidents are quickly forgotten. How did Germany get to this point and who is at fault?

The Rise of Far-Right, Racist Sentiments

The Aiders and Abettors

The rise in these racist attacks correlates directly with the rise of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The far-right populists are the third largest political party in Germany, not just because of racism and xenophobia, but because there are undeniably major problems facing this nation.

The ,gap between Germany’s rich and poor is the highest it’s been in over 100 years, rents are skyrocketing while wages remain the same, many migrants lack economic opportunity, the former GDR remains poorer than the west, and Merkel’s CDU seems to love every minute of it. These genuine issues— caused by a conservative government under the spell of big business, the outsourcing of working-class jobs, and many German nationals simply refusing to allow migrants to truly integrate— have been warped by AfD to paint a drastically different picture.

A picture where, they claim, Merkel and the political establishment are too afraid to say “the truth” about migration and Islam. A government-controlled, secret cabal of powerful figures such as Bill Gates who are destroying Germany and its culture. AfD has flipped the script and placed the blame for the hardships of the working class not on big business, but on other workers who were simply born across a border. AfD’s message has resonated in many of the high-unemployment, low-income areas of the former GDR.

Of course, Germans are being radicalised if they genuinely believe that “globalists” are seeking to destroy their country and way of life through mass-migration. It was only a matter of time before people decided to take violent action to “save Germany.” As long as AfD continues spreading such misinformation, these types of attacks will continue.

The Inaction of Government Institutions

While the Verfassungsschutz is currently ,investigating multiple state-level AfD chapters, the word disappointment can’t even begin to describe the lacklustre response by many public institutions charged with combating racist extremists and their propaganda.

The perpetrator of the Hanau attack, an ethnic German, was ,radicalised by AfD rhetoric and fringe online disinformation. The 49-year old repeatedly ,reached out to local authorities in the months leading up to the attack. Strangely, no action was taken by these authorities to even look into the man’s delusional conspiracy theories. There is a good chance that this attack could have been prevented.

Within the police force, the inaction is especially stark. For a long time, racism within police departments has been a point of contention, but it is difficult to properly measure it. CDU MP Sylvie Nantcha, an Afro-German born in Cameroon, stated that no German police department ,systematically gathers information on “racial profiling cases.” Essentially, there is no way to currently identify how large of a problem racism is within the German police system, making it impossible to actually address it.

These two examples alone of inaction to combat racism and extremists views should be mor than enough reason for concern, but with the growing number of racist attacks, alarm bells should be ringing.

Radical Racists Within the Police

Radical right-wing views within the police have been a big subject recently in Germany as more police officers have begun ,supporting AfD. CDU politician Friedrich Merz recently ,warned that his party is losing the police and the Bundeswehr to the far-right populists.

In recent months, multiple private chat groups between police have been leaked to the public. ,In one such group, 30 officers in the Ruhrgebiet shared a photo of a refugee in a gas chamber, along with Nazi imagery. One has to wonder how many other such chat groups exist, and what racist things are said privately between officers. How deep does this issue go?

To make matters worse, a police chief in Berlin used ,official computers to find out the details of left-wing politicians, politicians who subsequently received threatening letters from extremists. It’s not merely your average cop who’s sharing violent extremist photos, but police chiefs are aiding and abetting these radicals as well.

This seems to be a bigger problem than just a few “bad apples.” Private discussions are hard to monitor, but if ,80% of instances of police violence end with no criminal proceedings brought forth, how is this public institution supposed to be held accountable and root out these bad officers? And what if it’s not just bad officers, but a bad culture?

The False Virtue of Colour Blindness

In addition to the police collecting no data on racial profiling, the German government ,collects no data on race and ethnicity. This makes it almost impossible to have hard data on the 20% rise in racist attacks from 2017 to 2018 to analyse which groups were attacked and which carried out the attacks. There is simply no hard data on this subject, making it impossible to constructively address.

The fact that the German government doesn’t do this is the continuation of a trend that many Europeans and Americans seem to hold dear, colour blindness: The idea that an individual shouldn’t see race, that all humans are the same, and that neither individuals nor governments should label or separate people by their race.

On the surface, it sounds great, but the idea of colour blindness is a fallacy. By pretending that neither individuals, businesses, nor governments see a difference between a white German and a Black German, one is actively delegitimising and ignoring the issues faced specifically by one group. No one who isn’t Black can tell a Black person what their lived experience is, just as only a Muslim really knows what it’s like to be a Muslim.

Colour blindness ignores the fact that many of these public institutions may not be taking racism seriously because the vast majority of those in charge are white Germans. To ensure that these institutions properly reflect the populations they serve, one has to see race. Berlin is a highly diverse city; therefore, its public institutions should be diverse. Seeing colour is vital in achieving this.

Soul Searching is Now Required

Racist incidents against immigrants and Germans of migrant background are on the rise. Right-wing extremists have taken foot in the Bundestag, the police, and other public institutions.

Germany as a nation needs to understand that the public institutions must reflect the diversity of the communities that these institutions are supposed to serve. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something as important as the police or a simple athletic commission such as the DfB, changes must be made. A 35% ,migrant quota in Berlin’s state jobs is currently being debated. This would be an important first step.

However, the aforementioned economic issues must be simultaneously addressed. Whether it’s increasing economic opportunity for migrants and workers in the former east, or building more public housing, something has to be done.

The unfortunate truth is that there will be more racist incidents and attacks in Germany, but the main question is how the nation will address the issues that have led to this rise in far-right, racist sentiments. Will the public institutions progress forward, or will these organisations continue down the same path that has allowed racist and extremist views to flourish?

For a popular, plurinational and anti-neoliberal Minga

How to understand the puzzle of the elections in Ecuador


The Minka

After a convulsive week, on Friday we joined a virtual minka to share our reactions to the Ecuadorian elections of Sunday 7 February. A minka, or minga, is a solidarity group, a sort of informal collective. Each of us shared analyses, doubts, fears and hopes. For us, sharing does not mean we each have the same point of view. The beauty of collective spaces like Ecuadorminka is that different views and histories come together.

By sharing our thoughts and feelings, we analyse the political puzzle. We have a common horizon – a country which fights against neoliberalism until dignity becomes a habit and a halt to the oligarchy attacking the lives of the people. Our historical demands for social justice accumulate like a big snowball, and inspire us both to honour where we come from and to paint a picture of where we want to go.

On Friday night, we were very excited as we joined the minga. Our comrades from other corners of Latin America/Abya Yala (the Panamense pre-Columbian name for Latin America) have been asking us to explain what is happening and what the second round in Ecuador will be like. To start with one thing is very clear to us. The traditional right wing lost. The sacred alliance between the rancid banker, the agro-exporting oligarchies and the interests of the IMF lobbyists lost.

The popular wave fully understood who was threatening their rights, who had imposed dismissals without compensation, who handed over Julian Assange to the yankees, who privatised public assets, who preferred to pay IMF debt instead of investing in healthcare and who organised the distribution of hospitals to profiteers.

The greatest shame is that this anti-popular onslaught took place in the middle of the pandemic! We loudly REJECT the precarization of life in the streets and at the ballot box.

The Right-Wing IMF Lobbyists Were Defeated

In 2017, Lenín Moreno assumed the presidency, ignoring the progressive project for which he was elected. Instead, he turned to illegitimately (mis)govern hand in hand with Jaime Nebot, leader of Christian Socialism, and Guillermo Lasso. Lasso had already been Minister of the Economy in Jamil Mahuad’s 1999 government. The unprecedented economic, political and social crisis drove hundreds of thousands of citizens out of the country.

Today, despite the media bombardment supporting his candidacy, the alliance of nefarious actors led by the bankers’ candidate was defeated by the historical memory of the people. They received 19.74% of the vote, subject to the current recount. The people also rejected the shameful parade of pyrrhic representatives of the decaying political class – 13 candidates, none of whom attained 2%.

The massive popular and indigenous mobilisation of October 2019 against the imposition of the IMF’s austerity agenda lives on. It reminds us the urgency of fighting the armed political-economic elites who had no qualms about massacring the poor. The repressive forces assassinated eight demonstrators, seriously wounded more than 1,500 people and irregularly detained 1,228 demonstrators.

The Minister of Government María Paula Romo and the Minister of Defence Oswaldo Jarrín, branded members of CONAIE [Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador], Correístas [followers of Rafael Correa], students, feminists, and alternative media journalists as vandals and terrorists.

With the hegemonic media machine on their side, they tried to impose hatred of a supposed internal enemy that they said was commanded by “Correism” and “Castro-Chavism”. Meanwhile, in reality, a common struggle for social rights and a fair life was being waged in the streets.

The results of the vote on Sunday 7th of February show that the co-government of the right wing did not succeed in pushing its “anti-Communist” agenda, the infamous consequences of which we know well from the bloody history of our continent.

The Left and the Struggle for a Life with Dignity

The progressive candidate of the Union for Hope, Andrés Arauz, came first with 32.70% of the vote. Meanwhile, Yaku Pérez Guartambel, candidate for Pachakutik, achieved a historic vote for the electoral branch of the indigenous movement with 19.38% (subject to recount).

For the 137-seat National Assembly, 49 candidates from the Union for Hope, 27 from Pachakutik and 18 from the Democratic Left were elected. The right-wing won 18 assembly seats for the Social Christian Party and 12 for the CREO.

From the social organisations we will demand that this majority support for the forces from the centre to the left be translated into anti-neoliberal alliances that work for a dignified life and not into inhumane pacts in favour of capital.

Trying to decipher the consequences of the elections, the minga now discussed the nature of the state. Understanding what is at stake demands utmost intellectual honesty. On the one hand, Arauz will have to deepen his progressive agenda of expanding social rights, firmly distancing himself from the macho conservatism and extractivist onslaught of Rafael Correa, proposing respectful dialogues with the movements that fight for the defence of the land.

On the other hand, Yaku Pérez should retract proposals such as the elimination of the tax on currency outflows, which would jeopardise monetary stability and the flow of money within the country, facilitating capital flight. Only in this way will it truly comply with the anti-neoliberal mandate of the base, to respect the historic collective project of the indigenous movement.

In both cases, it will be vital that the left pushes for the radicalisation of the projects and does not allow itself to be intimidated. From Ecuadorminka, we echo the words of Leonidas Iza, president of the Indigenous and Peasant Movement of Cotopaxi and leader of the October 2019 strike: “We will fight the right, wherever it comes from!”

Only respect for the anti-neoliberal will, of which October 2019 was the most recent and combative episode, can ensure legitimacy for political organisations. These will undoubtedly need popular support to face the potential political and economic blockade by the oligarchic elites and the countries of the so-called “first world”.

Let us not forget that dollarisation makes Ecuador dependent on the United States, without the capacity to sovereignly define its monetary policy. This is why the radicalisation of a project for change demands that we remain mobilised and weave strong ties of international solidarity. Is society ready for deeper structural changes? Is there an accumulation of revolutionary forces? And how can we organise ourselves to move in that direction?

Weaving Collective Dreams of Colour and Dignity

We are aware that the electoral processes are only a thread in the colourful tapestry of struggles for social transformation. However, we also know that the elections mark the field where we will express and deepen our struggles and organisational processes from below. The road is steep and full of challenges. That is why we are committed to bringing together the mobilising social forces of popular organisations: indigenous, Afro-descendant, student, feminist, environmentalist, anti-racist, counter-hegemonic, etc.

It is time to exercise tolerant and (self-)critical dialogue to overcome useless dichotomies that only divide us. Only in this way will we be able to promote the unity and renewal of the left, with strengthened social bases that legitimise the construction of an anti-neoliberal political project, without sectarianism or egos.

As Ecuadorminka, we invite you to dream and join us in a great popular, plurinational and anti-neoliberal minka to experience new political practices and draw new horizons of Sumak Kawsay, both in Ecuador and beyond: a horizon that extends throughout Abya Yala.

“We are like grains of quinoa, if we are alone, the wind blows us away. But if we are united in a basket, the wind does nothing. It will sway, but it will not make us fall. We are like the wild straw that is plucked and grows again…and we will sow the world with wild straw”.

Dolores Cacuango (1881-1971, indigenous leader, leader of the Ecuadorian Communist Party)

EcuadorMinka speaks for Ecuadorian migrants on European territory, builds solidarity with basic organizations in Ecuador and migrants in Europe, and intervenes politically in public spaces. Translation: Giorgio de Cesare