APEC is “armed and dangerous” and “drunk with power,” capable of enacting violence against people and destroying whole economies.

That harsh assessment comes from Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization.

The more than 100 people who crowded into the sanctuary area of Honolulu’s Church of the Crossroads Thursday morning to hear Menotti and others largely shared the sentiment.

The occasion was Day 2 of the Moana Nui 2011 Conference, a shadow conference for those in the shadow of APEC.

They include the indigenous people of the Pacific, including Native Hawaiians, but also the citizens of dozens of Asia-Pacific nations who are not part of the political-corporate elite.

Moana Nui — Hawaiian for “big ocean” — was organized by “a loose collective” of academics, activists and community leaders. The speakers talked about a “liquid nation” that struggles to sustain itself in an “American lake,” to use the title of a book by the conference’s keynote speaker, Walden Bello.

As Jon Osorio, one of those academics (he is director of the Department of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii), said, Moana Nui was done “on the cheap,” for about $25,000. Compare that to the millions of dollars Osorio said was no doubt poured into bringing the APEC summit to Honolulu.

“We envision a better future for all people,” said Osorio. “We never want to lose site that we as a native people have a stake.”

“We come here to find a way to rise up to support the liquid nation,” said Menotti.

That nation involves labor, faith groups, environmentalists, peace activists and indigenous leaders.

Menotti continued: “All our different movements have come together to challenge APEC and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agenda and assert our own agenda.”

‘Go Out In The Streets’

Leading that agenda are achieving Pacific Island economic independence, stopping environmental degradation and resource depletion, and demilitarizing. As Bello, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, noted in his speech, the U.S. military never left the Pacific and Asia after World War II.

Bello opened his talk with a slide-show that featured photos of world leaders dressed in native garb at past APEC summits. The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” provided the soundtrack.

APEC is a “useless organization” that has failed to serve as a nonpartisan, multilateral organization that works on regional problems.

Bello said Asia-Pacific economies are caught up in a rivalry between two dominant powers, China and the United States. Because of that rivalry, the rights of indigenous peoples and migrant workers are being ignored. As well, the growing problem of climate change is wreaking havoc in Asia as seen in droughts, wildfire and floods.

What to do?

“I think people should go out in the streets and protest,” Bello said. “We must make sure the world sees that this (APEC) is an irrelevant meeting from which people are marginalized.”

Familiar Vibe

Day 1 of Moana Nui was held Wednesday at Calvary by the Sea church in East Honolulu. The session focused on draft working guidelines to help frame a Moana Nui declaration.

Day 2 included panel discussions on native rights and governance (Hawaiian sovereignty activist Mililani Trask was among the scheduled speakers) and resistance to Pacific militarization (speakers were to include Kyle Kajihiro of DMZ Hawaii/Aloha Aina).

Day 3 will be held at the Hawaiian Studies theater. Panels include one on Pacific resources, lands and economies that features Molokai activist Walter Ritte.

(Click here for the full Moana Nui schedule.)

At Thursday morning’s event, the vibe at Church of the Crossroads was warm, familiar and all about ohana.

There was a big potluck and coffee. People hugged. Two men pounded taro to make poi. After lunch, keiki took naps in a quiet room.

When Kekuni Blaisdell, a kupuna and longtime Hawaiian activist, entered the sanctuary, he was met with a sustained standing ovation.

“Rise up, liquid nation,” said Menotti earlier in his remarks. “We will support you, we will follow you.”

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