HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - APEC leaders week kicks off one month from today.
Many are touting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit as a diplomatic, economic, and marketing boon for Hawaii but not everyone is happy it coming. Activists are concerned APEC's policies are promoting corporate greed over social good.
A huge sign sits front and center on the UH Manoa campus - welcoming the world to APEC. But just down the road, at Revolution Books, another picture sends a very different message.
"Yes, we are definitely planning for rallies, protests, and the question of where, exactly when and where the access will be, in a safe peaceful manner, is in question," says Carolyn Hadfield from World Can't Wait Hawaii, an anti-APEC group.
APEC protestors are working with the help of the ACLU to secure permits to assemble peacefully. Gaye Chun and Nandita Sharma from the activist group Eating in Public plan to voice their opposition come November and point to a growing gap between the world's "haves" and "have nots" - due, in large part, they say, to APEC.
Sharma, who's a UH sociology professor, says, "These policies are killing people. There's no doubt about it. It's killing people either through poverty or its killing people through environmental destruction."
Locally, Chun – who's the UH Department of Arts & Art History chairwoman - takes issue with the state spending millions to beautify roads while cutting social services and removing homeless. Chun says, "These people are the victims of economic decline caused by the wealthy and the bank industry. And these are the very people that they're cleaning them up for so that they don't have to see them. I think that's highly offensive."
They say the summit's short-term economic benefit doesn't outweigh the long-term damage caused worldwide. "I have a concern about Hawaii being set up as a place where meetings can happen that actually affect this entire region in a negative way," says Hadfield.
Sharma believes social media will help - the same way it did in the Middle East and this week for Occupy Wall Street protests - despite Hawaii's isolated locale. "One way to counter that is to have the world watching what's happening here and possibly having solidarity events around the world," says Sharma.
They plan to fight for access to rally and sign wave near where leaders will meet, if the permits don't initially come through for them.