Walden Bello
Joined Meer in January 2021
Walden Bello

Walden Bello is currently the International Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He served in the Philippine House of Representatives from 2009 to 2015 and ran for vice president in the Philippine elections of 2022. He was just named Amnesty International Philippines' "Human Rights Defender for 2023.

An academic with a global reputation, Bello obtained his doctorate in sociology from Princeton University in the United States in 1975 and his bachelor of arts from Ateneo de Manila University in 1966. He is the author or co-author of 25 books on topics ranging from the political economy of the Philippines to the rise of the Right globally to the brewing conflict between China and the United States. He received the Right Livelihood Award (aka the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 2003 for his work in exposing the negative side of corporate-driven globalization and was named Outstanding Public Scholar by the International Studies Association in 2008. He has been called “the world’s leading no-nonsense revolutionary” by renowned Canadian author Naomi Klein. He was also praised “as the world’s best guide to American exploitation of the globe’s poor and defenseless,” by the late Chalmers Johnson, the world’s leading authority on East Asia’s economic development.

Bello’s books include Counterrevolution: The Global Rise of the Far Right (Nova Scotia: Fernwood, 2019), Paper Dragons: China and the Next Crash (London: Bloomsbury/Zed, 2019), Capitalism’s Last Stand (London: Bloomsbury/Zed, 2013), Food Wars (London: Verso, 2009), and Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire (New York: Henry Holt, 2005). Over the last 50 years, he has authored hundreds of studies and articles that have come out in many publications, including The New York Times, Guardian, Bangkok Post, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Foreign Policy, Dissent, International Sociology, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The Nation. He is a regular commentator for Rappler, the online publication founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa.

A retired professor of the University of the Philippines, Walden Bello is the co-founder of Focus on the Global South, the leading progressive think tank in Southeast Asia based in Bangkok that is affiliated with Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.

A storied activist during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, he organized a series of break-ins into the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC, to steal thousands of pages of classified documents. This led to the best-selling expose Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines which played a key role in rallying popular support against the regime. Noam Chomsky, the world’s leading progressive thinker, described the book as providing “remarkable insights into the policies of the World Bank and…the social costs of their experiments with people’s lives.”

Arrested multiple times by US authorities for civil disobedience, Bello led the seizure of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco in 1978. This resulted in his conviction and imprisonment by the US government when he and his co-accused refused to recognize the authority of the court at their trial, cursed the judge, and defiantly walked out of the courtroom, an act for which they were immediately apprehended by US marshals. Prison officials, however, were forced to release Bello and his companions from the San Bruno County Jail after they went on a highly publicized hunger strike out of fear that their example could provoke the prison population to riot.

During EDSA Revolution, on February 26, 1986, Walden led the takeover of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, expelling Marcos’ diplomats and then turning over the building to representatives of the new government of Corazon Aquino.

Walden made the only recorded resignation from the Philippine Congress on a question of principle in March 2015 after serving in the House of Representatives for six years. Bello’s party Akbayan was then allied to the administration of then-President Benigno Aquino III and he resigned because he could no longer support Aquino. The reasons for his resigning a year before the end of his third term were to protest Aquino’s double standards, where the president tolerated corruption among his allies but used it as a weapon against his enemies; his refusal to accept command responsibility for the Mamasapano tragedy which led to the death of 44 policemen; and his entering into the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States.

Walden was characterized by the government’s Philippine News Agency as “one of the staunchest critics of the [Rodrigo] Duterte administration,” which was in office from 2016 to 2022. He has been charged with “cyber libel” by the camp of Vice President Sarah Duterte, the former president’s daughter, for fearlessly criticizing her record as an elected official during the 2022 electoral campaign.

Articles by Walden Bello

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