Dear Fair Trade Supporter,
The Bush administration and House GOP leadership are planning a sneak attack to try to shove through one last reckless NAFTA expansion before a new Congress takes office next January.
They want a vote on the Peru-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (PUFTA) right after the November 7th election like on November 13th! That's right, the fired and retired members of Congress would come back in a "lame duck" Congressional session to avoid public scrutiny of the Peru NAFTA expansion, and make it hard for voters to hold their representatives accountable for their votes.
We need to make sure our representatives in Congress know that we know about this sneaky plan and that we demand they announce their position on PUFTA before the elections. Before the election is your moment of maximum leverage on your representatives. They will come our way if they think it could win your support on election day.
The Peru NAFTA expansion is the most flawed NAFTA-style trade deal yet. Like NAFTA and CAFTA, it will continue the outsourcing of good U.S. jobs and further worsen our ballooning trade deficit. Scandalously, the Bush administration refused to include basic workers' rights guarantees when Peru's President requested it. The deal also poses a unique threat to the global environment, putting Peru's environmentally sensitive Amazon basin the lungs of the planet into the hands of huge timber, oil and mining corporations.
Worse, PUFTA is almost certain to increase narcotics production and violence because it is predicted to destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of small farmers in a region targeted by narco-gangs. And, the deal contains provisions that limit Congress' authority to increase our domestic port security by prohibiting foreign corporations' control of port services in the United States. For-profit companies with subsidiaries in Peru, like Dubai Ports World, would have a right to enforce these provisions by dragging the U.S. government before an international tribunal.
"We are certain that the trade agreement will increase the cultivation of coca, which brings along with it a series of negative consequences including drug trafficking, terrorism and violence."
Pedro Barreto, Catholic Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru
Ironically, PUFTA was so unpopular in Peru that the Peruvian legislature had to pass it in their own lame-duck session of congress in July after the ruling party that negotiated the deal was swept from power, but before the new Congress could take office. Now the Republican leaders are trying to do the same here in the United States.
Please contact Congress now and demand they take a public position on the PUFTA NAFTA expansion before the elections: http://www.citizen.org/trade/emailcongressperu
When you call and e-mail your representative and senators, be sure to ask for a written statement of their position to be sent you by email or regular mail ASAP and definitely before the election. You can also use some of the talking points below; if you have a local or personal story that shows the damage caused by a bad trade agreement, use it to illustrate your concerns.
After you've heard from your representative and senators or their staff, tell us what they said! This is critical to our ability to hold Congress accountable. Send an email to email@example.com with the name of your representative and senators and what they said about PUFTA.
Please forward this note to your friends and neighbors. We have to act NOW if we want to stop the Bush administration and Republican leadership from expanding NAFTA to South America. If we get enough public commitments from representatives and senators against PUFTA, the Republican leadership will back down on their lame-duck sneak attack.
Thank you for everything that you do,
Global Trade Watch
p.s. Want to do more?
"Bird-Dog" your member of congress about NAFTA expansion: http://www.citizen.org/birddog
Peru-U.S. FTA (PUFTA) Talking Points
More NAFTA will be bad for our economy. With the highest U.S. trade deficit ever, and the only major U.S. export being our well-paying jobs, we can't afford any more NAFTA-like trade deals. If Congress approves PUFTA or a broader Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), more U.S. factories will move overseas, the wages of jobs staying here will continue to be pushed down and more family farmers will go bankrupt. We need to change this broken trade model!
Why are there no enforceable labor standards? Peru's then-president Alejandro Toledo requested that real, enforceable workers' rights protections be included in PUFTA, but the Bush administration rejected that idea, even though Bush's own State Department found rampant use of child labor in Peru. So much for the Bush administration's arguments that the reason workers' rights can't be in trade deals is because "our partners don't want them." According to a study by Young Lives, a project of the U.K. government and Save the Children, the Peru deal could lead to severe losses for rural families, reducing the numbers of children in school and increasing the number working. Wages and working conditions in all countries will be hurt if trade pacts encourage corporations to race to the bottom.
Peru FTA is a threat to regional and international security: PUFTA's agricultural rules will devastate small Peruvian farmers' crops of corn, rice and beans, just as NAFTA's rules undermined Mexican corn growers. Peru's campesinos would be forced to migrate to overcrowded cities and to the United States, or else to grow more opium poppies and more coca for cocaine production or to join illegal armed groups. It isn't worth creating more instability in a fragile, war-torn region just so big corporations can make extra profits.
Ports privatization in Peru and PUFTA foreign investor privileges undermine both job security and national security. The longshoremens' union in Peru, FENTENAPU, has been fighting port privatization for years. The for-profit, private company that instead has been approved by the Peruvian government to run one of the country's main ports is Dubai Ports World. PUFTA's investor rules specifically cover "landside port activities" and government construction contracts, so DPW or other private companies that set up in Peru could use the FTA to challenge U.S. policies meant to increase our domestic port security or protect good U.S. jobs in ports and other sectors.
Peru FTA endangers the lungs of the planet. The upper Amazon basin in Peru is among the most bio-diverse areas on earth- and also one of the most at risk. Trade in illegally logged timber, in violation of international environmental standards, is a huge problem in Peru, and pollution from oil production and mining is endemic. The investment rules in PUFTA could allow foreign investors to insist that they are allowed to pillage the area for timber, mineral and energy resources, and would chill direly needed efforts to protect the Amazon basin. Furthermore, despite specific requests, the Bush administration rejected mandatory protections for biodiversity and indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge. Trade pacts like PUFTA gut environmental protections.
It is immoral to put Big Pharma's profits over lives. Talk about protectionism! The monopoly patent rules in the Peru FTA will jack up prices for essential medicines causing people cut off to die unnecessarily from HIV/AIDS and other treatable diseases. The Big Phama rip-off o exorbitant drug prices that we suffer should not be exported to other countries instead we need a fix!
Peru FTA is a stepping stone to FTAA a danger to U.S. farmers: After CAFTA, PUFTA is the next agreement that the Bush administration is using to pressure Brazil and Argentina to join a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Brazilian and Argentine agribusinesses enjoy subsidies that have helped make them powerhouse exporters of beef, citrus, sugar, soy, and cereals. Export surges from these countries could seriously undercut U.S. family farmers if an FTAA is put in place. We need to fix the trade system that has lead to rock-bottom commodity prices and American family farm bankruptcies, not expand it.
Download a copy of our Peru NAFTA Expansion fact sheet to distribute in your community (PDF): http://www.citizen.org/documents/Peru2pgFactSheet_FINAL.pdf