Action Alert — June 21, 2007

Sign the Petition: Keep Social Security Out of "Free Trade" Deals

Take Action: A provision buried in the Peru NAFTA expansion deal would allow Citibank to sue for millions if Peru reverses its failed social security privatization. This is immoral, outrageous — and a dangerous precedent. We need to keep social security out of "free trade" deals. Sign the petition here.

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

If there is one government program that you wouldn't want subject to the corporate buzz saw of a NAFTA-style "free trade" agreement, what would it be?

It's a good bet that many of us would say "our social security system."

That's why it's so alarming that the Bush administration and Democrats in charge of trade policy have refused to fix the proposed U.S.-Peru "free trade agreement" (FTA) so it couldn't be used to thwart attempts to reverse Peru's failed social security privatization — despite several written requests from Peruvian labor, health, and retiree groups and a leading Peruvian Catholic Bishop urging them to do so.

Until June 30, when the text of the agreement is signed, this problem can be fixed. Yesterday, Public Citizen and social security advocates USAction and Americans for Democratic Action released a report detailing what needs to happen. Now we need to make sure that Congress reads the report and takes action immediately! Can you help?

Please sign our petition on social security and trade — and forward it to your friends! http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11998

Petition Statement

Dear Congress:

As if any agreement expanding NAFTA is not offensive enough, it's absolutely outrageous that the proposed U.S.-Peru "free trade agreement" contains provisions that could make it difficult for Peru to fix its failed social security privatization. Americans overwhelmingly rejected the Bush administration's proposal to privatize our social security system here in the United States. It would be hypocritical — and a very bad precedent — to lock in Peru's failed social security privatization by allowing such provisions to remain in the proposed Peru FTA. No trade agreement should ever have rules that affect government policy on social security.

Sign the petition here: http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11998

How does this work? If the widely unpopular Peruvian social security privatization were reversed, the investment chapter in the Peru FTA could empower foreign investors that provide private retirement accounts in Peru to demand compensation from the Peruvian government in UN and World Bank tribunals.

The apparent beneficiary of these provisions would be the U.S. corporation Citibank, which is the largest shareholder in ProFuturo AFP, one of the private retirement account providers authorized to compete against the public social security system.

In the press release launching the new report, Julio Cesar Bazán, the president of the Unitary Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CUT), one of the country's two labor federations, explained the situation:

"For 25 years, Peru's leaders faithfully implemented neo-liberal policies supported by Washington. While essential services have been privatized, and institutions that are so important to people's health and retirement security — like social security — have become harder for people to access, income per person in Peru has scarcely grown in a generation. The Peru-U.S. FTA not only will freeze us in this socioeconomic hole, it but it also gives corporations like Citibank the tools to make sure we're forced to stay there."

Despite requests by Bazán and many others, the provisions that affect social security were not addressed in the May 10th deal that was struck between some House Democratic leaders and the Bush administration to facilitate passage of the Peru FTA.

The new report explains how the problem can be easily fixed. If it would be so easy, then why wasn't this change included in the May 10th "deal"? Good question! It seems like they haven't heard enough from us. You can help us change that!

Sign our petition to Congress to keep social security out of "free trade" agreements: http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11998

Yours in struggle,

Global Trade Watch


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