June 10, 2009

Indigenous Peruvians Killed While Protesting Bad Trade Deal

Take action today to stop the Peru FTA-related murders of indigenous people in Peru

Thousands of indigenous people in Peru face extreme violence as they protest new laws passed to implement the U.S.-Peru FTA. Urge Speaker Pelosi and House trade committee leaders to intervene and end the Peru FTA-related violence.

Dear Fair Trade Supporter,

As you're reading this, thousands of indigenous people in Peru face extreme violence, and the Wall Street Journal reports that 30 indigenous protestors were killed while demonstrating against new laws passed to implement the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement that give foreign oil, gas, mining and timber firms access to their Amazonian homelands.

In the pre-dawn hours of June 5, Peruvian military police staged a violent attack on a group of indigenous people camped out on a peaceful blockade of a road outside of Bagua, in a remote area of the northern Peruvian Amazon. Several thousand indigenous peoples were forcibly dispersed by tear gas and live ammunition. Violence and protests have continued all week.

Urge Speaker Pelosi and House trade committee leaders Charles Rangel and Sander Levin today to intervene and end the Peru FTA-related violence against these indigenous communities.

Thousands of you took action in October of 2007 when we urged Democratic leaders to oppose the Peru FTA because its extreme foreign investor rules would give new incentives for foreign corporations to exploit huge sections of the Peruvian Amazon.[1] Peru's indigenous leaders were well aware that the FTA's grant of expansive rights for foreign investors would direly threaten their communities. We joined with them to strongly oppose the agreement. Now, as they block roads and sit in to protect their communities and lands, they need our help.

Take action today to stop the Peru FTA-related murders of indigenous people in Peru. After you've taken action, please tell a friend.

Since April, communities throughout the Peruvian Amazon have been protesting the Peru FTA implementation laws that have triggered an unprecedented rush of extractive industries into Peru's Amazon Rainforest. Over 30,000 indigenous people have taken to blockading roads, rivers, and railways to demand the repeal of these new laws that allow oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories. Peruvian President Alan Garcia's government passed these laws under "fast track" authority he had received from the Peruvian congress to enact laws that implement the U.S.-Peru FTA.

A June 8 Wall Street Journal story sums up the situation from the corporate perspective:

"The protesters are demanding that the government backtrack on decrees that the indigenous groups say would weaken their traditional communal land system by breaking up land into parcels of private property. The García government has been moving aggressively to grant concessions for oil and natural gas exploration in the Amazon.

Analysts say giving in to protester demands would make Mr. García seem weak and cast a cloud over a recently signed free-trade agreement with the U.S. Following the pact, the government enacted laws that opened up indigenous lands to development, changes that the indigenous groups oppose."[2]

When we were campaigning against the Peru FTA, even we couldn't have predicted that the FTA and its harmful foreign investor provisions could be used to destroy the Amazon so quickly. But indigenous leaders know that passage of these new laws — and final implementation of the agreement — means destruction of their communities, livelihoods and health.

Please contact Speaker Pelosi and House trade leaders Rangel and Levin today and urge them to lead the way to a peaceful solution to the FTA protests in Peru — saving lives and helping to protect the endangered Amazon rainforest. Then, ask your friends to do the same.

Support Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

Thanks for all that you do,
Bill Holland
Deputy Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division

[1] Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, How NOT to solve global warming: NAFTA for the Amazon!, October 17, 2007.
[2] Robert Kozak and Matt Moffett, "Peru Struggles to Defuse Amazon Violence With 50 Dead," The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2009.

Photo courtesy Amazon Watch. Follow the link for more.

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