Posts Tagged ‘Peru Free Trade Agreement’


The response from this blog to Obama protesting the massacre in Peru earlier this month was stunning. THANK YOU. Here is an update from our friends at the Quixote Center:


Thank you again for your strong response to our urgent action alert in response to the June 5th massacre of indigenous protestors in the Peruvian Amazon.   Over 1200 of you sent letters and faxes asking the Obama Administration to denounce the violent repression of peaceful protests organized in response to the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement.

The groundswell of international solidarity in support of the struggle of Peru’s Amazonian indigenous was immediate. Protests organized in Peru and locations around the world helped to prevent further violence.  The UN Special Rapporteur’s Office for Indigenous Rights and the International Federation of Human Rights both sent representatives to Peru and recommended the creation of an independent investigation Commission.

In the aftermath of the massacre, expanding protests forced the government of Peru to negotiate with Indigenous leaders.  Two of the most egregious decrees issued under the U.S-Peru Implementation process were revoked and the Prime Minister of Peru agreed to resign.  Once this agreement was reached, AIDESEP (Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon) lifted the barricades in the Amazon.

However, criminal charges are still pending against several Indigenous leaders and negotiations continue regarding the repeal of 9 more decrees and the violation of indigenous rights under the U.S.-Peru FTA.

In a strongly worded “Dear Colleague” letter, Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) urged members of the House of Representatives to pay close attention to this matter and consider the consequence for indigenous peoples if and when another “Free Trade” agreement is considered by this House.”

Ben Powless, a Mohawk from Six Nations Ontario, Canada, was with AIDESEP leaders in Bagua just after the massacre. To read his powerful story click here:   

The Obama Administration remains silent on the massacre in Peru. 

Next Monday President Obama will receive Colombia’s President Uribe at the White House to discuss passage of the “free trade” agreement with Colombia.  Protests are being organized in D.C. in response to the FTA and this endorsement of a regime responsible for massive human rights violations and acts of corruption.

We will continue to monitor the situation in Peru and will do all we can to make sure that your voices for change are heard here in Washington.   

For the Quixote Center, Jenny

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Miguel PazThe following letter (translated from its original Spanish) was sent to us earlier this week from Miguel Paz, Export Manager for CECOVASA, long-time friend and business partner of Equal Exchange. Click here to read more about a past visit to CECOVASA.


Dear Friends,

I’m sending you a few comments from Peru.

Politically, the situation is very interesting. Up until a week ago, the government was taking an offensive position, trying to privatize and sell everything and award the best conditions possible to large national capital interests (planting large areas for agro export and agro industry) because the small farmers and the indigenous that live in these areas “don’t know how to develop them”. As President Alan Garcia said, these “second-class citizens” are like the “farmer’s dog who doesn’t eat or let anyone else eat.”


Using their control over the media and money that they must have received from transnational companies, they have been running a disinformation campaign, telling people that this is good for Peru, that mining investment will result in development, that this is a requirement in order to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. And they have been making progress, to the point that the Awajun-Wampis indigenous population rose up in northeast Bagua.

The government’s initial strategy was to ignore the demands, try to wait them out, then let the tenant farmers in the jungle (including coffee growers) turn against the indigenous population because they wouldn’t allow them to enter with food supplies or leave with production. After two months, the police unblocked the highways. It has been confirmed that 24 police officers and 10 indigenous have been killed and almost 150 people have been disappeared. There have been so many police officers killed because they were sent to be killed and the indigenous have military training and a long tradition of struggle. The tenant farmers helped them when the forced evacuation occurred. The government took a risk and criminalized the protest and then united the country against the “savages that kill the poor police officers.” Subsequently, in other areas where protests occurred, more radical methods were used and the protests moved to other parts of the country, including Lima (for the first time in many years, students went to the streets to march against the government). Eventually the government had to retract some of the controversial laws, but others have been left intact and this means that there is room for the problems to continue.


The situation has now calmed down, but it could become very complicated if there is not an adequate response. The farmer is very scared of the dogs.


In Peru, incredible things happen. A week ago, the government joined with the right and with Fujimori supporters to approve the “Law of the jungle”. Now it is trying to get these same people to repeal the law. The minister that said that these laws were necessary in order to be a part of the free trade agreement, now says that there is no risk in losing the agreement.

In the month of March, the Ministry of Education took a poll in which .1% approved and now they say that in another poll, 75% was approved. Additionally the daughter of ex-President Fujimori is leading the electoral polls.

Another important topic is that the government, by way of SUNAT (the national revenue service), intervened with the Panamericana television station because it wanted to collect on a debt of more than 100 million Peruvian sols. After 48 hours it had been determined that the situation would be handled by another agency due to insolvency. Then the judicial system made a resolution turning the station over to a former administrator who had received US$10 million from the Fujimori government.


The coffee situation is, in part, complicated by prices that continue to drop and by the fact that some clients are waiting to buy, hoping that they will drop even further. There are few remaining buyers from Colombia in Northeastern Peru (Jaen, Bagua, Amazonas). The differentials for conventional coffee (22 defects) from Peru are between +2 and +15. A separate issue is a drop in production. Cecovasa could see a reduction of as much as 50%. Very little coffee is being brought to the collection centers.


A final note: On June 5th, Cecovasa won a national BioTrade competition in the category for businesses. This happened on the same day that police officers and indigenous people were killed in Bagua. We went to the Palace to receive the award and we circulated a press release a week later.


We will continue to be in touch.


Miguel Paz

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Our friends at the Quixote Center have sent the following letter which I would like to share with all of you.  Please take a few moments to add your voice to those who are protesting the brutal massacre of those Peruvians who were protesting the passage of new laws that allow multi-national control over indigenous resources in Peru.  These laws are part of the Peruvian government’s attempt to implement the recently signed U.S. – Peru Free Trade Agreement.


Dear phyllis,

Thank you for your strong response!  Over 700 of you have sent letters telling our government that we reject the killing and environmental destruction in the Peruvian Amazon unleashed by U.S. Free Trade policies. Protests are being held at the Peruvian Embassy here in Washington D.C., L.A. and around the world. 


However, the situation remains extremely tense.


Alberto Pizango, AIDESEP (Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon) called last weekend’s massacre, “the worst slaughter of our people in 20 years.” Pizango has been charged with sedition and has taken refuge in the Nicaraguan Embassy in Lima. (more…)

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