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Violent Repression Stems From U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement
Repression
Independent Journalist,
courtesy of Amazon Watch
Peaceful protesters in Peru's Amazon were attacked by Peruvian government forces on Friday, June 5th, leaving at least 38 protesters dead and 150 wounded. Further reports indicate that the number of casualties may be much higher, as soldiers were seen burning bodies and dumping them into a river to hide the true number of casualties. This tragedy follows several months of protests by Peru's indigenous groups over a series of unconstitutional laws put in place by President Alan Garcia to hurriedly comply with demands of the Peru-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Known as the Free Trade Laws, the legal reforms have the potential to increase illegal logging in the rainforest, usurp land and natural resources from indigenous communities, and authorize water privatization in the Amazon region.

The protests began in August 2008, and calmed down in December 2008 when the government promised to repeal or at least review the decrees, after a multi-party committee found the laws to be unconstitutional and in violation of international law. More specifically, the reforms violate the International Labour Organization Convention 169, concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which requires that the Executive branch consult with the native communities before enacting the laws . Despite these findings, the government failed to take any action on the unconstitutional new laws, prompting a new wave of protests that began April 9th, 2009, and began being violently repressed this past weekend. For more information, click here.

Photo courtesy of Denise Zmekhol
Deprived of any other means to have their concerns addressed, protesters have used their bodies to blockade highways and waterways to prevent the entry of transnational oil and mining company vehicles. Instead of opening dialogue, the Garcia Administration has taken the shocking move of violently repressing and killing his own people to facilitate international trade and commerce. These atrocities underscore the need for a new trade model, one that places the protection of human rights, workers’ rights and the environment ahead of corporate profits.


Take Action against this violence by letting President Obama and your elected representatives know that Americans do not support international trade achieved through violent repression and injustice.


2009 World Fair Trade Day
With more than 64,594 participants, North America's World Fair Trade Day 2009 activities far surpassed last May’s numbers of 12,500 and broke the Fair Trade Coffee Break World Record of 52,061 participants set by Finland in October 2008. And we are still counting! If you participated in a World Fair Trade Day event, please tell us about it! Contact us at responsible.trade@sierraclub.org or 202-548-6593.

For highlights of this year's events, visit the Fair Trade Resource Network. And please pass on your ideas to reach even more participants and make next year's World Fair Trade Day an even bigger success! Thanks!



Border Tour 2009
Photo courtesy of Romel Jacinto 
The two-day Responsible Trade Program Border Tour: Examining the Impact of NAFTA on Communities and the Environment took place at the end of April. The tour brought participants face to face with the people who live and work in the maquiladoras and allowed them to see first-hand how NAFTA has affected communities along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The 12 border tour participants came from a variety of backgrounds: from students, to reporters, to environmental activists, to college professors, to representatives from Women of Steel. Their experiences ranged from work as a union health and safety inspector in Manitoba, Canada, to a former city council member in Texas.

During the tour in Tijuana, Mexico, participants were given access to a maquiladora manufacturing factory, toured a former toxic lead smelting plant site, and met with women workers and activists from the affected industrial communities. Tour participants also shared a meal with occupants of a migrants shelter along the border, and heard moving stories that ran the gamut from that of a young man who’d been deported after spending 20 of his 21 years in the U.S. to a farmer who planned to return to his hometown in southern Mexico as border crossings have become increasingly difficult for those seeking seasonal employment in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Romel Jacinto 


Inspired by the perseverance of local activists despite unfair and difficult circumstances, tour participants have since published articles on the trip, been interviewed by local radio stations, put on a photo showcase, film screenings, PowerPoint presentations and more. Through these various media, participants have shared photos and stories from their experience, and have fostered increased discussion and awareness of the maquiladoras and border region. 

To learn more, please contact Karin Lee at karin.lee@sierraclub.org.

 

Green Trader will keep you up-to-date on international trade and on new and emerging issues that impact our environment and workers.

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