Letter to President of EC, Jose-Manuel Barroso: Suspend FTA Negotiations with Andean Countries

Original Publication Date: 
11 June, 2009
Dear friends, Friends of the Earth Europe is very shocked and distressed by the situation in Peru and we express all our solidarity with the struggling indigenous communities (see below). Together with other NGOs, FoEE is sending a letter to the President of the European Commission José-Manuel Barroso to ask for a suspension of the FTA negotiations with the Andean countries (Colombia, Peru and Ecuador). This FTA, if passed, will restrict even more the rights of indigenous communities over their territories and resources. Bolivia has already withdrawn from the negotiations last year, because the government of Evo Morales did not want to give in to the aggressive 'free markets' strategy of the EU. Now the government of Ecuador is also contemplating a withdraw from the negotiations. Next week, the next round of negotiations will take place. FoEE is working with other groups to expose all the detrimental effects of the proposed free trade pact and stop this harmful deal. We are also writing to the European Heads of State asking them to put pressure on the Peruvian government to stop the killings. We are supporting the call by the Andean Coalition of Indigenous Organisations (Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas) and will participate in a protest on Thursday in front of the Peruvian embassy in Brussels. Friends of the Earth International along with Amazon Watch are calling on the Peruvian government to: -immediately suspend violent repression of indigenous protests and the State of Emergency; -repeal the Free Trade Laws that allow oil, logging, and agricultural corporations easy entry into indigenous territories; -respect indigenous peoples’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to self-determination, to their ancestral territories, and to prior consultation and; -enter into good faith process of dialogue with indigenous peoples to resolve this conflict. We invite everybody to support and circulate this cyberaction: http://www.foei.org/en/get-involved/take-action/stop-the-violent-repress... --------- In the last few days, the laws of 'free trade' and ultra-liberalism have not only destroyed habitats and livelihoods; they have also destroyed lives. Indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon are protesting investment laws passed under a free-trade pact with the United States and against concessions granted to foreign energy companies. Some 30,000 indigenous people have blockaded roads, rivers and railways to demand repeal of new laws that allow oil and mining companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking consent or even any consultation. Indigenous communities complain that some 70% of Peruvian Amazon territory is now leased for oil and gas exploration, putting at risk their own lives and the biodiversity of the Amazon. Protestors have already shut down Peru‘s state energy company‘s crude oil pipeline. Peru‘s President Alan Garcia has said that “small groups” must not stand in the way of “development” of the Amazon. On May 9th, the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency for 60 days and sent in the military and special police to violently suppress the non-violent protests and protect largely overseas corporate interests. There have been several incidents of unprovoked violence against indigenous demonstrators. So far, at least 30 indigenous people were killed and more than 100 other people were injured. The Peruvian rainforest is the biggest stretch of Amazon outside Brazil. As the Earth‘s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon plays a critical role in safeguarding global climate. Scientists estimate Peru is home to some 25,000 plant species, 10 % of the world total, and to 1,816 bird species. But this crucial global ecosystem has been threatened in recent decades by the industrial extraction of natural resources. More than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon is now under some sort of foreign resource concession. Between 2002 and 2007, mining grew more than 70 percent. Last year some 4,200 timber permits were granted to local communities, but tons of cedar and mahogany ended up being sold abroad. The new forestry law (Decree 1090), which had been deemed unconstitutional is again being debated in the Peruvian Congress.