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TradeJustice Activist Confronts Deathsquad Democrat
Gregory W. Meeks on FTA Support

TradeJustice Activist Ruth Santana
On Friday, August 19, 2011, TradeJustice activist Ruth Santana confronted Representative Meeks at a Town Hall Meeting at York College in Jamaica Queens. As the event was coming to an end and the last two questions had already being assigned; she insisted and pleaded to Mr. Meek's staff members that she should be given an opportunity to talk. Fortunately and after a brief discussion among themselves a decision was made to allow her to ask the last question of the night. She proceeded to challenge Mr Meeks to listen and respond to the following statement:

"Mr. Meeks, my name is Ruth Santana. I am a Peruvian immigrant. In 2007, you were warned by Peruvian Americans, human rights groups, and environmentalists that the US -Peru Free Trade Agreement would wipe out Peru's peasant farmers, lead to violence and instability, contribute to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous way of life, and increase cocaine production. You ignored these warnings and voted for the trade agreement, leading President Garcia to pass legislative decrees to rob the indigenous people's land for oil, mining, and logging companies. Mr. Meeks, you know that this led indigenous Peruvians to rise up, leading to a bloody massacre of indigenous people in Bagua, Peru. You know that our peasant farmers rose up when they saw the FTAs would destroy their way of life, and they too were were shot by police. And surely, Mr. Meeks you know that in June the United Nations released a report that cocaine production in Peru has surged and we will soon surpass Colombia as the world's largest cocaine exporter, because our people are left with no choice but to grow coca, now that the trade agreement has allowed US agribusiness corporations to wipe out our farmers with their genetically modified, subsidized, industrially produced crops. But Mr. Meeks, you seem to have learned nothing from this disaster, because now you are pushing a free trade agreement with Colombia that will benefit the narcoterrorists, increase displacement of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, endanger the Amazon and increase impunity in the nation with the highest rate of unionist killings and the highest rate of internal displacement on the planet. And Mr. Meeks you are pushing a trade agreement with Korea that will export 159,000 US jobs and an agreement with Panama that will lock in Panama's tax haven status, allowing big corporations to avoid paying their taxes at a time when our nation needs revenue more than ever. So, Mr. Meeks, I must ask -- the newspapers are saying that you are under investigation for corruption, for failing to report a $40,000 gift. But I am more worried about the gifts you did report, the tens of thousands of dollars from Fed Ex, AT&T, Bank of American, Walmart and UPS -- all among your top ten contributors in the last election and all companies lobbying in support of these trade agreements. So Mr. Meeks, my question is -- when are you going to prove your critics wrong and show that you have ethics by announcing that you will vote against the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea Free Trade Agreements?"

At about midway through the statement, she was abruptly interrupted by Mr. Meeks along with some hostile member of the audience who appeared to be there to cover for him. She did not allow herself to be silenced by them and continued to confront him and demanded that she be heard. Mr. Meeks attempted to cut her off by talking over her and repeatedly asking her to stop talking. She did not stop and made headway with her statement for a few more seconds until the microphone was turned off. The microphone was then grabbed from her hand by a member of Mr. Meeks' staff and she was asked to stop talking and and to sit down. She did not surrender and continued to speak without a microphone raising her voice while constantly being interrupted. In the midst of this constant disruption she was able to state a few more facts, asked her final question and proceeded to firmly demand a response from him. Mr. Meeks who at this point appeared concerned and burdened stated that she did not want to hear an answer, nonetheless proceeded to very briefly explain that he had traveled to Peru, had spoken to President Alan Garcia and knew that the FTA in Peru had helped in the decline of the levels of poverty. She kept on challenging him, pointing out that poverty began to decline in Peru under President Toledo, long before the FTA took effect. He persistently avoided to address any of the issues raised by her statement. He moved on to explain at length how the allegations of corruptions were not true. She did not allow the audience to be distracted for too long by this and interrupted him several times calling for a response to the issues at hand and an answer to her question. Mr. Meeks utterly ignored her demands and went on to promise his constituents that everything in relation to the allegations of corruption will clear up, reassured them he had nothing to worry about and affirmed that he was being persecuted by the New York Post. Then he and his staff abruptly put a stop to the event. As she was leaving, she was approached by some members of the audience who showed interest and wanted to hear more about the trade agreements. The more salient were: an elderly man who very politely requested her written statement; a young man who stated he did not know about this, requested more information and showed heightened interest in the subject, and a woman who approached her to show her solidarity with the plight of the peoples affected by the FTAs.

Read TradeJustice New York Metro's flyer about Gregory Meeks' support for free trade agreements and complicity with human rights abuses in Colombia here.