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Pelosi's Support for Anti-Environmental, Anti-Indigenous Peru Free Trade Agreement Financed with Oil Dollars from Occidental Petroleum


The New York City People's Referendum on Free Trade sent the following statement to every member of Congress today:


Among the companies with a vested interest in using NAFTA-style investor state provisions to undermine environmental laws in the Peruvian Amazon is Occidental Petroleum.  Occidental has an ugly history of human rights abuse and environmental destruction in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. Facing a lawsuit and calls for accountability in Peru[1] and still smarting from contract cancellation in Ecuador[2],  and a public relations disaster in 2000 when the U'wa indigenous community  threatened mass suicide over Occidental encroachment on their ancestral land in the Colombian Andean cloudforest[3], Occidental stated its intentions last year to pull out of the Peruvian Amazon[4]). Yet they've since reversed that position.[5]

What lead to their change of heart? A buyer pullout for one thing, in tandem with heavy lobbying by the Peruvian government.  But was Nancy Pelosi's election as Speaker of the House also a consideration? Absent from the debate on the Peru Free Trade Agreement is one glaring fact: Occidental Petroleum was Nancy Pelosi's #1 campaign contributor in the 2006  election cycle.[6]

Occidental purchased a Speaker of the House will who would deliver a NAFTA-style trade deal for Peru, betraying the will of a US public that voted for a fair trade Congress in November and the interests of Freshmen Democrats who's capacity to deliver a new trade agenda will influence their chances at reelection in 2008.  And to listen to Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), chairman of the House Trade Working Group, Pelosi may be jeopardizing the Democrats chance at winning back the White House: "Democrats could lose the presidency because of trade. The American people feel there is no difference between a Democrat and Republican. [President Bill] Clinton brought us NAFTA and now a Democratic Congress will bring us Peru.",. "[7]

The benefits of the FTA to Occidental—and the potential harm to rainforests and indigenous people—is all too apparent to Peru's indigenous people. On October 30th, the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP), a "federation representing 350,000 indigenous people in [the] Amazon region" issued a letter to the members of the US Congress, urging them to vote against the FTA. They argued, " the Peru FTA, if approved, would threaten every aspect of our livelihoods and sustainable development program. … President Alan García is auctioning off Peru’s Amazon at a breakneck speed to foreign firms ranging from Hunt Oil to Occidental Petroleum and beyond. Already by 2004, as the FTA was just being negotiated, only 15 percent of Peru’s Amazon was zoned for oil, gas and mining – today, that figure is near 70 percent…. Provisions contained in the Peru FTA are directly incentivizing this massive takeover that is threatening our livelihoods and leading to irreversible destruction of virgin rainforest. For example, the Peru FTA’s Chapter 10 establishes investor rights provisions that would help lock in our government’s destructive anti-indigenous and anti-environment policies. The FTA explicitly gives foreign oil, gas and mining companies the right to skirt Peruvian laws and courts and challenge the Peruvian government in foreign tribunals for changes to their licenses, authorizations, permits and other investment agreements. This provision goes even beyond NAFTA and CAFTA, and opens up a wide range of policies and future reforms to challenge in foreign trade tribunals. ..Thus, for instance, if a future government decided that oil and gas companies must not pollute local waterways, the corporations could demand compensation because such a policy would undermine their future profits."

Rewarding Nancy Pelosi's campaign contributors should not take precedence over human rights and the environment. Members of Congress should vote NO on the Peru Free Trade Agreement.