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November 5, 2007

November 5, 2007

Dear Members of Congress:

As the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) comes up for a vote this week, please consider the widespread resistance to the trade pact represented in this sign-on letter compiled over just a few days. Our organizations and networks represent millions of people from diverse sectors of society across the United States. Your constituents are demanding that you stop the Peru FTA.

Enough is Enough! No to False "Free Trade"! Yes to Peoples Trade!
Stop the Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea Free Trade Agreements

It is clear that only a few are reaping the benefits of "free" trade agreements (FTAs). Over the past two decades FTAs have created a class of super-rich individuals and extremely powerful corporations. They have disrupted the culture and livelihoods of millions of people, forcing many to leave their homes, and driven many into severe poverty.

On a daily basis, the vast majority of people throughout the world are struggling to survive - to make a living from the land, to earn a livable wage, to protect our health and environment, to assure access to water, housing and basic services. The strategies used to deny us these basic human rights are embedded in FTAs.

In fact, there is nothing free about FTAs. Communities and nations are subjected to the will of multi-national corporations, who sack our natural and human resources, eliminate laws that make corporations accountable, and wrest authority from our governments to provide basic services. The vision of George W. Bush and other "free" traders is that private corporations own the seeds and the food that they create, water and the infrastructure that carries it, medicines and the hospitals that administer them. The ultimate goal is not to eliminate poverty, and promote global prosperity and well-being, but to make every aspect of our lives into a source of profit for corporations.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which many of us fought against in 1993, offers a clear example of the destructive power of FTAs.
• When NAFTA took effect in 1994, the Mexican government eliminated price controls to many farmers, while at the same time removed its tariffs on imported corn. This forced Mexican farmers to compete on the global market with giant agricultural corporations based in the U.S. (which are the principal beneficiaries of current U.S. farm policy).
• Millions of Mexican farmers were displaced, forcing them from the land and into low-wage sweatshops along the U.S.-Mexico border. By the beginning of this decade, many of these plants closed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in the border region with a devastated economy and a poisoned environment.
• Not surprisingly, migration to the United States has skyrocketed in the past 10 years, yet the response of the Bush administration and Congressional leaders in both major parties is to militarize the border, expand the repressive authority of the Homeland Security Administration and conduct a witch-hunt of immigrant workers throughout the U.S.

Now, many of the same irresponsible political leaders are pushing new FTAs with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea. On October 12, George W. Bush declared: ''Now it is the time (sic) to move forward with these pro-growth, pro-democracy agreements." Amazingly, however, as President Bill Clinton did in 1993, Democratic leaders like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are promoting the trade agreements despite wide-spread public opinion opposing them. In 2006, the Central American Free Trade Agreement passed the U.S. Congress by just one vote. Instead of building political momentum to stop these policies, Democratic leaders are siding with Bush to turn back the clock.

Enough is Enough! We cannot allow politicians to sell out our communities!
• We support trade policies that support human rights, democracy, indigenous sovereignty, food sovereignty, environmental justice, economic justice and the sustainability of the planet.
• We support trade policies that restrict the power of corporations and strengthen the rights of workers and communities.
• We support efforts such as the Peoples Trade Agreement of Bolivia, which promotes policies based on the concepts of "complementarity, cooperation, solidarity, reciprocity, prosperity and the respect for the sovereignty of each country".
• We recognize that communities throughout the world are facing imminent and desperate circumstances. Therefore we cannot compromise our principles. We commit to building a movement to fundamentally alter trade and foreign policies of the U.S. government.
• We oppose the Free Trade Agreements between the United States government and Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea, and we urge Congressional representatives to vote "NO".

This statement was endorsed by the following organizations:

50 years is Enough Network (Washington D.C.)
ActionAid USA
American Agricultural Movement
American Corn Growers Association
Association for Colombian Sovereignty, (ASOCOL)
California Dairy Campaign
California Farmers Union
Campaign for Labor Rights
Center of Concern
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
Colombia Vive, Boston
Columban Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office (USA)
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Community Voices Heard
Development GAP
Direct Action for Rights and Equality (Providence, RI)
Family Farm Defenders
Farm Labor Organizing Committee (Toledo, OH)
Freedom Socialist Party
Global Exchange
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (Los Angeles, CA)
Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
Holy Cross International Justice Office
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
International Labor Rights Forum
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Korean Americans for Fair Trade
Korean-Americans for Peace
Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State
Latin American Solidarity Committee of Buffalo, NY
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mexico-US Solidarity Network
Missouri Rural Crisis Center
National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC)
National Family Farm Coalition
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (Oakland, CA)
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Nicaragua Network
Nicaragua-U.S. Friendship Office
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
Quixote Center/Quest for Peace
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Justice and Peace Office
Sisters of the Holy Cross Congregation Justice Committee, Notre Dame, IN
Sisters of the Holy Name Justice Network
Southwest Workers Union (San Antonio, TX)
St. Peter's Housing Committee (San Francsico, CA)
Stop Cafta Coalition
Student Trade Justice Campaign
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Electrical Workers Union (UE)
United Students Against Sweatshops (Washington DC)
US-El Salvador Sister Cities Network
Washington Fair Trade Coalition
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Witness for Peace
World Hunger Year (WHY)

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