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Activists in New York, Portland, Chicago Slam Clinton and Obama Support for Peru NAFTA Expansion

For Immediate Release                             Contact: Morning and Off-Site: Bernie McAleer (212) 316-6435 718-622-8482

2/26/07                                                                          On-Site (NY): Phil Josselyn (917) 214 4870

Trade Justice Activists in New York, Lima, Chicago

Protest Killing and Mass Arrest of Peruvian Farmers Last Week,

Slam Clinton and Obama Support for Peru NAFTA Expansion

 

On Tuesday, February 26, 2008, protesters in Lima, Peru; New York City; and Chicago will denounce the murder of unarmed demonstrators and the arrest of 700 last week. The demonstrators, Peruvian farmers, demanded government subsidies as protection against the destruction of Peru’s family farm economy under the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement (Peru FTA). NYC and Chicago activists will call for an end to violence against Peruvian farmers, demand that charges be dropped against the arrested demonstrators, demand the repeal of the Peru FTA, and expose their hometown Presidential candidates’ support for the agreement. Protesters in Lima will call for accountability for the deaths and an end to the policy of shooting unarmed protesters.

 

CHICAGO: 12-1PM, Peruvian Consulate, 180 N. Michigan Ave. (Chicago Trade With Justice Working Group)

NEW YORK: 12:20PM, Peruvian Consulate, 241 E. 49th St bet. 2nd and 3rd Aves. (NYC People’s Referendum on Free Trade)

LIMA: 11AM, Ministry of the Interior, corner of avenida Canaval & Moreyra & la avenida Pablo Carriquirry, San Isidro, Lima

 

The Peru FTA passed by the Senate in December 2007, despite warnings that it’s passage would lead to violence, instability, and the economic decimation and displacement of Peruvian farmers—predictions which proved accurate. Clinton and Obama both expressed strong support for the agreement, but missed the vote on it. According to Phil Josselyn of the NYC People’s Referendum on Free Trade, “In Wisconsin and Ohio, Hillary and Obama have been working overtime to convince voters that they support overhauling NAFTA, but below the radar they’ve been supporting the nearly identical Peru Free Trade Agreement at the behest of major campaign contributors like Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. At a time when John Edwards was raising vital questions about the Peru FTA and urging Democrats to oppose it, Hillary and Barack came out in support of it, providing political cover for their fellow Democrats to sell out workers, farmers, and the environment in the US and Peru and vote for the FTA. No one was fooled when they failed to show up to cast their votes on the Peru Free Trade Agreement—they were staunch supporters of this rotten trade deal, and the blood of four farmers is now on their hands.”

 

Farmers in Peru believe that the elimination of tariffs on US imports will allow US agribusiness giants like Tyson, ADM, and Cargill to dump their products on the Peruvian market at below market prices, destroying Peru’s family farm economy and driving workers to grow coca for the cocaine trade or lose their land and suffer displacement. Displacement of farmers from US agricultural dumping as a result of NAFTA has led to a vast influx of Mexican immigrants into the US since 1994. Last week, Peruvian farmers initiated an agricultural strike and a massive campaign of road blockades, demanding state subsidies for Peruvian farmers, lower prices on fertilizer and for a halt to farm seizures by banks in reaction to the threat to Peruvian agriculture posed by the Peru FTA. The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency, and put the military in charge of 8 regions of the country. Four protesters were killed, including 2 shot in the head by police, and another killed fleeing police gas canisters. 700 protesters were arrested, and Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo proposed four-year sentences for the arrested protesters. Protests ended with a commitment to negotiations on Tuesday night, but the government still intends to prosecute the arrested protesters.

 

On November 8th, 2007, Rep. Mike Michaud introduced the Fair Trade for All Act of 2007 (H.R. 4124), which would direct the President to withdraw from the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Trade justice activists support this bill.

Additional info: http://stopperufta.org

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