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June 15, 2009
1:08 PM

CONTACT: Amazon Watch

Nick Magel 419-283-2728
Andrew Miller 202-423-4828

US Government Pressured to Take Action on Peru Conflict Given Role of US-Peru Trade Agreement

Letter Urges Senior Officials to Clarify Position on Controversial Peruvian ‘Free Trade Laws’

WASHINGTON - June 15 - Amazon Watch joined fourteen human rights and environmental organizations in urging the United States to take immediate steps towards addressing recent political violence in Peru. The Peruvian Government’s actions to quell two months of nonviolent protests by Amazonian indigenous communities have resulted in numerous deaths of both indigenous protesters and police and hundreds injured.

The protests are against the passage of controversial “legislative decrees”, new laws created by Peruvian President Alan Garcia purportedly to implement the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA).

Today, a coalition of 15 environmental and human rights organizations is sending a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high-level Obama Administration officials as well as key members of Congress, requesting that the U.S. Government immediately issue a formal response as to whether by repealing the contested decrees, Peru would jeopardize the US-Peru TPA.

“The Garcia Administration has insisted that repealing the decrees would mortally wound the Free Trade Agreement, opting for heavy-handed measures against protesters instead of good-faith dialogue.” said Andrew Miller of Amazon Watch. “By clarifying the U.S. position on these decrees, the Obama Administration could help create the needed political space for a real dialogue between the Peruvian government and the Amazonian indigenous federation AIDESEP.”

Last Thursday, the Peruvian Congress issued a 90-day suspension of legislative decrees 1090 and 1064, with the stated purpose of restoring dialogue with indigenous communities. However, the indigenous movement is demanding revocation of the decrees and is rejecting Congress’s suspension as inadequate.

Beyond the indigenous federations, Peruvian legal scholars and Congressional committees have questioned the constitutionality of many of the controversial degrees.  Congressional members of President Garcia’s APRA party have maneuvered repeatedly to block discussions on of the decrees’ constitutionality on the floor of Congress.

“Whether or not the U.S. intended it, the reality is that the U.S.-Peru Trade Agreement gave license to the Garcia Administration to roll back indigenous rights and has contributed to increasing social conflict and human rights abuses in Peru,” said Amazon Watch’s Andrew Miller. “The Obama administration should send a clear signal that it is not willing to accept the erosion of democracy, stability, and human rights in pursuit of free trade.”

The signatories to the letter urge the United States Government to call for Peru to respect indigenous peoples’ rights as established in the Peruvian Constitution, ILO Convention 169, and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The signatories to the letter include: Washington Office on Latin America, Sierra Club, Oxfam America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace USA, Global Witness, Friends of the Earth, Forest Peoples Programme, Environmental Investigation Agency, Environmental Defense Fund, Earthworks, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for International Environmental Law, Bank Information Center, and Amazon Watch.
Meanwhile, despite the Government’s on-going State of Emergency, thousands of indigenous people in Peru continue their blockades, now entering their 68th day, of key locations in the Amazon including roads, rivers, airports, and oil production facilities. 

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