The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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’


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.

Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon's ecological systems.