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June 08, 2009

FTA-Spawned Crisis Continues in Peru

Reports over the weekend show the violence surrounding protests in in Peru is worse than originally thought. According to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News:Peru AIDESEP

Up to 100 Amazon natives have been killed after Friday's military crackdown on protesters in Peru and the situation is expected to worsen, says a Canadian Indigenous rights activist.

Twenty-two-year-old Ben Powless is working alongside Peru's national organisation of Amazon Indigenous people, AIDESEP, and fears more lives will be lost, with the government now labeling protesters as "terrorists"...

AIDESEP, as some may recall, was outspoken in their principled opposition to the U.S.-Peru FTA during the U.S. congressional debate in 2007. Their letter to Congress correctly predicts the FTA would pave the way for policies that would harm communities and the environment:

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the unrest generated by García's investment-at-all-cost trade policies:

The president is facing his worst crisis since 2006, when he took office for a second term. The protesters are demanding that the government backtrack on decrees that the indigenous groups say would weaken their traditional communal land system by breaking up land into parcels of private property. The García government has been moving aggressively to grant concessions for oil and natural gas exploration in the Amazon.

Analysts say giving in to protester demands would make Mr. García seem weak and cast a cloud over a recently signed free-trade agreement with the U.S. Following the pact, the government enacted laws that opened up indigenous lands to development, changes that the indigenous groups oppose.

ABC News' reports from ground zero suggest that the government's PR machine is working overtime to blame the victims for being massacred:

"What we've been hearing from some of the communities is that a lot of the death tolls and the number of people hurt or injured are dramatically different from the Government figures, which put it as low as three to nine Indigenous people who have been killed," he said.

"But we have heard from some representatives on the ground that there may be as many as 100 people murdered.

"There was an active attempt by the Government here to portray it as a massacre of policemen who went into an area and were killed on their job, when in reality, native participants were sitting in blockades early in the morning [on Friday] when the police attacked."

Mr Powless says the Government is controlling information on the unfolding events.

"There is a lack of information about what's going on," he said.

(HT to BoRev.Net.)


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