After more than six weeks of protests by Peru’s Amazonian indigenous groups that have included blockades of major roads and waterways and the shutting down an oil pipeline pumping station, the Peruvian government has begun to crack down.
Indigenous leaders from around the world are joined by supporters in a demonstration today outside the Peru’s Mission to the United Nations, urging the Alan Garcia Government to respect indigenous peoples’ rights and repeal a series of new laws passed under the pretext of implementing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.
As the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency in the face of one month long indigenous protests, 42 indigenous leaders have entered the Peruvian Congress to announce a hunger strike until the issue of a repeal of decrees affecting the territorial rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon is debated by the full legislature. The decrees, which were passed to facilitate the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, facilitate the transfer of Amazon land and resource rights to oil, mining, logging and agricultural companies to the detriment of indigenous and campesino inhabitants. They also set the stage for the privatization of water resources.
United States foreign trade policies should insist on seeking more ethical economic practices which do not rely on the exploitation of lives and environmental resources, but which thrive off of sustainable relationships of production. Additionally, the United States should recognize the role it has historically played in protracting violence in Colombia, and the influence it has on Colombian forms of governance and economic policy
Colombian indigenous took their protest to Colombia’s capital Bogotá this weekend. Their struggle is about controlling the land in which they have lived and taken care of for hundreds of years.
The Andean Coordination of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI) ratified rejection of a free trade agreement that governments of Colombia and Peru want to sign with the European Union. This reiteration is contained in a letter CAOI representative Miguel Palacin addressed to Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde, referring to the latter’s threats to expel Bolivian social leaders allegedly in Peru to take part in protests against the agreement.
The Andean Community is in crisis as a result of the attitude of the European Union and the governments of Colombia and Peru, who in a meeting of foreign ministers held in Europe proposed to negotiate the FTA bilaterally, breaking with the Guayaquil Agreement, which ratified block by block negotiation. This attitude undermines Andean integration.
The U’wa called attention to indigenous mobilizations in Colombia where some 15,000 are marching to Bogota — to protest their government’s backsliding on indigenous land rights in attempt to make way for the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
"During your historic campaign, you publicly noted some of what Colombians currently face: you acknowledged the murders of trade unionists by the regime and stated your reservations about a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, which our people have decided against through a democratic referendum. We thank you for this, and now want you to know about the specific situation facing Colombia’s indigenous peoples."
The US free trade agreement with Colombia is back in the spotlight, after President Bush allegedly conditioned his support for a bailout of the auto industry on the Democrats dropping their opposition to the FTA.
"The police did fire" on indigenous protesters, said Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who yielded to pressure to meet next Sunday with the leaders of a two-week-long demonstration by native groups.
In Colombia, thousands of indigenous people are staging a week long march. Marchers plan to march through 70 miles of Colombia’s countryside. They say they want to change economic policies that are impoverishing their nations. And they reject the presence of US corporations on their lands. Manuel Rueda joined the march as it passed through Colombia’s Cauca Province.
In the Cauca region, a twelve-thousand strong Indigenous and Popular Minga (or Assembly) was held in opposition to the militarization of Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities/territories. The Assembly also declared it’s firm opposition to the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Canada, U.S. and the European Union.
On October 13, 12,000 indigenous Colombians marched onto the Pan-American highway in Cauca, and refused to lift their blockade until their demands for land, liberty, and life were met by the state. The resulting clashes between protesters and police killed at least two indigenous Colombians, and wounded at least 70 more. This week the indigenous rights groups will march to Cali, the third-largest city in Colombia, to press their demands.
We do not accept Free Trade Agreements like the ones negotiated behind closed doors with the United States, Canada, the European Union, the European Association of Free Trade, or any other deal that looks to displace us of our rights, our culture, our knowledge and our territory. We want treaties between peoples, for the people, not treaties of the patrons against the people and against Mother Earth.
Peru’s Congress on Sept. 20 signed a law repealing two presidential decrees that lowered the requirements for the sale of indigenous lands a month after large mobilizations by indigenous Amazon groups in demand that the laws be knocked down.
The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the purposes of patent procedure is not in line with the norms and ethical principles of Costa Rica. Civil society, the scientific community and the different congregations should have had a more broad discussion on this Treaty including its ethical, environmental, social, economic and legal implications. Unfortunately, this did not happen and the decision to vote the US-DR-CAFTA, with its obligation for Costa Rica to accede to the Budapest Treaty, at referendum was not taken with a generalized prior informed consent.
Costa Rica could miss its Oct. 1 deadline to pass law reforms needed to enter the Free Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) because of a legal snag in the final bill on intellectual property: Nobody thought to ask the country’s indigenous people.
Costa Rica’s highest court on Thursday overturned an intellectual property law demanded by the US prior to the enactment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The Constitutional Court ruled that lawmakers improperly passed the bill — which included provisions on biodiversity — without consulting Indian groups.
On August 22nd, the Peruvian Congress repealed two legislative decrees at the root of the indigenous demonstrations that paralyzed various roads and energy installations from August 9th through 20th. The indigenous movement of the Amazon, home to 65 different indigenous nations, declared victory.