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News Release

Action Alert: Canada must halt free trade agreement with Peru after violent police crackdown of Indigenous protest

Indigenous communities in Peru have been holding peaceful protests since April 9 to condemn new laws that would allow for the rapid industrialization of the Amazon rainforest. These laws were put in place by the Peruvian government to further facilitate its proposed free trade agreements with Canada and the United States.

Over 30,000 Indigenous protesters have blocked roads, rivers and railways to force the repeal of these new laws, which would make way for intensified oil, mining, logging activities and massive agricultural projects, and to demand that they be consulted on all development planned on their land.

But at dawn on Friday, June 5, 600 Peruvian police in helicopters and on foot opened fire on protesters blocking a road near Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon. Conservative estimates indicate that 60 Indigenous and police have been killed. Police are accused of burning bodies then hiding them in the river and of removing the wounded from hospital to hide the real number of casualties.

Should Canada really be signing a free trade agreement with the Peruvian government when this is how they respond to legitimate protests against oil, mining and forestry projects that threaten to displace local and indigenous communities and further despoil Amazonian ecosystems?

Many of our elected Members of Parliament seem to think so.

The new Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement gives Canadian resource companies new legal powers to challenge what few Peruvian laws stand in their way, while paying only lip service to labour rights and environmental protection. The House of Commons has already passed Bill C-24, the implementing legislation for the Agreement, without adding even a mention of human rights; it is currently before the Senate.

But the deal can still be stopped!

We need you to write to the Senate immediately and ask them to send the Canada-Peru FTA back to Parliament for reconsideration. The Senate cannot be allowed to rubber stamp this deal, which legitimizes state repression for the sake of boosting the profits of Canada’s oil patch and major mining companies. By using the form below, your letter will be copied to all the major party leaders so they know Canadians stand in solidarity with the Peruvian Indigenous protesters and oppose the free trade agreement.

In solidarity,

The Council of Canadians
Common Frontiers
MiningWatch Canada

To send a letter right from your browser, or just to see a list of key Government and Senate e-mail addresses, go to the Council of Canadians web site.

Sample letter

Dear Senator,

The recent police attack against peaceful Indigenous protests in Peru, which resulted in as many and perhaps more than 60 deaths, shows a blatant disregard for human rights, democratic resistance and Indigenous rights. It also forces Canada to reconsider its proposed free trade agreement with Peru that you are currently debating in the Senate.

Since April 9, Indigenous communities in Peru have been holding peaceful protests condemning new laws that would allow for the rapid industrialization of the Amazon rainforest. These decrees were put in place by the Peruvian government to further facilitate the free trade agreements with Canada and the United States. Protestors point out that these decrees violate Indigenous rights and open the way for an unprecedented expansion of new transnational petroleum, mining, logging and plantation agriculture projects in the Amazon rainforest. Indigenous leaders are calling for international solidarity to safeguard the Amazon, 72 per cent of which is already leased for petroleum exploration and extraction.

Considering that 50 per cent of Peruvian oil and gas exploration is now being done by Canadian companies, it is our government’s responsibility to ensure that if such development occurs at all, it is done according to international laws requiring consultation in good faith with Indigenous communities, and under the guidance of strong environmental rules. As written, the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement only pays lip service to both of these primary concerns while handing Canadian corporations enormous new legal powers to further challenge what few Peruvian laws might stand in the way of their profits.

Canadians expect their government to promote fair and sustainable trade when reaching out to other countries – not free trade and investment treaties that put corporate profits above human rights, legitimate protest and environmental protection. The Peruvian government has acted criminally and recklessly in attacking those who have a different vision on how their land should be developed from the Canadian companies who will benefit from the free trade agreement.

I urge you to do whatever you can to halt Bill C-24, implementing legislation for the Canada-Peru FTA.

Sincerely,

[Your name]