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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/9/09

"Free Trade" Destroying Amazon Rain Forest and Killing Indigenous People

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Message Grant Lawrence

Democracy Now has recently reported on the uprising of the indigenous people of the Amazon and the killings there. According to a reporter on the scene, the US-Peru Free Trade Pact set the scene for the increasing exploitation of the Amazon Rain Forest and the Indigenous people there.
These Free Trade Agreements, such as NAFTA and the US-Peru Free Trade Pact, are nothing more than a clever way for multinational corporations to bypass local, state, and federal laws to exploit people and resources of developing countries for the profit of the very few.

We have seen how globalization has wrecked the US and world economies. Obviously, trade is beneficial and helpful but there needs to be "fair trade" that makes it a win/win situation for all participants. Instead, we have "free trade" that exploits people and resources with little or no democratic governmental oversight. Most often the poor suffer the most.

The world needs to stand with the indigenous people of the Amazon region. The Rain Forests need protection and the people of the rain forests need to be allowed to retain their resources and rights.

Even if you don't care for the environment or the indigenous people of the Amazon, you should care for your own survival.
The death of the rain forests signify a further destruction of the earth's eco-system by the greedy, cruel, and ignorant.

Excerpted: Democracy Now

    ...[translated] They’ve said that we indigenous peoples are against the system, but, no, we want development, but from our perspective, development that adheres to legal conventions, such as the United Nations International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, that says we, the indigenous peoples, have to be consulted. The government has not consulted us.

    Not only am I being persecuted, but I feel that my life is in danger, because I am defending the rights of the peoples, the legitimate rights that the indigenous people have. I feel I am being persecuted, and the situation can get much worse with my criminal prosecution....

AMY GOODMAN: Gregor MacLennan is speaking to us, again, in Bagua, where the massacre took place. Can you explain why people were protesting there this weekend?


GREGOR MacLENNAN: People have been protesting against a government and government policy that ignores indigenous peoples, that sees the Amazon as being unproductive and sees indigenous people as essentially a waste of space. What the government wants to do is open up the Amazon’s private investment. They see the future of development there to be biofuel plantations, oil drilling, mining, forestry and large corporate investments, and indigenous people are just getting in the way.

So, what the government did when it was given powers in the context of the free trade agreement was issue a series of laws that never went through congress, that were never consulted with indigenous people, that basically restructure land rights, taking away land from indigenous people, and allow land, rainforest, to be reclassified as agricultural land, basically opening legal loopholes for biofuel companies to move in with plantations, for oil companies and mining companies to be able to work in the area without the troublesome part of having to negotiate or speak to the local communities before using their lands.

AMY GOODMAN: Gregor MacLennan, can you explain how the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement fits into all of this? I remember during one of the debates, well, then-Senator Obama, running for president, said he was not for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement because of the killing of unionists, but he did see the Peruvian-US free trade agreement as a model.

GREGOR MacLENNAN: Unfortunately, the process of the implementation of this free trade agreement, the government—the president was given executive powers to pass laws to implement the free trade agreement. Using that excuse, the government passed these laws that take away indigenous rights and create a threat to the Amazon rainforest. And the government here has been standing up and saying that it can’t appeal the laws because they’re necessary for the free trade agreement and the development of Peru, and they’re positioning the indigenous people as being against free trade and development and using these—the free trade agreement as an excuse for passing these laws that undermined the indigenous rights.

Watch and Read the Entire Interview Here

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