On the 11th of December, the European Parliament will be voting on a free trade agreement between the European Union and two Latin American countries, Peru and Colombia. The objective of the agreement is to ensure priority access to Peruvian and Colombian commodities for European businesses. However, it does not define binding rules on human rights and environmental standards.
The excessive exploitation of natural resources by multinational companies in both countries is leading to significant degradation of the environment. Water sources are being undermined and polluted, while rainforests are being cleared for mining, oil drilling and oil palm plantations.
Please call on the members of the European Parliament to vote against the free trade agreement in its present form for social and environmental reasons and sign Rainforest Rescue's petition!
Honorable Members of the European Parliament,
A free trade agreement between the EU and Peru and Colombia will be submitted to the European Parliament for ratification in December. The undersigned organizations have reason to worry that this agreement will exacerbate social and environmental conflicts in Peru and Colombia, as it would promote the unbridled exploitation of natural resources in those countries.
The agreement does not contain binding terms for the observance of human rights and thus will do nothing to counter the human rights violations that have been noted in Peru and Colombia. It also lacks binding environmental standards to ensure that continued resource extraction does not destroy the livelihoods of local people affected by mining. The ecologically irresponsible spread of industrial-scale oil palm plantations in the Amazon region also plays a role in this context, as their expansion would be encouraged by the customs regulations of the free trade agreement.
The aim of the resource strategy of the EU and this agreement is to eliminate export restrictions on commodities, providing European companies direct and free access to Peruvian and Colombian resources deemed vital to European industry. In doing so, the agreement tacitly accepts the growth of social and environmental problems caused by the extraction of resources and the exacerbation of related conflicts. Mining and oil drilling are currently the main cause of these conflicts.
In the one year that the current Peruvian president Ollanta Humala has been in office, at least 16 people have been killed in clashes in mining areas. The government has imposed a state of emergency in the affected areas and is deploying the police and the military against those who resist land grabs, water pollution, and the threat to water sources. Despite the existence of laws to that effect, the people in the affected areas have not been consulted about these projects and are defending their livelihoods, their food sources and their health against the overwhelming power of a coalition of mining companies and the government. These circumstances violate ILO Convention 169, which was signed by the EU and Peru, and governs the indigenous population’s right to free, prior and informed consent.
Colombia intends to make the extraction of raw materials the engine of its economy. Colombia’s decades-long civil war displaced around 3 to 4 million people, while more than 16,000 persons are considered disappeared (desaparecidos). From 1986 to 2011, 2,914 trade unionists were killed (34 in this year alone). The complicity of international mining companies in environmental damage caused by open-pit coal mining, as well as their breaches of ILO core labor standards and collaboration with paramilitaries (Glencore, Drummond) have been documented. Given the ongoing property conflicts due to unclear land titles, these corporations can do little to ensure that their investments do not lead to violations of human rights.
These mining and trade policies lock the countries in question into their roles as suppliers of commodities and hamper their (future) development.
We therefore call on you:
not to ratify the free trade agreement in its present form and under the current circumstances to prevent exacerbating the dramatic situation in Colombia and Peru
to ensure that human and labor rights, environmental standards and the participation rights of the local population have the highest priority and must be implemented.
to work toward a fair and equitable trade policy with Peru and Colombia that takes the specific situations of these countries into account
to help ensure that the necessary protection is provided to the victims of the internal conflict in Colombia, and to support human rights organizations in Colombia and Peru in their efforts to strengthen the rule of law and civil society.
Informationsstelle Peru e.V., Freiburg
Informationsstelle Lateinamerika (ila), Bonn
FOKUS e.V. - Perusolidarität im Welthaus Bielefeld
AG ökologischer Landbau zum angewandten Regenwaldschutz e.V. – Ludwigshafen
ASK – Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz - Kolumbien
“Bergwerk Peru – Reichtum geht, Armut bleibt” campaign
“Peru –Entwicklung braucht Entschuldung” coordination group