- Peru Support Group
- › News
US FTA Brings Few Benefits to Peru
Peru News 057. 17 August 2010
Since coming into force on 1 February 2009, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between the US and Peru appears to have brought few benefits to the Andean nation, according a column by Pedro Francke, an economist at Lima's La Católica University, for Peruvian newspaper La Primera.
According to the economist, exports of textiles to the US fell by 28% in 2009, whilst in the same year exports by China, Bangladesh and India practically saw no change and they do not have FTAs with the US.
The overall trade balance appears to have favoured the US. Whilst Peruvian exports to the US haven’t seen much benefit since the FTA came into force (these grew by just 10% in 2008 and fell by 27% in 2009), it seems that the country imports more from its North American partner (these were up 50% in 2008, but fell by 20% in 2009).
Another key point centres on the failure to create jobs since the FTA came into force. Peru's former trade and tourism minister, Alfredo Ferrero, had said that the trade agreement would lead to the creation of some 900,000 new jobs.
The FTA with the US was supposed to improve environmental conditions in Peru, however since the implementation of the agreement the Peruvian government has seen indigenous protests as it attempted to bring in legislative changes that would give greater access by foreign investors to forestry, mining and other natural resource concessions, including huge areas of Peru’s Amazon region
Despite all these apparent problems, Peru’s Exporters’ Association (Adex) maintains that the international financial crisis has prevented Peru from reaping the benefits of this trade agreement and therefore the country will have to patiently await its northern partner’s economic recovery.
The Countdown to Regional Elections & the Race for Lima's New Mayor
Update 140. 17 August 2010
Regional and Municipal elections take place in Peru on 3 October when Peruvians will vote for mayors and regional presidents for the country's 25 regions and one province (Lima); and with that comes the race for the new mayor of Lima. The current two frontrunners are Lourdes Flores of the centre-right Unidad Nacional (National Unity) and Álex Kouri of right-leaning Cambio Radical (Radical Change). Flores unsuccessfully ran twice for the presidency in 2001 and 2006. Álex Kouri is a former mayor of Callao. Outgoing Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda Lossio is set to run in the presidential elections, scheduled for 10 April 2011.
Communities Affected by Oil Spill in Peru's Amazon
Update 140. 17 August 2010
High levels of contamination in the Marañón River, and a subsequent lack of clean drinking water, have been reported by several indigenous communities in the Loreto region of northern eastern Peru, following an oil spill in the area on 19 June.
The Argentinian company, Pluspetrol, has publicly acknowledged that there was a spill of 400 barrels of oil on the Marañón River when a barge transporting the load was involved in an accident. Several civil society organisations believe the extent of the pollution to be greater than that reported by the company and the government.
Environment minister Antonio Brack said the oil spill is currently under investigation and that those found responsible for the spill would be fined.
Human Rights - Individual Reparations for Victims of Terrorism
Peru News 057. 17 August 2010
Peruvian Prime Minister Javier Velásquez Quesquén has announced government plans to make individual reparations to victims of terrorism next year. The total amount earmarked is 20 million soles (£4.5 million/US$7 million) for victims during Peru’s internal armed conflict (1980-2000).
Velásquez said the payments would be made before the next government takes office in July 2011.
The payment of reparations to victims of terrorism during Peru’s internal armed conflict was one of the recommendations made in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2003. To date, only some collective reparations have been made by the state.
A multi-sectoral commission was created by a Supreme Resolution [No. 171-2010-PCM] on 18 July to administer applications for individual reparations.
The official announcement came two days after hundreds of victims of terrorism from Ayacucho marched to Lima to demand that the government comply with the payment of economic reparations to individuals.
Future beneficiaries of the compensation must be victims or relatives of those killed, disappeared or who have suffered other violations (such as rape) or disability during the internal armed conflict.
Colombia and Peru: EU External Trade
Peru News 057. 31 July 2010
British politician Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda, has recently asked the British government a series of questions regarding the EU-Andean Community (CAN) multi-trade agreement with Peru and Colombia. The questions and responses can be accessed below:
14 Jun 2010: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will bring forward proposals for the House to participate in the formulation of EU free trade agreements with (a) Colombia and (b) Peru.
24 Jun 2010: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy that the EU free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru be subject to ratification in each member state.
6 July 2010: As part of an intervention on the European Commission's work programme for 2011.
8 July 2010: If he [the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills - Edward Davey MP] will make representations to his EU counterparts to require that the proposed EU free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia undergoes ratification in each member state.
Perupetro Guarantees Reserve for Uncontacted Tribe
Update 138. 16 July 2010
Survival International reports that a reserve for uncontacted tribes in the Peruvian Amazon has been made off-limits to oil and gas companies. The majority of the reserve had been previously open to exploration by Brazilian company Petrobras, in an area known as 'Lot 110'. The reserve is inhabited by some of the world's last uncontacted indigenous people, a tribe known as the Murunahua (or Chitonahua), the organisation explains.
However, the announcement, which was made by the state oil and gas licensing agency Perúpetro, during a roadshow presentation in London on May 21, came as the agency opened up 25 new blocks for oil and gas exploration and exploitation, covering some 10 million hectares and located mainly in the country's Amazon region.
While 24 of the exploration blocks are located in the Marañón-Ucayali river basins and in the southeastern region of Madre de Dios, only one block is situated in a coastal area in Lambayeque and Piura regions, north-western Peru.
Besides London, Perúpetro has also made presentations in Houston (United States), Paris (France) and Cartagena (Colombia).
Indigenous Organisations Oppose Auction
Peruvian indigenous rights organisation AIDESEP (Asociación Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana) has qualified the bid process as "a new provocation against indigenous peoples".
According to AIDESEP, Perúpetro lost credibility following a corruption scandal surrounding the granting of oil concessions which implicated members of the APRA party. Allegations arose in October 2008 when audio tapes surfaced in which oil executive Alberto Químper of Perúpetro and APRA member Rómulo León Alegría allegedly discussed payoffs related to new oil concessions involving Norwegian oil company Discover Petroleum.
The allegations, which the Norwegian company denied, led to the resignation of President Alan García's entire Cabinet at the time. The case is still under investigation.
The Outcomes of Bagua: The Peruvian Amazon One Year on from the Violence
29 June 2010
On 28 June 2010, the Peru Support Group (PSG) held a public meeting at the Palace of Westminster in London to reflect upon what has happened in Peru one year on from the violence seen in Bagua.
The event was chaired by Lord Avebury, the president of the Peru Support Group. The speakers were: Lucile Robinson a campaigner for the South America team at Amnesty International's International Secretariat and Jay Goulden, who is currently Programme Director for CARE Peru in Lima.
Last year on 22 June 2009, a similar meeting was organised jointly by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Peru, the PSG and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) to discuss the violent clashes which took place on Friday 5 June 2009 in Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon that resulted in an official death toll of 33 victims, including 23 police officers and 10 indigenous protesters, with one police officer still unaccounted for (www.defensoria.gob.pe).
On that occasion, the meeting heard eyewitness testimony from two Belgian volunteers, Marijke Deleu and Thomas Quirynen, whose personal experiences were reinforced by photographic documentation. The other speakers included Patricia Oliart (Latin American Studies, Newcastle University), Amnesty International, Survival International, CAFOD and the PSG.
Peru's Congress Approves Consultation Law
Peru News 055. 11 June 2010
Peruvian Congress approved in May a law which would require prior consultation with indigenous communities before starting any project that could affect their rights. Such legislation has been on hold for the last 15 years and aims to diminish social conflicts between the authorities, national and foreign businesses and indigenous groups, said Oseas Barbarán head of the Confederation of Amazonian Nations of Peru (CONAP).
Congress passed the law which was supported with 62 votes in favour, 7 against and 6 absentees. Peruvian ombudswoman Beatriz Merino said the norm “represents a transcendental step in the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and to institutionalise multicultural dialogue between them and State authorities.” The legislation allows Peru to comply with article 6 of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 196 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.
The law still has to be enacted by President García. If he signs it, the law will return to Congress and be subject to a parliamentary debate.
Social Conflicts Increase in April
Peru News 055. 11 June 2010
According to the regular monthly report compiled by the Office of Peru’s Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo), 260 social conflicts were registered in April, 14 of which are new conflicts and 132 (50% of the total) are associated with socio-environmental issues.
Cuzco, in southern Peru, registered the most conflicts with 21, followed by the region of Puno and the capital city Lima with 20 each. Social conflicts within the country have shot up from 84 in July 2006 – the month president Alan García took office – to its peak of 288 in September 2009.
In comments to the Peruvian press agency, ANDINA, Ronald Ibarra the head of the Prime Minister’s office for Conflict Management remarked that the increase in or re-activation of social conflicts in the country could be related to the municipal and regional elections scheduled to be held in October.
US Prisoner's 'Freedom' Generates Anger
Peru News 055. 11 June 2010
US citizen Lori Berenson was granted parole by a judge in Lima at the end of May after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence for allegedly collaborating with a Marxist rebel group, the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), during Peru’s internal armed conflict during the 1990s. She continues to deny the charges.
According to the terms of her parole, Berenson has to remain in Peru for five years to serve out the remainder of her sentence.
Protesters have gathered outside the building where she currently resides and have demanded she leaves the country. Her release provoked controversy in a country still shocked by a bloody armed conflict that killed up to 70,000 people (1980-2000).
Justice minister Victor García Toma said Lori Berenson has asked for the country’s forgiveness in a letter sent to president Alan García. According to García Toma’s analysis of the situation, he recommends expelling the US citizen immediately. “I don’t think Lori Berenson can create harm for society, but she has created anger among citizens,” he said. If president García does decide to expel Berenson, the US citizen will be forced to leave Peru when she completes her sentence in five years.
Berenson was arrested under former president Alberto Fujimori’s administration, who himself is now in prison after being convicted of human rights crimes last year.
Her release was based on a legislation that was passed in 2003 during the government of former president Alejandro Toledo. The law allows inmates who were charged with terrorism to gain conditional parole when they have completed three-quarters of their sentence.