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November 7th, 2007
Rep. Grijalva Opposes Peru ?Free Trade? Agreement

Washington, D.C. — Representative Raúl M. Grijalva will vote against the Peru “Free Trade” Agreement (FTA), when it comes to the House floor for a vote this evening.

Representative Grijalva releases the following statement:

“In the last election, the American people voted for a halt to this destructive process of corporate globalization that has done so much harm to this nation and to our neighbors. Instead of a change in direction on trade, the American people are getting more of the same.

“I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee to improve this agreement, but I believe they failed to do what is necessary and fundamentally reform the current, corporate model of trade. Their efforts are like putting a roof on a crumbling house.  

“Today’s events in Peru indicate that this agreement is not sufficient to guarantee the rights of Peruvian workers. The Peruvian government apparently feels confident in denying workers their rights the very day this “agreement” is being voted on. I shudder to think what they may feel empowered to do when our attention is not so closely focused on their actions.

“If this FTA passes today, multi-national corporations will be able to haul local, state and national governments into courts presided over by unelected trade lobbyists and bureaucrats who often are judges in one case and advocates in the next. If this FTA passes, drug companies will have an enforceable right to prevent the production of affordable, life-saving generic drugs. And I fear that if this FTA passes in these circumstances, when a miner’s union is being denied their right to strike for an eight-hour workday, the Peruvian government will not feel bound to follow the letter or spirit of the agreement with regard to labor rights.

“I can not vote for an FTA model that contains these holdover provisions regarding investor-state relations and monopoly profit protections for large drug companies, as well as a failing to consider the dire effects for Peruvian small farmers of direct competition with corporate agro-business exports from the US.

“I fear that we will see in Peru a repeat of the Mexican experience after NAFTA, when 1.3 million farmers were forced off the land, and many of them left their families and communities to make a dangerous trip to the United States. This tragic experience continues to the present day, and a vote to pass this bill would offer Peru a share of Mexico’s misery.

“I oppose the Peru FTA.”

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