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National Security and the Peru, Panama and Colombia FTAs

As former Secretary of State Colin Powell has noted[1], sustainable development around the world is critical for the national security of the United States. Disrupted economic systems can result in failed states. Failed states, in turn, are seedbeds of violence, drug trafficking, and terrorism.

The Peru-U.S. FTA is expected to severely disrupt the economy of Peru. Its agricultural provisions, which are nearly identical to those of NAFTA, are predicted to decrease the incomes of the poorest Peruvian campesino farmers by eliminating an array of programs that regulate markets for rice and other foods and provide low-interest credit and other supports. After NAFTA eliminated similar food security policies in Mexico, 1.3 million Mexican peasant farmers lost their livelihoods as subsidized U.S. food imports flooded the market.

In the Andean region, hundreds of thousands of small farmers would likely follow the suit of their Mexican predecessors and migrate—documented or not—to the U.S., and local leaders are concerned that massive social upheaval from the deal could lead to serious security concerns.

Peruvian organizations argue that this massive reorganization of the rural and farm economy will exceed rural communities’ ability to adapt to the changes.[2]

As Monsignor Pedro Barreto, the Catholic Archbishop of the Andean highland city of Huancayo, told reporters on a conference call the day that the Peru deal was signed, “We’re fairly certain that [the trade agreement] will increase the cultivation of coca, which brings along with it a series of negative consequences such as drug trafficking, terrorism and increasing violence.” Read the full Miami Herald article.

The United States is pursuing the same reckless agricultural provisions in negotiations with Colombia.  In a letter to the Bush administration about AFTA,U.S. Congressional leaders cited a study by the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture that argued that without proper agricultural protections, rural problems could worsen and many rural Colombians “would have no more than three options: migration to the cities or to other countries (especially the United States), working in drug cultivation zones, or affiliating with illegal amed groups.”

This concern was echoed by Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, as well as the Washington Post editorial board.

Yet the concern about the security implications of the deal were dismissed by the Bush administration and its allies in Congress, and Peru, Panama and Colombia were pressured to agree to agricultural rules that will clearly cause increasing drug production, violence and unrest in the region—problems that could spillover into the United States.

The precedent exists.  According the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office, the amount of marijuana seized annually along the Mexican border has doubled to 1.1 million pounds since 1994, the year NAFTA took effect, a fact tied directly to the agricultural rules in NAFTA.[3]

The Peru, Panama and Colombia FTAs must be altered so that they benefit rural farmers and strengthen, not undermine, U.S. national security. 

Find out what you can do to make sure our national security is protected!

[1] (http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.item&news_id=34999)

[2] Press Release, National Agrarian Federation of Peru, Conveagro, et. al., “Call for a National Strike on Peru FTA,” March 2006.

[3] Bill Lambrecht, “Mexican farmers forced from fields by low prices.”  St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 30, 2005.

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    » trade | afta | security

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