The Trouble in Peru

The Trouble in Peru

When we travel and visit Fair Trade coops in Central and South America, and visit with farmers and coop managers and staff, there are some words we hear more than others. Brother. Solidarity. Together. We.

So it’s with some sadness that we pass long some news from Peru that you might not have heard about in the mainstream media. The trouble in Peru is the same trouble in many countries in the developing world – that of resource management and indigenous peoples’ rights. In Peru, there’s an indigenous Indian movement in the Peruvian Amazon to protect the Amazon Rainforest from mining and petroleum interests. It’s been an ongoing issue, and lately there have been clashes between the police and indigenous protesters, resulting in the loss of life on both sides.

I know, we’re not a news service agency, we’re a coffee company. (If you want to read up on the events, there’s a list of links at the end). Here’s why it matters to us: we buy a lot of coffee from Peru, and a lot of that coffee comes from indigenous coffee farmers on the edges of and in the Amazon rainforest. In fact, one of the clashes that happened June 5 was on the main road between Jaen (We buy from 2 coops there: ASPROCAFE Selva Andina and CENFROCAFE) and Bagua (we buy from CAC Bagua Grande). We buy over 3 million pounds of high quality, very reliable Fair Trade Organic coffee from 12 different coops that are within 100 miles of where this clash happened. That’s well over 5,000 coffee farmers. We’ve been in touch with our partners on the ground and to date no one has been hurt and the supply lines are open. But their lives have just gotten even more complicated.

There’s been a state of emergency for 60 days declared in Bagua, Jaén and San Ignacio and the main roads are being kept open. That’s good. We need their coffee and they need to be able to sell it. If you want to support Peruvian coffee farmers, drink some FTO Peruvian Select. If you want to do something or express yourself, see the list below. If you want to just close your eyes for a few seconds and think about peace everywhere, go for it.

New York Times articles:
http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/r/simon_romero/index.html

Alliance for Responsible Trade
http://www.art-us.org/?key=36643586

26 minute Democracy Now piece on the events over the weekend:
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/8/peruvian_police_accused_of_massacring_indigenous

Duke University Study on Oil and Gas Projects in Western Amazon
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002932

Great summary on Equal Exchange’s great blog called “Small Farmers Big Change”
http://smallfarmersbigchange.coop/2009/06/09/urgent-action-protest-massacre-of-indigenous-people-in-peru/

Belgian NGO called Catapa that focuses on mining problems in Latin America
http://www.catapa.be/en/news/340

If you want to take action, here are some steps.

Send a letter to the President of Peru
http://www.amazonwatch.org/peru-action-alert.php

Write a letter to your editor or congressman

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