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Legislative decrees put investment first
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Norms weaken protection of communal and forest lands.

President Alan García signed 99 norms between March and June, using special powers granted by Congress to legislate by decree to adapt national law for the free trade agreement with the United States.

But the decrees go beyond the trade pact, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2009, and focuses on the government´s search for investment, putting communal lands and forested areas as risk.

Carlos Monge, an anthropologist with the Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana, a civil society organization that promotes Peruvian decentralization, said that the government has overstepped its bounds.

At a conference on the decrees´ impact on communities, natural resources and the environment, Monge noted that this is the Peruvian government´s third large-scale campaign for investment, starting with sweeping privatization in the 1990, followed by deregularization of foreign investment between 2001 and 2005.

In October 2007, García published an editorial in El Comercio, Peru´s largest newspaper, called “The Farm Dog Syndrome”, which refers to untapped natural resources that could create more employment for Peru if only they had more private sector investment.

García´s decrees aim to loosen regulations on campesino lands and environmental protection in order to attract more capital.

Laureano del Castillo, a lawyer with the Peruvian Social Studies Center said that 84 percent of Peru´s farms are owned by small-scale farmers or are communal lands.

“Of the 99 legislative decrees, 26 aim to promote investment and competitiveness in agriculture without taking small-scale farmers, campesina and native communities into account, which would be the most affected, considering that agriculture generates the most employment in the country,” he said.

Alberto Barandiarán, an environmental lawyer, said that the decrees weaken existing laws on the environment, putting trade and investment first.

The experts agreed that civil society should push for the decrees to be repealed, calling them a threat to the sustainable use of farmland, farmers´ rights and for putting Amazon forests and water resources at risk.
—Latinamerica Press.

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