European Transnationals Accused of Rights Violations in Latin America
Madrid, Spain, May 12, 2010 – On the eve of the May 18 Europe-Latin America and Caribbean Summit, Friends of the Earth International and other organizations will present cases of serious rights violations committed by European corporations in Latin America and promote alternatives to the food, climate and financial crisis.
During the Peoples Summit 'Linking Alternatives IV' Friends of the Earth International, together with Latin American and European organizations and social movements will expose the impacts of EU policies and transnational corporations on the Latin American peoples and environment. 
The Peoples Summit will be held from May 14 to 18 in Madrid, in parallel to the official Summit of Heads of State and Government of European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) will be held during the Peoples Summit and will hear cases of human rights violations committed by European corporations in Latin America. 
"Many major European corporations operating in Latin America are heavily involved in human rights violations and environmental destruction. We appear before the Peoples Tribunal with evidence of specific environmental and human rights violations by European transnational corporations,” said Sebastian Valdomir, International Coordinator of the Economic Justice Program of Friends of the Earth International.
“These violations are not addressed through existing legal mechanisms in Latin American countries because of the excessive power and undue influence that these corporations have in our countries," added Sebastian Valdomir.
Groups of Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC) have been submitting evidence to the PPT of abuses and violations committed by three major European transnational corporations:
The Spanish energy company Union Fenosa is accused of raising the price of electricity, cutting the energy supply, and persecuting community leaders who protested against the corporation in Guatemala. This case is filed by CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Guatemala, together with other Central American organizations that are also protesting against Union Fenosa's abuses in other countries in the region. In Guatemala, eight social leaders who demanded the expulsion of the transnational corporation have been murdered since October of 2009, four of them in March of 2010.
The Swedish-Finnish forestry corporation Stora Enso is accused by NAT/ Friends of the Earth Brazil and REDES / Friends of the Earth Uruguay, as well as other South American organizations and movements, of violating workers' rights in Brazil, of deforestation, of limiting water availability in the communities close to their plantations, of violating land laws and of lobbying - including financing political campaigns - to weaken environmental laws.
Swiss cement company Holcim is being accused by CENSAT Agua Viva / Friends of the Earth Colombia, CEIBA - Friends of the Earth Guatemala, and Otros Mundos - Friends of the Earth Mexico, for actions committed in these countries, including negatively affecting human health in the communities near its cement exploitation activities, environmental pollution with industrial waste and serious impacts on water supplies, subsistence farming, and the rights to land of the indigenous and peasant communities.
The Summit of Heads of State and Government of European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to push forward strategic 'Association Agreements' between the two regions. These free trade 'Association Agreements' may be favorable for the EU but their effects on Latin American people and their environment would be disastrous. 
"The EU claims to be promoting sustainable development and social inclusion, but the policies and trade mechanisms it advocates in fact promote false solutions that have terrible consequences for the people and the environment in Latin America. For example, the European demand for agrofuels is creating havoc in the countries where large scale plantations cause big social and environmental problems, and endangers food sovereignty,” said Christine Pohl, of Friends of the Earth Europe.
“In particular free trade agreements and the liberalization of investments that are currently being negotiated under the EU strategy called 'Global Europe' only benefit financial capital and transnational corporations," added Christine Pohl.
Friends of the Earth groups are also organizing public events in Madrid to propose alternatives to EU - Latin America relations based exclusively on free trade negotiations and on producing more business opportunities for transnational corporations.
On Thursday May 13 Friends of the Earth groups are organizing a public event on the impacts of the European energy model in Latin America, with special emphasis on agrofuels.
For more information please contact in Madrid
Christine Pohl, Friends of the Earth Europe, Tel: +32-498-492563 (Belgian mobile)
Sebastián Valdomir, REDES / Friends of the Earth Uruguay, Tel: +34-6-47592408 (Spanish mobile valid May 12-19)
Blanca González Ruibal, Friends of the Earth Spain, Tel: +34-6-91471389 (Spanish mobile)
Teresa Rodríguez Pierrard, Friends of the Earth Spain, Tel: + 34-6-80936327 (Spanish mobile)
 For more information on the Alternative Summit "Linking Alternatives" please visit: www.enlazandoalternativas.org. Daily coverage of the tribunal and the Peoples Summit will be available on Real World Radio's website: http://www.realworldradio.fm
 The cases filed by Friends of the Earth will be submitted before an international panel of judges at this session of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT). The PPT was established in 1973 as a Tribunal that would address the institutional gaps in the international legal system. The PPT will issue a final resolution - based on the accusations, evidence, documentation and testimonies of the victims at the hearing.
 For more information on the Association Agreements between Europe and Latin America see the report 'Calling The EU's Bluff' at www.foei.org/en/calling-the-eus-bluff
Filed under: global europe, corporate power, corporates, agrofuels, economics, plantations, neoliberalism
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