European corporations under fire for violations in Latin America
BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) / VIENNA (AUSTRIA), May 8 2006 – Several European corporations will come under fire this week during an alternative Europe-Latin America gathering held in parallel to the European Union (EU) – Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Summit hosted by Austria, the current president of the EU. 
Friends of the Earth International
May 8, 2006
At the May 12 EU-LAC Summit in Vienna, heads of state will discuss plans to further trade and investment agreements between the two trading blocs. They are under pressure from business leaders meeting on May 11-13 to voice business’ urgent requests with regards to bi-lateral trade relations and direct investment.’ 
Conversely, participants in the alternative summit want EU and LAC leaders to stop promoting the free trade agenda, and organized a May 10-11 ‘People’s Tribunal on Human Rights violations’ perpetrated by European corporations in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
Friends of the Earth groups from Europe and Latin America participate in the alternative summit and summoned four European companies to the human rights Tribunal in Vienna for their involvement in social, environmental and human rights violations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
‘The Tribunal indicates that many European companies are causing social and environmental problems in Latin America and the Caribbean. Heads of state should discuss ways to hold companies accountable and to strengthen the rights of affected communities, instead of pushing for more harmful liberalization’ said Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth International.
THE FOUR CORPORATIONS SUMMONED BY FRIENDS OF THE EARTH GROUPS ARE:
1. VION FOOD GROUP
Vion Food Group from the Netherlands – one of the largest vendors of pork products and a market leader in the beef sector- is the biggest meat slaughterhouse in Europe. Its pig feed mainly comes from soy from Brazil. The soy production results in large scale deforestation of the Amazon, violation of human rights, eviction of local farmers and pollution from pesticides.
In Uruguay, for the past eight years the French water and energy giant Suez provided water services in the Maldonado department, via its Spanish subsidiary Aguas de Barcelona. In that time, water prices have risen for up to 700%, excluding a large part of the poor population from access to water.
Andritz AG from Austria is world leader for wood processing machinery. The company is involved in controversial pulp and paper projects in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, resulting in destruction of rainforest, severe pollution and conflicts with the local population. Andrtiz delivered the machinery to a paper mill in Uruguay which has recently led to large scale protests and to an international conflict between the governments of Uruguay and Argentina. These countries have now taken this case to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands.
Electricity group Unión Fenosa from Spain has branches in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. The company is accused of illegal actions such as cutting off people from the electricity grid without prior notification, violations of international labor agreements, intimidation of local leaders and other human rights violations.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +32-47310147 (Belgian cell)
Daniel Hausknost, Friends of the Earth Austria/Global 2000 (for the Andritz case): tel: +43-69914200019 (Austrian cell)
Michiel van Geelen Friends of the Earth Netherlands/Milieudefensie (for the Vion Food case): Tel: +31-636137277 (Dutch cell)
Carlos Santos, Friends of the Earth Uruguay/REDES (for the Suez Uruguay case) Tel: +32-498 492563 (Belgian cell only May 10-14)
Juan Pablo Soler, Friends of the Earth Colombia/CENSAT (for the Union Fenosa case) Tel: +32-498 492563 (Belgian cell only May 10-14)
 Official Summit web pages: http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/lac-vienna/index.htm and http://www.uealc.at/
 Business Summit web pages: http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/lac-vienna/events/business.htm and http://www.austriantrade.org/eulac2006/
 Alternative Summit and Tribunal web page: http://www.alternativas.at/