Canada Signs "Free" Trade Agreement with Repressive Regime
Friday August 12th, member of the Honduran Women's Collective (CODEMUH), Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Bishop Monseñor Luis Santos, Rights Action & female workers from Gildan's sweatshops, met in the central plaza in San Pedro Sula to protest the arrival of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to sign the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Honduran regime leader Pepe Lobo.
After speeches & being joined by a student march of the National Front of Popular Resistance, we moved to the Expocentre (large event centre in San Pedro Sula) where PM Harper was inside with President Lobo signing the FTA.
We originally hope to enter the meeting to deliver PM Harper a letter protesting the signing of the agreement & highlighting many of the problems caused by Canadian companies and inverstors currently operating in Honduras including:
* Health, labour and human rights problems of Gildan workers,
* health and environmental harms and other human rights violations in Goldcorp Inc mining-affected communities in Siria Valley,
* the disappearance & ethnocide of Garifuna communities caused in part by Canadian tourist projects and investors,
* the lack of respect for Afro-indigenous & indigenous rights by Canadian companies, etc.
(Mining Companies Out)
(Gildan workers, and their demands)
We were blocked out by a big metal gate guarded by private security guards, police & military. When asked if we could send a letter inside to PM Harper, we were denied once again.
Phone calls were made as we were outside the meeting location, to the Canadian Consulate in Tegucigalpa & to the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Americans, Peter Kent (who participated in negotiations in Honduras since the coup). I left a message on the Canadian Consulate's citizen emergency line and never got a call back. Peter Kent's office offered me the Minister of Environment's phone number & the email & fax number for the Prime Minister's Office. No response from either.
Riot police, police trucks with troops & a water tank (spout pointed right at us) drove by as an effort to intimidate us. Their strategy did not work.
Overall, it was a great protest with lots of energy & enthusiasm. We think we managed to make a little bit of noise in Honduras and Canada so that PM Harper, the Canadian Government & Canadian people knew that we were there, excluded from the meeting & unable to participate in a meeting and a policy that had and would affect all the Hondurans outside in the protest and more.
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