And right along with it, all hope that Peruvian president Alan Garcia might have learned from mistakes of the past:
Environmental and human rights group in Peru have denounced the government’s campaign to auction off large swathes of the Amazon to oil and gas companies.
They say the amount of Peruvian Amazon territory open to exploration has risen from 13% to 70% in two years.
They say this is putting at risk the biodiversity of the Amazon and the lives of indigenous people.
Peruvian President Alan Garcia has said the plans are part of his investment programme to tackle widespread poverty.
Foreign investment, the magic remedy for poverty? Uh, Alan, you might want to ask your neighbors how that worked out for them. Specifically, your neighbors in Bolivia and Venezuela. Both are in the process of reversing the very mistake you’re making, taking back what they’d virtually given away to foreign “investors” (read: ROBBERS) in the past.
For that matter, you might want to check Peru’s own past history–foreign investment hasn’t exactly panned out. Investors have preyed on poverty, rather than eliminated it. It’s not in their economic interest to pay people a living wage, you see. In fact, the chances are poor that they’ll even employ many locals for anything other than the most unskilled of grunt labor; they don’t see non-Europeans and non-northerners as intellectually capable.
The fact that economic growth is completely divorced from poverty reduction is bad enough, but the prospect of environmental degradation makes matters even worse. For once the oil is gone, the oil companies too will be, and with them, all that investment which did nothing but increase the poverty. If environmental health is a form of wealth (and it certainly is, since no one can live well in a polluted hellhole), then the poverty is only doubled as a result of foreign investors. Local people, indigenous ones especially, will be driven from the only homes they’ve known; diseases against which they have no immunity will ravage them; and what disease won’t do to eradicate them, pollution surely will.
This is how foreign investment really benefits people–not the many in the region where the “investment” takes place, but in the distant boardrooms of the investors. Who will only pull out when they feel it’s no longer paying off enough to suit them.
Meanwhile, for the locals, it will be a distinct case of “there goes the neighborhood”.