With the first round of presidential elections over in Peru, activists are resuming the marches against the Trans Pacific Partnership. This would be the sixth March against the TPP in Peru this year. Previous actions took place in Lima and other major cities of the country like Cuzco, Arequipa, and Tacna.
Activists are mobilizing mainly through social media and have called for people to begin gathering in Plaza San Martin, downtown Lima, at 5 p.m. local time. After gathering a mass of people at the plaza, they will start marching. The route has not been made public by the organizers.
One of the platforms to mobilize for the marches is the Facebook fanpage entitled Peruanos Against the TPP. This group is a coalition of social movements, labor unions, student organizations, neighborhood collectives, cultural movements, and progressive political parties.
WATCH: Peru: Protests Against the TPP Continue
Yuri Lozada is one of the many organizers in this coalition. He argues that since “we haven’t received an answer from the legislator, we are going to the streets. Congress has to realize they made a deal behind the backs of the people and the people are now mobilizing. We are going to continue mobilizing, agitating, and informing.”
Marches have not continue at the same pace of the first two months of the year due to a number of mass protests against presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori that included many of the same activist.
Fujimori is a far right candidate who openly supports the signing of the TPP. Many activists at the marches against her candidacy had signs rejecting her support for the treaty. Chants against the TPP were common at the marches against Fujimori as well.
However, the other candidate that passed to the second round of presidential elections is Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who also supports the TPP. Kuczynksi narrowly beat Veronika Mendoza for the second spot in the runoff election. She was the only candidate with a chance of winning who rejected the TPP.
Such result secures the presidency for someone who supports the TPP. Lozada concludes that “with the second round of elections that is coming up it is even more important to protests. We have to pressure the government that is coming. Protesting is the only way to struggle we have left.”
The reason most mentioned to reject the TPP at the protests is the clause that allows pharmaceuticals to maintain a monopoly of certain medicines. Demonstrators claim such a measure will raise the prices for medicines hurting millions of Peruvians who already struggle with a deficient national health care system, and a for profit health care market that is prohibitive for those who have many needs.
However many other issues are noted as important by protesters such as the limits put on the sovereignty of a state on increasing environmental protections or health issues of the population; the promotion of genetically modified seeds; the limits on exchange of content though the internet; and the weakening of worker’s and famer’s rights.
In previous marches, the police have met protesters with horses, tear gas, water tanks and batons to disperse the crowds. Usually some of those marching respond by throwing rocks at the police and returning the tear gas canisters. Police always resort to the use of violence when demonstrators attempt to reach Congress.