Coalition voices opposition for Trans-Pacific Partnership at trade talks on Maui
KAANAPALI – Hundreds of local residents and representatives from international advocacy groups gathered on Kaanapali Beach last week Wednesday to express their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), arguing that it would sacrifice fundamental protections for public health, the environment, local jobs and indigenous rights in order to benefit a few major corporations.
“The TPP is a threat to our sovereignty as Native Hawaiians and as human beings,” said Kaleikoa Ka’eo, professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii.
“This secret trade agreement would allow corporations to control decisions about how we live without any accountability to us, the people of this land.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed trade pact between several countries involving matters of economic policy.
Protest organizers contend the TPP is a trade pact negotiated in secret between 12 nations around the Pacific Rim and 600 corporations. The 12 countries include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada and Mexico.
The list of corporations include Walmart, Monsanto, Pfizer, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical.
Wednesday’s event included speeches, performances and an attempt to break the world record for the largest number of conch shells (pu) blown at one time.
“We chose the pu for this demonstration, because in ancient times, the sound of the pu was a call to attention – a kahea (call) to recognize something important is about to occur,” said Trinette Furtado, one of the event organizers.
“This event calls attention to all struggles against entitled behavior across the globe. We send this kahea of the pu out past this hotel and the secret TPP negotiations, and out into the ocean, through the mountains, around the world. People are awakening, discovering their power. They are hungry to effect a positive change in the world.”
According to event organizers, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause of the trade agreement would allow corporations to sue signatory countries for the loss of anticipated profits as a result of local laws established to protect the environment, food safety, public health or human rights. In addition, they say the TPP would extend patent claims held by large pharmaceutical companies, making access to affordable generic medicines very difficult.
“Workers around the world recognize that the TPP will drive down wages, undermine living standards and make it impossible to protect high-quality, good-paying jobs for local workers,” said Cade Watanabe of UniteHere! LOCAL 5, a union representing hotel and hospital workers in Hawaii.
“It is out of respect for Hawaii’s land, its labor and its people that we are standing up in opposition to the TPP.”
“Hawaii is one of the most uniquely beautiful places on the planet. To protect this amazing natural beauty, Hawaii has some of the strongest environmental laws on the planet. But if the TPP is adopted, these protections would be gutted,” said Marti Townsend, Sierra Club of Hawaii director.
“The TPP is a fundamental threat to our clean water, fresh air and fruitful lands. It would set back our progress on clean energy and do nothing to prevent environmental degradation across the Pacific region.”
“TPP negotiators cannot escape public scrutiny in Hawaii. These demonstrations in Lahaina are part of a global movement of millions demanding transparency and speaking out against corporate favoritism,” explained Kaytee Ray-Riek, campaigns director at SumOfUs. “Journalists, activists and voters are among the hundreds of thousands urging politicians to not sign this trade pact.”
“Highly secretive international agreements like the TPP will decimate our way of life in the islands by threatening Hawaiians’ rights to resources that allow for a subsistence lifestyle, crippling our local food economy, allowing higher levels of pesticides on crops and weakening the regulation of chemicals, lowering worker protections and opening the door for wider environmental and human rights abuses, and weakening food safety standards and food labeling requirements,” said Mary Lacques of Hawaii SEED.
For information, visit tppmaui.com/.