APEC summit: Peru moves closer to China

During the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Forum (APEC) summit in Lima, protesters took to the streets to oppose the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal—just as it appears to be on the rocks with the election of Donald Trump. But as the summit closed, China's President Xi Jinping and his Peruvian counterpart Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a series of bilateral agreements to advance "free trade" between the two countries and cooperation in the mineral and resource sectors. Xi especially plugged the Chinese-backed mega-project to build a transcontinental railway through the Amazon basin, and praised Peru for its ground-breaking 2010 free trade agreement with China. "Peru was the first Latin American country to sign a comprehensive free trade agreement with China. It's leading the region on cooperation with China," Xi said through an interpreter in a speech before Peru's Congress. 

Lawamkers from the leftist Frente Amplio bloc pointedly stayed away from Xi's address in protest of the new accords. The bloc's Marco Arana stated: "The Peruvian state needs investment and access to China's market, but this does not imply that it abdicate guarantees for labor and environmental rights." (PanAm Post, Nov. 22; Reuters, Peru21, Nov. 21)

The Frente Amplio also led the anti-TPP protests as the summit opened, together with leftist student groups. The days leading up to the summit saw protests throughout the country. Local demonstrators effectively shut down the tourist rail line leading to Macchu Picchu, to protest the lack of investment in public transport for local residents in rural Cuzco region. (TeleSur, Nov. 18; Europa Press, Nov. 17)

There were also demonstrations in the lead-up to the summit over the death of a peasant protester at the hands of National Police during a Nov. 7 rally against the gold operations of the Horizonte Mining Consortium (CMH) at Alpamarca, in Pataz province of La Libertad region. (El Comercio, Nov. 8; La Informacion, La Mula, Nov, 7)