[Documents menu] Documents menu

From nobody Tue Mar 4 16:27:34 2003
From: apoiuoei@cgilfkjhmu.org (Emily Ford)
Subject: U.S. AIDS plan: a profit scheme
Newsgroups: soc.culture.african
Sender: Alma Walker
Distribution: world
Organization: Delilah Eckhardt
Message-ID: <1045761716.650239@news1.lynx.bc.ca>
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 16:51:55 GMT

U.S. AIDS plan: a profit scheme

From Emily Ford, 20 February 2003

Much has been made in the big-business media of President Bush’s so-called Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, announced in his recent State of the Union address.

Bush described the plan as an initiative to lead the world against a plague of nature. But the legacy of imperialist plunder and capitalist underdevelopment—not nature—is behind the pandemic unfolding in Africa, along with other regions of the world.

The exploitation of the continent for profit, from the slave trade, through the colonial era, to the modern extraction of wealth through the channels of investment, debt, and trade is responsible for the crisis that exists today throughout much of the continent.

Near the close of the 20th century the combined Gross Domestic Product of the nations south of the Sahara was equivalent to one-fifth that of France. Half the population of 600 million lived on less than $1 a day; more than half had no access to potable water; and more than a third could not get health care. Ninety out of every 1,000 children died before they reached the age of five.

These conditions are reinforced by the tribute that the African peoples must pay to Wall Street in the form of loan repayments and interest. The debt of African governments to imperialist banks stands at over $300 billion.

For decades pharmaceutical companies in the imperialist countries have used their patents to exact superprofits for the life-prolonging anti-retroviral AIDS drugs—pricing them beyond the reach of millions of Africans.

Bush’s AIDS relief package is designed to help smooth the path of the U.S. rulers as they push their trade and investment interests in Africa—frequently at the expense of other, longer-established imperialist powers. Even the way it is put together smacks of imperial arrogance. Washington has already determined who will administer the funds, what are the priorities, and which are the drug companies that will benefit from the funds.

In a June 2001 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Cuban vice-president Carlos Lage gave an example for working people of the spirit of solidarity needed to seriously tackle the AIDS crisis. Despite its limited resources Cuba offered volunteer doctors, health-care workers, and medicines.

Lage called on the UN conference to declare an end to patents for AIDS drugs and provide them free to all who need them.

The Cuban leader urged the assembled governments to demand cancellation of the debt of semicolonial countries owed to the imperialist banks. That is a stand that points the way forward for working people around the globe who want to join forces in an international battle against the plague of imperialist exploitation.