IMF in DC begins

colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu colist-admin at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Thu Apr 13 09:24:23 CDT 2000


[ed:  thanks to Vanessa for the added information on the IMF/World Bank 
demonstrations.]

From: Vanessa Tait <vanessa at uclink4.berkeley.edu>

Besides Indymedia's excellent coverage, check out the
special daily radio broadcasts from the IMF/World Bank
meetings put out by striking Pacifica Radio reporters in
collaboration with the National Radio Project. The show is
called "Inside Capital" and is being broadcast on dozens of
community stations around the nation, or you can listen via
the web at
         http://www.savepacifica.net/strike/inside_capital.html.

Vanessa Tait

***********************

From: Julie Davids <jdavids at CritPath.Org>


Dear COMM-ORGers --

As part of this week's activities against the World Bank and IMF, ACT UP
PHiladelphia
is bringing 10 busloads of protesters to DC on Sunday for the big march and
rally.

We also want to make sure that folks realize that the Africa Growth and
Opportunity Act, or "NAFTA for Africa," a sweeping trade bill currently in
conference committee,
basically legislates structural adjustment mandates innovated by the IMF but
placing it under US government control. We reject any debt relief or trade
standards
that include structural adjustment provisions.

Here is our press release:

Bus seats from Philly still available but going fast...



         AIDS DEMONSTRATORS TO SHUT DOWN THE IMF

Also to Protest Clinton-backed Trade Bill that Imposes
IMF-Style Structural Adjustment Programs on Poor Nations

                 “AGOA = More AIDS For Africa”

(Philadelphia) ACT Philadelphia is mobilizing over 1,000 angry
protesters to take part in the April 16 march on Washington D.C. to shut
down the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Hundreds of ACT UP members will fill the streets in civil-disobedience
Sunday morning April  16, seeking to shut down the IMF.
Later, over 1000 ACT UP Philadelphia members will gather at 11:45 at the
southwest corner of the Ellipse, marching to join the permitted
demonstration on the south side of the White House. People with AIDS and
their supporters will then move en masse toward the larger demonstration
to close down the International Monetary Fund.

ACT UP Philadelphia, the nation’s largest AIDS activist organization,
will focus on defeating the Clinton Administration’s “Africa Growth and
Opportunity Act,” as well as exposing the policies of the IMF and World Bank.

The Africa trade bill, supported by Clinton, was introduced by Senator
Finance Chair William Roth (R-DE). The bill imposes IMF-style structural
adjustment requirements on sub-Saharan nations. Structural Adjustment
Programs compel a nation to reorganize its economy in order to pay off a
giant debt. Many developing countries carry foreign debts that are
larger than their gross national product. “The Clinton-Gore
administration supports a free-trade-based subsidy that will endanger
millions of lives,” said ACT UP’s Paul Davis. “The President is pushing
hard for a bill that retains Structural Adjustment Programs with or
without the IMF. Clinton’s Africa trade bill bullies poor nations into
prioritizing debt payment over health spending, favoring exports over
self-sufficiency. Big business prospers, while millions of citizens are
left without life-saving medicine.”

Worldwide, AIDS kills 6,800 people per day. Of the 34 million people
with HIV on this planet, 70%—23.3 million—live in sub-Saharan, where
13.7 million AIDS related deaths have already occurred.  By 2005, AIDS
related deaths will cause life expectancy in Africa to drop to
approximately 45 years, a low Africa hasn’t experienced since the 1950s.
3.8 million of the 5.6 million new HIV infections were in sub-Saharan
Africa in 1999.

According to the 1998  UN Development report, sub-Saharan Africa pays
$20 million each day in service of its debt in interest and capital
repayments. That’s about the same amount Microsoft makes in profit each
day.  Total debt owed by SUB-SAHARAN amounts to $200 billion.

Just as ACT UP's September 17 occupation of the US Trade
Representative's office was "a calling card action for Seattle," the
April 16 demonstrations will be magnified by the group during the
Republican National Convention in Philadelphia beginning August 1.

ACT UP Demands:
         • The US must use its clout as the single largest shareholder of IMF
investment to push through debt relief
                 proposals that are not linked to structural adjustment 
programs.
         • The Administration and Congress MUST DROP the Africa Growth and
Opportunity Act.
         • Congress must cease efforts to strip or water-down Senator
Feinstein's AGOA Amendment. (prohibiting                        USTR 
actions that would
punish poor countries that attempt to legally manufacture generic
versions of                     expensive, patented, life saving medicines)


Background:
The IMF has failed to meet its mission:
         The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a 'gatekeeper' for
international lending institutions. In order to qualify loans, a nation
must submit to 'Structural Adjustment Programs' requiring economies to
be restructured to prioritize debt-repayment over social spending, such
as education or health care. Farmers’ land has been seized by
impoverished governments, forests have been cleared to plant crops, and
national health systems have been closed. Nations under IMF direction
are forced to redirect production from away from self-sufficiency toward
exporting products to service debt

• In Zimbabwe over 1 in 5 people age 15-49 have HIV. In the early 1980s,
infant mortality was decreasing and life expectancy was rising, along
with other health indicators. Zimbabwe turned to the IMF for a $500
million loan. Once the Structural Adjustment Program attached to the
loan was implemented, wages plunged, government spending was cut and
Zimbabwe spiraled into an economic crisis. Government healthcare
spending was also cut, as well as wage cut that health care workers were
already experiencing.

• In the Ivory Coast, where one in ten adults is HIV infected,
structural adjustment has resulted in a doubling in the rate of poverty,
by 1995, 36% of Ivorians earned less than 1 dollar per day, compared
with 17.8% in the late 1980s, before the nation's involvement with the
IMF and World Bank.

• The US congress recently commissioned a study on the policies and role
of the IMF and the World Bank. The subsequent Meltzer report strongly
suggests that the debts owed to the IMF and World Bank by the poorest
countries should be immediately written off, without continued ties to
the institutions’ economic policies. The report also charges that the
IMF should no longer play a central role in the economies of poor nations.

ACT UP Global campaign - Access to Medication for Every Nation:
         ACT UP Philadelphia has been at the forefront of a struggle to win
medication for people in poor nations. 90% of people with AIDS live in
the developing world, and have no access to treatment. ACT UP
Philadelphia members disrupted a number of Vice President Gore's early
campaign appearances, relenting only after the candidate changed his
position on South Africa's initiatives to locally manufacture generic
versions of expensive life-saving medicines. President Clinton's World
AIDS Day announcement came one day after a major demonstration by ACT UP
at the White House on November 30.
         The US Trade Representative (USTR) will release the "301 Watch 
List" by
April 30. The list contains the USTR trade grievances and actions
planned against other countries. The USTR's Joseph Papovich has promised
ACT UP that the new policy will be applied to the list currently being
crafted by the cabinet-level office. "We applaud the announcement made
by President Clinton on World AIDS Day in Seattle," said ACT UP's John
Bell. "But with the USTR wii release its list of nations that it plans
to bully by the end of April. We hope that the Administration's
announcement amounts to a real policy change. Otherwise, we may have to
revisit Al Gore's campaign appearances," continued Bell.
         The April 16 action targeting the IMF follows a Wednesday meeting
between ACT UP, the USTR, and representatives of HHS and the National
Security Council. "Our meeting on the 12th will help us gage if there
was any substance to the Vice President's announcement of a policy shift
when he addressed the United Nations. We look forward to supporting a
candidate who will stand up to the pharmaceutical lobby. We hope Gore
keeps his promises," said ACT UP's Paul Davis.
         A typical HIV/AIDS cocktail in the US costs more than $10,000 per 
year.
The vast majority of HIV/AIDS patients in Africa are unable to afford
life-saving medicine in spite of very low physical production costs.
Drug companies argue that 'compulsory licensing,' or generic
manufacture, will reduce research and development incentives. However,
the majority of research is performed by the US Government, which is
then supplemented by massive subsidy to private industry to pursue
licensed government inventions. Africa only accounts for 1.3 percent of
the worldwide pharmaceutical market.
         "The multibillion-dollar drug companies who hold the patents on these
therapies set prices as high as the markets of wealthy nations will
bear. Millions in poor countries will die as a result; drug companies
believe this is an acceptable situation. We call it genocide," said ACT
UP member Janice D’Angelo.

US trade policy - African Growth and Opportunity Act
         President Clinton announced in Seattle (as did candidate Al Gore 
at the
United Nations Security Council meeting January 11) that the US Trade
Representative would no longer routinely levy sanctions against nations
taking WTO-legal steps to increase access to life-saving medicines.
However, the trade-related package pushed in Congress by the
Clinton/Gore Administration includes the Africa Growth and Opportunity
Act, a bill that some call "the Africa Re-enslavement Act." In addition
to steering AGOA through conference committee, Senator Roth is leading
conservative efforts to strip an amendment from Senator Diane Feinstein
(D-CA) prohibiting USTR actions punishing poor countries legally
manufacturing generic versions of expensive patented medicines. PhRMA,
the powerful drug company lobby firm, is pushing a reversal in the
language of the Feinstein amendment so that the legislation would
enforce intellectual property provisions exceeding WTO agreements. If
passed, the Roth/PhRMA measure would render meaningless the Clinton
announcement of Dec 1, The US would resume actions against poor
countries taking steps to increase access to life-saving medicine.
         "Congressional extremists like William Roth are hired by the drug
company lobby to push legislation forcing countries already buckling
under the AIDS crisis to comply with policies far beyond
already-restrictive WTO agreements on patent regulations," stated John
Bell. "The nations of Africa should not be impeded from responding to
dire health emergencies by a Western response that treats health care as
an economic commodity rather than a right."
-030-
######  Julie Davids         ######
######  ACT UP Philadelphia  ######
######  jdavids at critpath.org ######

************* ************ ************* *************  *************
         Lives must become more valuable than drug company profits.
************* ************* ************* ************* *************





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