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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Viva Brazil

Brazil is being horribly uncooperative these days. First they told the US drug manufacturers that if they didn't lower the price of anti-AIDS drugs, they would violate the patents and produce the drugs themselves if that's what they had to do to save their populace from being ravaged by AIDS (what a concept -- caring more about they quality of life for your people than corporate profits). Then they told Microsoft to take their Windows and shove it; unwilling to have their country's progress held hostage to Bill Gates' billions, they established LINUX as the standard operating system.

Now, they are the first country to tell the US what they can do with the abstinence-only and anti-contraception strings they've attached to their $40 billion AIDS assistance program. The US isn't having much luck appeasing the far right in high-profile cases on their native shores, so the government persists in making mileage with the fundies by insisting that countries desperately struggling to control AIDS toe the line to the right-wing anti-sex agenda.

Forty million is a lot of money to a country where the minimum wage salary is $200 per month. While it's high-handed and hypocritical enough to demand that countries receiving such aid cannot use US funds to support abortion or contraception, more recent funding has also insisted that recipient countries also condemn prostitution.

Brazil's remarkable AIDS treatment and prevention program provides free medical treatment to all who need it. Their program has been successful in large part due to outreach to drug addicts and sex workers; it's hard to enfranchise such people if you're loudly condemning them.

According to the Guardian:
The demand from the US administration, heavily influenced by the religious right, follows what is known as the "global gag" - a ban on US government funds to any foreign-based organization which has links to abortion. This has resulted in the removal of millions of dollars of funding from family planning clinics worldwide.

Yesterday Pedro Chequer, the director of Brazil's HIV/Aids programme, said the government had managed to resist US pressure during negotiations on the Aids funding to focus on promoting abstinence and fidelity rather than condoms - another ideological battle being waged by the religious right. But the US negotiators insisted that the clause on prostitution had to stay.

"I would like to confirm that Brazil has taken this decision in order to preserve its autonomy on issues related to national policies on HIV/Aids as well as ethical and human rights principles," he told the Guardian.
The US comes off looking like a bunch of heavy-handed, sanctimonious, imperialistic assholes kow-towing to an extremist minority group. We look like complete dicks who don't care about living in a global community or helping anyone, we just want people to stop using condoms in AIDS-ridden communities -- which is really tantamount to genocide. I just hope other countries aren't so desperate for the money that they resort to exterminating their own populations to get it.