AIDS Activists Disrupt Karl Rove's Speech
ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 25, 2003
AIDS activists disrupt Karl Rove's speech at black tie College Republican soirée
Rove's White House lies about global AIDS funding and access to generic medicines, while millions die
(Washington, D.C.) Chanting and holding signs reading "Dying for AIDS drugs? Karl says drop dead" and "Bush's lies kill, generic medicines now!", angry AIDS activists staged a noisy disruption of an appearance by top White House advisor Karl Rove at the National Conference of the College Republican National Committee, at the Washington Hilton.
"President Bush is breaking his promise to fully fund a $3 billion global AIDS bill signed into law in June. Bush is breaking his promise that countries can put access to medicines and public health ahead of the patent rights of greedy drug companies. The deadly global AIDS fraud perpetrated by this White House has gone far enough," said Sean Barry, a protester.
"Rove pulls the strings in this Administration, and Rove has the blood of people with HIV on his hands."
Two days ago, lawmakers in the House of Representatives, under the direction of Rove's White House, opposed efforts to fully fund the bill President Bush signed into law in June that would provide $3 billion in global AIDS funding in 2004, with $1 billion for the nearly bankrupt Global Fund, the only multilateral program spending money on treatment for dying people with AIDS.
Experts point out that life saving programs in the hardest hit countries around the world could readily absorb the $3 billion promised by Bush; the White House, on the other hand, claims funding the Global Fund with $1 billion in 2004 would be profligate.
"President Bush just went to Africa, ground zero of the AIDS catastrophe, and is immediately breaking his promise to fund the Global Fund with $1 billion in 2004. The White House wants to 'go slow' on fighting a threat to humanity Secretary of State Colin Powell calls worse than terrorism. That's criminal," said Danae McElroy, a protester.
The disruption of Rove's speech comes on the heels of the global AIDS funding vote in Congress, and on the lead up to crucial talks at the WTO, at the Cancun Ministerial (Sept 10-14), where US and drug company intransigence has blocked a deal on access to medicines in poor countries that lack capacity for efficient domestic manufacturing. Karl Rove has been linked to intense negotiations with US drug companies in determining White House policy on what is considered a make-or-break issue for the Cancun Ministerial. "While Bush lies about life saving AIDS funding, he's preventing countries from implementing policy that assures they can maximize medicines access by purchasing low cost generics," said Sasha Post, a protester. "The US promised they would permit countries to put public health before patent rights--for killer Karl, that's just one more promise to walk away from."
ACTIVISTS DEMAND THE WHITE HOUSE:
--support funding for the Global Fund immediately, by keeping Bush's promise to spend $3 billion fighting global AIDS in 2004, with $1 billion for the Global Fund
--support a deal at the WTO on access to generics for countries with inefficient domestic manufacturing capacity that is simple to implement, doesn't exclude countries with moderate levels of development, isn't restricted to a list of diseases, and doesn't force poor countries to enact onerous "safeguards" to prevent diversion to rich country markets
--stop bilateral and regional trade policies that increase countries' obligations to protect drug company patent rights at the expense of public health and access to important medicines