World Campaign Against the Trading Away of Health and Life
November 30, 2004


On October 27, 2004, Ecuadorian police, following the orders of the Minister of Trade, withdrew the credentials of Mr. Roberto Lopez Linares, Director of Health Action International (HAI), accredited as a member of the Committee on the Participation of Civil Society, during the fifth Round of Negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Mr. Lopez Linares, a specialist on the subject of intellectual property and relentless defender of health rights, was accused of distributing an informative pamphlet during the negotiations drawing attention to the possible medicine access problems that could arise from the FTA if the conditions demanded by the United States are complied with.

The document in mention was a public document, massively distributed by a Peruvian newspaper, and which was given by Mr. Lopez to a journalist in one of the hotel corridors.

This fact demonstrates that those who defend the right to health and life, even though invited to participate in the negotiation committees, do not have the minimum level of freedom of expression required to guarantee that the processes be free, transparent and with the real participation of civil society.

In addition, other incidents have occurred, such as the veto imposed by the United States in July this year on the participation of another expert on intellectual property, Mr. Carlos Correa, in the FTA negotiations for Colombia, thus ensuring that no person with sound knowledge and sensibility on the subject of drug patents was present during these trade agreements.

During the recent negotiations between the United States and Central American countries, some negotiators had mentioned to the press that the United States is "accepting" flexible positions on intellectual property and thus medicine procurement would not be affected. However, shortly afterwards when the deal was signed (and was no longer amendable), it came to public light that the Central American countries accepted many clauses that imposed strong restrictions on the use of generic medicines, and which for five years will prevent people from these countries from purchasing medicines at affordable prices.

Likewise, the free trade agreement signed between Chile and the United States, as well as other trade agreements between the United States and developing countries in other regions impose special conditions that result in the recognition of additional rights for patent holders and which mainly affect those buying medicines.

The United States is seeking at all costs to negotiate trade agreements where, in order to repay favors to large pharmaceutical companies (mainly their financial support during the US electoral campaigns), they impose clauses that prevent countries from using generic versions of the drugs at a cost many times less than that of the original medicines.

Those who negotiate and sign these agreements in developing countries are people unaware of the health impact they will have (and if they are aware, that would make them unscrupulous), as in exchange for highly questionable "trade advantages" they compromise and make it impossible over the next years to purchase medicines at affordable prices for all the population.

Deep concern in various social sectors

The signed FTAs and those under negotiation have generated a deep concern in various social sectors that have analyzed and studied the medium and long term impact these agreements will have on the health and life of Latin American people. Through various fora and documents addressed to Governments and world authorities, they seek to limit what is considered a trade imposition at the expense of the health and lives of millions of people -something that can even be considered as the preparation for the next and largest genocide ever experienced throughout history. This genocide in preparation is approved by those who do not care, -- and who sometimes remain silent -- for the situation of millions of people living in infrahuman conditions, and thus sentence them to death.

Some members of congress and national assemblies, national health authorities, international health congresses, AIDS activists, religious sectors engaged in health promotion and many other sectors have called a halt on the attempts of corporate interests to impose inflexible trade conditions:

On August 3, 2004, the Peruvian Minister of Health, Dr. Pilar Mazzetti Soler, published on the Ministry's web page ( an important analysis of the negative impact the FTA will have on the subject of access to medicines and denounces how these agreements "inappropriately" include a link between drug registration and patents. In this statement from the Minister of Health, we are reminded of the Declaration of Doha:

"In summary, the Ministry of Health recognizes how important it is for our country to have a trade agreement with the United States, and hence the importance granted to our participation in the negotiation process. The participation of the Ministry of Health is based on defending the people's health and respecting the principles of the Declaration of Doha: the interests of public health come before trade interests (in bold in the original)."

On September 24, 2004, at a meeting of Central American heads of National AIDS Programs in San Salvador, El Salvador, which also gathered community members, PLWAs and PAHO and UNAIDS representatives, a statement was addressed to the Council of Central American Ministers of Health (COMISCA). The statement requested that Central American Ministers of Health undertake an analysis of the impact the FTA between Central America and the United States will have on the subject of access to treatment. This analysis is indispensable before Central American congresses ratify the agreement.

On September 28, during a meeting of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition held September 26-29 in Lima, Peru, AIDS activists from the entire Latin American region addressed Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director, and Mr. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, and urged them to undertake: ".concrete and immediate actions in order to stop the damage to public health, especially with regard to access to medicines, that will occur when the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, Dominican Republic and the United States (CAFTA) is enacted." They also requested for an analysis and discussion of the effects of the agreement to take place before parliamentary debates. This statement also requested a more direct participation in the negotiations taking place between Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the United States, and demanded that they fulfill their responsibilities in the defense of human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, to ensure that the trade interests do not override them. However, no reply has been received from Dr. Piot or the UN Secretary to this urgent appeal.

On September 20, 2004, twelve U.S members of congress sent a letter to President Bush criticizing the manner in which these FTAs have been handled and urging him to respect the spirit and intention of the Declaration of Doha, where public health interests are above commercial interests.

"In spite of the consensus reflected in the Declaration of Doha, it would seem your Administration is seeking bilateral and multilateral agreements that weaken important aspects protected by said Declaration. Specifically, we are concerned with the inclusion of restrictive measures on intellectual property in free trade agreements between the United States and developing Latin American countries and others, which require five to eight years of exclusivity of pharmaceutical original products, even when patent issues are no longer an obstacle. During this period, the governments cannot request clinical tests of original products in order to approve the trading of generic copies, even in emergency situations".


In light of the gravity of the situation, and the urgent need for concrete action condemning these acts, the lack of transparency in the negotiations and the trading away of health and life in the free trade agreements, the International Treatment Access Coalition for Latin America:

  1. Emphatically condemns the situation that took place in Guayaquil against Mr. Roberto Lopez Linares and all cases where freedom of speech, transparency and honesty are ignored by the negotiators of free trade agreements.

  2. States absolute rejection of the acts committed by the Government of the United States of America to pressure governments of developing countries into signing free trade agreements disadvantageous for most of the population.

  3. Shows unreserved condemnation of negotiators and trade ministers who have traded, or are currently trading, the health and lives of peoples in these trade agreements.

  4. Expresses strong condemnation of the health authorities of negotiating countries, as well as of the senior representatives of the International Agencies of the United Nations System, who have kept quiet and by their silence have become accomplices by omission, of the genocide that is being created by these trade agreements.

  5. We urge all people, community groups, NGOs, social networks, unions, religious groups and any other social group, to speak out and support the exclusion of topics affecting health from trade agreements.

  6. A special appeal is made to the conscience of the members of congress of Central American countries, the Dominican Republic and the United States, that they do not ratify the FTA signed between these countries (CAFTA), as by doing so they are sentencing millions of people to death by denying them access to treatment.

  7. A special appeal is made to the conscience of those negotiating the FTA between Colombia, Peru and Ecuador and the United States, so that in the next rounds of negotiations (Tucson, Arizona, November 2004, and Washington D.C., January 2005), the subject of medicines and health be excluded, and thus avoid becoming traders of human lives.

Call for Action:

The International Treatment Access Coalition for Latin America brings together Latin American activists fighting for access to medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS and is part of the worldwide International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC). The subject of intellectual property, patents and the protection of test data, affects not only persons living with AIDS, but all people requiring medical assistance. Therefore, we urgently appeal to all persons and organizations committed to the protection of Human Rights, development and health to join this campaign in order to pressure governments TO NOT SIGN trade agreements that affect people's health.

On previous occasions, international civil society organizations have been able to prevent these aspirations, as in the case of a lawsuit presented by more than thirty international pharmaceutical companies against the Government of South Africa, when that country approved laws that allowed the import of generic medicines to save the lives of millions of people. Faced with the strong pressure of a campaign organized by various humanitarian organizations, the companies had no option but to drop the lawsuit.

Today it is urgent that we receive the same support worldwide in order to preserve the health and life of millions of Latin Americans.

Due to this, and as part of the activities for December 1 (World AIDS Day), and in view of the threats to civil society, we have decided to call December 1 A WORLD DAY AGAINST THE TRADING AWAY OF HEALTH AND LIFE.

We request that all persons and organizations join this campaign and organize commemorative activities for December 1 with banners and the collection of signatures to demand that items affecting health be eliminated from free trade agreements. At the same time, we request that people living with HIV/AIDS and NGOs working in the field of AIDS, schedule for this day (or reschedule) demonstrations or marches to congress (ministries of trade, ministries of health, presidential offices, PAHO offices), so that Latin America can demonstrate its unity on that day, and also to persuade social sectors to participate in this campaign.

We urge that all countries that have not yet ratified, signed or are in the process of negotiating free trade agreements perform a popular survey or REFERENDUM, so that the people can make their voices heard.

If you wish to join this campaign and have ideas for organizing the proposed activities, please contact AIDS activists and organized groups in your country. We also request massive distribution of this request via electronic, written, radio and other means.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world; in fact, it is the only way it has ever been done", Margaret Mead, Anthropologist.

Guillermo Murillo
Agua Buena, Costa Rica

Enrique Chavez

Pablo Anamaría
Peruvian Coordinator PLWA "Peruanos Positivos"
Colectivo por la Vida, Perú

Germán Rojas
AIS, Perú

and over 40 additional signatures (additional signatures on request)

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