Health-care activists in the United States, especially those who follow the international activities of the greedy, ravenous medical industrial complex, see the economic crisis taking place in Argentina as, in part, caused by U.S. corporate interests.

While the roots of economic and political problems start in the country in which the crisis is taking place, it would be hopelessly naive to think that they alone are responsible. The massive demonstrations against the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Seattle, Nice, Genoa, Quebec City and recently in Brussels have highlighted the grim reality: people are sick and tired of the capitalism, as predicted by Lenin, as it reaches its highest form of imperialism without a full scale struggle. The economic basis for imperialism is certainly present.

For the health-care industrial, corporate giants in the United States to keep up the level of profits that they enjoyed during the mid to late 1990s, they had to seek markets outside U.S. borders. But, the massive labor and people’s movements in Europe, Scandinavia and Japan are successfully resisting their incursions. Massive demonstrations made it clear that people in those countries are not giving up their public health, medical and social insurance systems to international corporate interests.

This doesn’t mean that the WTO and IMF have given up their quest to invade these countries. But, like any other marauding hordes they will seek the path of least resistance. That is why they headed to Latin America. Before those same corporate interests, especially the drug companies, were able to dump the pro-people policies of the editorial board of the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal published an in-depth report of the Latin American activities of Aetna and Cigna, the two remaining U.S. corporate health insurance giants.

The deal that these greed mongers offered countries like Brazil, Argentina and others in Latin America was a simple one. If you wanted loans from the IMF you had to privatize your governmental systems. The most important ones, the ones with the most lucrative profit picture, are the national health insurance and pensions systems. That is what happened in Argentina.

The social fabric of Argentina was destroyed. You didn’t see any of these explanations for the recent violent demonstrations reported in The New York Times and other mass media. Sure, there has been some talk about the IMF being too strict in its debt repayment. But, the direct hand of U.S. corporations was omitted.

The recent annual meeting of the American Public Health Association included sessions on international trade agreements and their fatal impact on health services.

The elected officials of APHA then enacted excellent policy positions opposing Fast Track and international trade agreements, especially NAFTA, that threaten to destroy public health systems (for more details, go to: www.apha.org). But, these policies must be implemented. All public health activists should take these positions to their members of Congress. They have to feel the street heat as soon as possible. International working class solidarity has never been more important. Health care professionals can play a crucial role in this effort.

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