Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 5, 2014

Obiang’s enablers

Filed under: Africa,corruption,oil — louisproyect @ 9:48 pm

President Barack Obama, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, and their First Ladies

From Wikipedia:

Controversy

In July 2003, state-operated radio declared Obiang “the country’s god” and had “all power over men and things.” It added that the president was “in permanent contact with the Almighty” and “can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell.” He personally made similar comments in 1993. Macías had also proclaimed himself a god.[14]

Obiang has encouraged his cult of personality by ensuring that public speeches end in well-wishing for himself rather than for the republic. Many important buildings have a presidential lodge, many towns and cities have streets commemorating Obiang’s coup against Macías, and many people wear clothes with his face printed on them.[15][16]

Like his predecessor and other African dictators such as Idi Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko, Obiang has assigned to himself several creative titles. Among them are “gentleman of the great island of Bioko, Annobón and Río Muni.”[17] He also refers to himself as El Jefe (the boss).[18]

In 2008, American journalist Peter Maass identified Obiang as Africa’s worst dictator, worse than Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.[19]

Since the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, Obiang has been the world’s longest-ruling non-royal head of state.

In an October 2012 interview on CNN, Christiane Amanpour asked Obiang whether he would step down at the end of the current term (2009–2016) since he has been reelected at least four times in his over thirty years’ reign. In a Gaddafi-like reply, Obiang categorically refused to step down at the end of the term despite the limits set on presidential service in the 2011 constitution.[20]

Abuses

Abuses under Obiang have included “unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; systematic torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; life threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention.”[21]

Wealth

Forbes magazine has said that Obiang, with a net worth of US$600 million, is one of the world’s wealthiest heads of state.[22] Official sources have complained that Forbes is wrongly counting state property as personal property.[23]

In 2003, Obiang told his citizenry that he felt compelled to take full control of the national treasury in order to prevent civil servants from being tempted to engage in corrupt practices. To avoid this corruption, Obiang deposited more than half a billion dollars into accounts controlled by Obiang and his family at Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C., leading a U.S. federal court to fine the bank $16 million.[24] Later scrutiny by a United States Senate investigation in 2004 found that the Washington-based Riggs Bank took $300 million on behalf of Obiang from Exxon Mobil and Amerada Hess.[25]

In 2008, the country became a candidate of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – an international project meant to promote openness about government oil revenues – but never qualified and missed an April 2010 deadline.[25] Transparency International includes Equatorial Guinea as one of its twelve most-corrupt states.[25][26]

Beginning in 2007 Obiang, along with several other African state leaders, came under investigation for corruption and fraud in the use of funds. He was suspected of using public funds to finance his private mansions and luxuries, both for himself and his family. He and his son, in particular, owned several properties and supercars in France. In addition, several complaints were filed in US courts against Obiang’s son. Their attorney’s stressed that the funds appropriated by both Obiang’s were done so entirely legally under Equatoguinean laws, although they may not agree with international standards.[27]

From the Militant newspaper, a socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people:

N.Y. conference discusses
Equatorial Guinea today
(feature article)

BY MARTÍN KOPPEL
HEMPSTEAD, New York—A three-day international conference at Hofstra University on Long Island was a forum for discussion and debate on a wide range of topics about Equatorial Guinea—its history, economic development, languages, natural resources, literature and art, biodiversity, and ethnic composition and conflicts. The event, held here April 2-4, was titled “Between Three Continents: Rethinking Equatorial Guinea on the 40th Anniversary of Its Independence from Spain.”

Equatorial Guinea, a Central African country of about 1 million inhabitants, gained its independence from Spanish colonial rule in October 1968. For 11 years the people of Equatorial Guinea faced a brutal dictatorship under the first president, Francisco Macías, who in 1979 was overthrown by young Guinean military officers led by Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the current president. Since the mid-1990s the exploitation of the country’s newly discovered oil and natural gas reserves has turned it into the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

In what was one of the least economically developed nations in Africa, the government is today using some of the revenues from the labor of those who work in the oil fields to begin to create the nationwide infrastructure necessary for industrial development—such as paved roads, electrification, cellular phone networks, safe water distribution, primary health care, and the national university. Equatorial Guinea remains marked by the contradictions between this rapid transformation of production and the legacy of millennia of economic activity based on hunting, fishing, and subsistence agriculture, distorted by subjugation to slave traders and colonial domination.

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3 Comments »

  1. US imperialist interests can never and has never been served by popular democracies in the third world. It always supports and nourishes the most criminal, corrupt, lecherous, barbarous, tyrannical strongmen and regimes in the world. Marcos, Noriega, Pinochet, the Shah, pre-Kuwait invasion Hussein, Mobutu, Somoza, etc all Washington’s men. The US only police these regimes when the stench from their dirty deeds cause public embarrassment or they go off the reservation and act independent of US unofficial policy.

    Comment by Jim Brash — May 6, 2014 @ 3:35 am

  2. Of course Jim. It’s like Chomsky has always lectured that when Uncle Sam, the biggest gangster on the World Block, cuts trade deals with any country they naturally seek out & ultimately find those other gangster, mafioso types, who control things, you know, like the typical thug enforcers who get things done on behalf of the bosses, bankers and landlords to ensure that trade unionists and social justice types, like nuns & students & pro bono lawyers, get framed up or are victims of back alley murders and so on — as It’s all about making thing “stable” for investors.

    This formula of truisms has become like a cookie cutter & that’s why Chomsky’s diatribes are so salient. Problem is, like the ex-CIA agent Phil Agee, their prognosis ultimately concludes that voting for Democrats is better than nothing instead of renouncing that logic once & for all as social suicide.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 6, 2014 @ 4:14 am

  3. The SWP loves the leader of Equatorial Guinea because he’s cooperated with the Cuban leadership for years, accepted Cuban medics and advisors, etc. Since the SWP was transformed into a cult under Barnes via his theory that Trotskyism was dead and a new revolutionary pole emerged in the form of the Cuban, Nicaraguan, Grenadian and Salvadoran revolutions, this only makes sense. Of course 3 of those 4 revolutions died years ago and the fourth is now following the Chinese state development capitalist model and Jack has no other bureaucratic star to hitch his wagon too, so Raul and Obiang it is.

    I’m only surprised that Fidel’s congratulatory letter following Obama’s initial election wasn’t followed by a big picture of Barack on the front page of the Militant the following week.

    Comment by Steve D — May 8, 2014 @ 4:42 am


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