Dictators, mercenaries, coups, paranoia and oil
May 1, 2005 3:07 AM   Subscribe

Mysterious Mr. Moto. Severo Moto Nsa, Equatorial Guinea's exiled opposition leader reappeared in Madrid yesterday, after a strange episode in which he first was presumed abducted (or worse), and then, from an undisclosed location in Croatia, had accused the Spanish government of trying to kill him. He already made international headlines last year, with the most bizarre, incompetent coup attempt in a while. Not that the dictator he's trying to topple is a nice character (even if his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, was even worse). And, of course, there's oil involved. Lots of it.
posted by Skeptic (11 comments total)
Ah, drats, here's what should have been the main link.
posted by Skeptic at 3:11 AM on May 1, 2005

Sounds bad. Shall we invade?
posted by alumshubby at 5:19 AM on May 1, 2005

Yes! With pitchforks!
posted by NickDouglas at 6:47 AM on May 1, 2005

I think I saw Nguema building WMD's in his backyard....
posted by jsavimbi at 6:55 AM on May 1, 2005

after a strange episode in which he first was presumed abducted

He was really on a bus to Vegas with Jennifer Wilbanks.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2005

I must say that the best read among that lot of vagueish links was the sunday herald article from last year, but not in terms of the unsuccessful coup, rather, because of the amazingly sad stories of excesses of power since independence from Spain in 1968:

Matters improved, but not much, when Macias was deposed in 1979 by his nephew, the current president , who had his uncle executed by his personal Moroccan security guards. This Moroccan elite of President Obiang, who has ruled for the past 25 years, has been known to execute by firing squad up to 150 dissidents at a time in the national football stadium while a military band played Those Were The Days, My Friend.

Guineans are rounded up and disappear almost as routinely under the nephew as under the uncle. A foreign oil engineer recently recounted what happened when he handed over to police in Malabo a man he caught siphoning petrol from his car: “He was made to brace himself up against the counter in the police station with his hands forward. He probably thought they were just going to beat him. One of them smashed his rifle butt down on the man’s hand so hard that it basically exploded and disappeared. The police then climbed in with sticks and beat him to death.”

President Obiang’s semi-literate brother, General Armengol Ondo Nguema, is director of national security and chief of police. According to Amnesty International and the US State Department, he is a torturer whose men slice off the ears of victims with razor blades, throw buckets of urine over them and rub oil into their bodies to attract vicious soldier ants. Obiang’s exiled opponents have also accused him of being a cannibal who eats the genitals and brains of executed rivals, hoping his spirit absorbs their strengths.
I might trawl around for some more learned accounts, although with such despotism, I suppose journalists with direct knowledge would be/will have been scarce on the ground.
posted by peacay at 9:02 AM on May 1, 2005

Should anyone want some more info....

wiki, map, Amnesty 2003 report, Amnesty on coup prisoners, Equatoguinean Govt. website (suitably weird and untended for a couple of years), a bit more background on Moto's 'disappearance', another report on Moto's reappearance and another. Guardian coup stories.

Sorry Skeptic, didn't mean to highjack this - I just got interested and thought I'd throw this lot in since there doesn't appear to be any previous E.Guinea FPP's. There's probably more in depth pieces on Spanish websites.
posted by peacay at 10:13 AM on May 1, 2005

peacay: You have a point regarding the lack of reliable reporters in Equatorial Guinea. From one of the BBC reports:
"The BBC's reporter in Malabo, Rodrigo Angue Nguema". What a family...
posted by Skeptic at 10:17 AM on May 1, 2005

Yep, nothing like inside sources.
The sad thing is that these 'African nation politics stories', like perhaps those we regularly hear from Central/South America, just seem to keep repeating. I know that's a massive generalization and I'm a fairly ignorant cuss, but the stories get to sound very familiar and only the actors and their countries rotate.
posted by peacay at 10:39 AM on May 1, 2005

Skeptic, this is one of the best posts I've read here, thanks.
posted by vito90 at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2005

Skeptic: Nguema is probably a tribal name. Rodrigo Angue Nguema was arrested in 2003, and barred from a presidential press conference last year.
posted by dhartung at 11:14 PM on May 1, 2005

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