Forgetting Equatorial Guinea
June 24, 2008 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Equatorial Guinea is more than your average headline-making, human rights-eschewing African nation. Likening the country’s uneasy street-silence to that of Pyongyang, deported journalist Peter Maass reveals an unparalleled culture of fear blanketed by an international media blackout. But for the Whitehouse, ExxonMobil and Teodoro Obiang—Equatorial Guinea’s torturous leader—the poverty, abuse and dead-quiet are business as usual.
posted by dead_ (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
To be fair, they've threatened to hunt Mark Thatcher to the ends of the earth, so theres good and bad to be said about them.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

The "Kuwait of Africa”, eh? No wonder we don't hear much about this country. Business as usual indeed.

Thanks for the post, ArtW.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 PM on June 24, 2008

That would be dead_, not me. I mainly specialise in trivial crap.
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on June 24, 2008

The Slate story seemed like it stopped in the middle, but the Mother Jones article (which I saw when it came out) and the Spiegel article are great. Also, as mentioned in the Slate article, Ken Silverstein.

Thanks for the links. EG is looking more and more like the North Korea of Africa. It's a shame the oil companies can't affect positive change and make a filthy profit at the same time.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:28 PM on June 24, 2008

That would be dead_, not me.

Oops, sorry. Thanks for the post, mrgrimm!

and you too, dead_, you too!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 PM on June 24, 2008

I'll try to summarize -

1) African country gets independent in the 60's
2) Ruthless dictator takes over
3) Western companies does deals with dictator to get cheap supplies for our gas stations, factories and supermarkets

How many of those countries there are where this kind of thing happens, and is it somehow possible to avoid products from that place? maybe should head over to AskMe
posted by yoHighness at 5:40 PM on June 24, 2008

Oops... Apologies for the grammar
posted by yoHighness at 5:43 PM on June 24, 2008

I should add that a friend's friend is the director of an oil company, and having read this post is gonna make it really awkward when he's around now. Great. Thanks dead_
posted by yoHighness at 6:02 PM on June 24, 2008

I think these events were John Le Carre's inspiration for The Mission Song.
posted by emf at 9:13 PM on June 24, 2008


It must be said that it's somewhat unfair to blame oil companies for the fact that Equatorial Guinea is so ignored. Equatorial Guinea has a long, long history of being ignored, even before oil. Spain got it in a land swap with Portugal, then proceeded to ignore it for two centuries. It was not even deemed fit for a penal colony, and it was considered a dumping ground for the worst misfits in the Spanish civil service. It was granted independence without hardly anybody noticing ("Shit, we had a colony in West Africa? Who knew?"), just almost nobody noticed when its first dictator, Francisco Macías Nguema, proceeded to try to exterminate a large part of the population, nor when he was in turn deposed and shot by his nephew, the current dictator (best thing that can be said about him: "At least he isn't his uncle").

The fact that it now has turned up to have humongous oil reserves is just the last little dingleberry on the colossal shitcake that is Equatorial Guinea's history.
posted by Skeptic at 2:08 AM on June 25, 2008

Now I have (literally) an inkling about what goes on in Equatorial Guinea. Thanks, dead-.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:12 AM on June 25, 2008

In the UK, we're surprisingly well informed about the place, largely because one of something called the wonga coup, involving one of our worst bestselling novelists cum jailbirds, the son of Margaret Thatcher and the obligatory former SAS soldier / public school baddie. There's already a book and I think the film rights have been picked up by mirimax.
posted by rhymer at 2:14 AM on June 25, 2008

I'm curious about the gamut of British opinion on Mark Thatcher concerning the EG coup try. Here on the US west coast I remember a spate of stories that made him look foolish and criminal, but now that I learn about Obiang's US/oil coziness, I am wondering anew!
posted by telstar at 11:12 PM on June 30, 2008

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