Little, oil-covered inconsistencies

Yes we can... yes we can...

Yes we can... yes we can...

Well the election results from Equatorial Guinea have been counted. It was a heated election – I was up all night waiting for the results.

Not really. The incumbent, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been in power now for 30 years after deposing and executing his similarly awful uncle Francisco Macías Nguema. He ended up winning with 97% of the vote. That’s a 2% increase from the last election (perhaps über-repentant Simon Mann and friends were allowed to cast a few votes)!

Equatorial Guinea was an extremely poor, disorganised dictatorship (affectionately described in Robert Klitgaard’s Tropical Gangsters) before it struck oil in the early 90s. Since then, its per capita GDP has skyrocketed to nearly $20,000 – alas, most of the oil wealth has been disappearing into the overseas bank accounts of Teodoro & sons. There has been very little public investment in the tiny nation.

Despite this, the fact that EG is an important exporter of oil for the US market means that the State Department barely even grumbles about the utter lack of freedom and or wealth disparity. Nor, it seems, do we have much to say about Teodoro’s corrupt offspring doing dubious dealings on US soil.

I understand that there are political realities that we must consider – and that some fights are easier to fight than others. But perhaps we could at a minimum keep our foreign/aid policy internally consistent across the same continent?

3 thoughts on “Little, oil-covered inconsistencies

  1. Justin Kraus

    December 8, 2009 at 12:31pm

    Just one more example (as if we needed anymore) of how bizarre and utterly screwed up our little planet is. The supposed (and Nobel-winning!) champion of “Hope” and “Change” stands with a big goofy grin on his face next to a dictator who has for 30 years cheated, stole from, and killed those under his illegitimate power.

  2. Roving Bandit

    December 8, 2009 at 5:21pm

    Truly pathetic. This is so important and yet so ignored. Giving with one hand and taking away with the other. We need to work on a “non-aid-but-development-related-policy-watch.” Not quite as catchy as aidwatch.

  3. bsanchez

    December 8, 2009 at 8:28pm

    In case it wasn’t pathetic enough:

    US 2008 oil consumption: 19.4m barrels of oil per day
    Equatorial Guinea 2008 oil production: 0.36m barrels of oil per day.

    So no other real political realities to consider in this case. You might face a bit of a dilemma as to the extent to which you are willing to sacrifice your principles for Nigeria or Angola’s 2m barrels per day, but to do it for 361,000 barrels per day is beyond grotesque.

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