Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Not Welcome Here…..Teodoro Obiang

The dictator of Ecuatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, is here in Spain on an official visit. The oil-rich African country, a former Spanish colony, should be able to provide its relatively small population with one of the highest standards of living in the world. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population lives in abject misery as the country’s oil wealth goes almost entirely to foreign companies and the tiny elite consisting of Obiang’s family and friends. Meanwhile the opposition to the regime has been subjected to tremendous pressure and persecution, the country’s jails have a well deserved reputation for being truly awful places. Despite this, Spanish foreign minister Moratinos has claimed that the human rights situation in the country is improving; no evidence has been produced to back up the assertion.

Here's how we deal with dictators....


It seems that Obiang’s visit to the Spanish parliament today has been cancelled after protests, he probably won’t mind very much as he is not a big enthusiast for democratic institutions. He still gets to have dinner with the king, and I’m sure that there will be a token mention of human rights while all sides sort out the benefits which Repsol can expect to receive from the visit. The strategic importance of the country is significant because of its oil reserves, both the US and China are very active diplomatically in oil producing African countries these days as they seek alternative sources of supply. Equatorial Guinea is the third biggest oil exporter in Africa.

A failed coup attempt in the country by mercenaries a couple of years ago was what led to the downfall of Mark Thatcher, who was living the good life in South Africa until becoming involved in the plot. Thatcher..Obiang..Thatcher..Obiang…..there’s a difficult choice if ever there was one. It is still not very clear who was behind this plot, although there have been rumours that the Spanish government (at the time led by Jose Maria Aznar) was either involved or at least aware of what was being planned. There has always been a mystery about the sending of two Spanish warships to the country a few weeks before the arrest of the mercenaries, and the unexplained decision to abruptly cancel this mission when the ships were already on their way. There is not necessarily any connection between this and the coup attempt, I haven’t become a conspiracy theorist, but there was never a very convincing explanation of what was going on.

See Guerra Eterna for more information about the visit (in Spanish).

5 comments:

Tom Clarke said...

Yeah there was definitely something dodgy about that whole coup attempt... and who tipped off the Zimbabwean authorities as the plane was on the runway?

I've seen other bloggers say that Obiang isn't a dictator because 'he allows elections' though I've never heard this definition of dictatorship before (it would automatically exclude Saddam Hussein and Gen. Franco). Anyway, the point is that we love him because he's got oil. The alternative is to invade Eq. Guinea - a move which the PP would probably support, given that it would lead to the re-establishment of the Spanish empire.

Hold on... we could send ETA in as a sort of strike force, then get them and Rovira to rule the place as a sort of colony of Euskatalonia. The locals wouldn't be any worse off than they are now and we'd solve two thorny issues in Spanish politics as well as establishing some shared ground between the two main parties. Who's with me?!

Graeme said...

Hmmmm.. a sort of Euskatorial Guinea? I can think of a few other people I wouldn't mind sending there, but I think the local population have already suffered enough without having Acebes and company dumped on their doorstep.

According to what I read this morning it was the South Africans who tipped off the Zimbabweans about the mercenaries.

TimanfayAir said...

The South Africans are as nervous as the Americans when it comes to security. You would have thought the Americans would have "liberated" the country alresy if it has oil. Maybe they already own the country and use the dictator as a form of security. Keep the people quiet and then take, take, take.....

madrid teacher said...

And his visit held the traffic up at Pio XII for a couple of hours

Graeme said...

What class of dictator are you if you can't hold up the traffic for a couple of hours?