A Different Bush, A Different Dictator- Almost the Same Administration Though: Oil Anti-Democracy Redux
Are you familiar with Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea? His family has ruled the country since it became independent of Spain in 1968- the present dictator had the former (elected 1968), his uncle, die before a firing squad in 1979 after a coup saw Obiang Nguema ascend to power.
A US State Department human rights report released early in 2000 paints a picture of a man who rules by intimidation and terror. Extrajudicial killings and "disappearance" along with torture keeps domestic political dissent at bay. There is no press freedom, no religious freedom, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of movement. Arrest is arbitrary and prisoners can be tortured or killed with impunity. Homes can be searched without a warrant and looted. Violence against women and foreigners is a serious problem as is discrimination against minorities. Child and forced prison labor are used. There are no labor unions or workers rights. The report states that "The abuse of workers' rights is a particular problem in the oil industry."
Oil was found offshore in 1995, bringing petrodollars into the nearly collapsing dictatorship. But little wealth trickles down to the subsistence farmers that make up the majority of this nation. There is very little running water, and what there is isn't potable. There is very little electric service. Most of the wealth going into Equatorial Guinea flows into the hands of Teodoro Obiang Nguema family clan, who fill various government posts; but primarily to the dictator himself- and his son.
At least 300 million dollars oil revenue has been deposited in a account the dictator has direct control of - Riggs Bank in Washington D.C. . The money is deposited directly by American oil companies such as Exxon-Mobile and Amerada-Hess. Chevron Texaco is the main US player. The US is the nation's largest investor.
Now if the fact that a murderous anti-democratic dictator can maintain a bank account located on Dupont Circle is a shock and surprise to you you should understand that the US purchases about two-thirds of Equitorial Guinea's petroleum output. It could account for 25% of our imported oil by 2015
Would you be surprised to know that Halliburton has a finger in the pie
Or that Triton Energy, another player has a chairman who's name sounds familiar- Tom Hicks, the vice chairman of Clear Channel Communications who we spoke of a couple days ago. The fellow that bought the Texas Rangers from the Bush group turning Mr Bush's 500,000 dollar investment into 14.9 million dollars. Hicks leveraged buyout firm Hicks Muse is Bush's fourth highest career financial patron. Triton, foundering after being convicted for bribing Indonesian government officials was bought by Amerada Hess.
Open Secrets shows that the oil and gas industry funds primarily Republicans, Equatorial Guinea players ExxonMobil giving 91% to the GOP,Chevron Texaco 85%- 83% of their money went to the Republican party this far in the 2004 election cycle. Triton Energy gave it's campaign contribution solely to the Republicans in 2000, no figures are available for this election cycle.
The Clinton Administration closed the US embassy in Equatorial Guinea in 1995. Even with it's oil reserves the US under President Clinton did not deal with Teodoro Obiang Nguema. The Bush administration looks at the man and the oil he controls differently. At the urging of the oil industry Mr Bush will be opening a new US embassy there, joining Spain France and China. The last US embassador left after being accused of practicing witchcraft on the graves of 10 British airmen who were killed in a crash during WW11. There is talk of a military base in the region. Last July Mr Bush met with 10 West African heads of state, some notorious dictators. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo first was hosted by the present administration in Washington in March of 2001.
Another anti-democratic oil rich dictator with blood on his hands. Another friend of the oil/gas industry. When do you think our servicepeople will be "liberating" Equitorial Guinea?
The Center for Public Integrity offers Chapter 5 "The Curious Bonds of Oil Diplomacy" from "Making a Killing: The Business of War"
"U.S. Oil Politics in the 'Kuwait of Africa" By Ken Silverstein is a fast read and really informative.