Equatorial Guinea News & Reports

1 Equatorial Guinea: Resource Cursed 8/09
    (non-gay background story)

August 28, 2009 – Human Rights Watch

Equatorial Guinea: Rich in Resources, Cursed by Corruption
(non-gay background story)

by Tutu Alicante, Lisa Misol
Imagine a tiny country flush with oil money, where the wealth per person is on par with that of Spain or Italy. Now picture a place quite the opposite, where nearly two-thirds of the population lives in extreme poverty and infant and child mortality rates are on par with those of the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Impossible as it sounds, these two sentences describe the same place: Equatorial Guinea, a West African country home to roughly a half-million people. Earlier this month, the country’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, marked the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power.

Few Americans have heard of Equatorial Guinea, but some U.S. corporations — including ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Hess Corporation, and Noble Energy — know all about it. U.S. companies dominate the country’s oil business, and most of Equatorial Guinea’s exports end up in the United States.

Equatorial Guinea is a textbook case of the resource curse: The country’s leaders have squandered its oil wealth while its people have languished. The GDP of this once-poor country has shot up more than 125-fold since the mid-1990s, when oil was first discovered there, elevating its wealth per capita to the highest level of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, the proportion of government spending dedicated to health and education in Equatorial Guinea falls well below the regional average.

Rather than benefiting the people, vast sums of the country’s oil revenues have gone to bankroll personal purchases for President Obiang, including two mansions in suburban Washington. Obiang’s eldest son allegedly spent more on houses and cars in the United States and South Africa between 2004 and 2006 than the government did on the entire education sector in 2005. Corruption is endemic. And as if mismanagement were not enough, Obiang’s government has overseen a litany of human rights violations, including forced evictions and rampant police torture.

Read More