hypocrisy & EG
Kudos to the New York Times' Ian Urbina for pointing out the State Department's blatant hypocrisy on Equatorial Guinean affairs (emphasis mine):
Theoretically, U.S. policy towards all of the African continent involves support for democratization, human rights, and good governance. That policy has long been ignored with respect to oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, where one family has been in power since 1979. The Obiang family and the regime (which are one and the same) suppress dissent, torture and murder their political opponents, and fail to distribute the benefits of the country's oil wealth to its population.
Several times every year, Teodoro Nguema Obiang arrives at the doorstep of the United States from his home in Equatorial Guinea, on his way to his $35 million estate in Malibu, his fleet of luxury cars, his speedboats and private jet. And he is always let into the country.
The nation’s doors are open to Mr. Obiang, the forest and agriculture minister of Equatorial Guinea and the son of its ruler, even though federal law enforcement officials believe “most if not all” of his wealth comes from corruption related to the extensive oil and gas reserves discovered more than a decade and a half ago off the coast of his tiny West African country, according to internal Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents.
And they are open despite a federal law and a presidential proclamation that prohibit corrupt foreign officials and their families from receiving an American visa. The measures require only credible evidence of corruption, not a conviction of it.
It is an horrific situation, and while I expect this sort of blind-eye-turning from ExxonMobil and the politicians they support, the Obama administration has a responsibility to do better. Keeping the Obiang family out of the United States is just one of many, many necessary steps that should be taken to ensure a peaceful and stable future for Equatorial Guinea and its people.
For more information on the human rights situation in Equatorial Guinea, I highly recommend Well Oiled, a report from Human Rights Watch. Anything written by Tutu Alicante, an Equatorial Guinean activist in exile who heads up EG Justice is also useful. Nicholas Shaxon also has a good chapter on the country's oil industry in his book, Poisoned Wells.