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Day 17

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Bleeding Zambia Dry

The Human Price of Copper

by THOMAS MOUNTAIN

In the past decade the central African country of Zambia has exported some $30 billion of copper yet remains so deeply in debt to western banksters that it spends more in interest on Zambia’s debt that on health and education combined.

Every month for the past ten years some $250 million of Zambian copper has been sold to…Switzerland? And guess what, Switzerland which doesn’t import any real, physical copper, is one of the biggest copper buyers in the world. It’s all about the “circle jerk”, an African based company “selling” it’s metal to its own sister company in Switzerland for dirt cheap, the better to pay fewer taxes to African governments.

Of the $250 million a month that Zambia’s copper ultimately sells for the Zambian government may be getting between $8-10 million. But the story doesn’t end there, for the government is contractually bound to provide massive amounts of cheap electricity to the western owned copper mines all the while much of Zambia remains in the dark, literally or paying through the nose to make up for what is given away to the mines.

The infrastructure in Zambia was almost entirely funded by the government, which meant going deeply into debt to the International Misery Fund (IMF). And when copper prices crashed in the past the IMF was there for “emergency assistance”, providing a glucose infusion in one arm while taking whole blood from the other.

The result? Every year thousands of Zambian children die from preventable causes such as malaria and water born diseases along side a host of malnutrition related sicknesses. Never mind the environmental damage and long term poisonings from the copper mines.

The Zambian people have grown so fed up that they elected a white Zambian vice president to see if they could some how cut a better deal, or at least get paid their legal due though even he has thrown up his hands in helplessness and its still business as usual as in bleeding Zambia dry.

Thomas C. Mountain is the most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at thomascmountain_at_yahoo_dot_com_