FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

From Cocoa Fields to Oil Fields in Equatorial Guinea

by AUGUSTIN VELLOSO

Until very recently, the West African country of Equatorial Guinea had always been an exporter of agricultural, timber, and mineral products. In the 1990s oil started flowing from offshore fields, and nowadays oil comprises 90% of the country’s exports. As a result there have been enormous increases of the gross national product, 76% in 1997 and 20% in 1998 and 1999. In other words, in a few years this impoverished country rapidly joined the medium income states.

However, behind this seeming economic miracle there is another story of mass corruption, a brutal regime, and the usual exploitative American oil companies. It is not the first time that American companies make the discovery of rich resources seem like a curse instead of great hope to improve the lives of the majority of the local population.

In a nutshell

A good description of the situation in Equatorial Guinea is found in the September 2003 issue of United States Department of Energy Information:

” despite rapid growth in real GDP, there is strong evidence of government misappropriation of oil revenues, in particular, for lavish personal expenditures. Furthermore, the failure of the government to inject oil revenues into the country’s economy, especially to fund much-needed improvements in the country’s infrastructure, has meant little improvement in the economic and social welfare of most Equatoguineans. While real per capita GDP has doubled in the last five years, there has been little positive change in social indicators.”

Not much else needs to be said to describe accurately the current situation of the country concerning the rapid and extraordinary increase of the national product, and its unequal sharing between the ruling elite and the rest of the population. One almost does not need to check data from human rights NGOs to verify that the activities of powerful companies like Marathon, ExxonMobil, Triton and Atlantic Methanol are not benefiting most of the inhabitants of this country. However, most people are unaware of what is really happening here.

Some income disparities

It is a useful exercise to compare an Equatorial Guinean national working for any of the oil giants with an expatriate executive. The oil executives–usually Americans- work for 28 days in Equatorial Guinea and go away intermittently on leave for a month. Skilled expatriates–most originating from the Philippines — work for nine weeks and are away on leave for four. In contrast, the Equatoguinean workers are on the job for eleven months.

The income differences offer a starker contrast. The oil executives receive between USD 10,000 and 12,000 p/month plus a week-end bonus of about USD 350. The white-collar workers receive between USD 7,000 and 8,000 plus the bonus of 230. The “Philippinos” receive between USD 1,800 and 2,000 plus a bonus of USD 50. Air tickets home, accommodation, meals, and medical treatment are also part of the package for these employees.
Type of Worker

February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail