FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

From Cocoa Fields to Oil Fields in Equatorial Guinea

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

September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail