Wednesday, May 8, 2013

People & Power - How to Rob Africa

Published on Nov 7, 2012
The world's wealthy countries often criticise African nations for corruption -- especially that perpetrated by those among the continent's government and business leaders who abuse their positions by looting tens of billions of dollars in national assets or the profits from state-owned enterprises that could otherwise be use to relieve the plight of some of the world's poorest peoples.

rynex01 2 months ago
Damn right! At the end of the day the buck stops at the government to ensure that the country and its people are not exploited by foreign governments and companies. The situation is complex because it's about negotiation and give and take at the highest of levels between the gov'ts or between gov't and foreign companies. But when this is coupled with corrupted governments who are only in it just to fill their pockets then this is double jeopardy!

South American drug cartels take over West African country

Savvy drug traffickers are taking advantage of the impoverished West-African nation of Guinea-Bissau to set up shop in the Eastern hemisphere.
Guinea-Bissau is an ideal African springboard for Latin American mafias to smuggle large quantities of cocaine into the wealthy European Union market.Conditions in this small former Portuguese colony in West Africa are optimal. There is minimal surveillance, not a single prison worthy of the name, a weak state and officials susceptible to bribery and corruption.... UNODC experts calculate that one-quarter of the cocaine consumed in Europe is trafficked through West Africa, especially Guinea-Bissau. The trade in cocaine is estimated at $2 billion, that is to say, nearly twice the country’s GDP of just over $1 billion a year.However, in the streets of the richest capital cities in Europe its value could be as high as $20 billion, or 10 times as much....“Today, Guinea-Bissau is literally fenced in. We must entertain no illusions: the state could collapse,” said Antonio María Costa, the head of UNODC.Costa maintains that South American traffickers chose Guinea-Bissau partly because of its convenient location in West Africa, but mainly because its authorities are incapable of combating organised crime.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Guinea-Bissau is one of the five poorest nations in the world. Seeing that Guinea-Bissau doesn't even have a single prison, and that all the officials can be easily bribed, sounds like a good place to build a worldwide criminal empire. Can we all say "Narco-state?" I knew you could...


Not to be confused with Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, or Papua New Guinea.

Guinea-Bissau, officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau Listeni/ˈɡɪni bɪˈs/ (Portuguese: República da Guiné-Bissau, pronounced: [ʁeˈpublikɐ dɐ ɡiˈnɛ biˈsaw]), is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. It covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,600,000.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were part of the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. It then became the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea in the 19th century. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country's name to prevent confusion with Guinea. Guinea-Bissau has a history of political instability since gaining independence and no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term. On the evening of 12 April 2012, members of the country's military staged a coup and arrested the interim president and a leading presidential candidate.. The military has yet to declare a current leader for the country.[4] However, former vice chief of staff, General Mamadu Ture Kuruma has taken care of the country in the transitional period and started negotiations with opposition parties.[5][6]
Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. A plurality of the population (44%) speaks Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak native African languages. The main religions are African traditional religions and Islam, and there is a Christian (mostly Catholic) minority. The country's per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.
Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Latin Union, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, La Francophonie and the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone.

History [edit]

Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire; parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while others were part of the Portuguese Empire.[7] Portuguese Guinea was known also, from its main economic activity, as the Slave Coast.
Early reports of Europeans reaching this area include those of the Venetian Alvise Cadamosto's voyage of 1455,[8] the 1479–1480 voyage by Flemish-French trader Eustache de la Fosse,[9] and Diogo Cão who in the 1480s reached the Congo River and the lands of Bakongo, setting up thus the foundations of modern Angola, some 1200 km down the African coast from Guinea-Bissau.[10]
Although the rivers and coast of this area were among the first places colonized by the Portuguese, since the 16th century, the interior was not explored until the 19th century. The local African rulers in Guinea, some of whom prospered greatly from the slave trade, had no interest in allowing the Europeans any further inland than the fortified coastal settlements where the trading took place.[11] African communities that fought back against slave traders had even greater incentives to distrust European adventurers and would-be settlers. The Portuguese presence in Guinea was therefore largely limited to the port of Bissau and Cacheu, although isolated European farmer-settlers established farms along Bissau's inland rivers.
For a brief period in the 1790s, the British attempted to establish a rival foothold on an offshore island, at Bolama.[12] But by the 19th century the Portuguese were sufficiently secure in Bissau to regard the neighbouring coastline as their own special territory, also up north in part of present South Senegal.
An armed rebellion beginning in 1956 by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) under the leadership of Amílcar Cabral gradually consolidated its hold on then Portuguese Guinea.[13] Unlike guerrilla movements in other Portuguese colonies, the PAIGC rapidly extended its military control over large portions of the territory, aided by the jungle-like terrain, its easily reached borderlines with neighbouring allies and large quantities of arms from Cuba, China, the Soviet Union, and left-leaning African countries.[14] Cuba also agreed to supply artillery experts, doctors and technicians.[15] The PAIGC even managed to acquire a significant anti-aircraft capability in order to defend itself against aerial attack. By 1973, the PAIGC was in control of many parts of Guinea, although the movement suffered a setback in January 1973 when Cabral was assassinated.[16]

Independence [edit]

Abandoned tank from the civil war in Bissau, 2003.
Independence was unilaterally declared on 24 September 1973. Recognition became universal following the 25 April 1974 socialist-inspired military coup in Portugal which overthrew Lisbon's Estado Novo regime.[17]
Luís Cabral, brother of Amílcar and co-founder of PAIGC, was appointed the first President of Guinea-Bissau. Following independence local Guinean soldiers that fought along with the Portuguese Army against the PAIGC guerrillas were slaughtered by the thousands. Some managed to escape and settled in Portugal or other African nations.[18] One of the massacres occurred in the town of Bissorã. In 1980 the PAIGC admitted in its newspaper "Nó Pintcha" (dated 29 November 1980) that many were executed and buried in unmarked collective graves in the woods of Cumerá, Portogole and Mansabá.
The country was controlled by a revolutionary council until 1984. The first multi-party elections were held in 1994, but an army uprising in 1998 led to the president's ousting and the Guinea-Bissau Civil War. Elections were held again in 2000 and Kumba Ialá was elected president.[19]
In September 2003, a coup took place in which the military arrested Ialá on the charge of being "unable to solve the problems."[20] After being delayed several times, legislative elections were held in March 2004. A mutiny of military factions in October 2004 resulted in the death of the head of the armed forces, and caused widespread unrest.

Vieira years [edit]

In June 2005, presidential elections were held for the first time since the coup that deposed Ialá. Ialá returned as the candidate for the PRS, claiming to be the legitimate president of the country, but the election was won by former president João Bernardo Vieira, deposed in the 1999 coup. Vieira beat Malam Bacai Sanhá in a runoff election, but Sanhá initially refused to concede, claiming that tampering occurred in two constituencies including the capital, Bissau.[21]
Despite reports that there had been an influx of arms in the weeks leading up to the election and reports of some "disturbances during campaigning"—including attacks on government offices by unidentified gunmen—foreign election monitors labelled the election as "calm and organized".[22] PAIGC won a strong parliamentary majority, with 67 of 100 seats, in the parliamentary election held in November 2008.[23]
In November 2008, President Vieira's official residence was attacked by members of the armed forces, killing a guard but leaving the president unharmed.[24] On 2 March 2009, however, Vieira was assassinated by what preliminary reports indicated to be a group of soldiers avenging the death of the head of joint chiefs of staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai. Tagme died in an explosion on Sunday, 1 March 2009 in an assassination. Military leaders in the country have pledged to respect the constitutional order of succession. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was appointed as an interim president until a nationwide election on 28 June 2009,[25] which was won by Malam Bacai Sanhá.

Politics [edit]

Guinea-Bissau is a republic. In the past, the government had been highly centralized, and multiparty governance has been in effect since mid-1991. The president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. At the legislative level, there is a unicameral "Assembleia Nacional Popular" (National People's Assembly) made up of 100 members. They are popularly elected from multi-member constituencies to serve a four-year term. At the judicial level, there is a "Tribunal Supremo da Justiça" (Supreme Court) which consists of nine justices appointed by the president; they serve at the pleasure of the president.[26]
Until March 2009 João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira was President of Guinea-Bissau. Elected in 2005 as an independent candidate, being declared winner of the second round by the CNE (Comité Nacional de Eleições). Vieira returned to power in 2005 after winning the presidential election only six years after being ousted from office during a civil war. Previously, he held power for 19 years after taking power in 1980 in a bloodless coup. In that action, he toppled the government of Luís Cabral. He was killed on 2 March 2009, possibly by soldiers in retaliation for the killing of the head of the joint chiefs of staff, General Batista Tagme Na Waie.[27] This did not trigger additional violence, but there were signs of turmoil in the country, according to the advocacy group swisspeace.[28]
In 2012, President Rachide Sambu-balde Malam Bacai Sanhá died. He belonged to PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) – one of two major political parties in Guinea-Bissau along with the PRS (Party for Social Renewal) and alongside over twenty smaller parties.[29] In the 2009 election to replace the assassinated Vieira, Sanhá was the presidential candidate of the PAIGC while Kumba Ialá was the presidential candidate of the PRS.

Regions and sectors [edit]

Bafatá RegionBiombo RegionBiombo RegionBissau RegionBissau RegionBolama RegionCacheu RegionGabú RegionOio RegionQuinara RegionQuinara RegionTombali RegionA clickable map of Guinea-Bissau exhibiting its eight regions and one autonomous sector.
About this image

Guinea-Bissau is divided into 8 regions (regiões) and one autonomous sector (sector autónomo). These in turn are subdivided into thirty-seven sectors. The regions are:
* autonomous sector

Geography [edit]

Map of Guinea Bissau
Typical scenery in Guinea-Bissau
Satellite image of Guinea-Bissau (2003)
Guinea-Bissau lies mostly between latitudes 11° and 13°N (a small area is south of 11°), and longitudes 13° and 17°W.
At 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi), the country is larger in size than Taiwan, Belgium, or the U.S. state of Maryland. This small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 300 metres (984 ft). The interior is savanna, and the coastline is plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.[30]

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