Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The more you know... Equatorial Guinea edition!

UNITED NATIONS - Equatorial Guinea executed 4 people yesterday for attempting to assassinate the President. The prisoners were reportedly executed 1 hour after conviction, with no appeal. Since some in the international community viewed this as something of a human rights violation, Equatorial Guinean Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba held a press conference at the UN today attempting to explain his country's actions. Let's see how his attempts fared:

1st Attempt: These guys were terrorists!
Analysis: Since 9/11, this has been perhaps the single most often employed justification by every state for anything that could conceivably be called a human rights violation, and they do it largely to shut the US up. This sort of thing was more effective in the Bush years, but even yesterday's protest from the State Department was qualified.

2nd Attempt: "Legislation set out in the constitution ... provides for the application of capital punishment for crimes such as those judged in this case."
Analysis: This would have been more convincing if his strong accent hadn't made "this case" sound like "discos." The law in discos, I believe, is not recognized internationally.

3rd Attempt:
Critics do not even know our country. They cannot even find our country on a map.
Analysis: True!

4th Attempt: We support the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
Analysis: A naked appeal for developing country support. When in doubt, name-drop the Millennium Development Goals. The Secretary-General does it all the time. Why shouldn't Equatorial Guinea?

5th Attempt: We protect our environment.
Analysis: An even more naked appeal, this time for leftist support in the developed world. The way the Equatorial Guineans see it, the same people who care about the environment are the sort who care about human rights in oil-rich countries. And they're absolutely right. What's more, Equatorial Guinea actually does a fairly decent job of protecting its environment, particularly its primate population on the island of Bioko. Despite being completely unrelated to the charges at hand, this proves to be, sadly, the Ambassador's best defense.

6th Attempt: "Please, give the opportunity of Equatorial Guinea to at least know it properly. Instead of condemning what is being done, nobody is speaking of development in the country. We are building hospitals, schools, roads. Equatorial Guineans are free to go anywhere, anywhere in the world!"
Analysis: First of all, if you have to advertise this, it's probably not true. Equatorial Guinea has one of the highest per capita incomes on earth, but its citizens are some of the world's poorest. Virtually all of its oil wealth goes to the President and his family and friends, and Transparency International ranks Equatorial Guinea 168th out of 180 on its corruption index. The President's son is a rap mogul in LA, so, yes, that's at least one Equatorial Guinean who travels the world freely. As for the rest, the country's government is regarded as one of the most autocratic and brutal to political dissent and no country in Africa save possibly Eritrea is as tightly or ruthlessly controlled.

7th Attempt:
Responding to allegations that the President's son spends his ill-gotten millions on Bentleys, a recording studio, a private jet, and lavish nights on the town with his sometimes-girlfriend Eve: "Anybody is free to do his business."
Analysis: True... I guess. Sigh...

Meanwhile, Equatorial Guineans also packed the press room with pro-government people who all applauded after the Ambassador's opening statement. This trick is so transparent to real journalists that even North Korea doesn't do it.

Equatorial Guinea! Staking its own little claim to be the worst-governed country on earth.

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