(Pulitzer Center) Obiang's Deceit: The Truth Behind Equatorial Guinea's Numbers

(Pulitzer Center) Obiang's Deceit: The Truth Behind Equatorial Guinea's Numbers

February 18, 2011
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Tutu Alicante, the executive director of EG Justice, speaks with the Pulitzer Center about the challenges confronting Equatorial Guinea.

Robert Mugabe, the longtime ruler of Zimbabwe, and Teodoro Obiang, his lesser-known counterpart in Equatorial Guinea, have much in common.

Both have managed to keep an iron grip on power for a very long time—Mugabe since 1980 and Obiang since 1979.

Both have succeeded in wrecking the economies of potentially prosperous African nations. Mineral-rich and fertile Zimbabwe’s per-capita GDP of $400 ranks third from the bottom of the 153 countries for which such data is available. The unemployment rate is 94 percent.

Equatorial Guinea, on the other hand, is sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth largest oil producer. Its per-capita GDP is an impressive $37,900—tied with Belgium and just ahead of Ireland. But the vast majority of Equatorial Guinea’s citizens live in extreme poverty. That is because virtually all of the nation’s oil wealth disappears into the pockets of Obiang’s family and their cronies...

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