Last Tuesday, October 12, we, the people of Equatorial Guinea remembered 53 years since we broke away from the tyrannical claws of colonial Spain.
But many of us also observed 5 decades of a deeply entrenched and brutal dictatorship characterized by impunity, corruption, rigged elections, and widespread human rights abuses. For many of us, there was nothing to celebrate.
Thus, I joined hundreds of my fellow Equatoguineans at a rally in Madrid, to call on the Spanish government and the international community to withdraw their support -- tacit or otherwise -- for the long-ruling Obiang dictatorship.
Now a high-level White House delegation will visit Equatorial Guinea next week to focus on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. But, its focus, after five decades of repressive, corrupt dictatorship, should be on bringing democracy and human rights—together with equitable and sustainable development—to the people of Equatorial Guinea. As a start, the delegation should propose tangible, credible steps to fight corruption, establish the rule of law, and open up space for civil society to hold the government accountable.
It is long past due for the United States, under President Joe Biden, to shift and adjust its priorities in Equatorial Guinea, to instead focus on the rule of law, human rights, and the fight against corruption. This is the vital foundation. Only this focus and priority will achieve the security that both the US and Equatoguineans want and deserve.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor