Wide Angle: Once Upon a Coup TV - Guardian online -
Start with a coup attempt in a tiny West African nation. Add an unrepentant British mercenary held captive in one of the world’s most brutal prisons. Throw in a dictator fearing western powers are trying to undermine his iron-fisted rule, and beneath it all a spectacular under-water oil reserve. Wide Angle: Once Upon a Coup, PBS 2009
There is another big player: China. ibid.
‘Probably the biggest bonanza in the world at the time’ ibid.
‘Equatorial Guinea becomes the new Kuwait. ibid. Ken Silverstein
Obiang seems unfazed by criticism. ibid.
The mercenary was Simon Mann. Today he is serving a 34-year sentence. ibid.
‘There were parties at the [Mark] Thatcher house.’ ibid. Mann
Mark Thatcher was arrested in South Africa. He was charged with financing the coup. ibid.
In a continent infamous for repressive dictatorships, Equatorial Guinea is among the very worst. Its president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has been in power for 34 years, making him Africa’s longest serving dictator. The country is enormously wealthy, thanks to its vast oil reserves, but that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.
Most Equatorial Guineans remain in crushing poverty, with little or no access to decent healthcare or education. Opposition to the status quo, meanwhile, is virtually non-existent: torture and intimidation of the government’s critics is common place, while any attempts to organise outside official government channels are crushed.
Tutu Alicante, executive director of EG, is that rarest of things: an Equatorial Guinean willing to publicly oppose his government. For his troubles, he has lived in exile since the age of 19 – nervous of what will happen to him and his family should he ever return. His organisation fights for democracy and against the human rights abuses of the Obiang regime – although most of the time, Alicante struggles to keep Equatorial Guinea on the international agenda. Guardian online article 11th July 2014, ‘Equatorial Guinea: One Man’s Fight Against Dictatorship’