Equatorial Guinea

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Overview
<p> Occupying a land mass slightly larger than the state of Maryland, Equatorial Guinea has been occupied by the Portuguese and the Spanish. The country gained its independence in 1968 and quickly devolved into political chaos under President Francisco Macias Nguema, who abrogated the nation&rsquo;s new constitution and suppressed almost all parts of society in his quest for absolute power. <span>Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo led a successful coup attempt in 1979 and had his own struggles with power, as he appointed many of his relatives to his cabinet and rigged elections from 1982 to the present. The discovery of large oil deposits in Equatorial Guinea in 1995 has attracted foreign investors, many from the United States. These investors have contiued their work while mostly ignoring Equatorial Guinea&rsquo;s terrible human rights record.&nbsp;</span></p>
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Basic Information
<p> <b>Lay of the Land</b>: Equatorial Guinea consists of the former Spanish territory of Rio Muni, sandwiched between Gabon and Cameroon on the west coast of central Africa, and the volcanic island of Fernando Po, 125 miles away in the Gulf of Guinea, plus a few smaller islands.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Population</b>: 633,441</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Religions</b>: Catholic 87.3%, Protestant 5.7%, Muslim 4.0%, Ethnoreligious 1.7%, Baha&#39;i 0.5%.&nbsp;Large amounts of Christians also practice traditional beliefs.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, other 1.4%, Bujeba 1.1%.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Languages</b>: Fang 49.3%, Bube 7.7%, Spanish (official) 2.2%, Seki 2.1%, Batanga 1.7%, Ngumba 1.6%, Fernando Po Creole English 1.0%, Benga 0.6%,Fa D&#39;ambu 0.5%, French (official).&nbsp;There are 14 living languages in Equatorial Guinea.</div>
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History
<p> Pygmies originally settled Equatorial Guinea, and some of them still live in northern Rio Muni.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Portuguese explorer Fernando Po discovered the island of Bioko in 1471 while seeking a route to India. He named the island Formosa, meaning &ldquo;pretty flower&rdquo; in Portuguese, but the island was quickly named Fernando Po, after its discoverer.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Bantu people migrated to Equatorial Guinea during the 17th and 19th centuries, followed by the Fang. The Fang are said to have mixed with immigrants from Cameroon to form the Bubi ethnic group, and another group, the Annobon, were natives from Angola who had intermarried with the Portuguese.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Portuguese retained control of Equatorial Guinea until 1778, when it was ceded to Spain, along with the adjacent islets and the commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogoue Rivers. In exchange, Portugal received territory in South America (particularly Brazil), when it signed the Treaty of Pardo.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Though Spain controlled the area, its settlers were quickly driven out by yellow fever. Great Britain established a base in Equatorial Guinea from 1827 to 1843 as part of its efforts to quell the slave trade. Though several nations claimed sovereignty over the region in 1900, the Treaty of Paris united the mainland territories under Spain&rsquo;s rule. It was called Spanish Guinea until the latter part of the 20th Century.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Although Spain had a vast empire and much international power, it lacked the wealth to establish a real economic infrastructure in the country. Large Cacao plantations were developed, particularly on the island of Bioko. There, thousands of Nigerian workers helped with planting and harvesting, receiving help from imported slaves.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1879, Spain began using Bioko as a penal colony for Cuban prisoners considered too dangerous to hold in Cuba. Between 1865 and 1910, Spanish Guinea went thorough 65 governors, changing leadership about every eight or nine months.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The paternalistic system that allowed this economic growth helped Equatorial Guinea develop one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa. The Spanish also helped Equatorial Guinea to achieve one of the continent&rsquo;s highest literacy rates and assisted in the development of health care facilities for all. In 1939, Spain also began exploiting Rio Muni as a source of timber.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1959, the Gulf of Guinea was established as having the same status as the provinces of Spain.&nbsp;Renamed the Spanish Equatorial Region, the country held its first local elections in 1959, and the country&rsquo;s first representatives were seated in the Spanish parliament that same year.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Basic Law of December 1963 allowed limited autonomy to Equatorial Guinea under a joint legislative body for the territory&rsquo;s two provinces. The name of the country was officially changed to Equatorial Guinea, and though Spain&rsquo;s commissioner had extensive powers, the country&rsquo;s General Assembly was given a certain amount of power to formulate new rules and regulations.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In March 1968, Spain announced that it would grant Equatorial Guinea its independence. This came about as a direct result of pressure placed on Spain by Equatoguinean nationalists and the United Nations. Under UN observation, a constitutional convention drafted electoral laws and a new constitution (said to have been inspired by that of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco). A referendum was held on August 11, 1968, and 63% of the population voted in favor of the new constitution. This provided for a government with a General Assembly and a Supreme Court, with judges appointed by Equatorial Guinea&rsquo;s president.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Francisco Macias Nguema was elected president in September 1968, and the country officially became independent in October. At that time, cocoa accounted for 75% of the gross domestic product. In July 1970, Macias created a single-party state, and in May 1971, several aspects of the constitution were abrogated.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Macias came from Gabon. His father was a well-known Fang sorcerer, and Mascias used that to his advantage politically. He ingratiated himself to his Spanish superiors and soon attracted the attention of a Spanish lawyer and entrepreneur named Antonio Garc&iacute;a Trevijano, who would try to use Macias to achieve his own ambitions.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1972, Macias took control of the government and declared himself President-for-Life (as well as Grand Master of Education, Science and Culture).&nbsp;Most of the government&#39;s functions were abandoned except internal security.&nbsp;One third of the population was subsequently killed or placed in exile. The country&#39;s infrastructure, including its electrical, water, road, transportation and health sectors, fell into ruin. Education ceased. Religion was suppressed.&nbsp;Macias forbade the use of the word &quot;intellectual&quot; and closed all libraries. Both the public and private economic sectors were destroyed.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Nigerian workers, estimated to be almost 60,000 in number, left Bioko in 1976. Shortly thereafter, the economy collapsed as skilled workers fled the country. Macias was sterile and ordered the execution of all his third wife&#39;s lovers, as well as the husbands of women he desired. Most notoriously, Macias gathered 150 of his political opponents into Malabo Stadium in 1975 and had them executed while the song &quot;Those Were the Days, My Friend&quot; played.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> By 1979, Macias had traveled twice to Spain, seeking treatment for a brain tumor. Back in Equatorial Guinea, he sequestered himself in the village of Mongomo, protected by troops from Cuba and North Korea. He kept the nation&#39;s treasury in his home, stuffed into suitcases.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, a lieutenant colonel in charge of military police, led a successful coup d&#39;etat on August 3, 1979. Macias was captured on August 18, put on trial on September 24, and executed by firing squad on September 29. Several members of the national army refused to take part in the execution because they were afraid that Macias would return from the dead in the form of a tiger and hunt them down.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang was Macias&#39; nephew but had taken part in the coup d&#39;etat because Macias had killed his younger brother. He had studied at the Spanish Military Academy in Zaragoza and had served a governor of Bioko and director of the infamous Black Beach Prison.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang was made president in October 1979 and ruled Equatorial Guinea alongside a Supreme Military Council. The United National Commission on Human Rights stepped up in 1982, helping to draft a new constitution, which was ratified by a popular vote on August 15, 1982.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In an effort to rescue the nation&#39;s economy, Obiang offered to return the cocoa plantations to their original Spanish owners. But few stepped forward to claim them. Relations between the two countries had soured so much that Obiang went to France for help. Shortly thereafter in 1982, Equatorial Guinea became the only non-Francophone member of the Franc Zone.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang remained president for another seven years, and the Council was abolished. Obiang was re-elected in 1989 and again in February 1996, with 98% of the vote. But since several of Obiang&#39;s opponents withdrew from the race, outsiders criticized the election&#39;s outcome. To assuage this criticism, Obiang appointed a new cabinet, which included some members from opposition parties.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1995, large deposits of oil were discovered in Equatorial Guinea. Drilling began in 1996, and for the next three years, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Equatorial Guinea tripled. By 2003, oil represented 80% of the country&#39;s GDP.&nbsp;Many American companies, such as Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, Amerada Hess and Marathon Oil poured $5 billion into the country. Also in 1995, the US closed its embassy in Equatorial Guinea to protest the country&#39;s poor human rights record. In 2001, under President George W. Bush, the US quietly re-opened the embassy.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Shortly thereafter, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) funded a $450 million methanol plant and gave permission to a private firm, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) of Alexandria, Virginia, to develop a coast guard to protect the oil fields in Equatorial Guinea. However, 60% of Equatorial Guinea&#39;s citizens live on less than $1 a day, while the huge bulk of these oil fortunes went directly to Obiang.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2001, it was estimated that only 43% of Equatoguineans had access to safe drinking water.&nbsp;Meanwhile, Obiang has deposited almost half a billion dollars into an account in the Riggs Bank in Washington, DC. When asked why he maintained total control of this fund, Obiang explained that he needed to do so to &ldquo;avoid corruption.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In July 2003, state radio announced that Obiang &ldquo;is in permanent contact with The Almighty&rdquo; and that he &ldquo;can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to Hell.&rdquo; Six months before the election of December 15, 2002, Obiang had 68 opposition leaders arrested and used torture to extract &ldquo;confessions&rdquo; from them, after which they were all sentenced to six to 20 years in prison. Obiang won 97.1% of the vote.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Today, Obiang and his circle of advisors remain in authority. He has the power to name and dismiss cabinet members and judges, ratify treaties, and lead the army, among other things.&nbsp;Obiang also appoints the governors of Equatorial Guinea&#39;s seven provinces. Seven of the nation&#39;s nine generals are relatives of Obiang, and the other two are from his tribe.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang&#39;s brother-in-law, Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, served as ambassador to the United Nations before taking charge of family interests in the United States. His brother, Armenol Ondo Nguema, is the Director General of National Security. Ondo Nguema owns a house in Virginia, while Obiang himself owns two in Maryland.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> One of Obiang&rsquo;s sons, Gabriel Mbegha Obiang Lima, is the state secretary for oil, but it is another son, Teodorino, who has proved to be the most colorful member of the family.&nbsp;Teodorino is the Minister of Water and Forests, Fishing and Environment.&nbsp;He also owns the only private radio station in Equatorial Guinea and gained notoriety by becoming the first Equatoguinean to own a Rolls Royce. Teodorino is attracted by the world of entertainment. In March 2001, he purchased a $5.8 million estate in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.&nbsp;Settling into the Hollywood scene, he started his own rap music company, TNO Entertainment.&nbsp;The first artist he signed, Won-G, introduced his first music video with a dedication to Teodorino.&nbsp;The song is called &ldquo;Nothing&rsquo;s Wrong.&rdquo;<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div> <div> <a href="http://www.afrol.com/Countries/Equatorial_Guinea/eqg_history.htm"><font color="#0000ff">History of Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Afrol.com)</div> <div> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Equatorial_Guinea"><font color="#0000ff">History of Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Wikipedia)</div>
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Equatorial Guinea's Newspapers
<p> <a href="http://www.abyznewslinks.com/equat.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea&#39;s Newspapers</font></a></p> <div> <a href="http://www.guinea-ecuatorial.net/inicio.asp"><font color="#0000ff">Guinea-Ecuatorial (Spanish)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.losanuncios.net/"><font color="#0000ff">Los Anuncios (Spanish)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.bisila.com/noticias.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Bisila (Spanish)</font></a></div>
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History of U.S. Relations with Equatorial Guinea
<p> Since the mid-1960s, the Peace Corps has not had a presence in Equatorial Guinea, given the country&rsquo;s poor human rights record and the region&#39;s general instability. As well, American-based NGOs have very little involvement in the country.&nbsp;</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The US did not have an ambassador to Equatorial Guinea from 1994 to 2006, following accusations that John F. Bennett, the previous ambassador, had practiced witchcraft at the graves of 10 British airmen killed when their plane crashed during World War II.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Bennett named the government&#39;s most notorious dictators and torturers in his farewell address, and no new envoy was appointed. The US Embassy in Malabo was closed in 1995.&nbsp;</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Equatorial Guinea
<p> The US Embassy in Malabo was quietly reopened by the Bush administration in 2006 following intensive lobbying by the US oil industries.&nbsp;Equatorial Guinea maintains an embassy in Washington, DC, and recently opened a consulate in Houston, Texas. President Obiang has met with many senior American leaders over the past few years, as well as many corporate leaders. He has also opened sessions at the United Nations in New York.</p> <div> <b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div> The government of Equatorial Guinea is well disposed towards the US and its companies. The US is the country&#39;s largest investor, and many of its oil companies have a large and visible presence.&nbsp;Equatorial Guinea has been called the the &ldquo;Kuwait of Africa,&rdquo; and political turmoil in the Middle East makes the country strategically important for the US. Equatorial Guinea tries to attract new investment from the US by allowing visitors with American passports to enter without a visa for short visits. Relations between the two countries have been getting better as&nbsp;investment increases.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> American oil corporations currently invested in Equatorial Guinea include Chevron, Hess, Exxon Mobil, Marathon, Atlas Petroleum, Devon and Vanco Energy; Chevron, Hess, Exxon Mobil and Marathon have the largest share of the country&#39;s oil production.&nbsp;In 2004, Chevron, Marathon and Hess were investigated by the SEC for possible violations of laws prohibiting bribes to foreign government officials.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> FMC Technologies has contracts with Hess and Exxon Mobil in Equatorial Guinea to develop the oilfields.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2005, MPRI Inc., a Virginia-based consulting firm, was contracted for extensive training of the country&#39;s military and police forces.&nbsp;MPRI was first approached by the government in 1998 to evaluate the country&#39;s defense system to protect its oil reserves, but under the Clinton administration, the US Department of State denied MPRI&#39;s license to operate in Equatorial Guinea, citing the country&#39;s horrendous human rights record.&nbsp;MPRI began lobbying in D.C. and successfully convinced the State Department to reconsider the license in 2000.&nbsp;MPRI refuses to reveal the terms of its contract of Equatorial Guinea.</div> <div> <a href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2003/05/soldiers-good-fortune"><font color="#0000ff">Soldiers of Good Fortune</font></a> (by Barry Yeoman, Mother Jones)</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> L-3 Communications, the parent company of MPRI, was awarded a $58 million task order with the government of Equatorial Guinea to establish a Maritime Security Enhancement Program designed to provide nation wide coastal surveillance.&nbsp;The task order is only the first part of a multi-year contract with a potential value of about $250 million.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The country&#39;s human rights record remains poor, despite pressure from outsiders. In 2008, the US State Department&#39;s Human Rights report on Equatorial Guinea found many areas in which human rights should improve, including political freedoms and labor rights. However, with the recent discovery of large oil reserves in the country, the American position has largely been one of appeasement, with some encouragement towards long-term changes toward a working civil society.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The US government&#39;s overseas investment promotion agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has concluded the largest agreement in Sub-Saharan Africa for a major US project in Equatorial Guinea. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has no US-funded projects ongoing, but USAID does administer the Social Needs Fund of the Equatorial Guinean Government. This program is unique and is projected to expand to a total value of $60 million over the next several years.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2006, 119 nationals of Equatorial Guinea visited the US, an increase of 65.3% from the 72 that visited in 2005. The number of visitors to the US has remained between 43 and 119 since 2002.</div> <div> <b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div> According to<span>Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, Equatorial Guinea&#39;s ambassador to the United States, between 500 and 800 Americans live in Equatorial Guinea. Approximately 100 to 150 Equatorial Guineans live in the United States.&nbsp;</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.washdiplomat.com/01-08/a2_08_01.html"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea Goes from Rags to Riches With Oil Boom</font></a><a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2007_hr/070510-fredriksson.htm"><font color="#0000ff"> (by Larry Luxner, Washington Diplomat)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2007_hr/070510-fredriksson.htm"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Foreign Policy Saps Human Rights Improvements in Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea Testimony</font></a> (by Lynn Frediksson, Amnesty International USA)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=40702"><font color="#0000ff">Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: 2006 Crime and Safety Report</font></a> (Overseas Security Advisory Council)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020422/silverstein"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Oil Politics in the &#39;Kuwait of Africa&#39;</font></a> (by Ken Silverstein, The Nation)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2007/05/extreme_makeover.html"><font color="#0000ff">Putting Lipstick On A Dictator</font></a> (by Joshua Kurlantzick, Mother Jones)</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p> Top US imports from Equatorial Guinea from 2009 were overwhelmingly dominated by <span>crude oil, which decreased&nbsp;from $2.2 billion in 2008 to $1.8 billionIndustrial organic chemicals&nbsp;dropped from $160 million to $66 million. </span></p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Top US exports to Equatorial Guinea were <span>&nbsp;drilling and oilfield equipment which increased from $46.3 million in 2008 to $115.7 million, other industrial machines, which grew from $18 million to $30.2 million, civilian aircraft, engines, equipment and parts, which moved up from $7.1 million to $31 million, and finished metal shapes, which increased from $8 million to $18.1 million.</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> American exports to Equatorial Guinea in decline included <span>evacuating machinery, which dropped from $30 million to $17.9 million, plastic materials, which decreased from $3.7 million to $1.2 million, and other chemicals, which fell from $3.7 million to $1.2 million. </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The 20010 aid budget was only $40,000, which was directed towards International Military Education and Training (IMET), in particular teaching military officers to speak English.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c7380.html"><font color="#0000ff">Imports from Equatorial Guinea</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c7380.html"><font color="#0000ff">Exports to Equatorial Guinea</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64654.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea: Security Assistance</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/124072.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (page 50)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c7380.html"><font color="#0000ff">Trade in Goods (Imports, Exports and Trade Balance) with Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (U.S. Census Bureau)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/193/lighting_up_the_oil_frontiers_the_lobby_for_equatorial_guinea"><font color="#0000ff">Lighting up the oil frontiers: the lobby for Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v8/v8i3a2.htm"><font color="#0000ff">The Political Economy of Oil in Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (by Brendan McSherry, African Studies Quarterly)</div>
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Controversies
<p> <b>Riggs Bank Guilty of Failing to Prevent Money Laundering by Equatorial Guinea President</b></p> <div> In 2005, Riggs Bank pleaded guilty to failing to report suspicious transactions conducted by officials of Equatorial Guinea, including the president.&nbsp;Riggs Bank began working with Equatorial Guinea in 1995 and had opened multiple personal accounts for President Obiang and his relatives, and assisted in establishing offshore shell corporations for the president and his sons.&nbsp;By 2003, Equatorial Guinea was Riggs&#39; largest client, with accounts of $700 million. President Obiang deposited millions of dollars from oil funds that were meant to benefit the Equatorial Guineans into his own personal account.&nbsp;When asked why he maintained total control of the money, he explained that he needed to do so in order to &ldquo;avoid corruption.&rdquo;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.odiousdebts.org/odiousdebts/index.cfm?DSP=content&amp;ContentID=10917"><font color="#0000ff">At Riggs Bank, A Tangled Path Led To Scandal</font></a> (by Timothy O&#39;Brien, New York Times)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38097-2005Jan26.html"><font color="#0000ff">Riggs to Enter Guilty Plea</font></a> (by Terence O&#39;Hara and Kathleen Day, Washington Post)</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>SEC Investigates U.S. Oil Company Payments to Equatorial Guinea Officials</b></div> <div> In August 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it was examining payments made by four US oil companies to officials in Equatorial Guinea and businesses they controlled. Amerada Hess, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil and Marathon said they would cooperate with the investigation. The issue revolves around whether American bribery laws were violated in Equatorial Guinea in order to secure lucrative oil contracts. <span>Riggs Bank, an old-line Washington institution with roots in the diplomatic community, was fined a record $25 million in May by the comptroller&#39;s office for allegedly failing to report suspicious transactions in the Equatorial Guinea accounts and those controlled by Saudi diplomats in Washington.</span></div> <div> <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2004-08-06-sec-oil_x.htm"><font color="#0000ff">SEC eyes oil payments to Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Associated Press)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A43398-2004Apr1?language=printer"><font color="#0000ff">Riggs May Be Fined Over Bank Secrecy Act</font></a> (by Kathleen Day and Terence O&#39;Hara, Washington Post)</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Mark Thatcher Arrested in Failed Coup Attempt <span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></b></div> <div> In 2004, Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher, was arrested for his involvement in a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea. Though Thatcher said he was &quot;unwittingly involved&quot; in the coup, he did so to avoid a jail sentence. Instead, he received a four-year suspended sentence and a fine of $505,000. He must also cooperate with Equatorial Guinea law enforcement investigations into the coup. Thatcher&#39;s wife and two sons live in the United States and settled a civil racketeering lawsuit.&nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2005-01/2005-01-13-voa7.cfm"><font color="#0000ff">Thatcher Pleads Guilty to Coup Involvement</font></a> (by Delia Robertson, Voice of America)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-08-26-thatcher_x.htm?csp=36"><font color="#0000ff">Thatcher&#39;s son was fleeing to United States when arrested, police say</font></a> (Associated Press)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/26/1093518010003.html"><font color="#0000ff">Thatcher faces 15 years in prison</font></a> (by Peter Fray, Sydney Morning Herald)</div>
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Human Rights
<p> The following human rights problems were reported in 2008 by the State Department: abridgment of citizens&#39; right to change their government; instances of physical abuse of prisoners and detainees by security forces; poor conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention; harassment and deportation of foreign residents with limited due process; judicial corruption and lack of due process; restrictions on the right to privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press; restrictions on the right of assembly, association, and movement; government corruption; violence and discrimination against women; suspected trafficking in persons; discrimination against ethnic minorities; and restrictions on labor rights.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; however, there were reports that security officials abused and tortured persons during the year. Foreigners, especially illegal immigrants from other African countries, continued to experience harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrest. Police occasionally raided immigrant ghettos and the resulting detentions frequently gave rise to conflicting claims of excessive force, including beatings.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Police were underfunded, poorly trained, and corrupt. Security forces continued the practice of extorting money and small bribes from citizens, and impunity remained a problem. Mechanisms to investigate allegations of abuse were poorly developed.&nbsp;<span>Abuse and mistreatment of prisoners during or immediately after arrest remained persistent problems in some police precincts. Beatings were most frequently reported </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> After major construction and renovation projects, conditions in the country&rsquo;s three main prisons improved significantly and reports of insufficient food, water, and sanitary conditions decreased sharply. Incidents of torture in prisons were drastically reduced, which was partially attributed to increased access to prisons by UN and other international observers.&nbsp;Use of shackles was restricted to extraordinary punishment for offenses while in detention. However, c<span>onditions in detention centers for illegal immigrants were also substandard. Poor food, overcrowding, and inadequate sanitary facilities were the most prominent problems. </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary; however, the government did not respect this provision in practice. Judges served at the pleasure of the president, and were appointed, transferred, and dismissed for political as well as competency reasons. Judicial corruption was widely reported, and cases were sometimes decided on political grounds.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;Many trials for ordinary crimes are public, but juries are not used. The law remains largely based on the Spanish system existing at independence from Franco-era Spain. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials but rarely were able to consult promptly with attorneys. An accused who cannot afford a lawyer is entitled to ask the government to provide one, but defendants were not routinely advised of this right. The country&#39;s bar association was available to defend indigent clients. Defendants may confront and question witnesses and may present their own witnesses and evidence, although in practice this was seldom done. There was limited access to evidence. By law the accused has the presumption of innocence and the right to appeal; however, legal appeals were not common. By law the above-listed rights are universal. Experience at defense was limited, and defense lawyers did not necessarily represent the wishes of defendants.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Some 58 political prisoners remained detained. Some have been convicted of &quot;crimes against the state&quot; without adequate representation. The right to appeal was seldom exercised and even more rarely successful. These prisoners were all members of opposition parties or persons the government accused of involvement in coup attempts.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, but the government did not respect these prohibitions in practice. Security forces violated homes and arrested suspected dissidents, criminals, foreign nationals, and others, often without judicial orders, and confiscated their property with impunity.&rdquo;</div> <div> &ldquo;Informers reportedly monitored opposition members, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), journalists and foreign diplomats. Most residents and journalists believed that the government monitored telephone calls and Internet use.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press; however,the law authorizes government censorship of all publications. During the year some journalists covered topics previously considered to be off-limits, but the country&#39;s tiny media remained under government influence and most journalists practiced self-censorship.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;Eight periodicals with varying degrees of government involvement were published irregularly. International newspapers or news magazines could not be sold or distributed without government permission. Political party publications could not be distributed to the general public. News kiosks did not exist, and the only bookstores were affiliated with religious organizations. Starting a new publication required a complicated process governed by an ambiguous law and was often inhibited by bureaucracy.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> International media did not try to operate in the country; only one international news agency had a regular stringer present. Satellite broadcasts increasingly were available. Foreign channels were not censored, and international electronic media were available and included Radio France International, which broadcast from Malabo, BBC, and Radio Exterior, the international short-wave service from Spain.</div> <div> The president&#39;s eldest son owned the only private broadcast media.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or verifiable reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Residents, however, believed that the government monitored Internet use, including e-mail, which was channeled through the parastatal telephone company or a wireless connector. Most overt criticism of the government came from the country&#39;s community in exile, and the Internet had replaced broadcast media as the primary way opposition views were expressed and disseminated. Exiled citizens&#39; sites were not blocked. Internet use grew significantly, but cost was beyond the means of some citizens.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> There were no official restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events; however, in past years some qualified professionals were moved out of teaching positions because of their political affiliation or critical statements reported to government officials by students in their classes. Therefore, most professors practiced self-censorship to avoid problems.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The constitution and law provide for the right of assembly; however, the government restricted this right. Government authorization must be obtained for private home meetings of more than 10 persons. Although the government formally abolished permit requirements for political party meetings within party buildings, in practice opposition parties were expected to inform authorities if they wished to hold gatherings of any kind, regardless of location. The government required notification for public events such as meetings or marches. Unlike in the previous year, there were no incidents of detention or beatings of opposition party activists.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law prohibits the formation of political parties along ethnic lines and prohibits coalitions between political parties; however, six opposition groups continued to be part of what was effectively a coalition with the ruling party.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The constitution and law provide for freedom of association, but the government restricted this right in practice. The law establishes what types of NGOs can register, and human rights associations were added to the list in 2005.&nbsp;Since then, human rights NGOs have been registered to address issues of the aged and disabled, HIV/AIDS, conservation, and environment.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Non-Catholics occasionally faced discrimination in school enrollment or for expression of personal beliefs within religion classes.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. However, the government restricted these rights in practice through the use of&nbsp;police&nbsp;roadblocks which routinely subjected citizens to searches, harassment, and petty extortion. The government justified roadblocks as controls to prevent illegal immigration, mercenary activities, or attempted coups. However, the checkpoints effectively restricted freedom of movement for all travelers.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> According to the World Bank&#39;s Worldwide Governance Indicators, government corruption was a severe problem.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Rape is illegal, but spousal rape is not specified in the law. The government did not enforce the law effectively. Reporting rape was considered shameful to families involved. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, is illegal, but the government did not enforce the law effectively and violence within the home remained a problem. The police and judiciary were reluctant to prosecute domestic violence cases.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, some trafficking through and to the country was suspected. There were no reliable figures on the number of trafficking victims, but anecdotal evidence indicated the numbers were small. The country was a possible transit point and destination for trafficked persons, including children.&nbsp;O<span>fficials have taken measures to remove economic incentives for such trafficking by prohibiting minors from working in markets or other sectors. There was little remaining evidence of trafficking of minors for labor or sexual purposes </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Discrimination against ethnic or racial minorities was illegal; however, societal discrimination, security force harassment, and political marginalization of minorities were a problem. The number of illegal residents from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali, Togo, and other African countries grew because of the Equatorial Guinea&rsquo;s growing economy, stimulated by the oil industry.&nbsp;Police attempts to enforce immigration rules had little effect on curbing illegal immigration.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;Differences among subclans of the Fang, especially resentment of the political dominance of the Mongomo subclan, were sources of political jockeying and potential friction. In practice some members of ethnic minorities, particularly of the Bubi ethnic group, faced discrimination, especially when they were not members of the dominant political party.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Societal stigmatization and discrimination against homosexuals was strong, and the government made no effort to combat it.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The law provides workers the right to establish unions and affiliate with unions of their choice, without previous authorization or excessive requirements; however, the government placed practical obstacles before groups wishing to organize. The Union Organization of Small Farmers continued to be the only legal operational labor union. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, the authorities continued to refuse to register the Equatorial Guinea Trade Union. The law stipulates that a union must have at least 50 members from a specific workplace to register; this rule effectively blocked union formation. Authorities refused to legalize the Independent Syndicated Services, a public sector union, despite its having met the requirements of the law.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The law allows unions to conduct activities without interference, but the government did not protect this right in practice. Workers were effectively prohibited from striking. On rare occasions workers engaged in temporary protests or &quot;go slows&quot; (work slowdowns and planned absences).&rdquo;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/af/118999.htm"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. State Department</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.hrw.org/en/taxonomy/term/98/all"><font color="#0000ff">Human Rights Watch</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/equatorial-guinea"><font color="#0000ff">Amnesty International</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2008-05/2008-05-12-voa31.cfm?CFID=49691326&amp;CFTOKEN=31674820"><font color="#0000ff">Human Rights Lawyers Struggle in Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Voice of America)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43594"><font color="#0000ff">EQUATORIAL GUINEA:&nbsp;Human Rights Drowning in Oil</font></a> (by Mario de Queiroz, InterPress Service)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25445&amp;Cr=Equatorial&amp;Cr1=Guinea"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea postpones visit of UN human rights expert</font></a> (UN News Centre)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/natres/oil/2003/0816blind.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Blind Eye on Africa: Human Rights, Equatorial Guinea, and Oil</font></a> (by John Bolender, Global Policy Forum)</div> <div> <b>&nbsp;</b></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p> Albert W. Sherer</p> <div> Appointment: Oct 28, 1968</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 21, 1968</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated Oct 13, 1969</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Togo; resident at Lome. Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 7, 1969. A nomination of Jan 9, 1969, was withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it; Sherer was renominated Jan 31 and confirmed Feb 7, 1969. During Sherer&#39;s tenure as non-resident Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, the Embassy in Santa Isabel (now Malabo) was opened Aug 1, 1969, with Albert N. Williams as Charg&eacute; d&#39;Affaires ad interim.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Lewis Hoffacker</div> <div> Appointment: Dec 2, 1969</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 21, 1970</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Jun 6, 1972</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> C. Robert Moore</div> <div> Appointment: Sep 25, 1972</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1973</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Jul 28, 1975</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Herbert J. Spiro</div> <div> Appointment: Jul 24, 1975</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 1, 1975</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Declared persona non grata by Government of Equatorial Guinea Mar 14, 1976</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Mable Murphy Smythe</div> <div> Appointment: Dec 17, 1979</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Dec 19, 1979</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Feb 24, 1980</div> <div> Note: Also accredited at Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Hume A. Horan</div> <div> Appointment: Jun 30, 1980</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 14, 1980</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Resigned as Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea Sep 29, 1981</div> <div> Note: During Horan&#39;s tenure as non-resident Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, the Embassy in Malabo was reestablished Jun 11, 1981 with Joanne Thompson as Charg&eacute; d&#39;Affaires ad interim. Horan continued to serve as Ambassador to Cameroon until May 17, 1983 (see Cameroon).</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Alan M. Hardy</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 26, 1981</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1981</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 26, 1984</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Francis Stephen Ruddy</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 5, 1984</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 27, 1985</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 25, 1988</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Chester E. Norris, Jr.</div> <div> Appointment: Feb 5, 1988</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Mar 15, 1988</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 18, 1991</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> John E. Bennett</div> <div> Appointment: Jul 2, 1991</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1991</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 25, 1994</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Note: Embassy Malabo was closed Oct 31, 1995. Its functions were transferred to the Embassy in Yaounde Nov 1, 1995.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Charles H. Twining</div> <div> Appointment: Dec 19, 1995</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: May 16, 1996</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Aug 17, 1998</div> <div> Note: Since Nov 1, 1995, also accredited to Cameroon and resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> John Melvin Yates</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 22, 1998</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1998</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Nov 4, 2001</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon and resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> George McDade Staples</div> <div> Appointment: Sep 5, 2001</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 24, 2002</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde, Jul 10, 2004</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon and resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> R. Niels Marquardt</div> <div> Appointment: Jul 2, 2004</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 2004</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Superseded Sep 22, 2006</div> <div> Note: Marquardt was originally commissioned to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Donald C, Johnson</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 16, 2006</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 23, 2006</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated Sept 30, 2008</div> <div> &nbsp;</div>
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Equatorial Guinea's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Angue Ondo, Purificación

Purificación Angue Ondo became ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to the United States on Dec. 2, 2005. She served as ambassador to Cameroon from 2000 to 2005. In the early 1990s she served at the Ministry of Women’s Promotion.

 
Ambassador Purificación Angue Ondo (Republic of Equatorial Guinea)

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Equatorial Guinea's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p> <a href="http://guinea-equatorial.com/"><font color="#0000ff">Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in United States</font></a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

Asquino, Mark
ambassador-image

One of the worst dictatorships in Africa, oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, will soon receive a U.S. ambassador with prior African experience in Sudan and prior dictator experience in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Sudan. Mark L. Asquino was nominated by President Obama on March 16, 2012, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

 

The son of Louis and Eleanor Asquino, Mark Asquino was born in 1949 in East Providence, Rhode Island. His father ran a sheet metal and roofing business in East Providence. Asquino graduated from East Providence High School in 1967, and earned his A.B. and Ph.D. in American Civilization at Brown University in 1971 and 1978, respectively. His doctoral thesis was titled, “Criticism in the Balance: The Literary Anthologist as Literary Critic and Promoter in Nineteenth-Century America.” From 1975 to 1976, Asquino was the Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Oviedo in Spain, and was also a lecturer at the University of Rhode Island prior to entering the Foreign Service.

 

Asquino began his Foreign Service career with the U.S. Information Agency in 1978. Early overseas assignments included public affairs junior officer trainee at the embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, and assistant press officer at the embassy in Panama City, Panama. From 1982 to 1986, he served as director of the U.S. Cultural Center and assistant cultural affairs officer at the embassy in Madrid, Spain. Asquino also served as cultural affairs officer at the embassy in Bucharest, Romania, from 1991 to 1994, and as information officer at the embassy in Santiago, Chile, from 1994 to 1998.

 

After completing Russian language training, Asquino served as public affairs officer at the embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from 1999 to 2002. At first, this was a quiet, backwater assignment. But after the U.S. decided to attack neighboring Afghanistan over its refusal to turn over Osama bin Laden for planning the September 11, 2001, attacks, Uzbekistan became a front-line state that the U.S relied upon for help in Afghanistan. As such, Asquino conducted regular briefings and assisted the hundreds of American and international journalists who came to Tashkent in those years.

 

From 2003 to 2006, Asquino was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he directed the mission’s move to the new capital of Astana. Following this posting, he returned to Washington to serve as principal deputy coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) at the U.S. Department of State from 2006 to 2008.

 

Asquino was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, from 2008 to August 2010, when he returned to Washington to serve as a Senior Public Diplomacy Fellow at George Washington University for the 2010-2011 academic year. He is currently executive assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

 

He is married to Jane Asquino.

-Matt Bewig

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Overview
<p> Occupying a land mass slightly larger than the state of Maryland, Equatorial Guinea has been occupied by the Portuguese and the Spanish. The country gained its independence in 1968 and quickly devolved into political chaos under President Francisco Macias Nguema, who abrogated the nation&rsquo;s new constitution and suppressed almost all parts of society in his quest for absolute power. <span>Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo led a successful coup attempt in 1979 and had his own struggles with power, as he appointed many of his relatives to his cabinet and rigged elections from 1982 to the present. The discovery of large oil deposits in Equatorial Guinea in 1995 has attracted foreign investors, many from the United States. These investors have contiued their work while mostly ignoring Equatorial Guinea&rsquo;s terrible human rights record.&nbsp;</span></p>
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Basic Information
<p> <b>Lay of the Land</b>: Equatorial Guinea consists of the former Spanish territory of Rio Muni, sandwiched between Gabon and Cameroon on the west coast of central Africa, and the volcanic island of Fernando Po, 125 miles away in the Gulf of Guinea, plus a few smaller islands.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Population</b>: 633,441</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Religions</b>: Catholic 87.3%, Protestant 5.7%, Muslim 4.0%, Ethnoreligious 1.7%, Baha&#39;i 0.5%.&nbsp;Large amounts of Christians also practice traditional beliefs.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, other 1.4%, Bujeba 1.1%.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Languages</b>: Fang 49.3%, Bube 7.7%, Spanish (official) 2.2%, Seki 2.1%, Batanga 1.7%, Ngumba 1.6%, Fernando Po Creole English 1.0%, Benga 0.6%,Fa D&#39;ambu 0.5%, French (official).&nbsp;There are 14 living languages in Equatorial Guinea.</div>
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History
<p> Pygmies originally settled Equatorial Guinea, and some of them still live in northern Rio Muni.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Portuguese explorer Fernando Po discovered the island of Bioko in 1471 while seeking a route to India. He named the island Formosa, meaning &ldquo;pretty flower&rdquo; in Portuguese, but the island was quickly named Fernando Po, after its discoverer.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Bantu people migrated to Equatorial Guinea during the 17th and 19th centuries, followed by the Fang. The Fang are said to have mixed with immigrants from Cameroon to form the Bubi ethnic group, and another group, the Annobon, were natives from Angola who had intermarried with the Portuguese.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Portuguese retained control of Equatorial Guinea until 1778, when it was ceded to Spain, along with the adjacent islets and the commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogoue Rivers. In exchange, Portugal received territory in South America (particularly Brazil), when it signed the Treaty of Pardo.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Though Spain controlled the area, its settlers were quickly driven out by yellow fever. Great Britain established a base in Equatorial Guinea from 1827 to 1843 as part of its efforts to quell the slave trade. Though several nations claimed sovereignty over the region in 1900, the Treaty of Paris united the mainland territories under Spain&rsquo;s rule. It was called Spanish Guinea until the latter part of the 20th Century.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Although Spain had a vast empire and much international power, it lacked the wealth to establish a real economic infrastructure in the country. Large Cacao plantations were developed, particularly on the island of Bioko. There, thousands of Nigerian workers helped with planting and harvesting, receiving help from imported slaves.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1879, Spain began using Bioko as a penal colony for Cuban prisoners considered too dangerous to hold in Cuba. Between 1865 and 1910, Spanish Guinea went thorough 65 governors, changing leadership about every eight or nine months.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The paternalistic system that allowed this economic growth helped Equatorial Guinea develop one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa. The Spanish also helped Equatorial Guinea to achieve one of the continent&rsquo;s highest literacy rates and assisted in the development of health care facilities for all. In 1939, Spain also began exploiting Rio Muni as a source of timber.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1959, the Gulf of Guinea was established as having the same status as the provinces of Spain.&nbsp;Renamed the Spanish Equatorial Region, the country held its first local elections in 1959, and the country&rsquo;s first representatives were seated in the Spanish parliament that same year.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The Basic Law of December 1963 allowed limited autonomy to Equatorial Guinea under a joint legislative body for the territory&rsquo;s two provinces. The name of the country was officially changed to Equatorial Guinea, and though Spain&rsquo;s commissioner had extensive powers, the country&rsquo;s General Assembly was given a certain amount of power to formulate new rules and regulations.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In March 1968, Spain announced that it would grant Equatorial Guinea its independence. This came about as a direct result of pressure placed on Spain by Equatoguinean nationalists and the United Nations. Under UN observation, a constitutional convention drafted electoral laws and a new constitution (said to have been inspired by that of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco). A referendum was held on August 11, 1968, and 63% of the population voted in favor of the new constitution. This provided for a government with a General Assembly and a Supreme Court, with judges appointed by Equatorial Guinea&rsquo;s president.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Francisco Macias Nguema was elected president in September 1968, and the country officially became independent in October. At that time, cocoa accounted for 75% of the gross domestic product. In July 1970, Macias created a single-party state, and in May 1971, several aspects of the constitution were abrogated.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Macias came from Gabon. His father was a well-known Fang sorcerer, and Mascias used that to his advantage politically. He ingratiated himself to his Spanish superiors and soon attracted the attention of a Spanish lawyer and entrepreneur named Antonio Garc&iacute;a Trevijano, who would try to use Macias to achieve his own ambitions.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1972, Macias took control of the government and declared himself President-for-Life (as well as Grand Master of Education, Science and Culture).&nbsp;Most of the government&#39;s functions were abandoned except internal security.&nbsp;One third of the population was subsequently killed or placed in exile. The country&#39;s infrastructure, including its electrical, water, road, transportation and health sectors, fell into ruin. Education ceased. Religion was suppressed.&nbsp;Macias forbade the use of the word &quot;intellectual&quot; and closed all libraries. Both the public and private economic sectors were destroyed.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Nigerian workers, estimated to be almost 60,000 in number, left Bioko in 1976. Shortly thereafter, the economy collapsed as skilled workers fled the country. Macias was sterile and ordered the execution of all his third wife&#39;s lovers, as well as the husbands of women he desired. Most notoriously, Macias gathered 150 of his political opponents into Malabo Stadium in 1975 and had them executed while the song &quot;Those Were the Days, My Friend&quot; played.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> By 1979, Macias had traveled twice to Spain, seeking treatment for a brain tumor. Back in Equatorial Guinea, he sequestered himself in the village of Mongomo, protected by troops from Cuba and North Korea. He kept the nation&#39;s treasury in his home, stuffed into suitcases.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, a lieutenant colonel in charge of military police, led a successful coup d&#39;etat on August 3, 1979. Macias was captured on August 18, put on trial on September 24, and executed by firing squad on September 29. Several members of the national army refused to take part in the execution because they were afraid that Macias would return from the dead in the form of a tiger and hunt them down.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang was Macias&#39; nephew but had taken part in the coup d&#39;etat because Macias had killed his younger brother. He had studied at the Spanish Military Academy in Zaragoza and had served a governor of Bioko and director of the infamous Black Beach Prison.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang was made president in October 1979 and ruled Equatorial Guinea alongside a Supreme Military Council. The United National Commission on Human Rights stepped up in 1982, helping to draft a new constitution, which was ratified by a popular vote on August 15, 1982.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In an effort to rescue the nation&#39;s economy, Obiang offered to return the cocoa plantations to their original Spanish owners. But few stepped forward to claim them. Relations between the two countries had soured so much that Obiang went to France for help. Shortly thereafter in 1982, Equatorial Guinea became the only non-Francophone member of the Franc Zone.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang remained president for another seven years, and the Council was abolished. Obiang was re-elected in 1989 and again in February 1996, with 98% of the vote. But since several of Obiang&#39;s opponents withdrew from the race, outsiders criticized the election&#39;s outcome. To assuage this criticism, Obiang appointed a new cabinet, which included some members from opposition parties.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 1995, large deposits of oil were discovered in Equatorial Guinea. Drilling began in 1996, and for the next three years, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Equatorial Guinea tripled. By 2003, oil represented 80% of the country&#39;s GDP.&nbsp;Many American companies, such as Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, Amerada Hess and Marathon Oil poured $5 billion into the country. Also in 1995, the US closed its embassy in Equatorial Guinea to protest the country&#39;s poor human rights record. In 2001, under President George W. Bush, the US quietly re-opened the embassy.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Shortly thereafter, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) funded a $450 million methanol plant and gave permission to a private firm, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) of Alexandria, Virginia, to develop a coast guard to protect the oil fields in Equatorial Guinea. However, 60% of Equatorial Guinea&#39;s citizens live on less than $1 a day, while the huge bulk of these oil fortunes went directly to Obiang.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2001, it was estimated that only 43% of Equatoguineans had access to safe drinking water.&nbsp;Meanwhile, Obiang has deposited almost half a billion dollars into an account in the Riggs Bank in Washington, DC. When asked why he maintained total control of this fund, Obiang explained that he needed to do so to &ldquo;avoid corruption.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In July 2003, state radio announced that Obiang &ldquo;is in permanent contact with The Almighty&rdquo; and that he &ldquo;can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to Hell.&rdquo; Six months before the election of December 15, 2002, Obiang had 68 opposition leaders arrested and used torture to extract &ldquo;confessions&rdquo; from them, after which they were all sentenced to six to 20 years in prison. Obiang won 97.1% of the vote.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Today, Obiang and his circle of advisors remain in authority. He has the power to name and dismiss cabinet members and judges, ratify treaties, and lead the army, among other things.&nbsp;Obiang also appoints the governors of Equatorial Guinea&#39;s seven provinces. Seven of the nation&#39;s nine generals are relatives of Obiang, and the other two are from his tribe.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Obiang&#39;s brother-in-law, Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, served as ambassador to the United Nations before taking charge of family interests in the United States. His brother, Armenol Ondo Nguema, is the Director General of National Security. Ondo Nguema owns a house in Virginia, while Obiang himself owns two in Maryland.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> One of Obiang&rsquo;s sons, Gabriel Mbegha Obiang Lima, is the state secretary for oil, but it is another son, Teodorino, who has proved to be the most colorful member of the family.&nbsp;Teodorino is the Minister of Water and Forests, Fishing and Environment.&nbsp;He also owns the only private radio station in Equatorial Guinea and gained notoriety by becoming the first Equatoguinean to own a Rolls Royce. Teodorino is attracted by the world of entertainment. In March 2001, he purchased a $5.8 million estate in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.&nbsp;Settling into the Hollywood scene, he started his own rap music company, TNO Entertainment.&nbsp;The first artist he signed, Won-G, introduced his first music video with a dedication to Teodorino.&nbsp;The song is called &ldquo;Nothing&rsquo;s Wrong.&rdquo;<span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div> <div> <a href="http://www.afrol.com/Countries/Equatorial_Guinea/eqg_history.htm"><font color="#0000ff">History of Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Afrol.com)</div> <div> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Equatorial_Guinea"><font color="#0000ff">History of Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Wikipedia)</div>
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Equatorial Guinea's Newspapers
<p> <a href="http://www.abyznewslinks.com/equat.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea&#39;s Newspapers</font></a></p> <div> <a href="http://www.guinea-ecuatorial.net/inicio.asp"><font color="#0000ff">Guinea-Ecuatorial (Spanish)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.losanuncios.net/"><font color="#0000ff">Los Anuncios (Spanish)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.bisila.com/noticias.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Bisila (Spanish)</font></a></div>
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History of U.S. Relations with Equatorial Guinea
<p> Since the mid-1960s, the Peace Corps has not had a presence in Equatorial Guinea, given the country&rsquo;s poor human rights record and the region&#39;s general instability. As well, American-based NGOs have very little involvement in the country.&nbsp;</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The US did not have an ambassador to Equatorial Guinea from 1994 to 2006, following accusations that John F. Bennett, the previous ambassador, had practiced witchcraft at the graves of 10 British airmen killed when their plane crashed during World War II.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Bennett named the government&#39;s most notorious dictators and torturers in his farewell address, and no new envoy was appointed. The US Embassy in Malabo was closed in 1995.&nbsp;</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Equatorial Guinea
<p> The US Embassy in Malabo was quietly reopened by the Bush administration in 2006 following intensive lobbying by the US oil industries.&nbsp;Equatorial Guinea maintains an embassy in Washington, DC, and recently opened a consulate in Houston, Texas. President Obiang has met with many senior American leaders over the past few years, as well as many corporate leaders. He has also opened sessions at the United Nations in New York.</p> <div> <b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div> The government of Equatorial Guinea is well disposed towards the US and its companies. The US is the country&#39;s largest investor, and many of its oil companies have a large and visible presence.&nbsp;Equatorial Guinea has been called the the &ldquo;Kuwait of Africa,&rdquo; and political turmoil in the Middle East makes the country strategically important for the US. Equatorial Guinea tries to attract new investment from the US by allowing visitors with American passports to enter without a visa for short visits. Relations between the two countries have been getting better as&nbsp;investment increases.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> American oil corporations currently invested in Equatorial Guinea include Chevron, Hess, Exxon Mobil, Marathon, Atlas Petroleum, Devon and Vanco Energy; Chevron, Hess, Exxon Mobil and Marathon have the largest share of the country&#39;s oil production.&nbsp;In 2004, Chevron, Marathon and Hess were investigated by the SEC for possible violations of laws prohibiting bribes to foreign government officials.<span>&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> FMC Technologies has contracts with Hess and Exxon Mobil in Equatorial Guinea to develop the oilfields.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2005, MPRI Inc., a Virginia-based consulting firm, was contracted for extensive training of the country&#39;s military and police forces.&nbsp;MPRI was first approached by the government in 1998 to evaluate the country&#39;s defense system to protect its oil reserves, but under the Clinton administration, the US Department of State denied MPRI&#39;s license to operate in Equatorial Guinea, citing the country&#39;s horrendous human rights record.&nbsp;MPRI began lobbying in D.C. and successfully convinced the State Department to reconsider the license in 2000.&nbsp;MPRI refuses to reveal the terms of its contract of Equatorial Guinea.</div> <div> <a href="http://motherjones.com/politics/2003/05/soldiers-good-fortune"><font color="#0000ff">Soldiers of Good Fortune</font></a> (by Barry Yeoman, Mother Jones)</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> L-3 Communications, the parent company of MPRI, was awarded a $58 million task order with the government of Equatorial Guinea to establish a Maritime Security Enhancement Program designed to provide nation wide coastal surveillance.&nbsp;The task order is only the first part of a multi-year contract with a potential value of about $250 million.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The country&#39;s human rights record remains poor, despite pressure from outsiders. In 2008, the US State Department&#39;s Human Rights report on Equatorial Guinea found many areas in which human rights should improve, including political freedoms and labor rights. However, with the recent discovery of large oil reserves in the country, the American position has largely been one of appeasement, with some encouragement towards long-term changes toward a working civil society.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The US government&#39;s overseas investment promotion agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has concluded the largest agreement in Sub-Saharan Africa for a major US project in Equatorial Guinea. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has no US-funded projects ongoing, but USAID does administer the Social Needs Fund of the Equatorial Guinean Government. This program is unique and is projected to expand to a total value of $60 million over the next several years.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> In 2006, 119 nationals of Equatorial Guinea visited the US, an increase of 65.3% from the 72 that visited in 2005. The number of visitors to the US has remained between 43 and 119 since 2002.</div> <div> <b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div> According to<span>Teodoro Biyogo Nsue, Equatorial Guinea&#39;s ambassador to the United States, between 500 and 800 Americans live in Equatorial Guinea. Approximately 100 to 150 Equatorial Guineans live in the United States.&nbsp;</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.washdiplomat.com/01-08/a2_08_01.html"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea Goes from Rags to Riches With Oil Boom</font></a><a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2007_hr/070510-fredriksson.htm"><font color="#0000ff"> (by Larry Luxner, Washington Diplomat)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2007_hr/070510-fredriksson.htm"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Foreign Policy Saps Human Rights Improvements in Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea Testimony</font></a> (by Lynn Frediksson, Amnesty International USA)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=40702"><font color="#0000ff">Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: 2006 Crime and Safety Report</font></a> (Overseas Security Advisory Council)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020422/silverstein"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Oil Politics in the &#39;Kuwait of Africa&#39;</font></a> (by Ken Silverstein, The Nation)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2007/05/extreme_makeover.html"><font color="#0000ff">Putting Lipstick On A Dictator</font></a> (by Joshua Kurlantzick, Mother Jones)</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p> Top US imports from Equatorial Guinea from 2009 were overwhelmingly dominated by <span>crude oil, which decreased&nbsp;from $2.2 billion in 2008 to $1.8 billionIndustrial organic chemicals&nbsp;dropped from $160 million to $66 million. </span></p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Top US exports to Equatorial Guinea were <span>&nbsp;drilling and oilfield equipment which increased from $46.3 million in 2008 to $115.7 million, other industrial machines, which grew from $18 million to $30.2 million, civilian aircraft, engines, equipment and parts, which moved up from $7.1 million to $31 million, and finished metal shapes, which increased from $8 million to $18.1 million.</span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> American exports to Equatorial Guinea in decline included <span>evacuating machinery, which dropped from $30 million to $17.9 million, plastic materials, which decreased from $3.7 million to $1.2 million, and other chemicals, which fell from $3.7 million to $1.2 million. </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The 20010 aid budget was only $40,000, which was directed towards International Military Education and Training (IMET), in particular teaching military officers to speak English.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c7380.html"><font color="#0000ff">Imports from Equatorial Guinea</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c7380.html"><font color="#0000ff">Exports to Equatorial Guinea</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64654.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea: Security Assistance</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/124072.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (page 50)</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c7380.html"><font color="#0000ff">Trade in Goods (Imports, Exports and Trade Balance) with Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (U.S. Census Bureau)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/193/lighting_up_the_oil_frontiers_the_lobby_for_equatorial_guinea"><font color="#0000ff">Lighting up the oil frontiers: the lobby for Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.africa.ufl.edu/asq/v8/v8i3a2.htm"><font color="#0000ff">The Political Economy of Oil in Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (by Brendan McSherry, African Studies Quarterly)</div>
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Controversies
<p> <b>Riggs Bank Guilty of Failing to Prevent Money Laundering by Equatorial Guinea President</b></p> <div> In 2005, Riggs Bank pleaded guilty to failing to report suspicious transactions conducted by officials of Equatorial Guinea, including the president.&nbsp;Riggs Bank began working with Equatorial Guinea in 1995 and had opened multiple personal accounts for President Obiang and his relatives, and assisted in establishing offshore shell corporations for the president and his sons.&nbsp;By 2003, Equatorial Guinea was Riggs&#39; largest client, with accounts of $700 million. President Obiang deposited millions of dollars from oil funds that were meant to benefit the Equatorial Guineans into his own personal account.&nbsp;When asked why he maintained total control of the money, he explained that he needed to do so in order to &ldquo;avoid corruption.&rdquo;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.odiousdebts.org/odiousdebts/index.cfm?DSP=content&amp;ContentID=10917"><font color="#0000ff">At Riggs Bank, A Tangled Path Led To Scandal</font></a> (by Timothy O&#39;Brien, New York Times)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38097-2005Jan26.html"><font color="#0000ff">Riggs to Enter Guilty Plea</font></a> (by Terence O&#39;Hara and Kathleen Day, Washington Post)</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>SEC Investigates U.S. Oil Company Payments to Equatorial Guinea Officials</b></div> <div> In August 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it was examining payments made by four US oil companies to officials in Equatorial Guinea and businesses they controlled. Amerada Hess, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil and Marathon said they would cooperate with the investigation. The issue revolves around whether American bribery laws were violated in Equatorial Guinea in order to secure lucrative oil contracts. <span>Riggs Bank, an old-line Washington institution with roots in the diplomatic community, was fined a record $25 million in May by the comptroller&#39;s office for allegedly failing to report suspicious transactions in the Equatorial Guinea accounts and those controlled by Saudi diplomats in Washington.</span></div> <div> <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2004-08-06-sec-oil_x.htm"><font color="#0000ff">SEC eyes oil payments to Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Associated Press)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A43398-2004Apr1?language=printer"><font color="#0000ff">Riggs May Be Fined Over Bank Secrecy Act</font></a> (by Kathleen Day and Terence O&#39;Hara, Washington Post)</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <b>Mark Thatcher Arrested in Failed Coup Attempt <span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span></b></div> <div> In 2004, Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher, was arrested for his involvement in a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea. Though Thatcher said he was &quot;unwittingly involved&quot; in the coup, he did so to avoid a jail sentence. Instead, he received a four-year suspended sentence and a fine of $505,000. He must also cooperate with Equatorial Guinea law enforcement investigations into the coup. Thatcher&#39;s wife and two sons live in the United States and settled a civil racketeering lawsuit.&nbsp;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2005-01/2005-01-13-voa7.cfm"><font color="#0000ff">Thatcher Pleads Guilty to Coup Involvement</font></a> (by Delia Robertson, Voice of America)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-08-26-thatcher_x.htm?csp=36"><font color="#0000ff">Thatcher&#39;s son was fleeing to United States when arrested, police say</font></a> (Associated Press)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/26/1093518010003.html"><font color="#0000ff">Thatcher faces 15 years in prison</font></a> (by Peter Fray, Sydney Morning Herald)</div>
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Human Rights
<p> The following human rights problems were reported in 2008 by the State Department: abridgment of citizens&#39; right to change their government; instances of physical abuse of prisoners and detainees by security forces; poor conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention; harassment and deportation of foreign residents with limited due process; judicial corruption and lack of due process; restrictions on the right to privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press; restrictions on the right of assembly, association, and movement; government corruption; violence and discrimination against women; suspected trafficking in persons; discrimination against ethnic minorities; and restrictions on labor rights.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; however, there were reports that security officials abused and tortured persons during the year. Foreigners, especially illegal immigrants from other African countries, continued to experience harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrest. Police occasionally raided immigrant ghettos and the resulting detentions frequently gave rise to conflicting claims of excessive force, including beatings.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Police were underfunded, poorly trained, and corrupt. Security forces continued the practice of extorting money and small bribes from citizens, and impunity remained a problem. Mechanisms to investigate allegations of abuse were poorly developed.&nbsp;<span>Abuse and mistreatment of prisoners during or immediately after arrest remained persistent problems in some police precincts. Beatings were most frequently reported </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> After major construction and renovation projects, conditions in the country&rsquo;s three main prisons improved significantly and reports of insufficient food, water, and sanitary conditions decreased sharply. Incidents of torture in prisons were drastically reduced, which was partially attributed to increased access to prisons by UN and other international observers.&nbsp;Use of shackles was restricted to extraordinary punishment for offenses while in detention. However, c<span>onditions in detention centers for illegal immigrants were also substandard. Poor food, overcrowding, and inadequate sanitary facilities were the most prominent problems. </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary; however, the government did not respect this provision in practice. Judges served at the pleasure of the president, and were appointed, transferred, and dismissed for political as well as competency reasons. Judicial corruption was widely reported, and cases were sometimes decided on political grounds.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;Many trials for ordinary crimes are public, but juries are not used. The law remains largely based on the Spanish system existing at independence from Franco-era Spain. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials but rarely were able to consult promptly with attorneys. An accused who cannot afford a lawyer is entitled to ask the government to provide one, but defendants were not routinely advised of this right. The country&#39;s bar association was available to defend indigent clients. Defendants may confront and question witnesses and may present their own witnesses and evidence, although in practice this was seldom done. There was limited access to evidence. By law the accused has the presumption of innocence and the right to appeal; however, legal appeals were not common. By law the above-listed rights are universal. Experience at defense was limited, and defense lawyers did not necessarily represent the wishes of defendants.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Some 58 political prisoners remained detained. Some have been convicted of &quot;crimes against the state&quot; without adequate representation. The right to appeal was seldom exercised and even more rarely successful. These prisoners were all members of opposition parties or persons the government accused of involvement in coup attempts.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, but the government did not respect these prohibitions in practice. Security forces violated homes and arrested suspected dissidents, criminals, foreign nationals, and others, often without judicial orders, and confiscated their property with impunity.&rdquo;</div> <div> &ldquo;Informers reportedly monitored opposition members, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), journalists and foreign diplomats. Most residents and journalists believed that the government monitored telephone calls and Internet use.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press; however,the law authorizes government censorship of all publications. During the year some journalists covered topics previously considered to be off-limits, but the country&#39;s tiny media remained under government influence and most journalists practiced self-censorship.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;Eight periodicals with varying degrees of government involvement were published irregularly. International newspapers or news magazines could not be sold or distributed without government permission. Political party publications could not be distributed to the general public. News kiosks did not exist, and the only bookstores were affiliated with religious organizations. Starting a new publication required a complicated process governed by an ambiguous law and was often inhibited by bureaucracy.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> International media did not try to operate in the country; only one international news agency had a regular stringer present. Satellite broadcasts increasingly were available. Foreign channels were not censored, and international electronic media were available and included Radio France International, which broadcast from Malabo, BBC, and Radio Exterior, the international short-wave service from Spain.</div> <div> The president&#39;s eldest son owned the only private broadcast media.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or verifiable reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Residents, however, believed that the government monitored Internet use, including e-mail, which was channeled through the parastatal telephone company or a wireless connector. Most overt criticism of the government came from the country&#39;s community in exile, and the Internet had replaced broadcast media as the primary way opposition views were expressed and disseminated. Exiled citizens&#39; sites were not blocked. Internet use grew significantly, but cost was beyond the means of some citizens.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> There were no official restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events; however, in past years some qualified professionals were moved out of teaching positions because of their political affiliation or critical statements reported to government officials by students in their classes. Therefore, most professors practiced self-censorship to avoid problems.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The constitution and law provide for the right of assembly; however, the government restricted this right. Government authorization must be obtained for private home meetings of more than 10 persons. Although the government formally abolished permit requirements for political party meetings within party buildings, in practice opposition parties were expected to inform authorities if they wished to hold gatherings of any kind, regardless of location. The government required notification for public events such as meetings or marches. Unlike in the previous year, there were no incidents of detention or beatings of opposition party activists.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law prohibits the formation of political parties along ethnic lines and prohibits coalitions between political parties; however, six opposition groups continued to be part of what was effectively a coalition with the ruling party.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The constitution and law provide for freedom of association, but the government restricted this right in practice. The law establishes what types of NGOs can register, and human rights associations were added to the list in 2005.&nbsp;Since then, human rights NGOs have been registered to address issues of the aged and disabled, HIV/AIDS, conservation, and environment.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Non-Catholics occasionally faced discrimination in school enrollment or for expression of personal beliefs within religion classes.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. However, the government restricted these rights in practice through the use of&nbsp;police&nbsp;roadblocks which routinely subjected citizens to searches, harassment, and petty extortion. The government justified roadblocks as controls to prevent illegal immigration, mercenary activities, or attempted coups. However, the checkpoints effectively restricted freedom of movement for all travelers.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> According to the World Bank&#39;s Worldwide Governance Indicators, government corruption was a severe problem.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Rape is illegal, but spousal rape is not specified in the law. The government did not enforce the law effectively. Reporting rape was considered shameful to families involved. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, is illegal, but the government did not enforce the law effectively and violence within the home remained a problem. The police and judiciary were reluctant to prosecute domestic violence cases.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, some trafficking through and to the country was suspected. There were no reliable figures on the number of trafficking victims, but anecdotal evidence indicated the numbers were small. The country was a possible transit point and destination for trafficked persons, including children.&nbsp;O<span>fficials have taken measures to remove economic incentives for such trafficking by prohibiting minors from working in markets or other sectors. There was little remaining evidence of trafficking of minors for labor or sexual purposes </span></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Discrimination against ethnic or racial minorities was illegal; however, societal discrimination, security force harassment, and political marginalization of minorities were a problem. The number of illegal residents from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali, Togo, and other African countries grew because of the Equatorial Guinea&rsquo;s growing economy, stimulated by the oil industry.&nbsp;Police attempts to enforce immigration rules had little effect on curbing illegal immigration.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;Differences among subclans of the Fang, especially resentment of the political dominance of the Mongomo subclan, were sources of political jockeying and potential friction. In practice some members of ethnic minorities, particularly of the Bubi ethnic group, faced discrimination, especially when they were not members of the dominant political party.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Societal stigmatization and discrimination against homosexuals was strong, and the government made no effort to combat it.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The law provides workers the right to establish unions and affiliate with unions of their choice, without previous authorization or excessive requirements; however, the government placed practical obstacles before groups wishing to organize. The Union Organization of Small Farmers continued to be the only legal operational labor union. According to the International Trade Union Confederation, the authorities continued to refuse to register the Equatorial Guinea Trade Union. The law stipulates that a union must have at least 50 members from a specific workplace to register; this rule effectively blocked union formation. Authorities refused to legalize the Independent Syndicated Services, a public sector union, despite its having met the requirements of the law.&rdquo;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> &ldquo;The law allows unions to conduct activities without interference, but the government did not protect this right in practice. Workers were effectively prohibited from striking. On rare occasions workers engaged in temporary protests or &quot;go slows&quot; (work slowdowns and planned absences).&rdquo;</div> <div> <a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/af/118999.htm"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. State Department</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.hrw.org/en/taxonomy/term/98/all"><font color="#0000ff">Human Rights Watch</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/equatorial-guinea"><font color="#0000ff">Amnesty International</font></a></div> <div> <a href="http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2008-05/2008-05-12-voa31.cfm?CFID=49691326&amp;CFTOKEN=31674820"><font color="#0000ff">Human Rights Lawyers Struggle in Equatorial Guinea</font></a> (Voice of America)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43594"><font color="#0000ff">EQUATORIAL GUINEA:&nbsp;Human Rights Drowning in Oil</font></a> (by Mario de Queiroz, InterPress Service)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25445&amp;Cr=Equatorial&amp;Cr1=Guinea"><font color="#0000ff">Equatorial Guinea postpones visit of UN human rights expert</font></a> (UN News Centre)</div> <div> <a href="http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/natres/oil/2003/0816blind.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Blind Eye on Africa: Human Rights, Equatorial Guinea, and Oil</font></a> (by John Bolender, Global Policy Forum)</div> <div> <b>&nbsp;</b></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p> Albert W. Sherer</p> <div> Appointment: Oct 28, 1968</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 21, 1968</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated Oct 13, 1969</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Togo; resident at Lome. Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 7, 1969. A nomination of Jan 9, 1969, was withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it; Sherer was renominated Jan 31 and confirmed Feb 7, 1969. During Sherer&#39;s tenure as non-resident Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, the Embassy in Santa Isabel (now Malabo) was opened Aug 1, 1969, with Albert N. Williams as Charg&eacute; d&#39;Affaires ad interim.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Lewis Hoffacker</div> <div> Appointment: Dec 2, 1969</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 21, 1970</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Jun 6, 1972</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> C. Robert Moore</div> <div> Appointment: Sep 25, 1972</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 9, 1973</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Jul 28, 1975</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Herbert J. Spiro</div> <div> Appointment: Jul 24, 1975</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 1, 1975</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Declared persona non grata by Government of Equatorial Guinea Mar 14, 1976</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Mable Murphy Smythe</div> <div> Appointment: Dec 17, 1979</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Dec 19, 1979</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Feb 24, 1980</div> <div> Note: Also accredited at Cameroon; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Hume A. Horan</div> <div> Appointment: Jun 30, 1980</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 14, 1980</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Resigned as Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea Sep 29, 1981</div> <div> Note: During Horan&#39;s tenure as non-resident Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, the Embassy in Malabo was reestablished Jun 11, 1981 with Joanne Thompson as Charg&eacute; d&#39;Affaires ad interim. Horan continued to serve as Ambassador to Cameroon until May 17, 1983 (see Cameroon).</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Alan M. Hardy</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 26, 1981</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 19, 1981</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 26, 1984</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Francis Stephen Ruddy</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 5, 1984</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 27, 1985</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 25, 1988</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Chester E. Norris, Jr.</div> <div> Appointment: Feb 5, 1988</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Mar 15, 1988</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Apr 18, 1991</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> John E. Bennett</div> <div> Appointment: Jul 2, 1991</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 5, 1991</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 25, 1994</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Note: Embassy Malabo was closed Oct 31, 1995. Its functions were transferred to the Embassy in Yaounde Nov 1, 1995.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Charles H. Twining</div> <div> Appointment: Dec 19, 1995</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: May 16, 1996</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Aug 17, 1998</div> <div> Note: Since Nov 1, 1995, also accredited to Cameroon and resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> John Melvin Yates</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 22, 1998</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1998</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde Nov 4, 2001</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon and resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> George McDade Staples</div> <div> Appointment: Sep 5, 2001</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 24, 2002</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Left Yaounde, Jul 10, 2004</div> <div> Note: Also accredited to Cameroon and resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> R. Niels Marquardt</div> <div> Appointment: Jul 2, 2004</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 2004</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Superseded Sep 22, 2006</div> <div> Note: Marquardt was originally commissioned to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea; resident at Yaounde.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Donald C, Johnson</div> <div> Appointment: Oct 16, 2006</div> <div> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 23, 2006</div> <div> Termination of Mission: Appointment terminated Sept 30, 2008</div> <div> &nbsp;</div>
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Equatorial Guinea's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Angue Ondo, Purificación

Purificación Angue Ondo became ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to the United States on Dec. 2, 2005. She served as ambassador to Cameroon from 2000 to 2005. In the early 1990s she served at the Ministry of Women’s Promotion.

 
Ambassador Purificación Angue Ondo (Republic of Equatorial Guinea)

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Equatorial Guinea's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p> <a href="http://guinea-equatorial.com/"><font color="#0000ff">Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in United States</font></a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea

Asquino, Mark
ambassador-image

One of the worst dictatorships in Africa, oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, will soon receive a U.S. ambassador with prior African experience in Sudan and prior dictator experience in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Sudan. Mark L. Asquino was nominated by President Obama on March 16, 2012, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

 

The son of Louis and Eleanor Asquino, Mark Asquino was born in 1949 in East Providence, Rhode Island. His father ran a sheet metal and roofing business in East Providence. Asquino graduated from East Providence High School in 1967, and earned his A.B. and Ph.D. in American Civilization at Brown University in 1971 and 1978, respectively. His doctoral thesis was titled, “Criticism in the Balance: The Literary Anthologist as Literary Critic and Promoter in Nineteenth-Century America.” From 1975 to 1976, Asquino was the Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Oviedo in Spain, and was also a lecturer at the University of Rhode Island prior to entering the Foreign Service.

 

Asquino began his Foreign Service career with the U.S. Information Agency in 1978. Early overseas assignments included public affairs junior officer trainee at the embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, and assistant press officer at the embassy in Panama City, Panama. From 1982 to 1986, he served as director of the U.S. Cultural Center and assistant cultural affairs officer at the embassy in Madrid, Spain. Asquino also served as cultural affairs officer at the embassy in Bucharest, Romania, from 1991 to 1994, and as information officer at the embassy in Santiago, Chile, from 1994 to 1998.

 

After completing Russian language training, Asquino served as public affairs officer at the embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from 1999 to 2002. At first, this was a quiet, backwater assignment. But after the U.S. decided to attack neighboring Afghanistan over its refusal to turn over Osama bin Laden for planning the September 11, 2001, attacks, Uzbekistan became a front-line state that the U.S relied upon for help in Afghanistan. As such, Asquino conducted regular briefings and assisted the hundreds of American and international journalists who came to Tashkent in those years.

 

From 2003 to 2006, Asquino was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he directed the mission’s move to the new capital of Astana. Following this posting, he returned to Washington to serve as principal deputy coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) at the U.S. Department of State from 2006 to 2008.

 

Asquino was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, from 2008 to August 2010, when he returned to Washington to serve as a Senior Public Diplomacy Fellow at George Washington University for the 2010-2011 academic year. He is currently executive assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

 

He is married to Jane Asquino.

-Matt Bewig

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