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Congo: The World Capital of Killing

 
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 07:08 pm
Did this thread die? I was finding a lot of it interesting.
Seed
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 07:15 pm
@dlowan,
I think I killed it, along with a debate on terminology.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 07:20 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Did this thread die? I was finding a lot of it interesting.


It helped give birth to ideas that are percolating. I was trying to make a difference and use a2k and my social circle but the "next step" is missing and I think people legitimately don't know what to say or do about such distant, and seemingly inevitable, horror.

I am thinking of better ways and more organization to do so (let's see if time permits) and hope that a2k can bring its activists to bear for worthy causes in the future with some more structure and support from the site.
Amigo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 07:24 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Minerals

MAURICE CARNEY: Well, there are a number of companies. From 2001 to 2003, the United Nations did a report on the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Congo. There are a number of American companies. We have Cabot Corporation, for example, out of Boston, Massachusetts, that was named in that report. Cabot"the former CEO of Cabot Corporation is Samuel Bodman, current Secretary of Energy in the Bush administration. We have the OM Group out of Cleveland, Ohio, is another company, American company, named in the report. We also have Freeport-McMoRan, who acquired mining rights from Phelps Dodge out of Phoenix, Arizona, who have been involved in copper exploitation in the Congo. And Global Witness said the copper mines, the Tenke Fungurume mine that Freeport-McMoRan has, represents one of the richest deposits of copper in the world. However, the Congolese government and Congolese people are not benefiting from the contracts that were established and that provided Freeport-McMoRan with those resources.


We have a number of Canadian companies. Almost every Canadian prime minister since Pierre Trudeau has been involved in the mining company in the Congo. We’re talking about Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, all of them profiting from the natural resources of the Congo while the Congolese people suffer. The reports from the Congolese government state that eighty percent of the population live on thirty cents or less a day, while you have billions of dollars going out the back door and into the pockets of mining companies.


AMY GOODMAN: Maurice Carney, you write how the $500 million investment in assuring, well, then-President Kabila’s ascendancy to power “was the beginning of the pay off for the West’s investment. It is for this reason,” you say, “that many Congolese surmised that Kabila was summoned to Washington in October 2007 because he may have strayed from the game plan when he signed a $5 billion deal with China.” Even as he ventured there, you say, to Washington, “he first had to stop in Phoenix, Arizona to visit Tim Snider (recently replaced by Richard Adkerson), CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold.” Talk more about this relationship. Yes, corporations are there, but what exactly are they doing? Who are they making these deals with?

0 Replies
 
Amigo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 07:28 pm
Mineral firms 'fuel Congo unrest'

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8159977.stm



It's for all the minerals we use in all our electric TRASH
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 11:36 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Well, for USians, the Enough site I linked to has ideas for actions people can take. I don't know how good that site is, not how much difference it would make, but there appear to be bills in proposal that would try to help stop feeding the killers money from minerals, for starters.


Did you have ideas for actions?


Some of the Australian threads here have got a bunch of people in my real life and A2k joining in political actions, which has been kind of cool.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 11:45 pm
@dlowan,
Suggested Enough Actions:

http://www.enoughproject.org/take_action
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 11:50 pm
@dlowan,
http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/congojournal/
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2010 08:31 pm
I have heard a lot of people talk about what is going on in africa.. and i hate to say it and frankly it does not add anything to the thread, but I always get the idea that people look down on africa because its predominant race is black.

Would that hold any political power? no
But if all of your people are secretly turning their head for that reason, how can you expect the political powers that be to combat that?

When i read about the things going on in africa I am sick . just the mere fact that humans can treat each other like that SO MUCH that it is just as common as weeknight dinner conversation.

Where are all the womens rights groups?
Child protective services?

All those people that would scream and bomb buildings to be heard HERE... where are they now?

shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2010 08:35 pm
@djjd62,
djjd62 wrote:

sad fact, most people don't know (or care)

american idol is on


As I read that, my first thought was that if Oprah would do a show on the congo, it would become the next fad ( how ever sad that sounds) and at LEAST there would be more action to this.

If she brought over a few women to tell their stories, their daughters etc..

unfortunately that seems to be the way to get peoples attention here
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2010 09:04 pm
@shewolfnm,
Maybe...or maybe it's just overwhelmedness and a feeling of hopelessness?

I certainly care, and do what teeny bit I individually can with micro-finance and specific donations to things like fistula repair, local community people working against female genital mutilation....but it all just seems so HUGE.
0 Replies
 
Pamela Rosa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 12:09 pm
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,830872-1,00.html
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Mar, 2010 12:29 pm
@Pamela Rosa,
Why are you posting a decades-old article? Just because it fits your racist worldview and happens to be from the same country?
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Apr, 2010 04:48 am
Interesting long discussion of the history and present of the Congo in Mother Jones.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/02/congo-gold-adam-hochschild





A few teasers:


Quote:
Blood and Treasure

"
Why one of the world's richest countries is also one of its poorest.

" By Adam Hochschild


IN 1890, A BEARDED YOUNG POLISH SEAMAN made a trip up the Congo River as a steamboat officer and was appalled by the lust for riches he saw among his fellow Europeans. A decade later he finally got the experience onto paper. "A stream of manufactured goods, rubbishy cottons, beads and brass-wire" flowed into the interior, wrote Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness, "and in return came a precious trickle of ivory...The word 'ivory' rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it."

The trickle of ivory that Conrad described was highly visible: elephant tusks carried on the shoulders of exhausted porters from the African interior to the coast, where it could be shipped off to Europe to be carved into jewelry, piano keys, and false teeth. More than 100 years later, far more wealth flows out of this same territory, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, but today much of it can't be seen. If, for example, you stand beside the washboard dirt road that winds out of the Ituri district of the country's northeast, you will see a few vehicles, not more than five or 10 an hour: a dusty SUV, an army jeep, two men on a motorbike, an ancient truck with a precariously high load of fruits and vegetables and a layer of people hitching a ride on top. But you won't see the treasure they are carrying, for it is too small. It will be in little plastic bags in someone's pocket, or perhaps, better to be concealed from thieves and greedy policemen, sewn into a shirt seam or slipped under a shoe's insole. In this part of the country the main source of wealth is gold. More than $1 billion worth is mined in Congo each year, and a good portion of it comes down this road.



Gold is only one of a half-dozen or more lucrative minerals to be found in Congo, and together they constitute what may be the worst case on Earth of what has come to be known as the "resource curse." As inevitably as oil drew the United States into Iraq, it is the temptations of this wealth"more than ethnic rivalries, the legacy of colonialism, or anything else"that has turned Congo into the horrific battleground it has been in recent years. A country with a lavish array of natural riches and a dysfunctional government is like a child heiress without a guardian: Everyone schemes for a piece of what she's got.

As far back as Congo's history is recorded, the wealth from this vast natural treasure house has flowed almost entirely overseas, leaving some of the planet's best-endowed land with some of its poorest people. I have often heard Congolese friends say, "We wouldn't have so much trouble if we weren't so rich."...



...Some Kilo miners were forced to work for a decade or more, and released only when they supplied sons to take their places. Repeated uprisings against the forced-labor regime were brutally suppressed and thousands of deserters were recaptured and put to work again. The mines paid bonuses to overseers based on the amount of gold mined by the Africans under their control, whose workday rose to 12 hours during World War I. Discipline was enforced by armed mine police and by the chicotte, a whip of sun-dried hippopotamus hide with razor-sharp edges, whose blows were meticulously tabulated: Records from one group of northeastern Congo gold camps register 26,579 lashes applied to miners during the first half of 1920 alone. Around that year, the Belgians realized that the harshness of their regime was shrinking the population so rapidly that they would eventually have no labor supply left"you can actually find colonial officials saying this on paper. The system then became less severe as control of the northeastern gold mines passed from the colonial government to a private corporation. Gradually, requiring Africans to pay taxes (for which they had to earn money) replaced outright coercion as a means of turning subsistence farmers into miners or industrial workers. Forced labor, however, remained an element of the economy here, as elsewhere in colonial Africa, until the 1940s, and the whip lasted even longer.

Despite having no political rights, the Congolese, ironically, enjoyed their highest standard of living in the decade or so before the colony won its independence in 1960. Belgians invested heavily in the gold mines, and although the profits continued to flow back to Europe, the colonizers came to understand that this industry and others would produce more if workers were well fed, healthy, and literate. Not too literate, mind you: The colony had one of the best elementary education systems on the continent, but virtually no Africans were trained for management positions. Schools for whites and blacks were segregated, of course, and no black schools in the gold mining towns went beyond 8th grade. As we drive further along the road, past trees with high green bunches of papayas, we can see aging brick health clinics and primary schools built during the late colonial era....

...With strong American encouragement, an army officer named Joseph Mobutu seized power in a military coup in 1965. For 32 years he maintained a repressive, disastrous dictatorship, changing his name to Mobutu Sese Seko and his country's to Zaire. Delighted to have an anti-communist ally who was friendly to American investors and helpful in covert military operations, the United States enthusiastically supported him, providing more than $1 billion in aid over the decades. President George H.W. Bush welcomed Mobutu to the White House as "one of our most valued friends." Sucking his country's economy dry, the dictator amassed a personal fortune estimated at $4 billion, spending it on assorted palaces, a huge yacht, two private ambulances, an airport near his Congo birthplace, Concorde rentals to pick him up there for trips to Europe, and elegant villas on the French Riviera and in other pleasure spots...

...Since Mobutu's overthrow and death in 1997, Congo has been in the grips of a fiendishly complex and brutal war whose exact toll no one knows. It may well be in the millions if you count those who died because fleeing their homes or living in packed, disease-ridden refugee camps cut them off from adequate food and medical care. Women and girls by at least the tens of thousands have been gang-raped by government soldiers and rebel militias, who have found this a chillingly effective method of terrorizing the civilian population of areas they occupy.


Refugees flee a warlord's attack on Ituri in 2003. Fighting in this West Virginia-size district, most of it driven by competition to control the goldfields, displaced more than half a million people and killed more than 60,000.

This has not been a civil war driven by ideology, but rather a multisided free-for-all driven by plunder. No fewer than two dozen armed groups signed the most recent of several shaky peace deals, for example. Among the warring parties have been the ineffectual national government, an array of feuding local ethnic warlords, and nearby African countries hungering for a share of Congo's great natural wealth. Here in Ituri, most of the combat has been between two shifting coalitions of militias, each of them intermittently supported by neighboring Rwanda or Uganda. Both countries have eagerly eyed Congo's gold"and its wealth of other metals necessary to make everything from computers to cell phones, including tin ore, coltan, and tungsten...

...The real problem is not conflict minerals, but the fact that Congo's long-suffering people reap only a tiny share of their country's vast wealth....


...The drilling has confirmed a treasure trove. Beneath less than one square kilometer of ground, next to the hill we're on, Woolford says, are more than 2.5 million ounces of gold, worth about $3 billion at current prices. And it is found at the rate of about three grams per ton of rock"an extraordinarily high batting average for a deposit this big"all of it within an easy 800 feet of the surface.

The company has about 250 employees on this site. Mostly they work inside the compound, tightly protected by guards who include Nepalese Gurkha veterans of the British army. (These are provided by a subsidiary of ArmorGroup, the security firm whose guards at the US Embassy in Afghanistan were at the center of a hazing scandal disclosed last September.) The compound's gates, floodlights, and high razor-wire fence prompt Joel Bisubu, a Congolese human rights activist traveling with us, to call it "Guantánamo."

AngloGold Ashanti recently finalized a series of agreements with the government under which it will begin mining here and at another major site in the northeast. At Mongbwalu, it will have an 86 percent share of the operation; the near-bankrupt former state mining company, now being privatized, will have the remainder. Four other multinationals"based in London, Canada, and South Africa"have likewise concluded closed-door agreements over mining rights. No one will ever know what Congolese government officials may have reaped from these deals in the way of quietly promised jobs, favors, or money under the table, in a country where such rewards are routine. Representatives of local communities, meanwhile, found it hard to get a seat at the negotiating table.

Seldom, in fact, do local communities gain much from such agreements; that is part of the resource curse. This pattern is all the stronger in a place where the national government has as fragmentary a hold as it does here. A failed state fails its people in many ways, and one of them is that, in a world of powerful corporate players, a weak and corrupt government has no bargaining power. For industrial mining that could create new skilled jobs, Congo desperately needs the expertise and investment capital that, for better or worse, only a multinational can offer. But a company like AngloGold Ashanti, with more than 60,000 employees at work on four continents, can easily invest elsewhere if the terms in Congo are not to its liking....

...The drilling has confirmed a treasure trove. Beneath less than one square kilometer of ground, next to the hill we're on, Woolford says, are more than 2.5 million ounces of gold, worth about $3 billion at current prices. And it is found at the rate of about three grams per ton of rock"an extraordinarily high batting average for a deposit this big"all of it within an easy 800 feet of the surface.

The company has about 250 employees on this site. Mostly they work inside the compound, tightly protected by guards who include Nepalese Gurkha veterans of the British army. (These are provided by a subsidiary of ArmorGroup, the security firm whose guards at the US Embassy in Afghanistan were at the center of a hazing scandal disclosed last September.) The compound's gates, floodlights, and high razor-wire fence prompt Joel Bisubu, a Congolese human rights activist traveling with us, to call it "Guantánamo."

AngloGold Ashanti recently finalized a series of agreements with the government under which it will begin mining here and at another major site in the northeast. At Mongbwalu, it will have an 86 percent share of the operation; the near-bankrupt former state mining company, now being privatized, will have the remainder. Four other multinationals"based in London, Canada, and South Africa"have likewise concluded closed-door agreements over mining rights. No one will ever know what Congolese government officials may have reaped from these deals in the way of quietly promised jobs, favors, or money under the table, in a country where such rewards are routine. Representatives of local communities, meanwhile, found it hard to get a seat at the negotiating table.

Seldom, in fact, do local communities gain much from such agreements; that is part of the resource curse. This pattern is all the stronger in a place where the national government has as fragmentary a hold as it does here. A failed state fails its people in many ways, and one of them is that, in a world of powerful corporate players, a weak and corrupt government has no bargaining power. For industrial mining that could create new skilled jobs, Congo desperately needs the expertise and investment capital that, for better or worse, only a multinational can offer. But a company like AngloGold Ashanti, with more than 60,000 employees at work on four continents, can easily invest elsewhere if the terms in Congo are not to its liking.





More of interest:

http://motherjones.com/photoessays/2010/02/congo-photo-essay-gold-mining-diamonds


http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/02/blood-diamonds-myth

http://motherjones.com/politics/2005/01/bury-chains-interview-adam-hochschild

http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/02/democratic-republic-congo-timeline
0 Replies
 
 

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