Financial Times e a carta aberta da sociedade civil angolana a Clinton
CLINTON'S OILY POLICY
Press coverage of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Africa trip focused, in an all-too-frequent fit of parochialism, on a flash of marital drama in which she took umbrage at being asked about her husband. The real drama went unnoticed. In an open letter, prominent Angolan dissidents asked her to take a stance on corruption and abuse of power by that country’s elite.
That she did not do so shows the limits of change in US foreign policy, even under a president who made it a linchpin of his campaign. The share of US oil imports from west Africa is expected to almost double to 25 per cent in the next decade. With Nigerian production in precipitous decline, that will be impossible without relying more heavily on Angola.
That helps explain the platitudes with which Mrs Clinton commented on Angola’s governance – in contrast with her more pointed remarks in Nigeria and Kenya. Her reference to Angola’s progress since the end of its civil war was warranted; her vision of a country “positioned to be a leader on the economic front, on the social and political fronts, the security front, in every way” rather less so.
Such a eulogy is a slap in the face of the letter writers, who drew her attention to Angola’s “brutal political reality”. They accuse the circle around President José Eduardo dos Santos of: monopolising key economic sectors such as transport, telecommunications, and banking; strengthening their control of state and private media; carrying out forced displacement and confiscating land without due process; and diverting public funds to private uses with impunity.
These are harsh accusations. But they are backed up by Mrs Clinton’s own state department’s human rights report on Angola, as well as by independent observers. She cannot profess to care about governance in Angola unless she takes seriously those who address it. The writers put themselves at risk of reprisal by Luanda; Mrs Clinton owes them at least a reply.
By taking energy supplies as paramount, Mrs Clinton neglects that the oligarchic power edifice built on high oil revenues is a reason Angola’s peace dividend remains elusive: it ranks second in the world for child mortality.
The US should not repeat its mistake of tolerating despotism to gain short-term stability. Mrs Clinton’s early predecessor as foreign emissary, Benjamin Franklin, suggested that sacrificing one’s liberty for security makes one lose both. In the long run, America may find that this also holds when the liberty sacrificed is that of Africans.