[Angola] more soldiers than citizens, where the oil is

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Subject: [Angola] more soldiers than citizens, where the oil is
From: newsbeanie@dictatorshandbook.net (NewsBeanie)
Newsgroups: dictator.africa
Organization: solani.org
Date: Feb 12 2017 12:01:42
Title: Soldiers Outnumber Residents in Angola’s Oil-Rich Cabinda, Says Activist Marcos Mavungo
Author: Liam Anderson
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:21:59 -0500
Link: https://globalvoices.org/2017/02/08/soldiers-outnumber-residents-in-angolas-oil-rich-cabinda-says-activist-marcos-mavungo/
Podcast Download URL: https://pt.globalvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/mavungo-editada-400x300.jpg

[image 1]

Activism in Africa International Conference, organized by the Center for
International Studies of the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (CEI-IUL), took
place at ISCTE-IUL on January 11-13, 2017. Photo by Hugo Alexandre Cruz[2]
.. Published with permission.

“There’s no water, no light. There is hunger.” This was how the civic activist 
José Marcos Mavungo[3] described during a conference in Lisbon in January the
harsh reality of living in Cabinda[4], an exclave of Angola, separated from the
country by a narrow strip of territory belonging to the Democratic Republic of
Congo.

The region of Cabinda was a Portuguese protectorate from 1885 until 1956 when
the colonial rulers decided to transfer its government to Angola, a much older
colony located south of the Congo river. Rebellion began immediately and
continued after the Portuguese empire fell in 1975, after which Angola, as a
new independent state, kept sovereignty over Cabinda.

Created in the 1960s, a group called the Front for the Liberation of the
Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) still strives for the region's independence through
armed struggle, although in recent years it has broken up in multiple rivaling
factions. The war waged between them and the Angolan state has taken a toll
on Cabinda's population.

At the core of the conflict, however, is the territory's immense riches:
Cabinda holds one of the largest off-shore oil fields in the world and accounts
for about half of Angola's oil exports[5], says news agency Reuters, which in
turn accounts for more than 95% of the country's total exports, according to
data from the World Bank.[6] As Mavungo himself put it:

Cabinda é um território escandalosamente rico, um dos raros países onde Deus
abriu a mão para tudo, petróleo, diamantes, ouro, madeira, café. [Por
esta razão] o regime angolano depositou o seu poder militar na região.
Atualmente existem mais militares do que população em Cabinda.


Cabinda is a scandalously rich territory, one of the rare countries where God
opened his hand with everything, oil, diamonds, gold, wood, coffee. [That's
why] the Angolan government has put its military power in the region. Now
there are more soldiers in Cabinda than its population.

In this context, in 2003 Mavungo founded Mpalabanda[7], a civic association
from Cabinda with the objective of peacefully resist to war, oppression and
corruption in the region. But Cabinda's first human rights organization was
short-lived: three years later, Mpalabanda was made illegal by the Provincial
Court of Cabinda.

In 2015, Mavungo was imprisoned by Angolan authorities, accused of
“inciting rebellion and violence.” He was sentenced to six years in prison, but
in May of the following year was acquitted[8] by the Angolan Supreme Court due
to lack of evidence. He spent a year in prison.

The activist was recently in Portugal to participate in the “Congresso
Ativismos em África[9]” (Activism Congress for Africa) held by the Centre for
International Studies of ISCTE-the Lisbon University Institute, where he
discussed the current situation in Cabinda, remembered his time in prison and
shared thoughts on the future of Angola.

When Angola gained independence from Portugal in 1975, Cabinda began a period
of “despotic feudalism resulting from a disastrous decolonization process,” he
said:

Após a independência, Angola entrou num conflito que desarticulou as mentes e
onde o político acabou por escorregar numa governação criminosa que legítima
o crime como os acontecimentos de 27 de Maio[10] (1977), a sexta-feira
sangrenta[11] (1993), os assassinatos de Cassule e Kamulingue[12] (2012) e a
experiência trágica vivida por Filomeno Vieira Lopes[13] que não cometeu
outro crime senão contestar.

[Desde então, cidadãos vivem em] ambiente hostil, onde os detentores do poder
se apoderaram de tudo que é recurso nacional em especial o petróleo e os
diamantes e depois criaram um gueto económico onde é notório os propósitos de
rapina – que vem debicar tudo que é recurso, apanham tudo – é nesse contexto
que aparece a governação corrupta onde os governantes em vez de governarem
aparecem como comerciantes e as próprias politicas são estruturadas para
enviar a riqueza para eles próprios e a tirar do pais. Todo o mundo fala que
Angola investiu em Portugal, França e Inglaterra, mas em Angola não [há
investimento]. Está na pobreza.


After independence, Angola fell into a long conflict which disturbed people’s
minds, where politics slid into criminal governance that legitimized crime
such as the events of 27 May[10] (1977), “bloody Friday”[11] (1993), the
killings of Cassule and Kamulingue[12] (2012) and the tragic experience of 
Filomeno Vieira Lopes[13] who committed no other crime than dissenting.

Since then citizens have lived in a hostile environment where those who hold
power appropriated all national resources, especially oil and diamonds, and
then created an economic ghetto notorious for robbery – they come to take all
resources, acquiring everything – it is in this context that corrupt
governance appeared where the rulers, instead of governing, seemed more like
merchants and their politics were structured to send the wealth to themselves
and take it from the country. Everyone says that Angola invested in Portugal,
France, and the UK, but in Angola no [there is no investment]. It is in
poverty.

[image 14]

Activism in Africa International Conference, organized by the Center for
International Studies of the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (CEI-IUL), took
place at ISCTE-IUL on January 11-13, 2017. Photo by Hugo Alexandre Cruz.[15].
Published with permission.

As a result of exploiting the “black gold,” Cabinda is an extremely polluted
region. “The waters are polluted, illnesses spread, especially among the
children,” Mavungo explained.

Also reflecting on the oil production, he added:

Produz-se muito petróleo, mas não investimento de fundo. Há investimento para
o mundo ver, bons escritórios e carros de luxo, enquanto a indústria e a
agricultura é ignorada. Há uma hipertrofia da classe política dominante que
fica com o grosso dos recursos. Estamos perante um feudalismo despótico, uma
ditadura dos verdadeiros adoradores do Deus Mamon[16] [riqueza, cobiça],
adorado em Angola. É nesse contexto que se desenrola a nossa luta cívica.


It produces a lot of oil, but no in-depth investment. There is investment for
the world to see, nice offices and luxury cars, while industry and
agriculture are ignored. There is an excessive growth of the dominant
political class that keeps the bulk of the resources. We are faced with a
despotic feudalism, a dictatorship of the true worshipers of the God Mammon[16]
[of wealth and greed], adored in Angola. This is the context that our civic
struggle is happening in.

The lack of investment in areas like health and agriculture have led to an
increased mortality rate, he said:

A crise é tão grande, a fome é tanta, a doença é tanta que as pessoas morrem
como galinhas. Já não há lugar para tantos mortos. Os cemitérios ocupam tanto
espaço como a própria cidade.


The crisis is so big, hunger is so bad, illness is so bad that people die
like chickens. Already there is not enough room for so many dead. The
cemeteries occupy as much space as the actual city.

During the presentation, the activist also recalled the time he was imprisoned:

No dia 14 de março de 2015, pensamos em fazer uma manifestação [de protesto
contra a falta de recursos para a população] então enviamos uma carta ao
governador para informar da ação. Para informar a polícia que íamos fazer uma
ação pacífica [de protesto] na rua. Mas, fui preso. A carta foi assinada por
cinco de nós, mas apenas eu fui preso. Acusado de posse de explosivos.


On 14 March 2015, we thought of and held a demonstration [protesting the lack
of resources for the population] and then sent a letter to inform the
governor of the event. To inform the police that we were going to hold a
peaceful protest in the street. But I was detained. The letter was signed by
five of us, but only I was detained. Accused of possessing explosives.

Mavungo initially faced 12 years in prison, proposed by the prosecutor, but the
judge reduced the sentence to six. The activist says he became even stronger
during his detention thanks to international pressure and support. During the
year he was imprisoned, Mavungo became ill, and saw his income cut, leaving him
unable to support his family. He said his wife was threatened by security
agents and he was also threatened inside prison. However, Mavungo said he had
never lost his faith due to the “strength of God.”

At the closing of the congress, Mavungo said Angola is facing a big challenge
in its democratization:

O autoritarismo da classe política dominante é um entrave à participação
eficiente do cidadão na gestão pública. Esse feudalismo despótico impede a
implementação de instituições estáveis e da erradicação da pobreza.


The authoritarianism of the dominant political class is a hindrance to the
efficient participation of citizens in political management. This despotic
feudalism impedes the “implementation of stable institutions and the
eradication of poverty.

For this reason, Mavungo and his peers are very uneasy about Angola’s future,
and he believes that there will need to be “a great explosion” [of change] in
the country. The activist ended by saying:

As pessoas precisam de sentir que o Estado funciona, porque os seus
fundamentos estão destruídos. A justiça, liberdade e fraternidade, que se
resume à dignidade humana não existe em Angola.


People need to feel that the state functions, because now its foundations are
destroyed. Justice, liberty, and brotherhood, which comprise human dignity,
do not exist in Angola.

Written by Manuel Ribeiro[17]Translated by Liam Anderson[18] · · View original
post [pt][19] · comments (0) [20]
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Links:
[1]: https://pt.globalvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/mavungo-editada-800x450.jpg (image)
[2]: https://www.flickr.com/photos/iscteiul/albums/72157675286126664/page1 (link)
[3]: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/pt/case/case-history-jose-marcos-mavungo (link)
[4]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinda_Province (link)
[5]: https://www.yahoo.com/news/death-toll-angolas-oil-rich-cabinda-rises-nearly-124114128--finance.html (link)
[6]: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/194631468007535659/pdf/AUS67940WP0P140385283B00PUBLIC00ACS.pdf (link)
[7]: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/pt/profile/jos%C3%A9-marcos-mavungo (link)
[8]: https://pt.globalvoices.org/2016/05/25/a-libertacao-de-marco-mavungo-deve-permitir-os-direitos-de-manifestacao-consagrados-na-constituicao-de-angola-diz-ue/ (link)
[9]: http://cei.iscte-iul.pt/activismsinafrica/pt/inicio (link)
[10]: https://tudonumclick.com/noticias/angola/26650/angola-manifestacao-27-de-maio-em-alusivo-aos-detidos-em-cabinda (link)
[11]: https://drowski3.blogspot.pt/2015/01/sexta-feira-sangrenta-efemeride.html (link)
[12]: http://club-k.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16699:autoridades-assumem-morte-de-cassule-e-kamulingue&catid=9&Itemid=1078&lang=pt (link)
[13]: http://club-k.net/CK2017/filomeno-vieira-lopes-diz-ter-sido-espancado-por-agentes-da-policia/ (link)
[14]: https://pt.globalvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/activisminAFRICAlisboa-800x531.jpg (image)
[15]: https://www.flickr.com/photos/iscteiul/31447439984/in/album-72157675286126664/ (link)
[16]: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamon (link)
[17]: https://pt.globalvoices.org/author/manuel-ribeiro/ (link)
[18]: https://globalvoices.org/author/liam-anderson/ (link)
[19]: https://pt.globalvoices.org/2017/01/16/ha-mais-militares-do-que-populacao-em-cabinda-diz-ativista-angolano-marcos-mavungo/ (link)
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