By Nicholas Shaxson
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Extra info for Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil
But Zafiro’s billion barrels of oil—even at a conservative $30 to $50 a barrel—is worth one thousand times more. And, with big discoveries nearby (Zafiro falls in an area that oilmen call the “Golden Rectangle”), the companies were quite confident of striking it lucky. As Equatorial Guinea took its faltering first steps into the oil age, I wondered if oil would make Obiang’s brutal government behave better. Locals were wondering the same thing: one activist in 1993 told me that he hoped oil would attract American attention and that once America saw what was happening, it would invade to overthrow Obiang.
J. Duffy and crew members of a British Royal Air Force Sunderland flying boat that had crashed nearby in 1944. 1 Armengol went back and 31 P o i s o n e d We l l s publicly accused Bennett of witchcraft, and the interior security minister said that Bennett had been caught taking traditional medicine in the cemetery to influence the election. It was a ridiculous allegation, but Bennett did not last long: the embassy was soon closed in a budget-pruning exercise. As it happened, the thorn in the relationship was removed just as a large American organization was moving in: Mobil Oil.
A nervous old man I interviewed would not speak President Obiang’s name but instead drew an X in the air with his fingers. ” The name he whispered, Armengol, turned out to be President Obiang’s brother. Yet it still felt safe for me: police states like this have low crime rates because the criminals are afraid, too. I was able to walk unmolested after midnight through Malabo’s silent backstreets, listening to my cassette Walkman. But it was quite eerie. The Berlin Wall had fallen less than four years earlier, and it was a time of sweeping political change in Africa, as old certainties provided by three rival power systems were shifting.
Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson
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