What's Happening Today in Angola? / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
Posted on June 20, 2014
14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana | June 18, 2014 — He has been in power
35 years, he's the father of the richest woman in Africa, and he has
created in Angola one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. His name
is Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and he's visiting Cuba, which helped him to
win a war that cost more than two thousand Cuban lives.
Yesterday afternoon the leader of the People's Movement for the
Liberation of Angola (MPLA) arrived in our country, and the government
received him as a fellow traveler. A long and bloody military conflict
was fought on his territory beginning in 1975, in which more than
377,000 Cuban soldiers participated as well as some 50,000 Cuban
civilians. Despite such prolonged and intense contact between the two
nations, few on the Island are informed about the situation of this
"liberated land" today.
Dos Santos has held the presidency in an authoritarian form,
concentrating in his own hands the powers of the president and prime
minister, as well as controlling parliament, the judicial system, and
the main political party of that African nation. In 2010 a new
Constitution was adopted which ended the division of powers and
confirmed the president as supreme commander of the armed forces and as
the figure who determines the composition of the Supreme Court.
Angola is torn between the greatest contrasts and the worst tragedies.
The misappropriation of public funds and the diversion of state
resources are common practices that have allowed many to enrich
themselves. The country's main sources of wealth have become its major
sources of problems. Oil, diamonds and uranium, added to its reserves of
gold, iron and bauxite, have fueled an entire legion of the corrupt,
sheltered under Dos Santos.
Diarrheal diseases, typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis and sleeping
sickness are rife among the Angolan people, putting the nation on the
list of countries at "high risk" with regards to health. Currently, more
than four thousand Cubans are serving "missions" in its territory, in
areas such as education, construction and healthcare, but this
represents barely a drop in the ocean of needs.
HIV also preys on Angolans. Official figures admit to only some 200,000
cases of people suffering from the virus, but its enough to walk the
streets and villages to realize the high social impact of this scourge.
The mistreatement of women, child slavery, and constant sexual crimes
also have a high incidence. Cocaine trafficking and the sale of human
beings into servitude are lucrative businesses.
As if this picture weren't enough, Angola has worrying indices of human
rights violations. Limitations on freedom of association and assembly
are some of the rights violated, which coincides with the identical
practices carried out by the "friendly government" of the Plaza of the
However, alarming indicators with regards to health and repression do
not deter many Cubans from taking the Angolan route. This time they will
fight not in the trenches, but as employees in clinics, businesses and
schools. In the African country they receive economic remuneration
superior to the low salaries on the Island. The so called "missions" to
Angola are much more sought after by medical professionals than are
those in Venezuela. They are sold at the highest prices in the
"influence market" within the Ministry of Public Health.
Neither the Angolan nor the Cuban national media have reported that the
president's eldest daughter has already passed the barrier of two
billion dollars in personal wealth. Isabel dos Santos controls more than
25 percent of the shares in Unitel, one of the country's two telephone
companies. She also participates in businesses in Portugal, where she is
said to be the principal shareholder in the country's largest cable
television company. The lack of transparency around power in Luanda, and
the people close to the leader, have seized key positions in the
While her father visits Havana, Isabel dos Santos is in Brazil, where
the magazine Veja has published several photos of the Angolan
multimillionaire during the inaugural ceremony of the World Cup.
According to the publication, some 600 people – among them businessmen
and celebrities – have "accommodated" the businesswoman in luxurious
rooms in Sao Paule, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, to enjoy the
football parties and the euphoria of the World Cup.
Stories like these will never be told in the official Cuban press. The
families who lost their children in that far off land don't know what
has become of the country where their loved ones fell.
Source: What's Happening Today in Angola? / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez |
Translating Cuba -