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2003-07-14

Africa Aftermath

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As Bush returns from his five-nation tour of Africa we go to Uganda to speak with Hellen Wangusa of African Women’s Economic Policy Network and Nigeria to speak with Environmental Rights Action’s Oronto Douglas.

President Bush wrapped up his five-day, five-nation tour of Africa in Nigeria on Saturday.

Bush swept through his first, highly-publicized visit to the continent. He started off in Senegal where he spent just 15 minutes in the Slave House on Goree Island after visiting the capital, Dakar. After encountering large protests in Pretoria, South Africa, he traveled to Botswana where he stayed a total of 6 hours. The next stop was Uganda where he was scheduled to stay for just 3 hours, 15 minutes — less time than it took him to fly there from South Africa. This according to The New York Times.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, cranking out more than 2 million barrels a day. Nearly 750,000 barrels of Nigeria’s oil go to the United States every day. That is 8 percent of total U.S. crude oil imports.

Activists noted one of the goals of the visit was to persuade Nigeria to opt out of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, known as OPEC.

Bush was accompanied by a large entourage of corporate executives in Abuja, including Chevron Texaco CEO and chairman Dave O’Reilly. Other transnational corporations represented included Exxon-Mobil and Shell Petroleum.

Bush did not publicly raise concerns about human rights in Nigeria or last year’s elections, which most foreign observers said were fraudulent.

As Bush left Nigeria he repeated his demands that the Liberian President, Charles Taylor, resign to pave the way for a new administration in the troubled West African nation.

More information about the events surrounding Bush’s visit to Goree Island are emerging.

An email to Democracy Now! from ABANTU for Development, a non-governmental organization focused on development in Africa, described Bush’s visit to Goree Island:

“The local population was chased out of their houses from 5 to 12 AM. They were forced by the American security to leave their houses and leave everything open, including their wardrobes to be searched by special dogs brought from the US. The ferry that links the island to Dakar was stopped and offices and businesses closed for the day.

“According to an economist who was interviewed by a private radio, Senegal which is a very poor country, has lost huge amount of money in this visit, because workers have been prevented from walking out of their homes.

“In addition to us being prevented to go out, other humiliating things happened also. Not only did Bush not want to be with Senegalese but he did not want to use our things. He brought his own armchairs, and of course his own cars, and meals and drinks. He came with his own journalists and ours were forbidden inside the airport and in place he was visiting.

"Our president was not allowed to make a speech. Only Bush spoke when he was in Goree. He spoke about slavery. It seems that he needs the vote of the African American to be elected in the next elections, and wanted to please them. That’s why he visited Goree."

  • Hellen Wangusa, African Women’s Economic Policy Network speaking from Kampala, Uganda.
  • Oronto Douglas, Environmental Rights Action speaking from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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