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Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Angola. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Angola. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, mayo 29, 2015

Luanda’s Oil Boom

By

The severe inequality of the Angolan oil boom.

Earlier this year, I was invited to a barbecue at the home of a Texas oilman, Steve Espinosa, and his wife, Norma. Their two-story house sat on an unnamed road, nestled in a community called the Condominio Riviera Atlantico, about ten miles from Luanda, the rapidly expanding capital of Angola. There were no sidewalks or footpaths in the area, and there wasn’t much movement on the street. But there were plenty of cars: Porsche Cayennes, Audis, and BMWs, all tucked neatly into identical carports adjacent to identical houses. Espinosa, a burly man in cargo shorts and a Brooklyn Industries T-shirt, answered the door and held out a beer. He steered me through a sparsely furnished living room, past a humidor filled with Cuban cigars, and onto the patio, where several of his friends and colleagues were snacking amiably on ostrich meat. There was a second kitchen beside the pool in the back yard, with a sink, a large refrigerator, and a Weber grill.
For the past two years, Luanda—not Tokyo, Moscow, or Hong Kong—has been named, by the global consulting firm Mercer, as the world’s most expensive city for expatriates. Luanda’s lure, and its treasure, is oil. José Eduardo dos Santos, who has presided over Angola for more than thirty-five years, long ago realized that foreign oil companies were the key to power, and he has worked diligently to accommodate them. In the past decade, tens of thousands of American and European employees of international oil conglomerates, fortified by generous cost-of-living allowances, have descended on Luanda. (Multinational companies base their overseas salaries on the comparative costs of housing, clothes, food, and other commodities.)
The country now produces 1.8 million barrels of oil a day; in Africa, only Nigeria produces and exports more. The boom has transformed a failed state into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, the French company Total, and BP all have significant operations in Angola, along with firms—Schlumberger and Halliburton among them—that provide the complicated logistical support required to drill and maintain deep offshore wells. Most of the foreign workers live with their families in well-guarded suburban communities with names such as Bella Vista and Paraíso Riviera.
At the height of the British Empire, colonial rulers lived by a credo: “Make the world England.’’ The oil expatriates of Luanda have taken that message to heart. Few would work there if they couldn’t live as they do at home, but their comforts have been hard to come by. Almost nothing is made in Angola, so nearly every car, computer, crate of oranges, tin of caviar, jar of peanut butter, pair of bluejeans, and bottle of wine arrives by boat. Every day, a trail of container ships backs up from the port through the Bay of Luanda and out into the sea.
Grotesque inequality long ago became a principal characteristic of the world’s biggest and most crowded cities. But there is no place quite like Luanda, where the Espinosas’ rent is sixteen thousand dollars a month, a bottle of Coke can sell for ten dollars, and Range Rovers cost twice their sticker price. Per-capita income in Angola has nearly tripled in the past dozen years, and the country’s assets grew from three billion dollars to sixty-two billion dollars. Nonetheless, by nearly every accepted measure, Angola remains one of the world’s least-developed nations. Half of Angolans live on less than two dollars a day, infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world, and the average life expectancy—fifty-two—is among the lowest. Obtaining water is a burden even for the rich, and only forty per cent of the population has regular access to electricity. (For those who do, a generator is essential, as power fails constantly.) Nearly half the population is undernourished, rural sanitation facilities are rare, malaria accounts for more than a quarter of all childhood deaths, and easily preventable diarrheal diseases such as rotavirus are common.
Because the oil companies routinely pay most large expenses for their foreign workers in Angola, a dollar bill can quickly begin to feel like Monopoly money. Before I visited the Espinosas, I asked at my hotel if it could provide a car and driver for the ten-mile journey from the center of the city to the suburb of Talatona. The clerk at the front desk told me it would cost a hundred and fifty dollars. There weren’t many alternatives, so I agreed. Later, I saw him waving frantically at me in the lobby. He explained that he had been wrong about the taxi: it would actually cost four hundred and fifty dollars, each way. I found another ride.
The trip took two hours. It was a Friday afternoon, and the single rutted road that runs south toward Luanda Sul was jammed with commuters, trucks, tractors, and a stream of the unregulated Toyota minivans—candongueiros—that pass for public transportation. Children worked the roadway, selling soccer balls, popcorn, phone cards, toilet seats, and multicolored polyester brooms. I stopped at the Casa dos Frescos, a grocery store favored by expatriates, to buy some Scotch for my hosts, but a fifth of the Balvenie cost three hundred dollars, so I settled for a mediocre bottle of wine, for sixty-five. The woman in front of me, juggling an infant and a cell phone, unloaded her groceries on the checkout counter. She had a couple of steaks, a few pantry items, and two seventeen-dollar pints of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, along with juice and vegetables. The bill was eleven hundred and fifty dollars. She didn’t seem fazed, and I later learned that the store was famous for its prices. A few years ago, the Casa dos Frescos had been the site of what locals refer to as “the incident of the golden melon.’’ An enraged French customer, having paid a hundred and five dollars for a single melon, sued the store for profiteering. The case was thrown out of court, in part because the man not only bought the melon but also ate the evidence.
For dinner, Espinosa grilled steak and part of a thirty-five-pound tuna that he’d caught the previous week on the Kwanza River. When oil people leave Angola, he told me, they often sell their freezers, packed with American beef, to their successors. “People can charge ten thousand dollars for a well-stocked freezer,’’ he said. He mentioned that a friend once tried to sell him a roll of aluminum foil for a hundred and forty dollars. Espinosa grinned and rolled his eyes. “That crazy Randy,’’ he said. “In the end, I think I paid thirty dollars.’’
“T.I.A., man,’’ he said, shrugging his shoulders and using a favorite acronym: “This is Angola.”
Angola endured four centuries of servitude and slavery before gaining independence, in 1975, and Luanda was once the world’s busiest slave port. The National Museum of Slavery, about an hour from the city, is housed in a spare colonial structure that sits on a promontory overlooking the Kwanza River. There isn’t much to see—drawings of slaves crammed into steerage for the trip across the Atlantic, a display of shackles, and some brief historical notes—but the simplicity is powerful and disturbing. The building is the last place that slaves came before they were blessed by a priest, put on a boat, and shipped to the markets of Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and the Dominican Republic. Millions passed through the region, many of whom died before they reached their destination.
The Portuguese arrived in 1575, took control soon afterward, and remained in power until 1974, when a military coup finally toppled the government in Lisbon. Nationalists had been fighting in Angola for more than a decade, and when the colonists pulled out of the country the fleeing citizens took everything that could be moved. Ryszard Kapuscinski, in “Another Day of Life,’’ his memoir of that time, described the efforts to cram the entire city into a series of wooden crates and ship most of it to Lisbon. “I don’t know if there had ever been an instance of a whole city sailing across the ocean, but that is exactly what happened,’’ he wrote. “On the streets now there were only thousands of cars, rusting and covered with dust. The walls also remained, the roofs, the asphalt on the roads, and the iron benches along the boulevards.”
Angola has millions of acres of rich, arable land and an unusual abundance of mineral wealth, particularly diamonds. One Brazilian businessman told me that turning Angola into a farming nation and lowering its dependence on oil revenues should not be that difficult. “My country sells many thousands of tons of crops to China each year,” he said. “Angola is closer to China, and the countries have a strong relationship. The land is tremendously fertile. Why not grow those crops here and steal the Brazilian market?” With spectacular waterfalls, some of the world’s most elusive bird species, miles of untouched beaches, and what surfers regard as nearly perfect conditions, there are also promising opportunities for tourism.
But Angola lacks the infrastructure for any of those industries; the roads are so poor that the biggest farms often burn crops, because they cannot get them to market before they rot. Chevron began drilling during the nineteen-fifties; before independence, and even after oil became the nation’s most valuable commodity, exports of sisal, maize, coffee, and cotton as well as diamonds and iron ore contributed significantly to the country’s economy. That ended with the exodus of the Portuguese; few Angolans had been trained to manage factories or farms. Trade vanished, the communications systems fell apart, and the economy collapsed.
For the next twenty-five years, Angola fell into one of the most destructive civil wars in modern history. At least a million people died. By most estimates, roughly ten million land mines were buried—many of them remain active—scarring a territory twice the size of Texas and making large-scale agricultural planning nearly impossible. The war was fought as much for oil and diamonds as for ideological reasons, but it also served as the last major proxy battle of the Cold War. The United States, still struggling to accept the loss in Vietnam, refused to cede the territory to the Russians, who were equally committed to retaining a foothold in southern Africa. The UNITA rebels, backed by the C.I.A. and South African mercenaries, were led by Jonas Savimbi, a murderous despot who embraced Maoist principles. The Marxists—the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (M.P.L.A.)—with support from the Russians and led by Agostinho Neto, who later became the country’s first President, relied on an unusual mixture of Eastern European economic advisers and Cuban soldiers. Both sides often condemned the influence and the power of Western oil companies, but Neto understood that his regime and the country probably wouldn’t survive without them. He made sure that American oil companies were protected and, in turn, won financial backing from companies such as Chevron.
“It was a true witches’ cauldron,” one foreign official who spent years in Angola told me. The hostilities ended only in 2002, when assassins shot Savimbi in the head. (“The best use of bullets in the history of munitions,’’ another longtime resident of Luanda said.) President dos Santos, who is seventy-two, became the head of the M.P.L.A. in 1979, after Neto died. The Party still uses that acronym, although it officially abandoned Marxism more than twenty years ago.
After hundreds of years of strife, Angola has been a peaceful country for little more than a decade. No society forged in that kind of conflict can quickly find its footing. “I spent my first two years here hunting for water,’’ Nicholas Staines, who until recently served as local director of the International Monetary Fund, told me one afternoon, as we sat in the garden outside the I.M.F. office. “And I mean hunting. I would walk out of my house with a fistful of cash, and my wife would say, ‘Don’t come back till you find some water.’ So I would hunt for the nearest water truck and say, ‘Where are you going? How much is that person paying you? I will double it.’ That is how you got water in Angola just a few years ago.’’
Then, suddenly, there were hundreds of people with unimaginable wealth and few restraints. Tales of excess became commonplace, and often they are told with pride. One businessman famously distributed Rolexes to guests as party favors at a wedding. Each member of parliament recently received a new hundred-thousand-dollar Lexus. Isabel dos Santos, the President’s forty-two-year-old daughter, is typically described as the richest woman in Africa; Forbes puts her net worth at more than three billion dollars. She was educated in London, at King’s College, and owns the biggest building, with the most expensive apartments, in Luanda. In 2011, as president of the Red Cross, dos Santos paid Mariah Carey a million dollars to perform for two hours at the organization’s annual gala. The show was sponsored by Unitel, Angola’s principal mobile-phone company, which she also owns.
Dos Santos is one of the city’s most ambitious restaurateurs. One day, I had lunch at Oon.dah, on the first floor of the Escom Center, another of her properties; the house specialty, the Wagyu Beef Hamburger, sells for about sixty dollars, and a half pound of tenderloin goes for twice that. A bottle of Cristal champagne costs twelve hundred dollars. Displaying such wealth in a country as impoverished as Angola can be a challenge. One member of the President’s inner circle owns a Rolls-Royce, but there are few good roads in Luanda. So every Sunday he loads the car into a trailer, takes it to the Marginal—a recently renovated two-mile-long promenade along the South Atlantic—drives it for a while on the capital’s only smooth road, loads it back into its trailer, and has it hauled away.
Angola is widely regarded as one of the world’s most egregious kleptocracies. The bulk of the country’s wealth is controlled by a few hundred oligarchs—Presidential cronies, generals, and their families. “The default position of Angolan businessmen is above the law,’’ Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, an associate professor of politics at Oxford University, writes in “Magnificent and Beggar Land,’’ his comprehensive new account of Angola’s recent history. “Whether it is a matter of capital flight, money laundering, the unilateral abandonment of partnerships with foreigners, the non-payment of loans and import duties, conflict of interest between public and private roles . . . These are not occasional whims, but the very stuff of Angolan private sector life.’’
Last year, the nation ranked a hundred and sixty-first out of a hundred and seventy-five countries on Transparency International’s corruption scale and a hundred and eighty-first on the World Bank’s most recent Ease of Doing Business index. In one category, resolving bankruptcies, Angola came in last. Twice in a week, my driver was hustled for money by traffic cops. The officers were patient and polite, but they lingered in a way that made it clear that it would be wise to hand over a hundred kwanzas, the equivalent of about a dollar. One night, as I pulled into the parking lot of a popular restaurant, a man suddenly appeared at the door. “We pay him,’’ my companion said. “This way, we will probably get the car back when we leave.” We then paid another man to seat us in a nearly empty restaurant, and another to bring us a fifteen-dollar bottle of Evian. That was before we ever saw our waiter.
The next afternoon, I needed batteries for my tape recorder. The only store I could find that carried them charged sixteen dollars (and gave me a handwritten receipt). Then the salesman punched the official figure, six dollars, into the cash register; the extra ten dollars was for him. Angola has several dozen universities, more even than South Africa. But few have functioning libraries, and degrees are bought as often as they are earned. More than one person told me that in order to graduate from Agostinho Neto University, the largest academic institution in Angola, even some of the most talented students are forced to pay bribes. Antonio, an official of a major oil company who was educated at several of Luanda’s best international schools, said that he had entered the university but quickly dropped out. “It was a giant step backward,” he said. “A complete waste of my time.” (Few Angolans were willing to be identified by more than a first or middle name. The constitution protects freedom of speech and assembly, but the government has grown increasingly intolerant of criticism.)
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Antonio is a thin, contemplative man with an oval face and a head of loose, springy curls. He and two of his friends, Pedro and Marisa, joined me one night for dinner at La Vigia, a popular restaurant where diners can select fish from a tank near the cash register. “It is really hard to find honest people here,’’ Pedro said. “Everywhere you go, even every small business, somebody is trying to cheat you.” Like Antonio, Pedro had graduated from premier schools, and, despite his comments, he expressed optimism about the country’s long-term future. Marisa, who attended college and business school in Europe, said that when she is stopped by the traffic police she simply refuses to pay—“and eventually they go away.’’ The three, all in their thirties, agreed that although they might prefer to live abroad, there has never been a better time to be a well-educated Angolan. The government requires foreign oil companies to hire local residents, and, for those who are qualified, the prospects for lucrative jobs are excellent.
“We can function effectively in a foreign environment,’’ Pedro said. “That makes us unusual.’’ His English, which he said he learned from watching American police shows on TV, was letter-perfect. He told me that he and his colleagues often see job applicants who, despite having graduated from the country’s best tech programs, “barely know how to turn on a computer.” The three friends stressed more than once that, owing to their education and relative prosperity, they were far from typical. Yet they represent the vibrant and promising new Angola that is struggling to emerge. None of them have known any leader other than dos Santos. International human-rights groups regularly denounce him, but his power remains absolute. “A lot of people see him as the King of Angola,’’ Pedro said. “He kind of owns the country. People almost can’t look him in the eyes—he’s that powerful.’’
Marisa added, “It’s like your father who is very mean to you. You go to dinner every day, and he shows up, and you smile and say, ‘Hi, Daddy.’ You say nothing instead of saying, ‘What have you done to me, you are horrible.’ ’’ Marisa, who is single, runs the procurement operation at an oil-services firm. Just that day, she had interviewed a twenty-five-year-old prospective employee who was the father of seven children. “That’s pretty normal,” she said. “Not necessarily seven kids, but having children by the time you’re in your early twenties.” Marisa lives in the center of town and commutes through heavy traffic to an office on the outskirts of the city. She rises at five, a driver arrives by six, and she is at the office shortly after seven. “There is tremendous pressure to have at least one child before you hit thirty,’’ she said. “But things are changing.’’ She said that she recently heard a woman explain on a radio show why lesbians exist: they weren’t loved by men, and therefore looked to their mothers—or perhaps a sister or a cousin—for a model of what love should look like.
“The same principle applied to homosexuals or violent people,’’ Marisa said. “You become violent because your parents are violent—that is the view. You become a lesbian because you didn’t have a father figure. This is ridiculous and offensive. But it’s also a great step forward, because we are speaking in broad daylight, on the radio, about lesbians and homosexuals. They are not accepted, but they are not going to be killed. This is an advance.”
Luanda aspires to become the Dubai of Africa, but it has a long way to go. In 1975, the city had half a million residents; today there are almost six million. Hotels, luxury apartment buildings, shopping arcades, and modern office complexes compete for space in the city center with shantytowns made from corrugated tin and heavy cardboard and with tens of thousands of people who live on mounds of dirt, in the scrapped remains of rusted and abandoned vehicles, or out in the open, next to fetid, unused water tanks. To make room for development, President dos Santos has cleared many slums in the past decade, usually without warning or compensation. He has promised to provide displaced occupants with housing farther away from the city center, but the government has struggled with the furious pace of population growth.
Construction cranes are visible everywhere. (It pays to look up as you walk the streets: there are no scaffoldings to protect pedestrians from falling debris, and workmen occasionally toss empty water bottles from the skyscrapers.) The city often smells of sewage and stagnant water, but it has grand ambitions. After almost a decade of delays, the nearly completed Intercontinental Hotel and Casino, a ziggurat of glass, steel, and reinforced concrete, hovers over the harbor. An eight-lane highway—Luanda’s first genuinely modern road—runs along the city’s horseshoe-shaped port. Between the highway and the water, pedestrians amble along the Marginal, enjoying spectacular sunset views. Across the bay, connected to the city by a causeway, ostentatious night clubs with names like Chill Out and Miami Beach line the shores of the neighborhood known as the Ilha, which for many years was an abandoned strip of sand used mainly by local fishermen.
Most expatriates leave Luanda after a few years, but some choose to stay. One afternoon, I visited Tako Koning, a Canadian petroleum geologist, who lives on the seventh floor of an older building in the center of Luanda with his wife, Henriette, an energetic and engaging English teacher. Koning is sixty-five, with a thick mustache, heavy-lidded blue eyes, and slightly shaggy hair. He worked for Texaco for thirty years, first in Canada and then in Indonesia and Nigeria; in 1995, he and Henriette moved to Luanda. Koning retired from Texaco when it merged with Chevron, in 2001, and now works as a consultant. The couple’s apartment is comfortable but not luxurious. (Because power failures are so common, Henriette refuses to enter the elevator, preferring to climb the seven flights. “I don’t do African elevators,’’ she told me.) The rent—six thousand dollars a month—is reasonable for a place in the center of the city with excellent views.
From their terrace, the city looks like an archeological cutaway. Henriette pointed to a building across the street. “You can see they are not well off, because during power outages the building is dark,” she said—meaning that they lacked a backup generator. In another nearby building, occupied by diplomats and oil executives, a three-bedroom apartment rents for as much as twenty thousand dollars a month. I could see the new BP headquarters, a twenty-five-story building called Torres do Carmo, and the massive glass headquarters of Sonangol, the state oil company. “That’s the French Embassy,” Henriette said, pointing to a stolid town house. “And now look straight down.” Below us, rows of tin roofs were wedged tightly between apartment buildings. “They were displaced during the civil war,” she said. “Now they live on the street right next to the diplomats and millionaires.”
The Konings often entertain young Angolans, including the three I had recently met. The couple has supported students, and Tako, who was born in the Netherlands but lived mostly in Canada, contributes his time to a variety of schools and engineering societies. “You quickly realize that you can make a bigger difference here than in a place like Toronto,’’ he said. “It can be very satisfying.’’ I asked what he thought of expatriates who seemed to avoid interacting with Angolans. He shrugged. “The thing about Americans that I always loved is that you jumped in and got things done,’’ he said. “You rolled into Europe after World War II with the Marshall Plan. The countries were destroyed, but you put them back together. I understand that the U.S. wanted to hold off the Russians—there are always geopolitical reasons. But what matters is what you did.”
In Angola, he added, “you can’t simply hit a switch and say everything is normal just because the war has ended and the country has oil.” China essentially provided its own Marshall Plan: as the world’s biggest oil consumer, it buys nearly two million barrels a day from Angola, more than from any other country, and Chinese firms are building schools, roads, bridges, ports, and one of the largest housing developments in Africa, in nearby Kilamba. The buildings, designed for middle-income residents, are still mostly unoccupied, but they take up thousands of acres—pastel high-rises, just a few miles beyond the city limits, that look like a sub-Saharan Co-op City.
“We never planned to stay here forever,’’ Koning said. “We have two children and a grandchild in Toronto. But the longer you stay the deeper your roots go down. And we know people.’’ I went to a local place for a beer with him one night. Many of the street people waved, and several approached, eagerly but pleasantly. Koning says he doesn’t think it makes sense to hand out money, but he pays a man to watch his car, more as charity than for security. When people need medicine and clothing, he and Henriette often chip in.
The political landscape is troubling, though. In Luanda, security forces regularly stop protests and arrest those who try to attend them. In 2012, two activists disappeared after an anti-government protest. For more than a year, Angolan officials denied any knowledge of their fate. Late in 2013, after sustained protests by human-rights workers, the attorney general admitted that the two men had been kidnapped and probably murdered. Residents of Luanda are understandably afraid to test their freedom. When Koning and I got to the bar, we were joined at a table in the garden by a Russian diamond dealer. “We produce more diamonds than anyone else on earth, my dear,’’ he said in a very slight Russian accent. “But keep it to yourself.” There was also a dance teacher, a couple of other journalists, and an American woman who did not give her name or discuss her profession. The weather was dry and clear, and at night the air became softer, more fragrant and inviting. The others were relaxed, but the woman, who I later learned worked for an international N.G.O., looked anxious. “You can’t write about me,’’ she said, when I told her that I was a journalist. “It’s not safe. I will get death threats.’’ After a few moments of awkward silence, she stood up, said she couldn’t trust me, and walked out.
Foreign embassies routinely warn their citizens about crime in the capital. “Avoid walking around Luanda, especially after dark,’’ the British Foreign Office advises. One should also avoid “wearing jewelry or watches in public places” and “walking between bars and restaurants on the Ilha do Cabo,” as well as “crowded places like markets.’’ The U.S. State Department is even more blunt: “The capital city, Luanda, continues to maintain a well deserved reputation as a haven for armed robberies, assaults, carjackings, and overall crimes of opportunity. However, reliable statistical crime data is unavailable in Angola.’’ Many foreign workers are forbidden by their employers to drive cars there; those who want to spend a weekend in the countryside need to get permission well in advance. One afternoon, about an hour before I planned to meet some people near my hotel, one of them called. “What time should we pick you up?’’ she asked. I told her that I would walk the five hundred yards to our meeting spot. She tried to dissuade me, but when I insisted she urged me to lock my bag, passport, and wallet in the safe in my hotel room. “Bring a Xerox of the passport page and some money,’’ she said. “And do not show your phone on the street.” I made it to the meeting and back without incident.
Most expatriates said that their concern about crime was the main reason they avoided the city. At times, though, the fears seemed exaggerated. Not long after I arrived, I had dinner in the suburbs with a French journalist and some Americans. My colleague told one of the guests that she lived in the center of Luanda, a block or so from the Skyna Hotel, which is on the Avenue de Portugal, the city’s version of Fifth Avenue. The Skyna is enormous, extremely well known, and readily picked out of the skyline. “Where is that?” the guest, who had lived in Angola for more than a year, asked. “I’ve never heard of it.”
Americans can earn twice their usual salary in Angola, but there are few easily accessible cultural institutions or opportunities for entertainment. There’s the Slavery Museum and the Portuguese fortress of São Miguel, which overlooks the port, but in Luanda there’s not a single commercial movie theatre. “It’s all Netflix here,” Steve Espinosa told me. “If your Internet connection is good enough—otherwise you are out of luck.” There are more significant challenges. Exxon-Mobil, among other companies, carries out random urine tests on its workers, and those who fail are sent home. The company isn’t really looking for drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana; rather, it wants to make sure that employees are taking their malaria medicine. (The concern is understandable, but long-term use of malaria preventives can cause serious liver damage.)
Foreigners typically stay for two or three years; the Espinosas have been there for six. Two of their children attended the Luanda International School, which is only a couple of miles from where they live. The campus is beautiful and modern, with computer systems and well-kept playing fields. The staff is made up largely of foreign teachers, who tend to move every few years among the world’s élite international schools. Fees, which are almost always paid by oil companies, come to about fifty thousand dollars a year. Some companies even pay when they don’t have a student who needs the seat. “If Chevron or BP wants to transfer somebody in the middle of a year,’’ one teacher said, “these companies have to be certain that children can attend a good school.”
Students are typically driven to school, waved through a security gate, collected after class, and then driven back to the safety of their housing cluster. Nobody takes a bus, rides a bike, or walks. There are also many local students at the international school—mostly children of Angola’s élite, which can be a problem in civics classes, given the government’s deplorable human-rights record. A few weeks earlier, the mother of an important minister spoke at the school. “It’s hard for people like that to admit the truth about issues like free speech and hard for us to ignore it,” one teacher told me. “So we try to walk a line.” (One report, released in March by the International Federation for Human Rights, which represents more than a hundred and seventy human-rights groups throughout the world, found that journalists and human-rights workers in Angola are subject to “judicial and administrative harassment, acts of intimidation, threats and other forms of restrictions to their freedom of association and expression.”)
For those who prefer the protected life, the cocoon can extend all the way to Houston. The Houston Express, operated by Atlas Air, flies three times a week between George Bush International Airport and Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro Airport. Tickets are usually available only through the oil companies. Most seats, which sell for about ten thousand dollars, are in business class. People who fly on a commercial airliner from the U.S. typically change planes in Paris or London. On my flight, there were about two hundred and seventy-five passengers, all but a few of them men. It felt like a military transport.
Nobody is sure how long Angola’s expat exceptionalism can last. The plummeting price of oil has already forced Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and Schlumberger to cut thousands of jobs throughout the world. So far, Angola has mostly been spared. (No official from any oil company would agree to talk to me about its presence in Angola.) But if the United States stops buying Angola’s oil, and if China’s rate of economic growth continues to slow, major foreign companies would be unable to sustain their current staffing levels and expenditures.
Oil revenue accounts for more than ninety per cent of Angola’s foreign-exchange earnings, and there are many risks for a country that relies too heavily on one commodity. Economists call it the resource curse. For years, oil experts predicted that by 2020 Nigeria and Angola would account for twenty-five per cent of America’s crude imports; the shale revolution in Texas and North Dakota put an end to such speculation. Within a few years, the United States might not need any Angolan oil. The current price of a barrel of oil is about fifty dollars, but just a few months ago the Angolan government, for the purposes of its 2015 budget, assumed that the average price would be eighty-one dollars. That gap will prove hard to close. The dos Santos government announced earlier this year that it would cut the budget by a quarter, and it has said that it will work harder to diversify the economy. Few economists who study Africa believe that it will be easy.
“They say that they will diversify the economy all the time,’’ Gustavo Costa, the Luanda correspondent for the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, told me. “There has always been that opportunity. And in theory, at least, it’s still there. But the government has built a certain kind of society—for themselves. You can call it prosperity if you want, but it is incredibly fragile. It all could end tomorrow.”

sábado, diciembre 21, 2013

Mariah Carey Performs for Dictator of Angola paid $1million, Won't Apologize


Don't expect Mariah Carey to apologize for her $1 million gig performing in front of a dictator accused of ordering the execution of his political enemies.

The Human Rights Foundation blasted Carey earlier this week for singing for the Angolan Red Cross, connecting the event to both Angolan leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his daughter.
Carey's manager, Jermaine Dupri, told the New York Post that his client has nothing to be sorry about, especially given the actions of the current White House occupant.
The president of the United States took pictures with this guy’s daughter and congratulated this man on his many years of being in office. If he can rub shoulders with these people than why is Mariah Carey be accused of doing something wrong?”
When asked if Carey was remorseful for performing for another dictator after she apologized for her 2008 concert for Libyan Dictator Moammar Khadafy and promised “to take more responsibility” for her bookings, he spat back “Why should she be?
During the concert Carey cooed, "I am happy to be here in this room and I am honored to share this show with the President of Angola." Dupri said his client didn't know the Angolan leader was present at the time.
HRF President Thor Halvorssen railed against Dupri's response to his organization's critique, according to the Post.
Dupri exemplifies the hypocrisy, the greed, and the willful ignorance of managers and performers who pose for photos at human rights events one day and accept copious amounts of blood diamond money on the next day.

miércoles, octubre 02, 2013

Escandalosa "donacion" de Angola a Cuba [2]

segun se aprecia en el video oficial de la ceremonia de entrega de la "donacion", los tractores de la marca china foton 904 cuyo precio fob [free on board] oscila entre los 17 y 20 mil dolares norteamericanos [http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/532946314/CE_Foton_75hp_agricultural_farm_tractor.html]. 
de esta manera, el valor en puerto chino solo del paquete de 112 tractores estaria entre 1.9 millones y 2.2 millones.

Escandalosa "donacion" de Angola a Cuba

foto: granma
hoy el granma precisa la magnitud de la "donacion-downpayment" que a nombre del corruptisimo jose eduardo dos santos se realizara al general de despachos en funciones presidenciales:
  • 112 tractores
  • 24 sembradoras-fertilizadoras
  • 15 trailers
  • 10 pipas cisternas
no tiene antecedentes la magnitud de esta "donacion" comparable quizas a la sovietica a cuba y como comentabamos  anteriormente, rebasa considerablemente el concepto de donacion para convertirse en un pago por servicios prestados o un fabuloso downpayment por favores futuros. nada sorprendente tratandose de dos de los mas corruptos individuos que ocupan sillones presidenciales hoy por hoy.
a manera de ejemplo: un tractor nuevo de la conocida marca john deere modelo 6130j se cotiza hoy en el mercado a $113,700 dolares norteamericanos. considerando un precio de lote solamente para los 112 tractores de 100 mil la unidad y sin considerar kit de repuestos, flete, seguro, handling y otros costos, rebasa los 11 millones de dolares contantes y sonantes. agreguesele el resto del equipamiento y el "presentico" de presidente a presidente ronda los 20 millones.
davidoso y agradecido que nos ha salido eduardito, la verdad!!!

martes, octubre 01, 2013

Angola dona tractores a Cuba

Granma
angola y cuba comparten dos rasgos importantes. ambas naciones son controladas vitaliciamente por una elite corrupta. sin embargo sucede que la angolana que encabeza jose eduardo dos santos ha sabido 'salpicar' a la sociedad con bolsones de desarrollo y cierto bienestar. 
la visita del enviado especial de jose eduardo seguramente tendra mucho que ver con la prioridad que piden en el enclave de mariel. los tractorcitos y algunos implementos agricolas son el pago publico por los favores solicitados. 
el cuento segun el  granma >>

jueves, junio 27, 2013

Petrolera de Angola, Cuba y Venezuela operará en la Faja del Orinoco

Emen .- La petrolera Venangocupet, con capital de Angola, Cuba y Venezuela, operará durante 25 años en una zona ubicada en la Faja Petrolífera del Orinoco.

Así lo establece el decreto número 200 firmado por el presidente Nicolás Maduro que aparece publicado este miércoles en la Gaceta Oficial número 40.195.
La petrolera, conformada por la estatal Corporación Venezolana de Petróleo; Cupet de Cuba, y Sonangol Pesquisa & Producao de Angola, operará en las zonas Migas y Melones Oeste, ubicadas en el estado Anzoátegui de la Faja Petrolífera del Orinoco.
Esta empresa mixta tendrá el “derecho a desarrollar actividades primarias de exploración en búsqueda de yacimientos de petróleo crudo pesado y extrapesado, la extracción de los mismos en su estado natural y del gas natural asociado, recolección, transporte, almacenamiento”, reseña el texto oficial.
Venangocupet se constituyó en 2010 con un capital accionario dominado por Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa, con 60%); Cupet (20%) y Sonangol (20%); con la capacidad de procesar hasta 20.000 barriles diarios de crudo, según lo reseñó la Gaceta Oficial número 39.566 del 3 de diciembre de ese año.

miércoles, octubre 26, 2011

Logros y conquistas de Fidel Castro en Angola

Angola, el MPLA y los nuevos ricos Tienen mucho dinero; antes lo gastaban en armamento; ahora lo invierten en: casas, barcos, aviones particulares, compras y fiestas. En cada una de sus casas no pueden faltar un BMW, un Audi y un Range Rover, si contar otros tipos de automóviles de alta gama. Casi todas las casas tienen, a su servicio, cinco choferes que son utilizados según las conveniencias, como por ejemplo llevar de compras a las empleadas de servicio. Cada familia de los altos funcionarios del MPLA (partido del trabajo) tiene un pequeño ejército de servidores, que no dejan de incluir a jardineros, cocineros, “babysitters” (para los menores) y gobernantas. Cada una de estas familias posee además de la referida anteriormente, dos o tres casas en condominios privados y otra en primera línes de playa en la isla de Mussulo. Fuera del país tienen otra casa en Lisboa, otra en Londres y anuque parezca exagerado aun poseen otra casa en África del Sur, que es utilizada para pasar fines de semana o cuando asisten a consultas médicas. En los paises referidos anteriormente estudian la mayoría de los hijos y nietos de estos funcionarios-empresarios. Sumando los salarios de los empleados de una sola de estas familias, llegaremos a la conclusión de que solamente por concepto de salarios, gastan aproximadamente entre 15 y 20 mil dólares mensuales. Un miembro del gobierno compró dos casas en Talatona de una sola vez, exigiendo que cada una de las mismas tuviese área de estacionamiento para dos automóviles y que el valor no superase los dos millones de dólares.Mas >

miércoles, septiembre 14, 2011

Angola: Home Affairs Minister Works in Cuba

AllAfrica.com
Havana — Angola's Home Affairs minister, Sebastião José António Martins, is since Tuesday afternoon in Havana, Cuba, leading a team of his department, on a work visit, ANGOP has learnt. At the local airport, the Angolan official was received by the ... Read more >

domingo, agosto 21, 2011

Angola available to boost economic investment in Cuba

Angola Press

Havana - Angola is available to assist Cuba to develop its economy through the participation of the country's private and public sectors’ investments.

The fact was expressed Friday by the outgoing ambassador of Angola to Cuba, António José Condesse de Carvalho  “Toka”.

Speaking during the meeting with diplomatic and local workers and their families, António  Condesse de Carvalho mentioned the existence of businesspeople willing to invest in Cuba.

“Apart from state investments there also Angolan businesspeople willing to  invest in the Cuban economy, as the island’s government is currentlyengaged in the implementation of economic reforms aimed at boosting its economy similar to Angola which opted for market economy”, stressed the diplomat.

During the ceremony that marked the end of his mission as ambassador to the Caribbean country, the diplomat recalled the important phases of the history of economic cooperation ties between the two countries.

jueves, marzo 03, 2011

Angolan journalist gets year in prison for defamation

Chicoca, right. (Armando Chicoca)
Chicoca, right. (Armando Chicoca)
New York, March 3, 2011--A court in Angola's southwestern province of Namibe sent a journalist to prison today without due process over his coverage of a sexual harassment scandal that implicated the province's top judicial official, according to local journalists and news reports.
Judge Manuel Araujo sentenced Armando José Chicoca, a freelancer who reports for U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) and private Angolan newspapers such as Folha 8Agora, and O Apostolado, to one year in prison and a fine of 200,000 kwanza (US$2,100), according to news reports.
More

Angolan journalist gets year in prison for defamation

miércoles, febrero 16, 2011

Developing Angola's Diamond Industry [One of the most corruption gob]/ Video

Analyst Mark Schroeder examines Angola’s desire to develop its diamond industry and how possible cooperation with South Africa could ultimately usurp Angolan influence over the sector.

Read more: Dispatch: Developing Angola's Diamond Industry | STRATFOR

lunes, diciembre 20, 2010

Negocios del Clan: Cuba operara dos bloques petroleros en Angola

En lo que es un claro ejemplo de los negocios que el Clan mantiene fuera de la vista de los cubanos, la publicacion especializada en negocios Bloomberg, revela que Cuba comenzara la explotacion de 2 bloques de extraccion de petroleo en Angola.

--------------------------------------------
December 20, 2010, 9:25 AM EST

By Colin McClelland
Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Angola’s national oil company signed a production-sharing contract with Cuban Commercial Cupet SA to operate two blocks off the southwest African country, state news agency Angop reported today.

The deal to operate blocks N23 and N33 was signed Dec. 8 in Havana by Mateus de Brito, an administrator at the Angolan company, Sonangol, and Rafael Luis Arias Batista, deputy president and director general of Cuban Commercial, Angop said, citing Sonangol.

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Retratos de fusilados por el Castrismo - Juan Abreu

"Hablame"

"EN TIEMPOS DIFÍCILES" - Heberto Padilla

A aquel hombre le pidieron su tiempo

para que lo juntara al tiempo de la Historia.

Le pidieron las manos,

porque para una época difícil

nada hay mejor que un par de buenas manos.

Le pidieron los ojos

que alguna vez tuvieron lágrimas

para que contemplara el lado claro

(especialmente el lado claro de la vida)

porque para el horror basta un ojo de asombro.

Le pidieron sus labios

resecos y cuarteados para afirmar,

para erigir, con cada afirmación, un sueño

(el-alto-sueño);

le pidieron las piernas

duras y nudosas

(sus viejas piernas andariegas),

porque en tiempos difíciles

¿algo hay mejor que un par de piernas

para la construcción o la trinchera?

Le pidieron el bosque que lo nutrió de niño,

con su árbol obediente.

Le pidieron el pecho, el corazón, los hombros.

Le dijeron

que eso era estrictamente necesario.

Le explicaron después

que toda esta donación resultaria inútil.

sin entregar la lengua,

porque en tiempos difíciles

nada es tan útil para atajar el odio o la mentira.

Y finalmente le rogaron

que, por favor, echase a andar,

porque en tiempos difíciles

esta es, sin duda, la prueba decisiva.

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La columna de Cubanalisis

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]

NEOCASTRISMO [Hacer click en la imagen]
¨Saturno jugando con sus hijos¨/ Pedro Pablo Oliva

Seguidores

Carta desde la carcel de Fidel Castro Ruz

“…después de todo, para mí la cárcel es un buen descanso, que sólo tiene de malo el que es obligatorio. Leo mucho y estudio mucho. Parece increíble, las horas pasan como si fuesen minutos y yo, que soy de temperamento intranquilo, me paso el día leyendo, apenas sin moverme para nada. La correspondencia llega normalmente…”

“…Como soy cocinero, de vez en cuando me entretengo preparando algún pisto. Hace poco me mandó mi hermana desde Oriente un pequeño jamón y preparé un bisté con jalea de guayaba. También preparo spaghettis de vez en cuando, de distintas formas, inventadas todas por mí; o bien tortilla de queso. ¡Ah! ¡Qué bien me quedan! por supuesto, que el repertorio no se queda ahí. Cuelo también café que me queda muy sabroso”.
“…En cuanto a fumar, en estos días pasados he estado rico: una caja de tabacos H. Upman del doctor Miró Cardona, dos cajas muy buenas de mi hermano Ramón….”.
“Me voy a cenar: spaghettis con calamares, bombones italianos de postre, café acabadito de colar y después un H. Upman #4. ¿No me envidias?”.
“…Me cuidan, me cuidan un poquito entre todos. No le hacen caso a uno, siempre estoy peleando para que no me manden nada. Cuando cojo el sol por la mañana en shorts y siento el aire de mar, me parece que estoy en una playa… ¡Me van a hacer creer que estoy de vacaciones! ¿Qué diría Carlos Marx de semejantes revolucionarios?”.

Quotes

¨La patria es dicha de todos, y dolor de todos, y cielo para todos, y no feudo ni capellaní­a de nadie¨ - Marti

"No temas ni a la prision, ni a la pobreza, ni a la muerte. Teme al miedo"
-
Giacomo Leopardi

¨Por eso es muy importante, Vicky, hijo mío, que recuerdes siempre para qué sirve la cabeza: para atravesar paredes¨Halvar de Flake [El vikingo]

"Como no me he preocupado de nacer, no me preocupo de morir" - Lorca

"Al final, no os preguntarán qué habéis sabido, sino qué habéis hecho" - Jean de Gerson

"Si queremos que todo siga como está, es necesario que todo cambie" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"Todo hombre paga su grandeza con muchas pequeñeces, su victoria con muchas derrotas, su riqueza con múltiples quiebras" - Giovanni Papini


"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans" - John Lennon

"Habla bajo, lleva siempre un gran palo y llegarás lejos" - Proverbio Africano

"No hay medicina para el miedo" - Proverbio escoces

"El supremo arte de la guerra es doblegar al enemigo sin luchar"
- Sun Tzu

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother" - Albert Einstein

"It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office" - H. L. Menken

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" - Elie Wiesel

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" -
Steve Jobs

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert , in five years ther'ed be a shortage of sand" - Milton Friedman

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less" - Vaclav Havel

"No se puede controlar el resultado, pero si lo que uno haga para alcanzarlo" -
Vitor Belfort [MMA Fighter]

Liborio

Liborio
A la puerta de la gloria está San Pedro sentado y ve llegar a su lado a un hombre de cierta historia. No consigue hacer memoria y le pregunta con celo: ¿Quién eras allá en el suelo? Era Liborio mi nombre. Has sufrido mucho, hombre, entra, te has ganado el cielo.

Para Raul Castro

Cuba ocupa el penultimo lugar en el mundo en libertad economica solo superada por Corea del Norte.

Cuba ocupa el lugar 147 entre 153 paises evaluados en "Democracia, Mercado y Transparencia 2007"

Cuando vinieron

Cuando vinieron a buscar a los comunistas, Callé: yo no soy comunista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los sindicalistas, Callé: yo no soy sindicalista.
Cuando vinieron a buscar a los judíos, Callé: yo no soy judío. Cuando vinieron a buscar a los católicos, Callé: yo no soy “tan católico”.
Cuando vinieron a buscarme a mí, Callé: no había quien me escuchara.

Reverendo Martin Niemöller

Martha Colmenares

Martha Colmenares
Un sitio donde los hechos y sus huellas nos conmueven o cautivan

CUBA LLORA Y EL MUNDO Y NOSOTROS NO ESCUCHAMOS

Donde esta el Mundo, donde los Democratas, donde los Liberales? El pueblo de Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan los Green, los Socialdemocratas, los Ricos y los Pobres, los Con Voz y Sin Voz? Cuba llora y nadie escucha.
Donde estan el Jet Set, los Reyes y Principes, Patricios y Plebeyos? Cuba desesperada clama por solidaridad.
Donde Bob Dylan, donde Martin Luther King, donde Hollywood y sus estrellas? Donde la Middle Class democrata y conservadora, o acaso tambien liberal a ratos? Y Gandhi? Y el Dios de Todos?
Donde los Santos y Virgenes; los Dioses de Cristianos, Protestantes, Musulmanes, Budistas, Testigos de Jehova y Adventistas del Septimo Dia. Donde estan Ochun y todas las deidades del Panteon Yoruba que no acuden a nuestro llanto? Donde Juan Pablo II que no exige mas que Cuba se abra al Mundo y que el Mundo se abra a Cuba?
Que hacen ahora mismo Alberto de Monaco y el Principe Felipe que no los escuchamos? Donde Madonna, donde Angelina Jolie y sus adoptados around de world; o nos hara falta un Brando erguido en un Oscar por Cuba? Donde Sean Penn?
Donde esta la Aristocracia Obrera y los Obreros menos Aristocraticos, donde los Working Class que no estan junto a un pueblo que lanquidece, sufre y llora por la ignominia?
Que hacen ahora mismo Zapatero y Rajoy que no los escuchamos, y Harper y Dion, e Hillary y Obama; donde McCain que no los escuchamos? Y los muertos? Y los que estan muriendo? Y los que van a morir? Y los que se lanzan desesperados al mar?
Donde estan el minero cantabrico o el pescador de percebes gijonese? Los Canarios donde estan? A los africanos no los oimos, y a los australianos con su acento de hombres duros tampoco. Y aquellos chinos milenarios de Canton que fundaron raices eternas en la Isla? Y que de la Queen Elizabeth y los Lords y Gentlemen? Que hace ahora mismo el combativo Principe Harry que no lo escuchamos?
Donde los Rockefellers? Donde los Duponts? Donde Kate Moss? Donde el Presidente de la ONU? Y Solana donde esta? Y los Generales y Doctores? Y los Lam y los Fabelo, y los Sivio y los Fito Paez?
Y que de Canseco y Miñoso? Y de los veteranos de Bahia de Cochinos y de los balseros y de los recien llegados? Y Carlos Otero y Susana Perez? Y el Bola, y Pancho Cespedes? Y YO y TU?
Y todos nosotros que estamos aqui y alla rumiando frustaciones y resquemores, envidias y sinsabores; autoelogios y nostalgias, en tanto Louis Michel comulga con Perez Roque mientras Biscet y una NACION lanquidecen?
Donde Maceo, donde Marti; donde aquel Villena con su carga para matar bribones?
Cuba llora y clama y el Mundo NO ESCUCHA!!!

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