MAC: Mines and Communities

Bush, Clinton in the Web: Behind the Assassination of Kabila

Published by MAC on 2001-04-23

Bush, Clinton in the Web: Behind the Assassination of Kabila

By Deirdre Griswold and Johnnie Stevens

The failure of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to express even the most perfunctory regret over the assassination of Congo President Laurent Désiré Kabila last year, betrays how implicated Washington is in this latest outrage against the most important country in central Africa.

Washington's silence is even more glaring considering that its foreign policy experts are well aware that the African people view the secret intelligence agencies of the U.S. government, which work closely with corporations seeking vast fortunes in the region, as the probable authors of this crime.

George Bush Sr., father of the president, even had an intimate connection with one of these plundering corporations.

But this is not mentioned in the commercial media, which, as usual, go even further than indifference to insult the fallen head of state, while speculating on the breakup of the Congo.

What they carefully omit in their reporting is the deadly record of U.S. interventions in the Congo, beginning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower's order at a meeting of the National Security Council on Aug. 18, 1960, to assassinate Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba was the young and inspiring independence leader who was briefly the Congo's first president. The 40th anniversary of his assassination, Jan. 17 of this year, was the day after Kabila was shot.

The U.S. media are today blaming Kabila for failing to bring peace to the Congo. This is a monstrous charge, since Washington is largely responsible for the war that has crushed the Congolese people's hopes for a better life since the overthrow of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The Congo government has been trying to expel Rwandan and Ugandan troops that invaded eastern Congo in August 1998. The U.S. has secretly supported them and their occupation of this area of fabulous mineral wealth.

The Congo's allies in this war are Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia--all countries that had to fight racist colonial regimes to win their independence.

The invaders, on the other hand, have been supplied with high-tech weaponry and communications and transportation equipment by their imperialist backers. There is evidence of military training and coordination from the Pentagon and the involvement of mercenary companies, including MPRI of the U.S., Executive Outcome of South Africa, and Sandline of Britain.

Kabila Resisted 'Globalization'

What U.S. corporations wanted from Kabila, and what he refused to give, was outright control over an area that contains some of the world's most important deposits of gold, diamonds, cobalt, manganese, uranium, copper, zinc, germanium, silver, lead, iron and tungsten.

It has been Washington's theme song for the last decade that oppressed countries must join the "global economy"--meaning sell off state-owned enterprises to imperialist investors, open their domestic markets and devalue their currencies, thus further lowering the standard of living.

Even Mobutu tried to resist this and hold on to state control over the mines--one of the reasons the U.S. decided to dump him after having propped him up for almost 35 years. Washington helped a coalition force headed by Kabila but based on Rwandan and Ugandan military forces to topple Mobutu in 1997.

But once Kabila became president, he surprised his former allies by refusing to be a puppet and trying to rally the Congolese people to unite and defend their country's sovereignty.

Kabila also retracted a number of mining contracts signed with U.S. and European corporations during the period of the alliance with Rwanda and Uganda. And he refused to pay back the huge debt to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank incurred by the Mobutu regime. For this, it seemed, they never forgave him.

A most interesting essay on "The geopolitical stakes of the international mining companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo" by mining civil engineer Pierre Baracyetse can be found on the Web at [English translation] It explains in detail the high stakes involved for foreign capital.

Billions of Dollars at Stake

American Mineral Fields (AMFI), a consortium based originally in Hope, Ark.--yes, Bill Clinton's hometown--is a big player in exploiting Congo's mineral wealth. In 1997, just a month before Mobutu fell, it signed contracts with the Kabila-Rwanda-Uganda alliance forces for almost a billion dollars investment in copper, cobalt and zinc mines and processing plants in Kolwezi and Kipushi.

The industrial enterprises that set up AMFI, according to Baracyetse, "are interested in the contract for the construction of the orbital platform around the world that is destined to replace the Russian station MIR."

This project is part of the $60-billion so-called National Missile Defense system that George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Richard Cheney are pushing so vigorously. Building the space station will require many of the rare metals found in eastern Congo.

Another big player in the eastern Congo is Barrick Gold Corp., headquartered in Canada. It is the world's second- largest gold producer after Anglo-American of South Africa.

This company was able in 1996 to get the Mobutu regime's Gold Office of Kilomoto, a government monopoly, to transfer mining rights over almost all its 82,000 square kilometers of land to Barrick. The land is estimated to have 100 tons of gold in reserve.

George Bush Sr. sat on the board of directors of Barrick, according to Baracyetse.

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, signed into law by President Clinton last May 18, brought the full power of the U.S. government behind expanding corporate domination in Africa. The biggest companies, including Texaco, Mobil, Amoco, Occidental Petroleum, Chevron, General Electric, Enron and Caterpillar spent some $200 million lobbying for this legislation.

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Susan Rice described Africa as "a huge market insufficiently exploited of 700 million people" in calling for passage of the act. The vision being pushed by both Democrats and Republicans is that only U.S. intervention can bring development and prosperity to Africa.

But politically conscious Africans are calling it the "Recolonization of Africa" act, and warn that it will only increase the plunder of this rich continent by corporate pirates.

[This article was published earlier this year and distributed by the International Action Centre ( We refer readers also to:].

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