Sunday, 21 September 2008
Thursday, 18 September 2008
photo by Natalia Ipince
Along the basin of the river Negauche, that later joins with the Nazarategui to form the river Pichis, live an Anshaninka community called the New Nevati. Not many schools exist in the area - particularly secondary schools - so the children have to walk and sometimes paddle for up five hours per day. When the summer months come, the dry season commences and rivers retreat and dry up. Beaches appear with pristine sands much closer to the schools. Half of the community migrates to the beaches whilst the rest –mostly men- stay with their farms.
The first colonists to arrive in the area were Adventists, who founded the school. Adventists preaching the end of the world. Most Nevati stayed with them, abiding by their strict customs, forcing them to cover themselves up, prohibiting them from playing drums, or eating animals dictated outside of the Bible Leviticus 11, or of drinking Masato, a fermented drink made of saliva that remains to this day a hugely important social tradition to all Ashaninka. Some Nevati fled, now New Nevati, though after a couple of years reluctantly decided they would still send their children to the school in order to educate them. In 1978 an earthquake further enhanced the fear of impending Armageddon from where more and more Nevati were converted. Years went past and nothing happened. They were waiting for Christ but he never arrived. The Nevati started questioning themselves. They also started questioning the Adventists. Finally the Adventists left.
To this day apart from the school the Nevati stay divided. Thanks be to God.
Before 1996, Equatorial Guinea, a tiny ex-Spanish colony of just over one million people, wedged between Gabon and Cameroon, was in complete and utter shambles. Until that was, oil was found. It has since quietly become sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest oil exporter, after Nigeria and Angola.
BP reported in 2007 that Equatorial Guinea's output was estimated at 363,000 barrels a day - five times more than a decade ago. The BP report also states that Equatorial Guinea's proven oil reserves amount to just 0.1 percent of the global total only due to the lack of geological studies, because if such studies were to confirm what is suspected, the country's reserves could represent 10 percent of the total, due to the vast off-shore reserves in the Gulf of Guinea. Already there are comparisons with Kuwait.
As such oil companies the world over are at a scramble for a share of the dense gloopy pie. The United States is the biggest foreign investor in Equatorial Guinea's oil industry, having invested seven billion dollars this year alone.
But while the economy is enjoying fast economic growth driven by oil and gas sales, which represent 90 percent of the country's exports, the country is the victim of immense corruption, with President Obiang Nguema's family as the chief culprit - with alleged involvement of foreign companies and banks - All whilst the overwhelming majority of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has ruled the country with an iron fist for nearly 30 years. Amnesty International and other human rights groups, including the UN, cite brutal human rights violations, torture of political prisoners, unfair trials as well as deplorable prison conditions. His opposition also maintains that the series of failed coup d'états have been staged in order to empower the President to engage in campaigns of retribution. His control over the media is said to be absolute.
Rotting away in the ubiquitous Black Beach Prison sits ex-Eton boy Simon Mann, imprisoned until pardoned, after his failed coup in 2004. He claims there were many interested forces behind the failed coup.
In July 2003 the state radio station announced that Obiang was "the God of Equatorial Guinea" and that he now enjoyed the right to "decide to kill without having to give anyone an account and without going to hell". Despite his reputation as a brutal leader that rules with an iron hand, he is very soft-spoken and not prone to public displays of anger; he is extremely in control of his person and patient. His mode of dress is typical very businesslike and professional for official matter, and in public rallies he is relaxed and comfortable, wearing party colours and baseball caps. He does not really seem to be concerned about his image outside the country.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
photos by lali cienfuegos
GUANO - LA ISLA DE GUAÑAPE NORTE
Surging world prices for synthetic fertilizers and organic foods are shifting attention to guano, an organic fertilizer once found in abundance on these islands off the coast of Peru. Once the cause of pacific wars, its rising demand is causing a dilemma for the government – on whether what is left should be sold abroad or kept in the country.
Two hours by boat, across from the port of Trujillo, in Northern Peru, men on the island of Guañape Norte begin their day raking and collect bird dung. They live secluded from the rest of the world, on different islands at time, under working conditions that have changed little from a hundred years ago. No women or alcohol are allowed on the island. They often they stay for four months at a time, returning home for a few days. For most of the year however they are here on the islands.
An exceptionally dry climate preserves the droppings built over years of up to one metre. Over the past decades industrialized fishing of anchovy as well as the effects of ‘El Niño’ have considerably lowered bird levels and hence the amount of collectable bird turd. While the bird population has climbed to 4 million from 3.2 million in the past two years, that figure still pales in comparison with the 60 million birds at the height of the first guano rush in the mid 19th Century.