Congo My Precious
Directed by Anastasia Trofimova (2017)
This documentary exposes the shocking reality that the standard of living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DAR) hasn’t improved since it was the personal property of Belgian King Leopold II.
As of 1960, when Congo first declared independence, the country provides 60% of the world’s uranium, 70% of its cobalt, 65% of its coltan (essential for manufacturing cellphones, laptops and nuclear reactors), 70% of its industrial diamonds, as well as substantial quantities of cassiterite and gold.
Following independence, the CIA assassinated the country’s first president Patrice Lamumba, and Belgium, determined to protect its monopoly on the country’s precious minerals, launched a four-year mercenary war.
Between 1967-83, the country enjoyed a brief period of relative wealth when CIA-installed dictator Mobutu Seko Sese was on good terms with the US and Britain. In 1973, he made a UN speech condemning Western powers for brutally exploiting his country for its mineral wealth. In response, the West cut off all aid to Zaire (DAR was known as Zaire between 1971-97). In 1997, the US supported a joint Kenyan/Rwandan effort to invade DAR and remove Mobutu from power.
DAR has been in a continuous state of civil war ever since. Both the CIA and British intelligence provide weapons and other aid to the rebel groups that control access to important mines. See The CIA and the Congo’s 20-year Civil War
Exporters pay mineworkers $6/kg for coltan and cassiterite (which is insufficient to cover their living expenses). Which they on-sell to Western markets to for $120/kg.
The Western-sponsored civil war (efforts to disarm various rebel groups are ongoing – see DR Congo Ituri Rebels Disarmament), makes it virtually impossible for workers to organizer for better pay.