How the West Steals Congo’s Mineral Wealth

Congo My Precious

Directed by Anastasia Trofimova (2017)

Film Review

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.

The US Rape of the Congo

Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth

Friends of the Congo (2012)

Film Review

Crisis in the Congo is a heart breaking documentary about the invisible US proxy war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For the last 20 years, the US (and Britain) have been arming and training Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels who are plundering DRC’s rich mineral resources (gold, diamonds, cobalt, coltan, copper and tin) for the benefit of the electronic and aerospace industry.

The US has a long ugly history in the Congo, one of the most mineral-rich countries* in the world. After the CIA assassinated Patrice Lamumba, DRC’s first democratically elected president, the US installed the brutal dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. When the cold war ended, the US abandoned their support for Mobutu and sponsored a joint Rwandan/Kenyan invasion to remove him from power.

DRC’s 20+ year civil war has resulted in the death of over six million civilians, the brutal rape of thousands of women and children and the forced induction of thousand of child solders.

Barf alert: there’s a disgustingly hypocritical speech by Obama starting at 18.00, in which he accuses Africans of “pointing the finger” at other countries and reminds them of their responsibility to enact democratic reforms.

Postscript: In 2012. after this documentary was made, Obama briefly reduced aid to Rwanda (based on evidence they were recruiting child solders) but resumed funding in 2013. As of 2015, Rwanda remained dependent on foreign aid (mainly Britain and the US) for 40% of their national budget.

Despite the presence of UN peacekeeping forces, the civil war continues in the eastern DRC. It continues to be regarded as a failed state

Meanwhile, the US continues to increase  military bases and direct troop deployment in Africa and the corporate media largely refuses to report on  it.

Hear Edward Herman talk about his recent book “Enduring Lies,” examining the falsehoods circulated by Western governments about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and the ongoing use of that event as an excuse for military intervention around the world at Project Censored Radio

Africa’s Hidden History

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace*

Directed by Adam Curtis

BBC (2011)

Part 3

Film Review

The basic theme of the final video is this series is a bit unclear. Curtis seems to imply, based on flimsy and subjective evidence, that western liberals who provide humanitarian and developmental assistance to third world countries only make their living situation worse.

The main focus of Part 3 is the civil wars in Congo and Rwanda over valuable mineral resources coveted by multinational corporations. There’s a particular emphasis on coltan, a rare earth mineral essential in the manufacture of computers, play stations and smartphones.

The CIA Coup Against Lamumba

The film traces the history of the Congo back to 1960 when it first gained independence from Belgium. In 1961, after the Congo’s first president Patrice Lamumba allied himself with the USSR, the US and Belgium instigated a coup to remove him from power and had him murdered. Fearful that Congo’s rich mineral wealth would fall into Soviet hands, they replaced him with the brutal pro-western dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

The Belgian Role in Rwanda Genocide

Curtis traces Rwandan history from their first episode of genocide, engineered by their Belgian rulers in 1959. Fearful that the Rwandans, like other colonized Africans, would demand independence, the Belgians deliberately instigated ethnic conflict by issuing mandatory race cards and promoting the myth that the Tutsis (which Belgium made colonial administrators) were a superior race that had migrated to Rwanda from ancient Egypt. Meanwhile Belgian aid workers encouraged oppressed Hutus (who comprised 85% of the population) to revolt. After three years of bloody civil war, Belgium granted Rwanda independence in 1962.

In 1994, the Hutus seized control of the Rwandan government and deliberately exterminated nearly a million Tsutsis. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled across the border into Congo, where the UN and western aid agencies set up refugee camps. Curtis maintains it was a mistake to set up refugee camps because there were Hutu assassins hiding among the refugees. Armed conflict between Tsutsis and Hutus spread to rebel armies seeking to overthrow Mobutu. Hoping to win a piece of Congo’s mineral wealth, Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, Namibia, Uganda and Libya all dispatched troops to support the rebels. Leaving more than five million dead, the civil war would continue until 2003.

I find it a bit puzzling that Curtis blames the UN and humanitarian organizations for fanning the flames of the Congo’s civil war. Surely most, if not all of the blame lies with the multinationals behind Mobotu’s dictatorship.

The Selfish Gene

Curtis interweaves his discussion of Congo and Rwandan history with relevant scientific research that endeavored to prove that humans are complex computer-like machines.

In 1967, population geneticist George Price allegedly proved that human beings were soft machines run by on board computers (i.e. DNA). A corollary of this hypothesis was that human beings commit murder and genocide because of a “selfish gene” which genetically programs us to hate a kill people who are genetically unrelated to us.

Price worked closely with evolutionary biologist Bill Hamilton who, based on his research, argued against providing medical treatment when people get sick because this causes genetically inferior people to survive and reproduce.

Dian Fossey’s Mountain Gorillas

A third narrative describes the work of primate ethnologist Dian Fossey who was studying Congo’s mountain gorillas during the decade-long civil war. My favorite scene depicts British naturalist David Attenborough stretched out on top of one of Fossey’s gorillas as they share a moment of relaxed contemplation.

*Title of 1967 monograph distributed free by California cybernetics enthusiast Richard Brautigan. Available for $400 from Abe Books