Tropical Gangsters

Tropical Gangsters - Victoria Chihos Oct 17 2007 POL 363...

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Victoria Chihos Oct. 17, 2007 POL 363 Tropical Gangsters: A Study of Development in Equatorial Guinea Robert Klitgaard, a financial advisor and economist working for the International Monetary Fund, begins his book by describing Equatorial Guinea as a “backward country.” In 1987 Klitgaard arrives in Equatorial Guinea to work as an employee of the local government but is being paid by money loaned to the government from the World Bank and the IMF. During this two-and-a-half year project, Klitgaard is in charge of about one seventh of the country’s economy. That assertion alone is enough to clarify the dire economic situation present in Equatorial Guinea; how such a large percentage of a country’s Gross Domestic Product is actually on loan. One out of more than thirty countries in Africa to undergo free market economic reforms, Equatorial Guinea represents a severe case of underdevelopment. Written by an economist, “Tropical Gangsters: One Man’s Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa,” focuses a great deal upon the economic obstacles to development. The transition of a developing country into full development however, involves several other factors such as the stability of the political system, national autonomy and possession of Democratic characteristics. Klitgaard, although he works for and directly with the local government, represents a different interpretation of these developmental goals than the rulers of Equatorial Guinea. This constant disagreement between Klitgaard (IMF and the World Bank) and the local government about what Equatorial Guinea needs impedes the country’s progress. Corruption, political instability and the consistent conflict over structural adjustment policies are the major
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obstacles to development in Equatorial Guinea. Although these problems on the path to development are separate pieces of the puzzle they are often interrelated and often overlap. Corruption is not exclusive to developing countries; however, it is a big reason behind the difficulties that Klitgaard has with revamping the defunct cocoa industry in Equatorial Guinea. Cocoa along with timber and coffee are some of Equatorial Guinea’s biggest “export enclaves” (Klitgaard, 128). A proposed project funded by the World Bank in 1983 was directed at restoring the cocoa industry that had declined tremendously under the rule of Dictator Francisco Macias Nguema. Macias took over rule in 1969, after the Spanish abandoned their colonial holdings in Equatorial Guinea and the result of his tyrannical actions had a disastrous effect on the economy. By the 1970s, cocoa production dropped from thirty thousand tons during the last years of Spanish rule to about five thousand tons (Klitgaard, 20). Macias was eventually overthrown in 1979 by current (at the time Klitgaard writes “Tropical Gangsters”) President Obiang Nguema Mbasgo but massive international loans would be needed to breath life into Equatorial Guinea’s agriculture. The effectiveness of these loans, however, would depend on if the
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Tropical Gangsters - Victoria Chihos Oct 17 2007 POL 363...

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