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News ::
17 Jul 2003

By Monica Moorehead
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the July 24, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Monica Moorehead

The following article is based on a talk given at a New York Workers
World Party meeting on July 11.

President George W. Bush has just returned from a visit to Africa.
Bourgeois analysts are asking: Was the trip a "success" or a "bust"?

Some editorials have made the point that with 2004 presidential
elections coming soon, Bush was especially trying to score major points with the African American community by showing his "concern" for Africa, such as visiting the centuries-old "Slave House" in Gorée Island, Senegal. Bush is certainly trying to attract more of the Black vote. And he is undoubtedly worried about the growing disaffection of U.S. troops, Black, Latino and white, who have been thrust into the position of being colonial occupiers in Iraq.

But Bush's trip to Africa goes much deeper than publicity stunts, like shaking hands with African children living with AIDS or affected by the HIV virus.

In his work "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism," V. I. Lenin examined the various stages in capitalism's evolution into imperialism as a worldwide economic system that is governed by the expansion of profitable markets. Lenin stated, "Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed."

What does this pamphlet, written in 1916 during World War I, have to do with Africa? Everything. Especially the last point, which reflects the current world reality of the U.S. drive to recolonize the world,
including Africa.

Up until the early 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp was in motion, the U.S. rulers' interest in Africa was mainly from a geopolitical perspective. The CIA had helped to overthrow and assassinate pro-independence leaders, like Patrice Lumumba in Congo in 1961, to counter the progressive role that the Soviet Union was playing in the 1950s and 1960s, when it provided material aid to national liberation movements, especially in southern Africa and the former Portuguese colonies.

But all of this changed once U.S. finance capital gained hegemony over the former European colonial powers in Africa. This new neocolonial relationship took root in the 1980s and has deepened ever since. The U.S. ruling class, through organizations like the International Monetary Fund, has been telling African leaders that if they hope to receive aid and loans, they must first bring stability to Africa--a code word for letting cheap government-subsidized U.S. goods, especially agricultural products, flood African markets, destroying local economies in the process.

They must also adopt "democracy"--that is, U.S.- style elections, in
which the candidates with the most money behind them usually win. The
U.S. tries to influence elections with promises of aid if the opposition it supports wins. The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, passed by the U.S. Congress before the last election in that country, promised $25 million in aid if the U.S. president certified that Zimbabwe was making "progress" toward democracy, as well as "a U.S. commitment to reschedule or eliminate Zimbabwe's billion-dollar debt to the World Bank and other international lending agencies." Many African leaders are not seeking U.S. aid. They want African products to be able to compete on the world capitalist market, especially in the area of agriculture, the backbone of many African countries' economies. An opinion piece entitled "Your Farm Subsidies Are Strangling Us" and signed by Amadou Toumani Touré and Blaise Com paoré, the presidents of Mali and Burkina Faso, respectively, appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times of July 11.

The column is an appeal to reduce the billions of dollars of subsidies that the U.S. government pays to agribusiness each year, especially in the area of cotton production. In the production year 2001-2002 it paid $3 billion in subsidies to 25,000 U.S. cotton farmers--the equivalent of the entire economic output of Burkina Faso alone. As a result, African cotton cannot compete on the world market with the low-priced cotton exported from the U.S. and other rich capitalist countries.

This is but one example of how the destruction of local economies in the less developed countries by the highly industrialized capitalist
countries leads to a brake on their economic development and resulting dire unemployment, poverty and civil wars.

The discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea off Nigeria and close to
Liberia was the primary motivation for Bush's trip. This is why Bush is considering sending troops to Liberia and West Africa. It has nothing to do with humanitarian reasons and everything to do with the U.S. wanting to dominate the oil market and increase its imports from Africa by at least 25 percent.


Anti-war protests occurred throughout South Africa before and during
Bush's visit. Indymedia reported 10,000 demonstrators in Pretoria on
July 9. These mobilizations seem to escape the attention of the big
business press. The demands were highly political and militant. For
instance, a major slogan called for the arrest of Bush and his trial
before an international tribunal for war crimes against the Iraqi

There were signs that read "Africa is not for sale," especially the oil.

The main protests were organized by the South African Anti-War
Coalition, a united front of hundreds of groups that came together last year to oppose the war on Iraq. The coalition's call for protests against Bush had support from the leading Tripartite Alliance of South Africa--the African National Congress, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.

These three organizations, along with Friends of Cuba, held a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria on July 9. To quote their official statement: "The U.S. government continues to display contempt for the right of all nations to self-determination, the right to determine their own policies in the interests of their own people. This is evident, among other ways, in the U.S. policy towards Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries it does not agree with. It remains the critical stumbling block in the struggle for the self-determination of the people of Palestine. ... We call on the U.S. to respect the right of all nations to determine their own future free from any external military, economic or other pressure."


On July 10, former South African president Nelson Mandela spoke in Westmin ster, England, where he lambasted both Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for carrying out the war on Iraq. Mandela accused
Bush of caring only about Iraqi oil and accused Blair of being the
"foreign minister of the U.S." Mandela's criticisms of Bush and Blair
are a moral blow against imperialism and a boost to the worldwide anti-war movement.

During a week-long strike in Nigeria against painful oil price
increases, the youth carried signs calling for an end to the anti-poor, pro-rich imperialist agenda. A new generation of revolutionary African leaders seems to be on the horizon, who will look for political solidarity from the movements in the imperialist countries, especially the U.S.

A number of African thinkers have stated that the only way Africa is
going to find its way out of gross underdevelopment, poverty, civil
wars, disease and much more is for Africa to be genuinely independent
from the legacy of colonialism and the present-day slavery of neo-
colonialism, especially the banks. This goes against everything
imperialism stands for--which is to suck out all the resources from
other countries in order to enrich the coffers of the imperialist ruling class.

African peoples were enslaved in the U.S. and throughout the Western
Hemi sphere centuries ago, and are still being enslaved by capitalist
greed and plunder. The imperialists should be forced to pay reparations to Africa, including providing all the up-to-date technological advances, with no political and economic strings attached.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
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