Exploiting former Colonies

Adam Bychawski

Corruption, like many blights on democracy, is often misunderstood. Among the most popular misconceptions are that it is a problem limited to a few bad apples, or an affliction of developing nations.

But it's far closer to home and commoner than you might think. Take, for example, the UK's network of overseas territories, which have long enabled the mega-rich to squirrel away their wealth.

And the UK is not the only country where the remnants of empire serve as a clearing-house for vast fortunes. Portugal, for one, continues to exploit its former colony of Angola to enrich itself. Between 2007 and 2014, 27 former Portuguese ministers happened to find themselves in comfortable positions on the boards of Angolan or Angolan-dominated companies. Over 100 others found their way to profitable positions within the Portuguese economy, backed by Angolan capital.

As Francesc Badia i Dalmases writes on democracia Abierta. Portuguese corruption not only weakens democracy, it also abets the plunder of poorer nations, perpetuating racism at home and abroad.

Elsewhere in Europe, the French president is struggling to defuse discontent over his proposed pension reforms after weeks of strikes. Despite growing splits between unions, protesters remain defiant, rallying each other with the popular chant, "Here we are! Here we are! Even if Macron does not want it, here we are!"

Although the reforms might have triggered the protests, or Can Europe Make It? Bernard Dreano argues that roots of the crisis run much deeper. At its heart is a pervasive sense of economic injustice that the president's concessions cannot address, he writes.

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Vol. 52, No. 36, Mar 8 - 14, 2020