| The Courier: - N°153 - Sept- Oct 1995 Dossier Southern Africa - Country Reports Namibia; Djibouti |
by Debra Percival
It took the Summit meeting of EU heads of government in Cannes, France on June 26-27 for agreement finally to be reached on funding for the LomÃ© IV second financial protocol covering the next five years. A wrangle over the level of funding, traditionally pooled from the pockets of the EU Member States, had held up talks on other improve. meets to the Convention such as access to the EU market for ACP farm produce. Under pressure from the French Presidency, Member States finally agreed on the sum of ECU 13.307 billion for the next five years. This includes a 1.28% share for the 20 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).
After a round of late-night bargaining among Member States - and agreement by the European Commission to scrape the bottom of its own 'barrel' with ECU 292 million of 'unallocated LomÃ© resources' - the leaders of the European Union succeeded in reaching the French Presidency's 'bare minimum' of ECU 13.3bn. This takes account of inflation within the Union over the past five years (21.5%), but means no 'real' increase for the 70 ACP countries this time round, despite the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the EU since LomÃ© IV came into operation.
The final deal was reached after the French agreed to increase their national contribution by another ECU 100 million with Germany finally consenting to give more than last time despite originally seeking a nominal decrease. Britain, which said it wanted to shift more of its overseas development contributions to its bilateral budget, also put more into the 'kitty' than it had originally envisaged. One result is that France now replaces Germany as the number one contributor to the EDF. All other EU states except Britain are providing more, in nominal terms, this time round (see Table 1).
The deal was done in part thanks to decisions on EU development assistance packages for other 'developing' regions- six Eastern and Central European nations in line for EU membership and 12 Mediterranean nations with whom the EU has ambitions of creating a giant Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone. In a typical piece of EU bartering, the German government agreed to put a little more into the LomÃ© pool following agreement on an ECU 6.7bn package for Central and Eastern Europe over the period 1995-2000. Meanwhile, some of the EU's Mediterranean nations (notably Spain and Italy)-content with an ECU 4.7bn aid deal covering the same period for their Mediterranean basin neighbours-were able to agree to the ACP figure with some last-minute adjustments.
ACP nations, who had sought a package of ECU 15.8 ten, notably to improve processing, marketing, transformation and distribution of produce to hold their own in an ever more competitive EU market, expressed initial disappointment. 'This is natural when one receives less than one requested,' Papua New Guinea's information minister, John Moms, told journalists.
But the financial deal swiftly led to a special one-day meeting of EU and ACP ministers on June 30 to tackle the outstanding matters in the mid-term review: more open access to the EU market, tariff concessions, a declaration on the protection of tropical forests, another on the alleviation of ACP debt, a compromise on methods of allocating development funds and finally, a breakdown of the financial package for the next five years among the different instruments of the Convention (see Table 2).
Some trade concessions
Under the new arrangements, there will be better access to the EU market for ACP farm products although it is less than the ACP group had hoped for. For numerous products which currently do not qualify for any preference, customs duties and levies are reduced by 16% across the board. Excluded from this are highly sensitive items such as olives, olive products, wine and lemons. The ACPs originally sought 36% tariff cuts.
A 50% reduction of the current levy on 15 000 tonnes of cereals and 500 tonnes of pork meat has been agreed. There are also numerous concessions for products currently subject to quotas and reference quantities. The tariff quotas on fresh figs, sorghum and millet are transformed into less restrictive 'ceilings', tariff quotas on sheep meat, poultry meat, milk products, pears and meat preparations are doubled and the quota for strawberries rises from 1500 to 1600 tonnes.
Import duties on rice are reduced by 15% within existing quotas and 'reference quantities' are abolished for all products except oranges and mandarins. There is also some liberalisation in respect of a number of items that can only be exported to the EU at certain times of the year. Finally, the export quotas for canned tuna and tuna loins are increased to 4000 and 500 tonnes respectively.
More cumulation for regional growth
One innovation over the next five years is to allow other developing countries to benefit from LomÃ©'s
'cumulation clauses'. Thus, in the interests of more growth in regional markets, 15% of the content of an ACP product can be 'cumulated' in a neighbouring nation, yet still benefit from ACP preference. Some sensitive items including canned tuna, rice, and certain textile products such as sweatshirts, are excluded from this arrangement.
EU and ACP ministers agreed at the 30 June meeting on a compromise list of countries that will benefit from this system. In the Caribbean and Pacific areas, these are Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Nauru. In Africa, cumulation is extended to Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, together with South Africa on an ad hoc basis pending the outcome of talks on its possible 'qualified membership' of LomÃ© IV. In this regard, the ministers also agreed that South Africa will have automatic entry to the Convention-on whatever terms are finally agreed-once the negotiations have been completed, thereby avoiding the lengthy LomÃ© ratification process.
Two tranche method
With France keen to end its six-month period in the EU driving seat on a high note, eleventh hour debate at the meeting on June 30, the final day of the French Presidency, also resulted in compromise over the way in which funds are to be allocated under the 8th EDF. The novelty is that 70% of the total will be distributed in an initial three-year tranche with the remainder earmarked only after an assessment of how the first allocation has been spent.
Development Commissioner, Professor JoÃ£o de Deus Pinheiro, said that this method was in keeping with the new LomÃ© motto of 'efficiency and effectiveness' in promoting aid: He added that the 'coordination and coherence' of aid with other donors and with Member State bilateral programmes would also be watchwords for the coming five years. He told journalists: 'The two-tranche procedure will give more to those who absorb money well. There will be no more sterile funds in the Convention.'
Debt, forestry and banana declarations
ACP states will be able to draw encouragement from a new declaration on debt in LomÃ© IV. There is, however, no formal commitment from the EU side to cancel debt. The text reads: 'The Community reaffirms its willingness to contribute constructively and actively to the alleviation of the debt burden of ACP States. In this context, it agrees to transform into grants all the special loans of the previous Conventions which have not yet been committed. The Community also confirms its determination to pursue the discussion of these questions in the appropriate fore, taking account of the specific difficulties of the ACP States.'
Likewise, a general declaration on the protection of tropical forests will be inserted in the Convention, but without the extra funds attached for their preservation which ACP countries had requested at the outset. The new 'Protocol on Sustainable Management of Forest Resources' refers to the use of 'relevant resources available under the Community budget', alongside funds from the national and regional indicative programmes, to halt desertification and preserve forests.
The protocol contains plenty of ideas of how funds can be used: conservation of endangered forests shaped to the need of local populations, and 'buffer zones' to be set up to assist the conservation, regeneration and sustainable development of tropical forests. Re-afforestation, forestry management and the restoration of degraded forests could all attract funding. So too can 'institution building', including training schemes for local people, forest managers and researchers and support for organisations in the forestry sector.
Most major ACP-EU meetings nowadays find it difficult to avoid discussion of the thorny banana issue and the gathering on 30 June was no exception. Although no additional funds were specifically set aside to improve the industry in the ACPs (notably in the Caribbean) the ministers did agree a declaration on the subject. This stated that special attention would be granted, 'when determining the volume of programmable assistance to ACP banana suppliers to the KU, where external circumstances beyond their control have led to the need for restructuring.'
Human rights suspension clause
One of the most significant political changes was the introduction of a human rights 'suspension clause' in Article 366 of the Convention. This states that if any of the essential human rights appearing in Article 5 are violated, the partial or total suspension of development aid can follow. This can only happen, however, after prior consultation with ACP nations and the abusing party, other than in particular 'emergency circumstances' which are defined in a separate declaration.
The two sides also agreed that the ACP-EU political dialogue in the spheres of foreign and security policy needed to be strengthened. Over the next five years, its is planned that this should happen either with each of the three distinct LomÃ© 'regions' or on a thematic basis.
Finally, mention should be made of the proposals concerning the Joint Assembly. There was agreement that every effort should be made to have ACP countries represented by parliamentarians -or at least by people designated by national parliaments-at the Assembly's biannual meetings in order to emphasise the democratic nature of the institution. Failing that, the participation of an ACP representative will have to meet with the prior approval of the Assembly.
The final stage in the 1 5-monthlong 'mid-term review' will take place with the formal signature of the amended Convention. Mauritius has offered to host the ceremony, which will take place later this year.
Culture and nature in Belize appear to be inseparable. It is rare for Third World countries, bogged down in insoluble problems, to show such concern for nature conservation and to closely associate this devotion with their concept of culture. One could almost speak of a culture of nature. On a more lighthearted note, one could say that this Belizean culture/nature is the adopted daughter of Baron Bliss and Coca Cola. The latter company has given a great deal of sponsorship, money to 'Programme for Belize' (PFB), a private company operating as a foundation which is involved at the very crossroads of ecology and ancient architectural heritage, dealing with environ. mental protection in the widest sense over a vast territory containing dozens of Maya sites. The American company has of course made use of the operation that it is sponsoring in its marketing. The programme entailed the purchase of several hundreds of thousands of acres, an act which provoked some unease among a number of Belizeans. Baron Bliss, however, was a true patron-a 'benefactor' to use the term usually applied to him in Belize. His earlier legacy enabled the country to set up and run an arts centre which has been operating for several decades. Although modest, it is certainly worthy of the name.
In the minds of many Belizeans, the nationality, the size of the bequest and the links which Baron Bliss had with their country are sometimes ill-defined. Some think he was Portuguese, others that he long ago 'adopted' this small Central American territory, and yet others that he left an immense fortune. No matter! The benefactor has the status approaching that of a cult figure throughout the country, and particularly in Belize City. Baron Henry Edward Earnest Victor Bliss is referred to locally simply as Baron Bliss, even if his striking name gives rise to all kinds of embellishment. The true story is that he moored off Belize during a voyage, but never actually disembarked from his vessel. This British - indeed, quintessentially English-nobleman arrived at the port of Belize City in 1926. Suffering from food poisoning contracted in Trinidad, he was unable to come ashore and he spent his time fishing. His health never recovered during the months spent offshore, but he was befriended by the city's citizens who would come to visit him, caring for him and bringing food. When he died, he left two million dollars to the country. As a kind of funeral monument, Belize City erected a lighthouse at the entrance to the port. This structure linking land and sea, is at the site where the Baron spent his last months. It is obviously very useful but, at least as far as art lovers are concerned, the most productive part of the Baron's legacy is the Bliss Institute, home to a number of cultural and artistic institutions run with money from the same fund. These institutions include the National Library and the Belize Arts Council. The Institute is home to a permanent exhibition of Maya art. Belize even has a national holiday (9 March) dedicated to Baron Bliss.
Defying the laws of probability
A lot of the Baron's two million must presumably have been spent if the precarious existence of the Belize Arts Council is anything to go by. It has no permanent store of exhibits, apart from a few Maya works. However, this cultural institution manages to keep a range of activities going. Every year, it organises some 20 exhibitions, combining art and crafts. In addition, there are plans to build a 'proper' museum in Belmopan, the capital. Some exhibitions are staged within the framework of exchange arrangements with other countries, particularly Mexico which is the only foreign country to have a Cultural Centre in Belize. The centre is proud to present the works of any Mexican
who has succeeded abroad, but its limited means prevent it from doing so as often as it would like. The next event, according to Mrs Beverly Smith-Lopez, Director of the Belize Arts Council, which will be in November 1995, is an exhibition of the work of Pen Cayetano who lives in Germany. In the plastic arts, the local 'stars' are Terryl Gordon, whose works were on show during our visit, Benjamen Nicolas, another painter, Louis Belisle and, above all, the sculptor Georges Gable. The last-mentioned, who is also a poet, has his own gallery and is akin to an 'official' artist under contract to the government. His works are often to be found adorning prestigious government offices.
Most of the sculptures produced owe more to crafts than to art. The source is family workshops producing mahogany pieces amongst which an art lover's trained eye can sometimes pick out something which is obviously finer than the stereotype of mass-produced work. A dance company is also part of the Council, having a modern and a folklore section. It sometimes tours abroad, particularly in Mexico and neighbouring Caribbean countries. The laws of probability being what they are, one would not expect a country of 200 000 inhabitants to produce hundreds of great artists. But despite the limitations, the Belize Arts Council manages to struggle on with its limited means. The dance company is responsible for giving courses in state schools and, by promoting a National Children's Art Festival, the Council hopes to stimulate young talent. In 1994, the Festival brought together 4000 children from the Belize City district. This year, children from other districts will be invited to the economic capital, in anticipation of next year when each district will organise its own festival. The stage after that will be to coordinate a national festival scheduled for the year 2000.
Solving the Maya mystery
The Programme for Belize began with the purchase of 110 000 acres (50 000 hectares) of land, supplemented by 92 000 acres donated by Coca Cola and a further 10 000 acres in the area where the borders of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico meet. Those in charge aim to make this combined area part of a park spanning all three countries. The initial fund of $6 million has come from outside donors. Some of this amount has been rasied through an ingenious subscription scheme involving the 'adoption' of an acre of tropical forest. Foreigners, particularly from the USA and Europe, are encouraged to subscribe. A significant sum provided by USAID enabled the organisation to clear its debts in 1993. Other donors include the European Union which supports archeological research work at the La Milpa site.
The area managed by the programme contains about 60 known Maya sites. Research being carried out at La Milpa is concentrating on the reasons behind the collapse of the Maya civilisation. This site is broadly typical of Maya cities as a whole and is one of the three largest in the country which, overall, has hundreds of such sites. High up, the ceremonial temple made up of 85 structures separated by 24 inner courtyards is the dominant feature. The immense 'great' palace is flanked by four pyramid-shaped temples and it was here that the sacred ball game took place. Dignitaries used to live within the first perimeter. At the very bottom of the slope were the living quarters of the masses and, between the two, the residences of the middle class. Four years of work at La Milpa have resulted in the deciphering of a number of the epigraphs on the steles. Researchers have also reached certain conclusions based on the study of the vegetation which has invaded the ruins. One of these is that one should be cautious in referring to 'the Maya civilisation' or 'its' decline, since there were a number of stages involved. It is probable that settlements evolved completely independently of each other and without coordination. They also collapsed at different times although, clearly, they all faced a series of similar crises.
Construction at La Milpa began in approximately 400 BC and continued for about 1000 years. After a long decline, there was a short-lived revival in about the eighth century and then the site was completely abandoned. However, it must have been inhabited later by peoples other than the Mayas because the foundations of a ninth-century house, in a completely different style, have been found. It was frequented on and off at least up to the 17th century, offerings deposited at that time having been found. The site was rediscovered in 1938 by a chiclero (a peasant farmer collecting sap to make chewing gum) who told a British specialist about his find. Unfortunately, more recently, at the beginning of the 1970s, La Milpa was also the target of looters who completely devastated it.
The greatest Maya centre in Belize was probably Caracol, a city-state extending over 100 square miles and which, at its height, had 200 000 inhabitants-as many as the entire country today. At the time, the population of the current territory of Belize is thought to have been about 750 000 although some researchers speak of figures as high as two million. What is increasingly certain is that this land was the centre of the Maya civilisation during the classical period (250 to 900 AD). Caracol was discovered in 1938 and was partially excavated in 1950. It was suspected that this site was more than just a great religious centre, but it was only in 1986 that the deciphering of an epigraph on an altar stone enabled the archeologists to say for sure that Caracol had conquered the city of Tincal (Guatemala), hitherto regarded as the most powerful Maya metropolis. This discovery filled a gap of nearly a century and a half in Maya history and enabled Caracol's supremacy to be given due recognition.
We were unable to visit Caracol which is difficult to reach, not being served by a major road. However, it is not so difficult to admire Altun Ha and Xunantunich, both magnificent sites which have already been restored to a considerable degree. Work is still going on at Xunantunich. Like Caracol, this is close to the border with Guatemala, a few kilometres to the south of the superb town of San Antonio.
This impressive place exudes mystery and magic, with the giant face of the Sun God at the centre of the newly renovated facade of El Castillo (The Castle) which is the central structure. This is a cathedral of stone, earth and vegetation, heaped in that order. Viewing the sequence of structures from the heights of El Castillo, the sight of blue tarpaulins protecting the parts under restoration adds to rather than detracts from the sense of mystery. The edifice takes on the appearance of an 'operating theatre' for a vast surgical operation! In order to reach Xunantunich, one has to put one's vehicle on a tiny boat and cross a small shaded river which seems to act as the link between our century and the Maya world. It is possible to visit this site and the one at Altun Ha at night if one exchanges a few pleasantries with the guards. The evening light and the solitude add a special chemistry to the mystery of these Maya ceremonial places.
Belize has been selected as the HQ for 'Mundo Maya', an organisation promoting tourism along the Maya Route. This is tourism at a high cultural level, grouping together the efforts of the five regions in question: Yucatan, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, in addition to the host country.
The tortoise's reproach
Archeological research is only one aspect of the work of the Programme for Belize. The protection of animal and plant species and environmental conservation are in fact, the main elements. Indeed, it is the ecologically orientated exploitation of the forest and the highly controlled development of ecotourism which ultimately will enable the Programme to finance itself. The PFB also acts as an educator with a mission which includes teaching young people about the ecology. It both receives students and goes out to speak to them in schools and educational centres. Young American and European university graduates also come to make their knowledge available to the centre and to complete their training under the direction of, among others, Roger Wilson, who is Technical Coordinator of the Programme. He came to Belize with a wealth of nature conservation experience gained in the Seychelles, Guinea and Rwanda.
Although the PFB is the most important environmental protection scheme in Belize's cultural programme, it is far from being the only one. Among the many others, the Blue Hole National Park deserves a particular mention. This is sponsored by the Belize Audubon Society, a local branch of the US foundation (which also helps finance the PFB), the Belize government, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the MacArthur Foundation. The park extends over an area of nearly 600 acres of essentially rocky terrain with lakes, underground rivers and caves. Its main attractions are the 'Blue Hole', a 100-foot-deep hole which is 300 feet in diameter and from which an underground river emerges, and St. Herman's Cave. The park is home to many rare species of fauna including jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi, tapir, opossum and the howler monkey, a species related to the baboon. Added to this are many reptiles, including the boa constrictor and the iguana, and an infinite variety of birds. Other institutions devoted to defending the ecology include the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Guanacaste National Park and the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary.
One park particularly dear to the inhabitants of Belize is the Community Baboon Sanctuary inhabited by many thousands of monkeys (in fact, black howler monkeys rather than true baboons). Its management structure is highly original, being based on voluntary help from eight village communities, with aid from institutional sponsors. Each proprietor undertakes to respect a strict code of conduct which includes protection of the forms along the riverbanks, maintaining fruit trees during felling, and maintaining a forest corridor between individual farms. The advantage for the farmer is that these techniques protect his land against erosion and prevent the silting-up of waterways which are essential to him. It also enables him to avoid the tortoise's reproach.
In Belize, a widely appreciated West African legend relates that an old tortoise saved some men from a huge flood by advising them to plant palm trees to hold down the sand. That is why, when captured by man, the tortoise beats her breast for not having anticipated man's ingratitude.
TackIing the worst excesses
by Manuela Varrasso
'To be Hutu or Tutsi in Burundi is to remember who killed someone close to you, 15 years ago, or to wonder who is going to kill your child ten years hence. Each time there is a different reply. This is not a fear without substance. For 30 years, it has been invoked in this region of Africa to increase awareness of one's own ethnic history- and the victimisation that goes with it-and as a means of denouncing others.' this quotation comes from a 1988 text published by 'Reporters Sans Frontieres' (RSF), the international organisation for the defence of press freedom'.
As a follow-up to the above, RSF has recently published an in-depth study, with support from the European Commission, entitled 'Burundi, the poison of hatred-a study of extremist media' 2. The aim is to alert international opinion to the 'interethnic confrontation' being played out in this small central African country with the full participation of much of the media.
The authors, Barnabe Ndarishikanye, assistant at the Faculty of Economic Sciences in Bujumbura, and Jean-FranÃ§ois Dupaquier, a journalist, conducted their survey from July to October 1994. In their report, they make a series of accusations against the 'media of hatred' that exists in the country. They also draw attention to the non-application of ethical principles throughout the so-called 'democratic' or 'independent' press. In Burundi, it appears, the media is democratic and independent in name only!
Avoiding the ravages of 'ethnisation'
The so-called inescapable 'logic' of ethnic confrontation, which resulted in genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, was central to the propaganda broadcast by the infamous Radio Television des Mille Collines (Thousand Hills Radio and Television). This study does not attempt to explain the crisis in Burundi by simplistic analogy with Rwanda, but rather to identify-and denounce-the political 'manipulation' of ethnicity which is actively supported by elements in the extremist Burundi media. There is an awareness in Burundi of the dangers the country faces and this awareness could help ensure that the worst fears are not realised. 'In its misery, Burundi needs clear-cut media coverage... Only in denouncing death-dealing proposals and projects can we stop the infernal yet resistible spiral of manipulation on ethnic grounds'. These are the words of historian, Jean-Pierre Chretien, in his introduction to the work. He continues: 'Hatred between Hutus and Tutsis has become a feature of society in Burundi nowadays. Is it that we are being forced to watch the emergence of a reality which has remained concealed for too long ? Or are we entitled to express surprise at a phenomenon, portrayed as being perfectly natural, which was all but invisible in the culture of the old Burundi...? The ethnic conflict which inspires such dread would, in fact, appear to be quite a recent development. It is thus essential to examine the contemporary situation, looking beyond the over-simplifications which imply that Hutus and Tutsis will be tearing each other apart until the end of time'.
Independent press isolated
With this in mind the authors observe that it is rare for the media to engage in proper research leading to the publication of the truth. Of the 29 publications covered by the study, only five appeared to meet strict ethical criteria. Three were private sector publications: La Semaine (neutral, ceased publication in September 1994), Panafrica (a satirical journal) and Le Phare (a neutral bimonthly). The other two are the government dailies, Le Renouveau and Ubumwe. These provide the kind of national and international news which other journals ignore, the latter focusing heavily on partisan disputes. So the overall score is one publication in six, which is pretty poor!
Prohibiting extremist publications
Reporters Sans Frontieres argues in favour of banning those media operations that are being used as the tools of both Tutsi and Hutu extremism. (Tutsi-la Nation, le Carrefour des Idees, l'Etoile: Hutu-le Miroir, le Temoin, I'Eclaireur and Radio Rutomorangingo, which is the Burundi equivalent of Rwanda's Radio Television des Mille Collines.)
RSF's objective, in the current emergency situation, is to point the finger of blame at a number of malevolent publications which have fanned the flames. One might cite here, the following text from Le Carrefour des Idees, a journal which has not hesitated to use the language of cannibalism to convey its message of hatred: 'After killing him, they cut out his heart and killed his ox. Then they mixed the two meats to make kebabs'.
The excesses are so great as to seem almost caricatures. Incitements to hatred, whether on social, political or religious grounds, abound.
Encouraging the 'moderates'
It is not enough to ban extremist publications of course. One must also encourage 'moderate' newspapers to treat journalistic ethics with respect. Although not all journals indulge in the excesses described above, many are seen as deliberately manipulating opinion: Thus, for example, according to the radical Tutsi publication Le Patriote; 'It is out of the question that the next Head of State should come from the Frodebu' (10 May 1994).
In general terms, the authors of the study deplore the 'imbalance of information' that exists in Burundi. This is reflected in the one-sided presentation of 'facts' and in partisan editorialising, which make it easy to identify the political or ethnic backing behind the publication in question. This is without even investigating their sources of finance, which would require a more in-depth enquiry.
Gossip and rumour
The study also highlights the use of 'gossip and rumour' as a key element in disinformation. 'Facts' presented are neither verified nor confirmed. Often they are reproduced straight from conversations heard at the bar. This country has an oral cultural background and a Central Africa tradition of conviviality (much admired by visitors) which leads to spontaneous exchanges of information. As far as journalists are concerned, according to the authors, this needs to be backed up with more professionalism and a genuine investigative spirit.
The assistance being provided by RSF is targeted at both the independent media and the above-mentioned publications linked to the authorities. With European Commission assistance, the organisation supports journals which reject the division of the press along tribal lines and which undertake to respect professional ethics. Any Burundi publication can approach RSF to request reimbursement of a portion of its printing costs, provided it signs the 'Ethical Charter' negotiated beforehand between the RSF and the Burundi press. Local RSF correspondents in Bujumbura are responsible for checking adherence to the Charter. Non-compliance leads to the withdrawal of aid from the journal in question. In addition, every month, a panel of professional representatives from the Burundi press awards a modest prize to encourage the authors of the best articles which have appeared in the country's media.