Ethiopia, crimes due to incompetence

Kofi Annan urged countries to send food to help the countries of Africa’s Horn.
There is nothing more just than Ethipia’s case. With 60 million people, the country occupies position no. 172 out of 174 in poverty levels, according to UNDP. Its malnutrition reachs 64 percent of the population, while only 25 percent of its children receive basic education and 20 percent of the population has access to clean water.
It is fair that UNICEF requests emergency aid, but professionals and intellectuals have the obligation of setting forth the problem in its authentic reality. What authority do well-fed Ethiopians have to accuse the West of “waiting to see skeletons on their screens to attend with aid”? It is true that the drought threatens millions of displaced refugees due to the civil war between Ethiopians and the population of Eritrea that caused the abandoning of the fields, of the protection against the advancement of the desert, of the maintenance of wells, the cleaning of the channels and of the state of the water tanks to collect the rain water that, since Herodote, it is known that it follows certain patterns. Let us not blame cyclones, droughts and earthquakes. War is the major cause of the disgrace and the poverty of the peoples: in this war more than one million dollars are spent each day. Like the civil war in Sudan, where, during 20 years, 1.5 million dollars were spent everyday.
We would have to call criminals those who sell the weapons that feed these wars and the governments that allow this to happen. Haïle Selassi governed, from 1930 to 1974, in a feudal regime that bled the population to death while he fed with fresh meat the leopards that he had in his garden. Haïle Mariam Mengistu, the “black Negus” who overthrew him, installed a Stalinist dictatorship for twelve years, during which only the military received benefits. A socioeconomic reform was expected from Mélés Zenawi, who eliminated him in 1991. He has done nothing other than squandering the few conquests of the beginning of his government by purchasing weapons for the war against Eritrea, fought over a few kilometers of desert and the exit to the sea. The West knew it when it agreed to that dismemberment, but the interests of the developed countries were more worried about the access to the Red Sea than about the civilized survival of the peoples.
Not only do war crimes or crimes against humanity exist. Crimes of incompetent leaders against their people also exist.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 02/26/2005