U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to AngolaAngola is a country in southern Africa sandwiched between three nations: Namibia, the Congo and Zambia. The United States established diplomatic relations with Angola in 1993, shortly after Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Between 1975 and 1993, Angola witnessed 27 years of violent civil wars among many groups with the backing of various world powers including the United States, the Soviet Union, China and other countries in Africa.

Angola continues to see repercussions from decades of war in the region. Roughly two-thirds of Angola’s citizens live in poverty, and much of Angola’s infrastructure has been destroyed by civil conflicts, war and lack of maintenance. The civil unrest in the region is also exacerbated by Angola’s possession of large oil reserves and a strong military force, creating a strong incentive for power struggles and polarizing forces in the region.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola include providing food and food security, promoting democratic practices, providing disaster relief, providing better and more widely available health care and fighting the spread of disease in Angola. As well as these humanitarian efforts, the United States supports Angola in its efforts to utilize its agricultural abilities and sell oil reserves on the open market.

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola have been in place since 1989 when the United States began providing large-scale disaster relief and humanitarian aid in the form of consumable material goods. In 1992, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began a relief and assistance program for Angola in the hopes that it would help prevent the region from falling back into the grips of civil conflict.

Unfortunately, the fighting did not stop and aid was suspended until 1995 when U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola resumed with millions being dispersed toward the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector and displaced children/orphans in the region. Much of the U.S. foreign aid dispersed during times of conflict in the area was provided in the form of material goods such as medical supplies and food, helping stabilize conditions and promote health and humanitarian causes.

Since the beginning of more peaceful times in Angola, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola have provided over $1 billion in aid to programs directly helping the people of Angola. The year 2011 marked the 15-year anniversary of the full-time presence of USAID assistance programs in Angola, helping citizens rebuild and promote health standards in the country.

While aid dollars for humanitarian efforts have been successful in the region, it is important to remember that the primary U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola are to support leaders and governments that wish to take Angola down the road to a peaceful future. These aid dollars fund programs in Angola to increase credit access to citizens and governmental bodies, create fair and healthy economic conditions for trade and business expansion and create land registration systems to help prevent turf wars and property theft.

With the help of U.S. foreign aid dollars, Angola has made progress in installing leaders with a more peaceful vision for the future and a willingness to improve socioeconomic conditions for its citizens. The United States hopes to help Angola in its efforts to become the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be. With the help of programs like USAID, Angola has the potential to improve conditions not only for itself but the rest of Africa. With its agricultural and natural resources, Angola could prove itself to be one of Africa’s largest economic breadwinners.

– Dalton Westfall

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Elders Support Zimbabwe Through a Letter to SADC
The Elders, a group of global leaders unified by Nelson Mandela, have urged the heads of state of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to support Zimbabwe through an upcoming transitional period.

In a letter to the SADC, they point out that Zimbabwe is “on the verge of an important transition.” The advocates behind the letter, including Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, note that with the support of the SADC, Zimbabwe could experience a shift to democratic leadership and a boost to their economic and social development.

Zimbabwe has been rife with protests recently as a result of displeasure with President Robert Mugabe’s rule, as well as various economic problems that have developed in the country.

There are cash shortages throughout the country, the government is planning to reintroduce bond notes as legal tender and civil servants are lacking several months of pay. Civilian anger about these facts has led to multiple protests that police have broken up through the use of batons and tear gas.

Government authorities are attempting to subdue civilian protests, many of which have been organized through social media, by drafting a law that will punish civilians with up to five years jail time for “abusive” use of social media.

The Elder’s letter comes at an auspicious time considering the current tumult within Zimbabwe. Additionally, the letter prefaces the upcoming SADC group summit in Swaziland.

In the letter, not only do the Elders support Zimbabwe but they also make clear that aid to Zimbabwe will be beneficial for the nation as a whole and should, therefore, be something that SADC thoroughly consider in their impending meeting.

The letter states, “The Elders believe the upcoming summit is an important opportunity to reflect on how best SADC can help Zimbabwe manage the complex challenges ahead.”

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr

The nation of Chile underwent significant change during the 1970s. At the time, General Augusto Pinochet established a military coup d’état (overthrow of the state) aimed at dismantling the Salvador Allende regime. By means of violence, warfare and eradicating opposition, Pinochet was able to come to power and eventually appoint himself as the President of Chile in 1974. Pinochet was a free market fundamentalist policy permeated throughout much of Chilean society.

In 1981, Pinochet privatized the educational system of Chile by slashing government support for public schools. Fearing that government funded schools were inciting social activism and communist ideals, schools became private under the contemporary military regime. Because of Pinochet’s private education policy, the educational system of Chile suffered greatly. Schools became for-profit institutions with extremely high tuition costs that people were unable to afford. Those who were able to afford private education were often forced to paying off years of debt.

The education policies stemming back to Pinochet’s authoritative rule are still largely in effect today, which has recently sparked a significant amount of civil unrest. Preceding the Chilean elections in November of 2013, tens of thousands of students took to the streets of Santiago to voice their protest against the current education system. Ultimately, about 80,000 people took part in the protest to call for progressive education reform in Chile that would make it both affordable and universal.

Popular polls indicate that the demands of the students protesting are supported by roughly 85% of Chileans and the current administration has certainly taken notice. Although they have been criticized for not making any considerable strides in education reform, former Head of State Michelle Bachelet stated that she would make college education free within six years. Many continue to be skeptical, but hope that Bachelet will follow through with her promises of education reform in Chile.

In December of 2013, Michelle Bachelet won the election to solidify her second term as the President of Chile and exclaimed in her victory speech that she would work to improve education and establish equality through her policies. As a nation with poor framework that perpetuates economic discrimination in education, Bachelet will have to address the pressing issues presented by the thousands of students protesting. On an international scale, nations are moving towards establishing systems that allow for affordable and universal education—and with Chile lagging far behind, the people hope to see significant changes made.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: CNN, BBC, Global Post, Merco Press
Photo: SuleKha