Obiang, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea: an uncomfortable presence at Suarez's funeral

The assistance of Equatorial Guinean dictator Teodoro Obiang to the state funeral of former President Adolfo Suárez has aroused criticism from citizens and various political sectors. Something similar happened with his last visit, in 2006, when an act was canceled in the Congress of Deputies as a result of the opposition then manifested by several parliamentary groups.

Before confirming his presence at the funeral, Obiang had already scheduled a trip to Brussels to attend on April 2 and 3 to a series of events, also criticized by some parliamentary groups, organized by the Cervantes Institute and the National University of Distance Education (UNED).

However, the death of Suarez has caused him to “formally” excuse his attendance at one of the UNED conferences on the development of education in Equatorial Guinea -the first university that opened there was the UNED-. The reason was that Obiang had been invited to Suárez’s funeral.

When a state funeral is organized, the host country – in this case, Spain – is responsible for sending an invitation to all countries with diplomatic representation in Spain to attend the event. Subsequently, it is up to the guest country to decide who heads the delegation. In the case of Equatorial Guinea it was Obiang who wanted to be present at that tribute to Suárez.

Controversy in his previous visit

The last time the President of Equatorial Guinea visited Madrid was in November 2006 , when he was received by the King and met with the then President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and with Mariano Rajoy, who at that time was the leader of the opposition.

On that occasion, Obiang suspended a planned visit to Congress arguing “agenda motives” after several parliamentary groups expressed their disagreement with his presence in the lower house.

That bad reception by certain political sectors and a large part of Spanish public opinion irritated Obiang , who three years later admitted that his refusal to grant visas for the Spanish press to cover the Equatorial Guinean legislatures of 2008 was a reprisal for that abuse that the Spanish press dispensed in 2006.

The Suárez-Obiang relationship

The Suárez-Obiang relationship

Teodoro Obiang came to power in 1979 after perpetrating a military coup that in August 1982 replaced by a civil government. Since then, it controls Equatorial Guinea after winning the presidential elections again and again, which has always been presented as the only candidate by the PDGE (Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea), founded in 1986.

During the government of Suarez, Spanish cooperation in Equatorial Guinea was carried out with a substitute assistance In parallel to what was happening in the former Spanish colony, Suarez acceded in 1976 to the presidency of the Government in Spain after the death of Franco and was democratically elected a year later, in the elections of 1977. When Obiang gave the coup in Equatorial Guinea, Suarez was the chief executive .

During the government of Suárez, Spanish cooperation in that country was carried out as a substitute assistance until the signing of the First Framework Plan for Cooperation in November 1985, which included a series of training programs for indigenous staff. At that time, the priority objectives were the dissemination of culture and health aid to a population affected by malaria by 80%. However, the economic aid that Spain contributed to the Obiang regime until 1990 did not improve the financial situation of Equatorial Guinea, partly due to the lack of experience of Spain in a task of this style, but also due to corruption and corruption. the administrative inefficiency present in that country.

Years later it would be reflected that the relationship between Suárez and Obiang was not particularly good . In 1992, a year after departing from Spanish polical life, Suárez acted as an advisor to the democratic process in Equatorial Guinea, a mediation that failed with the rejection of the Obiang regime in 1993 when Suarez continued to work for the transition in that country. He even came to the opinion in 1994 that the task carried out by the Spaniard had been a “defective advice”.