Why it's hard to understand why go after Apple or Intel instead of Citibank, OM Group, Cabot and US allies Rwanda and Uganda
One of the latest challenge we've had has been educating people on the nature of the conflict in Congo given that there has been a push to raise the profile of the Congo in the past two years from well-intentioned people as well as from the folks who want to keep the US foreign policy in Congo the way it is and protect US companies on the ground at all costs.
The effort to raise the profile of the Congo is commendable and people are encouraged to keep breaking the silence and finding new ways of bringing the conflict in the Congo to light.
While there has been extensive information on what US companies and persons are on the ground either fueling the conflict, funding the rebels, taking advantage of the people, it has really confused me to see that people well-intentioned are going after companies who are not sourcing minerals from the ground.
Here is an example. Apple receives coltan from KEMET. KEMET, a US company in Greenville South Carolina, has a record on file for taking coltan in the Congo from rebels. While scant attention is given to this US smelter or no pressure at all to see if they are also operating in Rwanda and Uganda, well-intentioned activists have gone after Apple and others to demand they do not source minerals from Congo.
Another example can be used from US company CABOT who flew planes from Africa directly to Pennsylvania with Congo's coltan and the former CEO was the secretary of Energy of George Bush. His name is Samuel Bodman. Motorola, Ford, and other electronics companies are getting coltan from them. Rights And Accountability and Friends of the Earth filed a complaint against Cabot to the US State Department as well as the March/April 2002 issues of Passive Component Industry page 8 reported "African ore sales are also made directly to Cabot Corporation, tracked via IM145 shipment data from Africa to Pennsylvania, where Cabot maintains its tantalum processing plant."
Lastly, CITIBANK gave rebels in Congo more than $7 million. Here is the UN record on file of what CITIBANK did in Congo
"In a letter signed by J. P. Moritz, General Manager of Société minière de Bakwanga, and Ngandu Kamenda, the General Manager of MIBA ordered a payment of US$ 3.5 million to COMIEX, a company owned by late President Kabila and some of his close allies from an account in BCDI through a Citibank account. This amount of money was paid as a contribution from MIBA to the AFDL (rebel group) war effort."
"The same year, SONEX requested another loan of $10 million from BCDI in Kigali, and $5 million was approved. According to one of the actors at the time, the $5 million loan was not physically paid to SONEX. Instead, BCDI ordered Citibank in New York to pay RCD (rebel group) suppliers with the loans technically given to SONEX. This financial arrangement is suspicious in many ways."
"On the basis of the facts and their analysis, the Panel reaches the conclusion that the increase in revenues of the Rwandan army from coltan sales was made easy by three key factors: (a) ..., Citibank for the financial transaction as the corresponding bank of BCDI, ...;"
You can learn more about the companies and the people controlling the situation in the Congo or fueling the conflict there by visiting http://www.conflictmineral
The credibility of the demand for companies such as Apple, Intel, and other electronics companies is undermined when the strongest advocates for this demand are SILENT on existing laws that if implemented will hold the GREATEST perpetrators (Rwandan and Ugandan Governments) of the trade in conflict minerals accountable. How can we ask Intel and others to do what we are not willing to demand of the Secretary of State (See PL 109-456 Sec. 5 passed in 2006) and the Rwandan and Ugandan government to do.
The prime buyer of Congolese Tin according to Bloomberg is Rwanda
According to Dow Jones Rwanda stands to make $200 million in the trade of Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten in 2010
According to the BBC, Uganda is establishing a refinery to refine gold ostensibly conflict gold from the Congo
The moral authority and credibility of those who are vocal about Intel and other electronic companies, yet silent on EXISTING US law and US allies Rwanda and Uganda are comprised to the utmost.
What is the law we can use to help the Congo? Public Law 109-456
Section 105 of that law says
"The Secretary of State is authorized to withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
If the same energy being used to get a new bill passed into law was to be used to call on Obama for the enforcement of section 105 of public law 109-456 as it relates to Rwanda, can you imagine how quickly change will come in the region of the Great Lakes?
Sweden and Netherlands did follow section 105 of this bill and Rwanda put on house arrest a rebel leader after these two countries withheld aid to Rwanda