I almost never write about Guinea-Bissau, the West African country so often referred to as a “narco-state” – see some different perspectives on that label here, here, and here. As the epithet implies, Guinea-Bissau has become a transit point for cocaine from South America to Europe. Guinea-Bissau made headlines this year for a military coup this spring, the latest in a long line of political upheavals in the country. Despite the installation of a transitional government, drug activity has reportedly increased.
West Africa as a whole, including Sahelian countries like Senegal and Mali, has “emerged as a hub for cocaine trafficking.” Events and trends in Guinea-Bissau, then, are relevant to the entire region. That’s why a headline yesterday caught my eye: “Guinea-Bissau Asks for Help.” From the article:
“Guinea-Bissau cannot face drug trafficking by itself,” said Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, the country’s leader under a transition process negotiated after an April 12 coup.
“I call once more on the international community to come to the rescue, to stop this evil,” said Nhamadjo, in an address to mark the 38th anniversary of the country’s independence from Portugal.
The remarks, as quoted, are short on details. But it will be worth watching whether and how the transitional government and its successors attempt to translate this sentiment into concrete partnerships with outside governments and agencies. Some regional anti-drug partnerships already exist. Yet Nhamadjo’s statement is, while laudable for its honesty, disheartening: if the government freely admits it cannot control the problem, and existing organizations have not slowed its growth, then the problem has become severe indeed.