The Ambassador-Permanent Representative of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea before the United Nations, Anatolio Ndong Mba, has sent a letter to the Chief Editor of the newspaper The Wall Street Journal, requesting an appropriate rectification in view of the false information published about H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
“I write this letter in connection with an article published in your newspaper on February 17, 2015 entitled: Rio Samba Troupe’s Backer Scrutinized,authored by Paul Kiernan. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is a prestigious International newspaper which is relied upon for factual and responsible reporting. I was therefore dismayed by several obviously biased, false and inaccurate assertions made in this article. These errors, which I will show below, could have easily been avoided with the minimum of care and due diligence expected of any reputable news organization.
First, the original article purported to depict an image of H.E. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at the carnival in Rio which is clearly false, as the president did not attend this event. Although a “correction” was made in a subsequent online WSJ article, this partial “correction” is wholly inadequate because it failed to admit that WSJ was wrong in its reporting of President Obiang’s whereabouts. Rather, the backhanded “correction” only stated that “Equatorial Guinea says President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo didn’t attend Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro on Monday”, still casting some doubt as to whether or not he attended the event.
Second, perhaps even more disturbing than the preventable photo gaffe is the obvious fact that the journalist who is reporting on Equatorial Guinea, its economy and president was totally unaware of the fact that a high-level extraordinary security summit was in fact taking place in Yaoundé, Cameroon under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which was attended by President Obiang Nguema during the carnival in Rio. The importance of this summit cannot be overstated, as leaders in the region sought to combat Boko Haram, a violent extremist group which is expanding its six year old insurgency and poses an existential and transnational threat to the region, with dire global implications.
Third, based on information from a single source, the article asserts that the samba school Beija-Flor accepted 10 million reals ($3.5 million) in exchange for a tribute to Equatorial Guinea. Again, this claim is patently false, and no such quid pro quo existed. In actuality, Brazilian companies operating in Equatorial Guinea made some funds available to the school. The president and government of Equatorial Guinea did not provide financial sponsorship, but rather supplied the Beija Flor School with material for the show, as well as information about Equatorial Guinea, its art and culture, which is an initiative the government is very proud to support. If the generally accepted principle of proper sourcing and investigation had been adhered to, this fact would have been known to the reporter.
Finally, the reporter perpetuates dubious recycled narratives that Equatorial Guinea does not use her oil revenues in a manner that benefits her people. This is “copy and paste” journalism at its worst. This erroneous information has not been verified in light of the significant progress that is taking place in the country. The fact of the matter is that Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s fastest developing countries with significant infrastructure, featuring a modern network of roads, bridges and buildings, including hospitals. All of this can be verified by simply making a trip to the country.
The inaccuracies highlighted above fall short of the standards expected from a respectable international newspaper. It now remains to be seen whether this highly regarded publication, the Wall Street Journal, will have the courage to do the right thing by acknowledging the egregious mistakes which the government and people of Equatorial Guinea, as well as the readers of the Journal who rely on the veracity of its reporting, so rightfully deserve.
Anatolio Ndong Mba
Ambassador-Permanent Representative of Equatorial Guinea
To The United Nations”
We attach the document with the original letter.
Equatorial Guinea’s Press and Information Office