Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cote d'Ivoire

Three decades after independence, Ivory Coast was a model of transition: peaceful, economically successful, democratic, religiously tolerant. Then the founding President Felix Houphouet-Boigny died, and Robert Guei led a coup which overthrew his successor Henri Bedie. Christians in the south supported Bedie, who had fled; Muslims in the north supported Guei, who banned one of his two Presidential rivals, before being deposed by another, Lauren Gbagbo, in 2000. Followed four years of ethnic violence, requiring UN intervention, and a French peace-keeping force to sustain buffer zones between the government forces in the south and the rebels in the north. Gbagbo lost the 2010 election but refused to accept the result. The winner, Alassane Ouattara, took power anyway, after a four-month military campaign, and sent Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court at The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity.

As part of my campaign to get every business in the western world to declare, with total transparency, not just the sources of their products, but the wages and employment conditions of those who pick, make, package and otherwise create those sources, you need to know that 35% of the world's cocoa is produced in the Ivory Coast, which means that 35% of the world's chocolate is produced in the Ivory Coast, and yes that includes Cadbury and Hershey, and that most of it is harvested by child labour, which would be illegal in any western country even if they were paid, though in Ivory Coast they rarely or barely are. Watch the video "The Dark Side of Chocolate" - you will probably never eat chocolate again.

Marks For: Great soccer team. Lots of art and culture from before the arrival of the European heathens, pagans and barbarians.

Marks Against: Rather more than for, sadly.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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