It is extremely frustrating for people who are fond of liberty and democracy to see how much these concepts can be smashed on the altar of realpolitik, and moreover for guilty friendships at the top of the public administrations and institutions. I remember the 2009 farewell speech of Mr Filiberto Ceriani-Sebregondi, the outgoing Ambassador and head of the delegation of the European Union to Togo, as one the most exemplary, when the officer praised his friendship with some ministers of Togo military and dictatorial regime and promised explicitly he will pay it back when installed in his new functions! (cf. http://www.republicoftogo.com/Toutes-les-rubriques/Cooperation/Sebregondi-Le-sentiment-du-devoir-accompli) Mr Filiberto Ceriani-Sebregondi is since then Head of the West African division at the European External Action Service, overseing the EU politics towards Togo …
Last week Patricia Hawkins, the Ambassador of the USA in Togo also crossed the line with an astonishing farewell speech when celebrating the US Independence Day in Lomé (cf. http://photos.state.gov/libraries/togo/206034/gbolohoebk/Ambassador%20speech_Jul%204%202011%20French.pdf). Mrs Hawkins said that since 2005 Togo had made great progress both economically and politically « In these difficult economic times, when in many countries there is little growth, and while some countries such as Greece, Ireland, and Portugal are on the verge of bankruptcy, Togo has experienced economic growth of 3.5% in 2010« . She then paid a tribute to Faure Gnassingbé saying that « he has a vision of the future of Togo« . Honestly I don’t give a damn about someone sucking up Faure Gnassingbé but I am really outraged about an Ambassador criticizing the opposition parties of his host country and saying that Togo needs « an opposition that does not stop at saying no to everything and to decry the mistakes of the past« , and also « Do not walk just against the government, work towards something for the future of the country that everyone will cherish »
Mrs Hawkins, we do not share the same values, we do not see eye to eye:
- where you see an economic growth of 3,5% we see poverty, unemployment and leaving conditions far below any standards … but I can admit that you have only met the rich and powerful people of Togo and you probably only drove through the « Beverly Hills » of Lomé!
- where you compare almost-bankruptcy situation of Greece, Ireland and Portugal to Togo, I suggest you to also look at the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Purchasing Power per Capita in both countries… may be you will see as any undergrad student could, that we still live in Togo with one dollar per day!
- where you see the vision of Faure Gnassingbé for Togo, we see oppression, political murders, corruption, clientelism and tribalism!
- where you see opposition parties saying no to everything and decrying the « mistakes of the past » we see people calling for governance, justice and human rights!
- where you see people just walking against the government we see people standing for their rights and claiming freedom, liberty, and justice !
One should be ashamed for such a speech on the Independance Day of the United States of America. Mrs Hawkins, we do not see eye to eye but it is even worst, you have chosen to close your eyes! Where were you when Faure Gnassingbé assaulted and jailed his own and ugly brother Kpatcha without any serious charge over an alleged coup plot? Yes I remember that the US embassy almost delivered Kpatcha Gnassingbé in the hands of his torturers! (cf. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2009-04-15-voa30-68641332.html)
Mrs Hawkins, with all due respects, there is even no need to say « go home », you are already leaving… but please stay away from Togo’s affairs; please choose Greece, Ireland or Portugal where your speech will probably fit more with the local values. Mrs Hawkins, we do not share the same values, Mrs Hawkins, nous n’avons pas les mêmes valeurs!
July 13th 2011