Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cocoa wars

First came "blood diamonds" from Sierra Leone.

Then came "blood timber" from Liberia.

Now another West African conflict is being funded by yet another commodity beloved in the West: " blood chocolate." from Ivory Coast

Government and rebel leaders of the world's leading cocoa exporter, Ivory Coast, both siphoned off millions of dollars from the cocoa industry to finance the 2002-03 civil war that divided the once-stable and prosperous country in two, according to a recent report from Global Witness, a London-based group that focuses on resource-fueled corruption. The government received more than $58 million from institutions and cocoa revenues, while the rebel New Forces pocketed about $30 million since 2004 in taxes and revenues, claims the report titled "Hot Chocolate: How Cocoa fuelled the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire." Global Witness not only contends the cocoa trade drove the war economy but that the industry still serves the interests of both the government and the rebels who have reaped political and economic benefits with impunity.

Ivory Coast is the world's leading producer of the commodity, responsible for about 40 percent of global exports, which earned more than $1 billion in 2006.

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