Despite the controversy, former Spanish colony Equatorial Guinea will, after all, be joining the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. The ceremony marking its entrance into the body will doubtless be one of the highlights of the Summit of CPLP Heads of State and Government, the motto of which this year is “The CPLP and Globalization.” The confirmation of Equatorial Guinea’s membership in the organization was, however, preceded by considerable debate, discussions and the signing of accords.
All of the decisions to be made during the summit were reviewed this Tuesday. East Timorese President Taur Matan Ruak met with his counterparts from São Tomé and Príncipe, Manuel Pinto da Costa, and Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, but the contents of the discussions were not made public. A number of accords were signed ahead of time, among them a visa exemption accord between Cape Verde and East Timor. Another important event was the meeting of the community’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs, held Tuesday in Dili.
The meeting of heads of state will have economic cooperation among the items on its agenda, but the high – and most controversial – point will be Equatorial Guinea’s joining the organization. The first head of state to arrive in Dili was, indeed, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang. CPLP Executive Secretary Murade Murargy justified Equatorial Guinea’s membership as “a way of helping the country overcome the problems it faces.”
Given the fact that it is not a Portuguese-speaking country and does not share the values of freedom and democracy espoused by the organization, the CPLP Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who met in Maupto in February, recommended Equatorial Guinea be granted membership only after abolishing the death penalty.
13 personalities from the world’s eight officially Portuguese-language countries signed a letter in 2010 expressing opposition to Equatorial Guinea’s membership in the CPLP, calling it an “unacceptable precedent” that would lead to the “loss of the community’s credibility.” The letter was signed, among others, by then-Portuguese Armed Forces Bishop Januário Ferreira, Baucau (East Timor) Bishop Basílio do Nascimento, Mozambican writer Mia Couto, Portuguese essayist Eduardo Lourenço, Frei Carlos Alberto Libânio, Brazilian composer Chico Buarque, São Tomean essayist Inocência Mata, Angolan nationalist Justino de Andrade and Guinea Bissauan singer Manecas Costa.
A detachment of some 1,300 police and military officers has been assigned to ensure security at the summit, according to East Timor’s State Secretary of Security, Francisco Guterres. Today and Thursday, traffic will be detoured and several streets will be blocked to vehicles, although the roads surrounding the event’s venue, the East Timorese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will not all be closed.