Vijay Prashad: Resource-Rich Congo Still Fighting for Its Own Wealth 64 Years After Independence

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On what would have been assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba’s 99th birthday, we speak with author and analyst Vijay Prashad, who has just published a lengthy article on Lumumba and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ongoing struggle for control over its own resources. Sunday marked the 64th anniversary of Lumumba’s historic speech marking his country’s independence from Belgium, in which he delivered a blistering critique of colonialism. Lumumba’s rise to become the first elected prime minister of Congo came after decades of brutal violence under Belgian rule and the extraction of vast wealth in rubber, ivory and other commodities from the country. Lumumba was assassinated soon after taking office in a plot involving the CIA and Belgium, leading to decades of dictatorship under Mobutu Sese Seko, wars, poverty and resource exploitation that continues to ravage the country to this day. “The issue of control over resources is fundamental,” says Prashad, director of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. “The Congolese have never been able to put forward a national project around how to unite the people. … This has always been suborned by external intervention.”

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