5 Reasons Venezuela, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea are now ‘failed states’

Watch Ben Blanchard’s must-see episode of “Mercy” below — A coup d’état and subsequent putsch are now recurring episodes in South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, and Equatorial Guinea, respectively. Together, the five, brokered by close…

5 Reasons Venezuela, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea are now 'failed states'

Watch Ben Blanchard’s must-see episode of “Mercy” below

— A coup d’état and subsequent putsch are now recurring episodes in South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, and Equatorial Guinea, respectively.

Together, the five, brokered by close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, may represent the largest group of recent failed bids to wrest power from African leaders.

So what’s behind the uptick in coups?

With power consolidating among such a small group of top-ranking leaders in Africa, the trend is at least partly a reaction to growing economic hardship, noted Michael Garcia, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of a forthcoming book on political violence and coups in the developing world.

“When elites and parties get greedy, they start opening the doors,” says Prof. Garcia. They take money from developed world donors, “but take it from the poorest citizens. When they get desperate they’ll take money from money.

“Coups in Africa are just part of these boom times when they have more money,” he adds.

Indeed, leaders from Mali’s Seydou Keita to Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to Libya’s Gen. Khalifa Hifter are repeating tactics made famous in Latin America by U.S.-backed dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez, Jr. (1862-1958).

“The coup has been achieved, or we’ll kill you,” reads the script of an early history of Latin American coups by theorist and journalist Ithiel Rosenfeld.

“The cowards who will lose their own lives will ensure that the power clique will strengthen and grow in strength,” Mr. Rosenfeld said.

“The results of the coup is that the old system does not collapse,” Rosenfeld added, “but if all democrats refuse to act as agents of change, the new regime creates a more powerful democratic system and better environment for the democratic character of the country.”

“This is the driving force in so many of these countries,” notes Prof. Garcia. “And if there’s a result, then you can really see that it’s not just the businesspeople.”

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