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Story Publication logo February 15, 2012

Killing Me Softly: A Portrait of the Opposition in Equatorial Guinea

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Media file: EquitorialGuinea_Will_sands.jpg
English

Equatorial Guinea is a small, rich country in West-Central Africa. Thanks to oil, Equatorial Guinea...

Marcial Abaga Barril is one of the few opposition activists in Equatorial Guinea. As member of CPDS (Convergencia Para la Democracia Social), the only legitimate national opposition party, Barril has been arbitrarily detained and tortured on several occasions. He joined the opposition after the regime murdered his father, and says that at first he was consumed by a desire for revenge. That desire guided his struggle for many years, but today he says he believes in justice and looks toward building a new democratic Equatorial Guinea. He hopes that maybe his grandchildren can live better lives than his.

Even after having been tortured Barril shows little fear of the regime. He speaks loudly and seems at a total disregard for his surroundings whether he's in a taxi, on his porch, or walking home.

"What can they do to me now? They've tortured me, they've broken into my home. Now the only thing left is to kill me, because they know I won't be quiet. I won't stop," he says.

Barril says he's been given a slow death sentence. Blacklisted by the regime, he lives in a state of constant instability. He is forced to feed his family with the pay from one odd job to the next, and its obvious he fears for the future of his children. With no real work, Barril spends the majority of his time with friends and family, on the phone organizing, or moving from one CPDS gathering to the next.

Instability and unemployment are the regime's best weapons against the opposition and, as Barril laments, leave no opportunity for the creation of a real democratic process in Equatorial Guinea. But, he quickly laughs off the enormous challenge of his mission and smiles at the hand he's been dealt. For Barril and other members of the opposition, their best weapons against the regime are their sincerity and conviction.

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