Equatorial Guinea suspends the death penalty, and the Portuguese language played a vital role in it

Equatorial Guinea, the third largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa and the country with the highest GDP per capita in the sub-continent, has suspended the death penalty. The Portuguese Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) – a sort of Commonwealth for the Portuguese-Speaking countries –  is to be commended for this achievement.

Equatorial Guinea has for long been willing to join the CPLP as a full member but has failed twice. The most that it has achieved was the observer status. However, the country has made some efforts to acquire the member status: President Teodoro Obiang has decreed the Portuguese language as the third official language in the country, right after Spanish and French;  the government has signed a number of protocols with the CPLP in order to promote the Portuguese language across the population, such as including portuguese in the school curriculum; and has acquiesced to Portugal’s demand to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty, without which the country could never join the Community as a full member.

The CPLP, an universe of 250 million people, with some of the most promising and fastest growing economies in the world (Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Timor-Leste, among others) and spanning four countries, has managed to ‘soften’ one of the oldest dictatorships and one-man country in the World.

Quite an achievement for a virtually unknown organization, isn’t it?


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