Chocolate Bars and Machine Guns
Africa in focus ⬿

Chocolate Bars and Machine Guns

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January 24, 2009

The Ivory Coast, known officially as the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire,
provides 43 per cent of the world’s supply of cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate.

Few of the billions of the consumers of chocolate realize that the cocoa trade has a vital role in the armed and political conflict that’s ravaged Côte d’Ivoire for the last six years (or, for that matter, that an estimated 284,000 children are working on Cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and other African states)

Last week, Al Jazeera’s People & Power aired a 22-minute investigate report on the issue, called “Hot Chocolate.”

A reference to hot diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, the report shows that in 2002, “a troop mutiny became a full-scale civil war and the country divided into a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south, with UN peacekeepers patrolling a buffer zone [in] between.”

“Although full scale fighting in the country was halted in 2004 and a peace deal signed in 2007 officially marked the end of the conflict that divided the country, there is an uneasy truce.”

Today, former rebel soldiers “…are still in control of the northern half of the country and the cocoa trade [is] still earning huge sums of money for those in power, lasting and nation-wide peace seems very unlikely.”

“A considerable percentage of this money being used to fund the armed conflict, purposefully keeping the country in an uneasy state.”

If you don’t already realize it, this means the dollar ten you shell out to buy your favorite chocolate bar — and the bags you gather for Valentines day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas – may very well be helping the militant arms of Côte d’Ivoire buy their machine guns. Not to mention the fact that, that same chocolate may very well have been brought to you in part by the calloused, aching hands of children.

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