by Charles Lemos, Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:18:05 PM EDT
Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese colony and one of the poorest countries in the world. Last week, Batista Tagme Na Waie, the Army Chief of Staff in the small West African country, was killed in a bomb blast. The next day, João Bernardo Vieira, the President of Guinea-Bissau, was shot and killed by members of the country's armed forces in a gangland execution style even as the Angolan Ambassador attempted to ferry the President and his family to the relative safety of the Angolan embassy. While the country has long been unstable suffering numerous coup attempts (they have rarely been successful) and a civil war just a decade ago, the country has in the past few years become the first African narco-state.
Guinea-Bissau enjoys a strategic position on the west coast of Africa but not much else. On my visits to the country, they have forever been trying to master the art of plumbing without much success. The country has a 400-mile Atlantic coast dotted with mangrove swamps and inlets as well as a 90 island archipelago just off-shore. Its chronic instability, its Latin background (Portuguese is the official tongue), its obscurity and its topography make it an ideal transit point for cocaine shipments moving from Colombia to Europe.