Dealing with a Dictator

2016, Society  -   12 Comments
Ratings: 8.20/10 from 44 users.

Canada's thriving mine industry involves a myriad of business dealings throughout the globe. One mining company in particular - Nevsun - has uncovered an immense profitability center in Eritrea, a country located in East Africa, where their mineral mine produces a cash windfall exceeding hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis. Their collaboration with that country's brutal dictatorship may be profitable, but critics claim that it also promotes the rise of terrorism in the region. Dealing with a Dictator tackles this criticism head-on, and explores the moral and ethical implications of such partnerships.

Commonly known as the most oppressive country in Africa, Eritrea is also rich with layers of valuable minerals. That latter fact proved irresistibly alluring to a company like Nevsun, who set out to build a fully functional mining business there. The implementation of their ambitious plan came with a catch; they had to share 40% of the stake in the business with the State of Eritrea, which was headed by the barbaric dictator Isaias Afewerki.

Controversy began to erupt in the earliest days of the mining operation. According to former miners interviewed for the film, the working conditions often proved intolerable as they were subjected to forced labor, savage beatings and other forms of denigration.

In an effort to present an even-handed treatment of their volatile subject, the filmmakers also present an interview with a high-level representative of Nevsun, who denies knowledge of any such abuses or other human rights violations as it relates to the operation of their mine. The company stands by its commitment to its employees in the form of a generous benefit packages and comfortable working conditions.

But these protests have only intensified in recent years, and they carry even more grave and nefarious implications. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch organizations have claimed that Eritrea's sizable 40% share of the mine's profits have been partially used to fund the strengthening of the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Is Nevsun willfully compliant in their contributions to these atrocities, or does their distance from the region make them conveniently uninformed? Dealing with a Dictator presents a disturbing example of how neither side comes out clean when a business dares to dance with the devil.

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12 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Ceci the end of the day, billions of dollars later...the people in ONE VILLAGE got a pump for water collection. WOW

  2. dreadfool

    this is just a hit piece.

  3. Sidra

    Very good documentary. Informative and defective elements are also praise able.

  4. George

    Just look at how dilated are the VC's pupils and that he is sweating like hell..I think he did a few lines before the interview just so he can be able tell that sh*t. I wonder if he gets any sleep...

  5. Tommy Jonq

    Everybody, including this documentary, always glosses over the fundamental issue here: the use of "contract labor." By hiring their workers form a "private contractor," the company shields itself from responsibility for how it treats the labor. The contractor, in this particular case, the Eritrean "government," assumes all responsibility and liability. For the record, "contract labor"was the precise legal mechanism by which the SS supplied Daimler-Benz, Krupp, etc, etc, etc with labor during the "Holocaust." It's only a "holocaust" when it happens to white people. When it happens to Chinese workers at Foxconn, or African workers at Nevsun, etc, it's "business."

  6. joe

    What is wrong with the government owning 40% of a mining operation own by foreigners on the land of the Eritrean people ?

  7. joe

    Who cares, isn't the country better off. Every country has done some form of injustice to their citizens. Is Canada with fault, the United States, European Union every practices injustice

  8. Hinda

    Cliff Davis speaks like an emotionless robot. He is a bore. No wonder he is doing what he does.

  9. Tim

    Great doco, showing the relationship between the brutal dictatorship of a small but resource rich African nation and a greedy corporation. Hats off to the fifth estate (film production company) for exposing this injustice! 7/10

  10. icu

    i hate dealing with dic-taters

  11. Marty

    Corruption at its best. The VP is lying through his teeth.

  12. John Payne

    IMO the company, Nevsun did more than might be expected of any company in any country in Africa. I note that all TWO of the people on record parse their comments so much so as to eliminate any strength in their testimony. The company could have said no to the demands of the government for a 40% interest in the mine, but, the split is certainly not out of line with mining/investment practices worldwide including Canada and all of its provinces. What the country does with their share has zero to do with the company. This is a witch hunt that should be taken with a grain of salt. More good than evil appears to have been realized for the people of Eritrea and that is the only point of view that matters. If one looks around they will see many countries in worse shape where the UN does nothing