Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Maybe it is not such a good thing to be the heir to the throne these days?

The little man standing next to President Obama in the photo above is H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. He is a serial murderer, a debaucherer, a kleptocrat and a megalomaniac along the lines of Saddam Hussein. With tremendous reserves of oil and natural gas in and around his country, Mr. Mbasogo is one of the world's wealtiest and most corrupt dictators.

Despite all the money in Equatorial Guinea, the people who live there have one of the worst standards of living in the world. They have high infant mortality rates and very low life expectancies. Disease, poverty, malnutrition and misery are ubiquitous in that oil-rich land.

Ken Silverstein, in this week's Foreign Policy magazine, details the lavish California lifestyle of the son of the dictator in Teodorin's World. This son is the heir to his father's throne. But maybe the people of his country will follow the steps of Egyptians in denying their dicatator's son that throne? If Col. Kaddafi is ousted in Libya and his son, Seif, is denied the reins of power, a trend could be emerging in which long-time dictators are being overrun just before they can hand off power to their filial heirs.

Here is how Silverstein's long piece begins:

The owner of the estate at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, which sits high above Malibu, California, calls himself a prince, and he certainly lives like one. A long, tree-lined driveway runs from the estate's main gate past a motor court with fountains and down to a 15,000-square-foot mansion with eight bathrooms and an equal number of fireplaces. The grounds overlook the Pacific Ocean, complete with swimming pool, tennis court, four-hole golf course, and Hollywood stars Mel Gibson, Britney Spears, and Kelsey Grammer for neighbors.

With his short, stocky build, slicked-back hair, and Coke-bottle glasses, the prince hardly presents an image of royal elegance. But his wardrobe was picked from the racks of Versace, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana, and he spared no expense on himself, from the $30 million in cash he paid for the estate to what Senate investigators later reported were vast sums for household furnishings: $59,850 for rugs, $58,000 for a home theater, even $1,734.17 for a pair of wine glasses. When he arrived back home -- usually in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or one of his other several dozen cars -- his employees were instructed to stand in a receiving line to greet the prince. And then they lined up to do the same when he left.

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