Dust over the Canary Islands

^ Offshore oil and gas drilling concessions on the West African Coast. Adapted from Offshore Magazine, 2011.


Air becomes rarefied in Spanish Canary Islands, opposite the African coast. It is not only the sand particles from the Sahara Desert flying over Spanish territory in form of dust storms (Calima). As many other on-going speculative developments, the construction of a new harbour in Granadilla, Tenerife, has been generating political controversy for several years. Politicians argue that its completion urges for the future development of the island, because the existing harbour has become too small and it is physically impossible to extend. The paradoxical reality proves not only that the harbour is only at 35% of its capacity, but also that the same politicians are even asking the EU for funding its “impossible” extension (Aguilera Klink). How can Brussels cope with both issues at the same time? Another smart trick has been to get rid of environmental opposition before launching the project. The marine prairies (sebadales) existing in the area that were to be destroyed were simply thrown out of the national list of endangered natural species. Even the recent appearance of two specimens of native beetles (forgotten to become unprotected) does not seem to stop the project.


Cymodocea Nodosa. New unprotected species.

Pimelia Canariensis. (Protected species). Two specimens found at the new harbour site.


Bill Clinton visited the area in July 2005, invited by the ruling politicians who were eager to push their real estate plans. Clinton even proclaimed in his speech that this new harbour in Tenerife would be very important to solve poverty in Africa. It’s not bad for a statement, Bill. I wonder how citizens had not realised before of the huge potential of this harbour. The true is that social aid could well begin by solving the poor quality of “democracy” in Spain. However, the actual problem is that Granadilla harbour could certainly solve the poverty…of investments. Who is actually generating and sustaining poverty in Africa? According to lawyer José Manuel Rivero, in Clinton’s mind, and in that of his accompanying team of high-profile American investors to Canary Islands, was the potential of using AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) as an instrument to promote within Nato and public opinion the fallacy of humanitarian aid, security and stability for the African continent. This would consist of a sort of 21st century Marshall Plan, using the Spanish archipelago as operations-base. However, among the real interests of AFRICOM would be protecting American investments on the West African coast, above all from the thrilling pace of exploitation of African energetic resources by Chinese companies. As if evil China would be faster in taking away what corresponds to the US! A complex entanglement of US military, USAID and the CIA provides an idyllic tool for negotiating economic extractions and concessions in favour of American corporations.

Amongst all the masquerades of today’s innocent tourist resorts, the Canary Islands could become a strategic spot for the infrastructure that such a military apparatus would require for better control over African resources. What seemed another very local issue of political and real estate corruption in Tenerife may unfold the logics of global wars, where speculation trespasses continental borders.

Thanks, Federico!

^ Canary islands are part of the emblem of AFRICOM, for their physical belonging to the African continent, while being legally recognized as an ultra-peripheral region of the EU under Spanish sovereignty.

^ Sahara Desert flying over Spanish Canary Islands (Calima sand storm). Earth Observatory NASA.

^ Calima in Tenerife. deconcrete2012


Promise of AFRICOM from US Army Africa

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