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Cape Verde

  • Some (little-known) inhabitants of our seas

    According to the international scientific community, Cape Verde’s seas are home to some 658 species of fish, 13 of which are endemic. It’s only natural that we almost always refer to fish when the subject is marine life, but there is much more to marine life in Cape Verde than just fish. Some of these species are also likely to be unique to Cape Verde’s waters, such as in the case of certain nudibranches.

    Some (little-known) inhabitants of our seas

    According to their scientific definition, “nudibranches constitute a sub-order of marine gastropod mollusks belonging to the order of opistobranches.” They owe their name to the position of their gills, which are found on their exterior of their bodies, normally on the dorsal section. It is estimated that there are some 3,000 different species throughout the world.

    Despite their small size, ranging from a few millimeters to several centimeters, nudibranches decorate reefs with their rich colors and strange shapes. They are often imperceptible to human eyes, requiring a certain degree of expertise to be seen among the algae and coral.

    The archipelago of Cape Verde has a plethora of these small beings, which enchant aficionados of the area.

    In the waters off the island of Santiago, more precisely Tarrafal, various nudibranches have been found and identified, one of which was previously unknown to the scientific community. Others had only been sighted on the other side of the Atlantic, while still others were very rare.

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  • More than five hundred baby turtles returned to the sea this year on Fogo

    The sea turtle preservation campaign on the beaches of São Filipe and Santa Catarina, on the island of Fogo, has begun to bear fruit. This year alone, some 530 baby turtles have been returned to their natural habitat thanks to the Vitó Project.

    Since June a sea turtle surveillance and monitoring program has been in effect. The program includes nighttime surveillance aimed at tagging the turtles that come ashore to nest. A total of 34 nests were identified this year in the two municipalities.

    A total of 26 nests were monitored in Santa Catarina do Fogo, containing an average of 80 to 120 eggs each. In São Filipe, the project identified eight nests.

    So far, eggs in seven nests have hatched, with 527 baby turtles having been returned to the sea on the beaches of the two municipalities. More are awaited as well, as the eggs in the remaining nests in both of the municipalities are expected to hatch soon.

    The information was provided by Silvana Roque, who works with the island’s sea turtle protection and conservation project.

    Cape Verde plays host to five of the seven species of sea turtles that exist in the world and is the second largest nesting spot in the North Atlantic, particularly for the loggerhead and the green sea turle. The most threatened of the species, the loggerhead turtle, continued to be hunted by fishermen and its nests destroyed by members of the population for the consumption of their eggs, although the practice has been prohibited by law since 1997.

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  • Cape Verde on Wikileaks

    Cape Verde has been under the careful watch of the United States of America since last year, according to the secret American diplomatic files released this week by the site Wikileaks. Washington, D.C., according to the documents to which A Semana has had access, ordered its agents and diplomats to investigate the archipelago’s propensity for terrorism and drug trafficking. Based on their findings, they were asked to elaborate a data base featuring biographical information, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, travel records, working hours, telephone contacts and e-mail addresses of leaders and individuals with connections to Cape Verde. The perceptions Cape Verdeans have of the Millennium Challenge Account program is another of the White House’s concerns. Cape Verde is one of the countries under the watch of United States intelligence services, as was revealed this week. The proof is in the batch of 250,000 secret documents from the US State Department that web site Wikileaks has been distributing to various newspapers around the world, causing resounding turbulence in diplomatic circles around the world. Cape Verde’s mention shows that these ten little specks of land in the middle of the Atlantic are the target of special attention on the part of American authorities – so much so that our leaders (both government and opposition) are under close surveillance.

    Indeed, Cape Verde is included on a list of eight countries in West Africa (along with Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Senegal and Mali) where the United States has, since last year, launched a wide-reaching espionage campaign, encompassing both governmental services and political leaderships, as well as the military, civil society and the economic sector.

    In truth, the increase in efforts dates back to the administration of George W. Bush, but the new guidelines, which include Cape Verde and the other seven countries of Africa’s Sahel region, were communicated to the US Embassies in these West African states on April 2009, 2009, after Barack Obama had been sworn in as US President. This took place through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Even more interestingly, the orders were given four months before Clinton began a trip to several African countries, during which she passed through Cape Verde, a visit of whose impact all here are aware.

    The telegram Hillary Clinton sent to the US Embassies in the Sahelian countries is clear: “the State Department is desperate for information on Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. We want to know everything about social upheaval, drug trafficking, standards of governance and the details about the telecommunications system.”

    The Wikileaks documents do not show the results of the surveillance carried out (or still under way) in Cape Verde, but do present what the White House was demanding: “The reports should include, as far as possible, information on people with connections to the West African region (Sahel): organisms and posts; names, positions and business; telephone, cell phone and fax numbers; a list of contacts, including telephone numbers and a list of e-mail contacts; credit cards; trips; working hours and other additional biographical information,” reads the diospatch signed by Hillary Clinton, which British newspaper The Guardian mentions in its Sunday, November 38 edition, following the Wikileaks leak.

    Security, governance, the economy and telecommunications systems were the four main axes of espionage unleashed by US intelligence services in Cape Verde. In the area of security, Washington asked its agents and diplomats to gather, for example, detailed information on the possible presence of terrorist groups, their plans against the United States of America, the response capacity to terrorist attacks or policies aimed at the containment of Islamic fundamentalism in the region.

    The order signed by Hillary Clinton was also aimed at having US agents in Cape Verde verify the functioning of the Armed Forces and security apparatuses, the possibilities of their cooperation with the United States, their ability to be integrated into peace-keeping forces, and, most importantly, the existence of conditions for the Pentagon, in a crisis situation, to install a military support base in Cape Verde.

    In the same document, the US Secretary of State also asks its diplomats and agents to gather all information available on drug trafficking in the region, links to South American cartels and data on the main suspects.

    Washington also demanded information on the perception Cape Verdeans have of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program, and asked agents to feel out the Cape Verdean government’s position, as well as that of each individual leader, on Cape Verde’s support of US initiatives in international forums. As such, the possibility of a political or diplomatic “tit for tat” is not entirely far-fetched, given the 110 million US dollars already made available to Cape Verde through the MCA. Indeed, following the conclusion of the first compact, a second compact is already in works, although the figures involved have yet to be determined.

    In the domain of governance, orders were for agents to determine the levels of leadership in the country, the performance of opposition parties, and biographical data and information regarding the financial resources of the main political actors, as well as their opinions on US policy on a global level – in summary, a veritable Who’s Who to facilitate US political overtures in Cape Verde.

    Governmental and democratic stability, corruption, human rights, health, food security, banking and black market activities, environmental policies and foreign relations are other items that were to be checked upon.

    In truth, the documents attest to the vast American interest in Cape Verde. In one of the cables, the White House requests a detailed investigation on migrations and potential indications of the installation of refugee camps in the archipelago, given the migratory flow among the countries in this sub-region of Africa.

    Washington’s service order concludes appealing to agents of the US intelligence service to provide information regarding the telecommunications system in Cape Verde, including its qualities and vulnerabilities. It also reminds its addressees that detailed information on radio frequencies, passport and government credential emission systems and lists of contacts of the country’s main civilian and military leaders is fundamental.

    In a word, who would ever have guessed…?!
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