Ex-Im Bank was proud to report in 2013 that it was open for business in Rwanda. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has effectively held power since 1994, is thought to be behind the “disappearance” of numerous journalists and opposition politicians. Finally, the Bank’s announcement during the U.S.-Africa summit trumpeted their signing of a “memorandum of understanding” with Angola. That country’s leader since 1979, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, is known to have what the Guardian calls “an iron grip on all aspects of government.”
It makes no sense that the Export-Import Bank should continue to provide taxpayer-backed financing for deals in countries run by autocrats. A continued relationship with these African nations is even more confusing considering Ex-Im was quick to suspend their dealings with Russia over the escalation of the Ukraine crisis. Vladimir Putin’s record on human rights looks almost exemplary compared to those of some leaders in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ex-Im’s continuing relationships with these countries and President Obama’s continued support for these relationships, bring up serious questions of judgment. If anything, it strengthens calls by members of Congress that the Bank’s charter be allowed to expire. Americans should not have to watch their tax dollars be proudly used to subsidize repressive foreign regimes.
David Williams is the president of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.