Skip to content

What Really Happened in Guinea Bissau?

At the beginning of the month, it looked like Guinea-Bissau was about to fall victim to what has been called West Africa’s coup epidemic, but some are now doubting the official version of events. But after five hours of fighting, which left 11 dead, Mr President Umaro Sissoco Embaló said it was all over and linked what he called an attempted takeover to the illegal drugs trade. Speaking again this week he named three men who had previously been arrested by the US for trying to ship cocaine as being behind the coup attempt. One of them was the former head of the navy, José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto, and the president said that he had seen the other two himself as he was trying to hide from the attackers. The possibility that narcotics had something to do with the attack rests on Guinea-Bissau’s reputation that it has become a transit point for drugs coming from Latin America on their way to Europe. The UN and the US have in the past described the country of two million people as a “narco-state” where politicians were funded by criminals and networks within the government were established to protect the illegal trade.