President Putin steps forth to the rescue of Gabon’s Ali Bongo

7/17/2018: Of course. After Lariviere and Galvan failed, where else could he turn?

No word on whether UO fundraiser John Manotti helped set up this meeting too. Meanwhile, former Ambassador Plenipotentiary Eric Benjaminson has moved on from UO to Chicago.

9/3/2016: Lariviere’s deal with Ali Bongo and Eric Benjaminson collapses in violence

The history of this bizarre UO foray into foreign affairs has yet to be written, but so far it involves the US ambassador to Gabon seeing a chance for a retirement gig at UO, the State Department’s sophomoric remix of Kissinger’s real-politic, Richard Lariviere’s desperate effort to get some money for something other than Duck sports, and a lot of oil money stolen from some very poor Africans. Like so many corrupt Oregon deals, some otherwise smart people gave it a pass because it was carefully packaged as “green” and “sustainable”. Oregon and Gabon: Twin Edens.

Here’s UO President Richard Lariviere at the White House with President Bongo and US Ambassador Eric Benjamin – now a UO employee – in happier times in 2010:

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The Guardian reports on kleptomaniacal President for Life Bongo’s current re-election dispute. Many have died:

… However, Bongo scored lower than his father, who famously won 100% of the national vote in the 1986 election, with a 99.9% turnout, when Gabon was still a one-party state.

[Opposition candidate Jean Ping], a half-Chinese diplomat who was previously one of the Bongo family’s most trusted cronies, rejected the result and demanded a recount in Haut Ogooué.

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And the NYT gives Ping a platform:

On Saturday, Aug. 27, presidential elections were held in my country,Gabon, in West Africa, and I was the candidate who won by a substantial vote margin. Nearly a week later, I would have expected to be addressing the world as Gabon’s president-elect, ready and willing to work with the United States and all our international partners to fight terrorism, build our economies and improve the lives of our citizens through increased development and cooperation.

Sure. That and deliver a share of the spoils to his partners.

1/18/2016: UO Foundation must write off Bongo’s $15M endowment promise

Under the Foundation’s rules they had until the end of 2016 to get the money from Gabon or take it off the books. Maybe I’m missing the nuance in this Le Monde article, but obviously it’s not coming by 2016. The truth is there is no money: Ali Bongo blew it on luxury real estate, fast cars, soccer players, and wives, while leaving his country mired in poverty. The collapsing price of oil made it impossible for his government to continue to keep up the pretense.

And so ends one of Richard Lariviere’s crazier ideas. One of the RG’s several critical editorials on it is here, and other UOM posts are here. Thanks to Bongo’s political opponents for forwarding the link, and best of luck in the elections and after:

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12/27/2015: Gabon’s kleptomaniacal President for Life Ali Bongo stiffs UO on $15M gift

Rumor down at Dennis Galvan’s Office of International Affairs is that there are a lot of nuances here, and we may get the money “soon”.

Sure. With oil below $40 and an election coming up amidst the ongoing French investigations of corruption, and family infighting over the loot accumulated by Bongo’s father Omar, I’m thinking the UO Foundation is going to have to write off the $15M endowment gift that Bongo promised UO back in 2011 pretty soon.

But apparently former US Ambassador to Gabon Eric Benjaminson, whom we hired to run the “Twin Edens” project shortly after he convinced Bongo to give the money, still has a couple million left from the original $5M, and is funding a variety of research projects.

For more on this story, including the suitcases of cash Bongo has been sending his American wife, and some spectacular real estate purchases, check out the Gabon tab below.

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13 Responses to President Putin steps forth to the rescue of Gabon’s Ali Bongo

  1. History says:

    Galvan played this brilliantly. He leveraged the promise of Gabon money to secure himself a VP position, knowing full well the check wouldn’t cash. Now he’s busy trying to burrow into the administration like a tick they can’t get rid of. Word at the JH kool aid dispenser is that Galvan’s having a tough time keeping anyone willing to hide his dirty laundry for him. One of his former employees is already talking about it.

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  2. Licensed in Oregon says:

    No honor among thieves.

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  3. Observer says:

    Dennis Galvan is s symptom of the university’s fondness for grandiose plans over actual feasibility. The Gabon debacle is just the most obvious example of it, but all of Study Abroad is managed with the same approach of “Expand way beyond capacity — make huge plans for constant reorganization and empire-building — leave the details to be filled in later” — an approach which has been persuasive to the decision-makers in Johnson Hall, but which has sown only failed plans, poor morale, and turmoil. Admin has a long history of promoting the grandiose over the more careful approach, and this is just a particularly embarrassing instance in a long line of instances.

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    • Old Grey Mare says:

      Thank you for saying this. I do think that a call for “small ideas” would not come amiss.

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    • uomatters says:

      To Observer – Please post some specific examples.

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  4. former student says:

    The Gabon gambit always seemed too good to be true. I never really understood how the deal made sense from Gabon’s perspective.

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  5. Observer says:

    If you look at this page (http://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-joins-generation-study-abroad-initiative) you’ll see Galvan’s campaign promise to increase UO study abroad statistics by 40%, in other words from 25% to 35% of students, if my calculations are correct. No public university has a percentage that high; it’s completely unrealistic. And in other administrative divisions, we have the annual rounds of crazy initiatives in both teaching and scholarship — remember all the Pathways and Clusters and target areas and the like? Meanwhile down here on the ground it’s business as usual, trying to muddle through with poor resources and crummy pay and administrators barking at us to do more with less and Continue Being Excellent.

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  6. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    The Hat seems less and less impressive as he recedes into the past.

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  7. Deal of crooks and dictator! Definitely collapsed after Ali Bongo killed hundreds to remain in power. They pretended to do this for Gabon which was false and some one us mentioned when the deal was struck. We knew this was a bad deal made between Ali Bongo, former US Ambassador to Gabon and their friends to support each other.

    «In light of unfortunate events in Gabon surrounding the August 27th national elections, the Gabon Oregon Center (GOC) has suspended operations.» Read more:
    http://goc.uoregon.edu/fr

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  8. trumplackey says:

    Am I the only one appalled at the thought of a destitute African country sending millions to the coffers of a (relatively speaking) wealthy American university? Or did I read that wrong…?

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