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Blood Diamond film worries Botswana
Less than 4 percent of diamonds on the market today are conflict diamonds
By: Tom Carter, The Washington Post
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Oct 20 2006 12:00AM
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Reference: 596  

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Since independence, Mr. Mogae said, per capita income has risen from $60 to $80 to $4,800 a year, 7,000 miles of roads have been paved and the literacy rate has expanded from 7 percent to near 90 percent.
"We are able to provide free education to all, and near universal health services. Even in the most remote parts of the country, no one is more than 10 miles from a health center. And we are fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic," he said, giving free anti-retroviral drugs to those in need, providing food, clothing and schooling to about 60,000 AIDS orphans, and testing pregnant mothers to limit transmission of the disease.
Botswanas HIV program, an expensive one initiated by Mr. Mogae, is considered a model for the rest of Africa.

"American consumers should look at the good we have done and understand the role that is played by diamonds," he said.
Mr. Mogae said that 8,000 Botswana citizens are employed by Debswana Diamond Co., a 50/50 joint venture between the government of Botswana and De Beers. Forty-seven percent of his governments budget and 70 percent of Botswanas export revenues come from diamonds.
Mr. Mogae acknowledged that although diamonds have fueled his nations development, they also have funded atrocities in other parts of Africa. In 1998, the United Nations banned the import of Angolan diamonds that had not been certified because of their role in financing the civil war there.
By 2000, this led to the creation of the Kimberly Process to try to certify a gems origin and prevent the sale of "conflict diamonds." Although the process is not perfect, it has made it much more difficult to sneak "blood diamonds" into the commercial market. It is estimated that less than 4 percent of diamonds on the market today are conflict diamonds.
Bushmen complaint

Mr. Mogae faces publicity headaches apart from the DiCaprio film. Survival International, a London-based human rights organization, took out a full-page advertisement in the entertainment trade publication Variety last month on behalf of a group of Kalahari Bushmen, seeking Mr. DiCaprios help in a different diamond-related complaint against the Botswanan government. The lawsuit claimed that the indigenous Bushmen were evicted from their home in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve because the national diamond company was prospecting in their ancestral homeland.
"Friends have told us that you are in a film, The Blood Diamond, which shows how badly diamonds can hurt. We know this. When we were chased off our land, officials told us it was because of the diamond finds," said the Bushmens letter, which appeared in Variety.

Mr. Mogae has invited Survival International, Mr. DiCaprio and any other interested Hollywood celebrities to come to the Kalahari and see for themselves.
"There is no mining of diamonds in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve," he said. The Bushmen "were moved out of a national game park. They were not moved forcefully. They were moved over a period of 10 years and they were compensated. Out of 1,700 who were moved, about 200 are taking us to court so they can go back and hunt. They want to use horses and guns and dogs in a game park. It is a park."
He said the Bushmen also benefit from development and urged Americans to buy diamonds.
"We are an open, transparent democracy. Diamonds played a role in that. Come and see. ... People should know that when they are buying diamonds, they are helping Africa fight poverty and disease," he added.

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