December 8, 1999
Diamonds Roughed Up in Time
One of the premier newsmagazines in the U.S. featured a report about the Angolan diamonds controversy in its Dec. 6 issue. (Read the on-line version here.)
Time's Peter Hawthorne, reporting from Cape Town, South Africa, cited traders along the Zambia-Angola border as well as London-based brokers and a De Beers spokesperson in the article, titled "Diamonds in the Rough." The article opens with a depiction of an exchange between a diamond smuggler, an Angolan woman who hides diamonds in her clothes, and a diamond dealer registered with the Zambian government. According to the report, the dealer doesn't have to declare the diamonds but takes them freely across the border and applies for an export permit at the Zambian Ministry of Mines.
"Angola's diamonds, mined by thousands of men, women and children in backbreaking alluvial pits, fuel a rebel war that has torn the country apart for more than two decades," the article says. "Their hard work, which provides the resources to help buy some of the most lethal weapons on earth, also produces baubles for the delicate fingers of the world's brides in the most romantic moments of their life. Love and war have often been conjoined, but rarely like this."
Shining the spotlight on De Beers, the report outlines the company's efforts to stop diamond money from funding UNITA's campaign. "Recently the firm launched an effort to ensure that money it spends on Angolan diamonds isn't fueling the country's civil war," reads a sidebar about De Beers. "Determined smugglers are already working to sidestep the rules."
The Time report is the latest in a series of stories about Angola's "dirty diamonds" in the news lately. Other reports in the Dallas Morning News and New York Post appeared before the story hit the news wires, where it was picked up by newspapers across the country. Read related story.
- by Stacey King