Blood Money

category: > Features, > History Now/Then

written by: Jaap Proost


‘IN this country, you got to make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you got the power, then you get the women‘, Tony Montana explained on a poolside in Miami. If you are a dictator, it’s the other way around: first you got to have the power, then you get the money. Your own money.


Muammar Gaddafi (1949 – 2011)

In power in Libya since a 1969 coup, Gaddafi held no office or title. He was known as ‘Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’ or ‘Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution’. Gaddafi invented a system called Islamic Socialism, and wrote a three volume with his political philosophy, called the ‘ Green Book’. Didn’t like opposition and send Libyan hit squads abroad to kill dissidents. Opposition didn’t like him either, he was stabbed in the anus before rebels killed him.

Idi Amin Dada (mid-1920s – 2003)

Succeeded to give even dictators a bad name. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is unknown, estimates range from 80.000 to 500.000. His mental state was reflected in the title he gave himself: ‘His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beast of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and the Conquerer of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular’.

Mobutu Sese Seko (1930 – 1997)

Was president of Zaire from the mid sixties till 1997. He liked public executions, often organized as open-air spectacles. Mobutu created a personality cult around himself. The evening news on television was preceded by an image of him descending through clouds from heaven. There was only one political party, The Popular Movement of Revolution, and its membership was obligatory for everyone in Zaire. Voting also, with Mobutu as sole candidate.

Saddam Hussein (1937 – 2006)

Everyone knows this fellow. Even killed some husbands of his daughters because they were not loyal. He used chemical weapons against his own people, that caused thousands of deaths. Uncountable portraits, posters, statues, and murals were erected in his honor. Saddam Hussein was also famous for his doppelgängers. The real Saddam was dragged out of a hole in the ground and met at the end, rather chaotically, the gallows.

Jean-Claude Duvalier (1951 – )

Better known as Baby Doc. Ruled Haiti in the seventies and eighties. When his father Francios Duvalier (Papa Doc) died, he became at the age of nineteen the world youngest president. Baby Doc left all the work for his mother, attended only ceremonial functions and lived as a playboy. Robbed the country for millions. While the people struggled for their livelihood, Duvaliers wedding costed an estimated 3 million dollars. When he left in 1986 to live in exile in France, Haiti was bankrupt.

Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini (1902 – 1989)

When you think that God is on your side, it’s hard for other people to convince you that what you do is wrong. From 1979 till 1989 Khomeini was the 1st Supreme Leader of Iran. His government was was ‘a God’s government,’ and disobedience against it was a ‘revolt against God’. He gave Rushdie his fatwa. Women were forced to cover their hair, men were not allowed to wear shorts. Opposition to the religious rule met harsh punishments. Or as he said; ‘I shall kick their teeth in’.

Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976)

In terms of obedient followers, Mao Zedong had no reason to complain. To reach steel quotas, peasants melted useful tools into chunks of worthless metal. This and other ideas that were part of the Great Leap Forward caused the Great Chinese Famine. This famine was a direct cause of the death of some 30 million Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962.


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