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The work of Ramón Esono Ebalé at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum.

Dissident West African Cartoonist Arrested Upon Returning Home to Renew Passport

Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist from Equatorial Guinea, in West Africa, has been arrested, reports |www.pri.org/stories/2017–09-28/cartoonist-out-unseat-dictator-arrested|PRI|. Known by his pen name, Jamón y Queso, the artist has taken on the nation’s ruler, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in his work. In 2011, Esono left for Paraguay to continue making his provocative, politically charged cartoons.

He had reportedly returned to Equatorial Guinea to renew his passport, when he was arrested. He is currently being detained at an infamous prison called Black Beach, in the nation’s capital, Malabo.

“They have a very active secret police and they really don’t tolerate any dissidents,” journalist Rowan Moore Gerety said of Equatorial Guinea. “People who speak out are either imprisoned or very quickly find a way to get out of the country.”

PRI reports that Equatorial Guinea struck oil in the 1990s, but the money earned by the commodity doesn’t reach the country’s citizens.

Esono published a graphic novel in 2014 that depicts the country’s ruler reduced to a difficult life. According to Moore Gerety, “It imagines Teodoro Obiang the president waking up one morning and discovering that he is just another lowly resident . . . Living in a shack that leaks without any running water with an angry wife who sends him out to sort of face the indignities of the market. He goes on this sort of awful day-long adventure where he ends up in jail and goes through all of these terrible things that a normal citizen might have to go through in the course of daily life there.”

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