Sovereignty And Decoloniality — From The United States To Western Sahara


Morocco’s King Mohammed VI– maintains colonial dominance over Western Sahara


Western Sahara is the last remaining colony in Africa; and here in the United States, African-Americans are still a colonized people.

Generally, colonialism is defined as the occupation of a sovereign territory along with the control and oppression of a sovereign group or nation by another where the oppressed group becomes totally dependent on the colonial state.

Moreover, in colonialism, one can witness the exploitation of land, labor and resources along with the oppression of a people where their sovereign rights are simply disregarded. 

Colonialism in the 21st Century along with the unparalleled massacre of Africans, at home and abroad, is the most urgent challenge facing our world today.  Thus, the only solution is sovereignty, the supreme power to control one’’s economics, politics, and culture along with the supreme authority to make sound financial and socio-political decisions in the best interest of one’’s group or nation.

To reclaim sovereignty, a colonized people must engage in decoloniality “by “any means necessary.”

To subrogate colonialism with sovereignty, there exists three crucial objectives to be met:

The first is the decoloniality of power where the ability to influence and control economics, politics, and culture must rest directly with the colonized not the colonizer. 

Second, in the decoloniality of knowledge, the acquisition, dissemination, and understanding of facts, information, principles, and truths are not universally centered on a European worldview and western epistemology.

Last, in the decolonization of being, one’’s existence is not shaped by the undercurrents of superiority or inferiority nor does it configure within the zone of being which is reserved for Whites and the zone of non-being which is reserved for non-Whites. Put simply, non-Whites within the decoloniality of being are considered humans with inalienable rights not chattel with no rights. 

However, within the current reality of the coloniality of being, Blacks at a global scale have no rights that the colonial state or group will acknowledge — and they are frequently reminded of this reality.

Therefore, in the coloniality of being, “Black Lives Don’t Matter” to borrow from the now popular mantra “Black Lives Matter”; because they are considered non-beings and their rights are simply ignored.  Consequently, African-Americans can be lynched, shot, or choked to death, at any given moment anywhere in the United States for no apparent reason; their killers continue to enjoy their lives with their families uninterrupted.

The most recent cases are the Ferguson killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson who was not indicted; and, here in New York, police officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted after he killed Eric Garner with a chokehold in front of scores of witnesses and then waved laughingly at the phone camera of one witness who recorded the killing.

The colonizer is still applying the 19th Century dictum of Chief Judge of the U.S. Supreme Court Roger B. Taney.

In his infamous decision in the Dred Scott case of 1857, Chief Justice Taney declared that Blacks were in fact not citizens and therefore “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

In 1904, Booker T. Washington, in his essay, “”A Protest Against the Burning and Lynching of Negroes,”” insisted that ““the laws are as a rule made by the white people and their execution is in the hands of the white people; so that there is little probability of any guilty colored man escaping. If the law is disregarded when a Negro is concerned, it will soon be disregarded when a white man is concerned.””

A better position might have expressed that the law also causes innocent Black men to be ensnared and wrongfully convicted; and allows Whites who commit crimes to get away as with the cases of officers Wilson and Pantaleo, and many other incidents throughout American history.

The rights of African-Americans are still being disregarded and as such, the words of Taney and Washington ring true today as evident in the lack of indictments and convictions regarding the critical killings of peaceful unarmed African-Americans by Whites. 

Therefore, the United States is a nation of laws that protects the interests of Whites not a nation of justice that respects the sovereign rights of African-Americans.  Given that reality, African-Americans cannot expect justice from an unjust system where their rights are continually being violated by an unjust people.

I turn to the overseas case of Western Sahara to examine coloniality:

Similarly situated to the economic reality and socio-political development of African-Americans, the people of Western Sahara, the Saharawis, have no rights that the government of Morocco will validate.

On November 7, 2014, King Mohamed VI of Morocco, who oversees roughly 85 percent of Western Sahara as a colony, blatantly declared that “Morocco’s sovereignty extends over the entire area and will remain inalienable until the end of time.”

Likewise, in Western Sahara, the Saharawis’ sovereign rights were usurped by Spain during the Berlin Conference in 1884 and now by Morocco; even though Spain still holds the rights to offshore licenses in the fishing and phosphates industries of Western Sahara along with other business transactions under the Madrid Accords.

However, since 1974, the Moroccan government colonized the most lucrative and profitable regions of Western Sahara, particularly the coastal fisheries and mineral rich territories that comprise mainly of phosphates, oil, sand, and salt which produce billions of dollars in exports annually for Morocco. 

At the shores of Western Sahara, Morocco captures roughly 90% of cephalopods and sardines as the demand for fish oil and other seafood products have increased in Europe and Asia, which serve as Morocco’’s major export destinations along with the United States. 

Morocco also exports sand from Western Sahara; the sand is normally used for construction projects in addition to sustaining and filling the world’’s beaches.

Due to the colonization of Western Sahara, Morocco is the largest exporter of phosphate worldwide; producing about 27-30 million tons of phosphates annually. Phosphates is a major element in fertilizers which is crucial in feeding our global population.

The phosphates that is seized by Morocco comes from the 25,000 acres Boucraa mine which is near Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara. The world’’s largest fertilizer company is PCS Nitrogen Inc., which is a U.S. owned company that has a manufacturing facility in Trinidad.

However, the Boucraa mine is managed and operated by PhosBoucraa, a Moroccan subsidiary of the state-owned Office Chérifien des Phosphates where the U.S.-owned Potash Corporation, a major unit of PCS Nitrogen Inc., serves as its main customer.

Moreover, Agrium, a Canadian company uses $10 million worth of phosphates; while France redeems uranium from the Boucraa mine in Western Sahara.

Morocco currently imports oil as it does not produce hydrocarbons. Morocco has turned to Western Sahara for oil reserves and petroleum. As such, Morocco contracted TOTAL, a French company along with Island Oil and Gas, a company in Ireland, and Kerr-McGee, a company from the United States to drill and extract oil in Western Sahara. 

During my travel in December, 2014, as part of a fact-finding mission to the Saharawis’ refugee camps in Algeria as commissioned by Dr. Ron Daniels’’ Institute of the Black World, a U.S. oil company, Kosmos Energy, commenced its drilling venture for oil in Western Sahara on December 19, 2014.

What’s more, salt is being produced in Western Sahara by Crystal Mountain Sel Sahara which is also a U.S. company while another U.S. company, UPC Renewables, is manufacturing wind farms in Western Sahara as it exports energy from there.

Morocco uses the revenues produced by coastal fisheries and mineral rich territories to maintain its colonial control over Western Sahara.

Here the U.S. uses the land, labor and resources along with Black consumerism to maintain African-American dependency.

And the U.S. has been a supporter of Morocco’s colonialism in Western Sahara.

Note: Decoloniality is not the same as Decolonization. See reference for “Coloniality did not disappear with decolonization: the nineteenth century end of territorial domination of the Americas by Iberian nations, or the twentieth century end of territorial domination of Asia and Africa by other European nations.”

Professor Patrick Delices is a political analyst/commentator for the Black Star News and the author of “The Digital Economy,” Journal of International Affairs. For nearly a decade, Prof. Delices has taught Africana Studies at Hunter College.

He also served as a research fellow for the late Pulitzer Prize recipient, Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University. Prof. Delices can be contacted at [email protected]



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