Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

On the Town with Jonas Savimbi

Magazine article Common Cause Magazine

On the Town with Jonas Savimbi

Article excerpt

The well-connected Washington lobbying firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly has seen dictators such as Somalia's Mohamed Siad Barre, the Philippines' late Ferdinand Marcos and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire vanish from its client list. So Black, Manafort knows the value of a steadfast tyrant. In the case of Jonas Savimbi, the controversial Angolan rebel leader, it's $600,000 a year - plus expenses.

Trouble is, between 1985 and 1992, Black, Manafort's cash cow may have indirectly been the U.S. Treasury.

Up until 1992, Savimbi, whose UNITA guerrilla forces long battled the Soviet-allied Angolan government, received up to $60 million a year in U.S. aid. Much of it took the form of guns, ammunition and other military supplies shipped by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) via Zaire (whose longtime military dictator. Mobutu, was a $1 million-per-year Black, Manafort client until December 1990).

With most of his war supplies provided by the U.S., Savimbi was able to pay Black, Manafort some $5 million to lobby for U.S. aid, generate favorable U.S. media coverage and gin up political support in Washington. With Black, Manafort's help, Savimbi has made at least five well-publicized trips to Washington, visiting President Reagan at the Oval Office, dining with former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and meeting with then-Vice President George Bush in 1988. Bush called Savimbi a "true patriot" and warned that cutting off Savimbi's U.S. aid would be "an immoral sellout of a loyal friend."

And apparently a loss for a few posh hotels and watering holes as well. The bill for Savimbi's week-long trip to Washington and New York in October 1991 came to almost $473,000, according to foreign lobbying records Black, Manafort filed with the U.S. Justice Department. The tab for hotel rooms at Washington's Park Hyatt totaled $98,022. Limousine costs alone for the excursion were $26,709 in Washington and $5,293 in Manhattan. …

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