Putting a Happy Face on Angola

It’s all in a lobbyist’s day.

“The Africa Specialists” is the official slogan of Cohen and Woods International Inc., a Washington lobby shop founded in 1994 by two policy hands from the first Bush administration, Herman Cohen and James Woods. CWI has represented several American oil companies operating in Africa, and at least 13 African leaders and nations, including Charles Taylor, the Liberian warlord; Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was the president of Congo until his murder last year (thereby ending his contract); and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who won re-election in March in a fraudulent presidential balloting.

Angola paid CWI $700,000 last year to remake its image—not an easy task. Angola is effectively a one-party state, led by President Eduardo dos Santos. Corruption is rife, and despite all its oil—which earns the government more than $3 billion annually—the country ranks 146th out of 162 countries in the U.N.’s latest Human Development Index. Even though Angola is the eighth-largest exporter of oil to the United States, the Bush administration has thus far refused to fully embrace dos Santos.

The confidential memo that follows illustrates the firm’s attempt to sanitize Angola’s image. Prepared by CWI’s Herman Cohen and sent to the 170-member Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), a U.S.-based trade group, the memo “analyzes” dos Santos’ official visit to Washington from Feb. 26th to the 28th.

If the CWI makeover doesn’t take, dos Santos still has other firms on the case. The country retains six other Washington, D.C., lobbyists, including Patton Boggs and Daniel J. Edelman, and paid them more than $6 million last year.

Click  herefor the annotated Cohen and Wood Inc. memo. To read the annotations, roll your mouse over the yellow highlighted sections. (You must have Macromedia Flash installed on your browser.  Download it free here.)