View Full Version : Gaining influence: buy & invest

06-03-2014, 12:12 PM
SWC has a few threads on economics, but how about a long established nation-state having its assets and passports purchased by a former colony?

Step forward Portugal (a Western ally, EU & NATO member) and Angola, a very rich country ruled by a regime in place since 1974:
Angola was a Portuguese colony for more than 400 years. It gained its independence in 1975 after a long struggle, but a devastating civil war ensued, only ending in 2002. Dos Santos has been in power since 1979 and the country now enjoys growth rates of between 5% and 15% (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG/countries/AO?display=graph). Portugal, heavily in debt and struggling to climb out of recession, finally exited its bailout last month (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/16/portugal-exit-international-bailout-saturday-eu-imf).

These investments do not always make financial good sense, according to Filipe. He has doubts about the Portuguese press, for example, which is struggling. But for Angolans this is familiar territory and it represents a form of revenge too. Investing in the media and banking brings Luanda greater influence. The Portuguese are unhappy about this situation, even bitter at times. Many wonder whether the papers will still dare criticise Angola.

This phenomena is not new, after all money talks. Europe has recently seen large investments by Russian exiles, for example London has two Russian oligarch-owned papers, a national daily and London's main evening paper. Which may have affected EU responses to the crisis in teh Ukraine (discussed on that thread and elsewhere).

Portugal and Angola share a common language, plus an element of culture and history. Yes, "kith & kin" again, a "hobby horse" of mine:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=8829

06-03-2014, 01:51 PM
I suspect there is quite a bit of schadenfreude associated with this. My African and Brazilian friends, including those born after Angolan and Mozambican independence, all hold a bit of contempt towards Portugal. Iíve never seen quite the same level of distaste for a former colonial power. Even when I visited Cuba, people there had a few positive things to say about the Spanish legacy, despite their historical memory of the fight for independence as a long knock-down-drag-out affair.

06-03-2014, 07:29 PM
Without any research I would say it is a mix between the drive to invest abroad, familiar language ground, old feelings and some schadenfreude.

To enlarge the most important points:

1) It is important to keep in mind that two countries with relative strong trade relations will tend to have assets owned by the trade partner. In this case wealth is highly concentrated in Angola, quite normal for a country in which the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party took power...

Allegations of corruption

Dos Santos has been accused of leading one of the most corrupt regimes in Africa by ignoring the economic and social needs of Angola and focusing his efforts on amassing wealth for his family and silencing his opposition. In Angola, nearly 70% of the population lives on less than $2 a day and yet he and his family have amassed a massive sum of wealth, with stakes in the leading businesses of the nation as well as international corporations.[21]

2) He needs to invest all that money gathered in a long service for the people of Angola. It is smart to hedge the bets, as an African dictator I would spread a good deal of the wealth around the world not limiting myself to Western countries.

3) Mr. dos Santos once followed the likely not so positive coverage of some elements of the press he now de facto acquired in a dirty camp out there. Now he has likely a strong say in some areas, must feel good. :wry:

4) Maybe, just maybe he wants to influence and control Portuguese media popular in Angola? Who knows?