American Workers to Protest Angolan Delegation’s Visits to D.C., New York over African Nation’s Targeting U.S. Companies

Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Domingos Augusto (L) walks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, August 19, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Some American workers are planning to protest the Angolan government’s delegation’s planned upcoming visits this month to New York City and Washington, DC, Breitbart News has learned.

With a focus on the African nation’s refusal to pay obligations owed to a variety of U.S. companies who do business in Angola, and the government’s use of armed uniformed soldiers to seize one U.S. company’s assets in the country at gunpoint, the protests are likely to draw attention to senior Angolan officials traveling to D.C. and New York for meetings with senior officials in President Donald Trump’s administration and for the United Nations General Assembly this month.

A source with knowledge said that the D.C. protest may be planned for in front of the White House, but a representative for Africa Growth Corporation (AFGC)—the company whose assets were seized at gunpoint by uniformed Angolan soldiers, as Breitbart News reported earlier this year—declined to comment on such specifics because of concern for safety of the company’s employees.

“This is America. Our employees and their families are free to exercise their First Amendment rights as they see fit,” an AFGC spokesperson said. “While we are not involved in whatever protests are planned, we certainly understand their frustration with the Angolan government’s unlawful conduct and the U.S. State Department’s refusal to protect US interests in Angola.”

The exact times and locations of the protests are unclear at this point, and organizers have not yet disclosed them for safety reasons given the Angolan government’s clear willingness to use military force and aggression even against Americans.

“We live in fear for our lives,” said one source familiar with the effort who has ongoing business operations in both Angola and here in the United States.

These protests will come as American workers are furious that the Angolan government has still not paid obligations owed to a number of U.S. companies—in the tens of millions of dollars worth—as Breitbart News reported early in July in an explosive investigation. The report uncovered how Angola, rather than paying American companies what it owes them, has instead taken millions of dollars to hire a Washington, DC, lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to represent its interests in the U.S. This also comes as the U.S. pours tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer aid into Angola annually.

In August, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with his Angolan counterpart in Washington, DC, when the Angolan foreign minister Manuel Augusto was here in the United States.

“Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met today with Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto in Washington, D.C.,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement about the meeting. “The Secretary reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Angola strategic partnership and welcomed the bold reforms that President João Lourenço has undertaken since taking office in 2017. The two conferred on ways to increase bilateral trade and investment and strengthen democratic institutions.”

The State Department has not answered multiple follow-up requests for comment from Breitbart News on specifically whether Pompeo breached the subject of Angola still refusing to pay tens of millions of dollars in debts owed to U.S. companies, including AFGC. It is also unclear whether Pompeo and Augusto discussed whether the U.S. thinks it is acceptable for Angola to seize a U.S. company’s assets with armed uniformed military soldiers at gunpoint.

A State Department official originally told Breitbart News that the United States government is aware of the problem and has pressured Angola on the matter.

“Promoting U.S. trade and investment is one of our highest foreign policy priorities in Africa, and the United States engages robustly to advance U.S. commercial interests and to support U.S. companies by providing a range of trade and investment support services,” the State Department official said back in early July. “American companies have been present in the Angolan market for more than 50 years and are among the largest foreign investors in Angola. Angola is the third-largest trading partner of the United States in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral goods trade valued at 3.28 billion dollars in 2018. The U.S. Government, through Embassy officials and various high-level visitors, has raised the African Growth Corporation’s case at many levels with the Government of Angola, including directly with the President on more than one occasion. U.S. companies investing in Angola seek a level playing field, predictable policies, and a dispute resolution process that follows the rule of law. We continue to encourage the Government of Angola to increase transparency and fairness in its business environment. Due to ongoing litigation, we have no further comment.”

But lack of action from the State Department on this front has drawn the ire of other parts of the Trump administration. As Breitbart News reported in August, the White House and Treasury Department are considering taking steps of their own including and up to economic sanctions against Angola to force the government there to pay its obligations.

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