Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Declassified: Apartheid Profits – apartheid’s lobbyists in Washington; via BM (thank you!).

Image from, with caption: Senator Richard Stone and unidentified men are served burgers - Tallahassee, Florida

In August 1985, the South African embassy in Washington DC was approached by former Democratic senator of Florida, Richard Stone. Stone was strongly anti-communist, and following his stint as a senator was a Reagan-appointed diplomat in Central America. In exchange for a hefty fee, Stone offered the South Africans a propaganda deal disguised as “a programme of public diplomacy”.
His plan of action included diverting “media attention away from sceptical treatment of reform efforts” made by the apartheid regime. Instead, he offered to “focus media attention on the violent and radical nature” of the ANC. His offer put in motion years of back and forth with the apartheid government and prominent South African businessmen. These top secret foreign affairs documents reveal how unscrupulous lobbyists such as Stone saw profitable business opportunities in disguising repression.
To prove he was up for the job, Stone boasted to the South Africans about his public diplomacy work with José Napoléon Duarte’s repressive regime in El Salvador. In a memo labelled “top secret”, the South African embassy reported that Stone had been so successful in EL Salvador that “Duarte’s government is able to fight and win the war against the guerillas unhindered by American media attention”. ...

When contacted by Open Secrets for the book Apartheid Guns and Money  ... Stone deflected by talking about South Africa as if he had only ever been there on safari. “I recall going to South Africa and looking at a lot of wild animals,” Stone said over the phone, “It was an impressive sight.” A convenient loss of memory for the lobbyist. However, what the plans do reveal is Stone’s willingness to protect repression from public scrutiny for the right price. By doing so, he became part of the machinery that helped to keep apartheid living far beyond its years. ...

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