Are US PR firms a dictator’s best friend?

Despotic regimes are paying millions of dollars a year to American public relations firms…


© TheDillyLama


It has emerged that a US public relations firm, Racepoint , was being paid $50k a month by the government of Rwanda to improve its image, at a time when rights groups were increasingly critical of the crackdown on dissent in the country. The contract was far from unusual, with many despotic regimes now turning to UK and US firms to ‘massage’ their images.

  • Ethiopia – Spent more than $2.5m on three US firms in 2007/8. Government known for arresting opposition members, while Menes Zenawi has ruled for 21 years.
  • Tunisia – Before his fall from power, dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali paid Washington Media Group nearly half a million dollars to improve the country’s image.
  • Equatorial Guinea – Government of Teodoro Obiang, in power for 32 years, hired Qorvis Communications for $60k a month. In one of the world’s poorest countries, Obiang has a fortune estimated at $600m.
  • Angola – Spending $675,000 annually to improve its image. Autocrat Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ruled the country for 32 years.

Racepoint’s agreement with the government of Rwanda:

Once we have secured agenda-setting stories in the general political and business media, we will propagate the story on the Web…Eventually this will have the effect of drowning out the opposition and reducing the incidence of genocide-related search dominating the organic search (on the Internet).

Read more at The Globe and Mail