Dec. 19, 2013 | Press Releases

Mariah Carey Celebrates Angola’s Dictator, his Family, and Their Ill-Gotten Wealth

LUANDA, ANGOLA (December 19, 2013)—On Sunday, December 15 American pop star Mariah Carey performed a two-hour concert at a gala for the Angolan Red Cross. The glitzy show was sponsored by Unitel, a mobile phone company. Angola has been ruled since 1979 by dictator José Eduardo dos Santos. His billionaire daughter Isabel owns Unitel and is also president of the Angolan Red Cross.

Mariah Carey Celebrates Angola’s Dictator, his Family, and Their Ill-Gotten Wealth
Mariah Carey poses with José Eduardo dos Santos, the 34-year dictator of Angola, his wife, and his daughter Isabel—Angola’s only billionaire

“Mariah Carey can’t seem to get enough dictator cash, reportedly more than $1 million this time. Just five years ago she performed for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Now, she goes from private performances to public displays of support and credibility for one of Africa’s chief human rights violators and most corrupt tyrants,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “It is the sad spectacle of an international artist purchased by a ruthless police state to entertain and whitewash the father-daughter kleptocracy that has amassed billions in ill-gotten wealth while the majority of Angola lives on less than $2 a day,” said Halvorssen.

In their brutal three-decade rule, the dos Santos family has exploited oil and diamond wealth to build total control over all branches of the government, the military, and the courts. Dos Santos has ordered the deaths of many politicians, journalists, and activists who protest his rule, yet has largely evaded external criticism.

Mariah remained in Angola long enough to perform two concerts. She joins Jennifer Lopez in repeatedly performing for human rights violators. Lopez recently peformed at the birthday celebration of  the dictator of Turkmenistan; after pleading ignorance, it was revealed that she had collected more than $9 million in looted wealth from other dictators and their cronies.

In 2008, when exposed for playing for Gaddafi’s family, Mariah released a statement saying: "I was naive and unaware of who I was booked to perform for. I feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in this mess. Ultimately we as artists are to be held accountable. Going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from. We need to be more aware and take more responsibility regardless of who books our shows."

Mariah’s performance in Angola was heavily promoted online and by the state media, as posters of her could be seen everywhere in downtown Luanda. At Sunday’s gala she said: “I am happy to be here in this room and I am honored to share this show with the President of Angola.”

Rafael Marques de Morais, editor of an Angolan anti-corruption website, noted that “the presidency was happy to cover the capital in posters of her performance, but on November 23 the presidential guards murdered an activist in custody for posting fliers. Those fliers were a peaceful protest of the murder of other activists disappeared by state police. How does Mariah Carey, the artist and humanist, who so often speaks about human rights, feel about that?”

“The Angolan Red Cross gala raised $65,000, which wouldn’t cover the cost of fuel for Isabel dos Santos’ private plane ride to go shopping in Paris. Mariah Carey’s transportation alone cost several times that number. It’s absolutely shameless,” said de Morais.

HRF is a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that protects and promotes human rights globally, with an expertise on corruption and celebrity. We believe that all human beings are entitled to freedom of self-determination, freedom from tyranny, the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes human rights advocates George Ayittey, Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Garry Kasparov, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.


Thor Halvorssen - Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486,

Rafael Marques de Morais -



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