Military Review

"Portuguese Vietnam". How with the help of the USSR Guinea-Bissau achieved independence

The second half of the twentieth century entered the world history and as a period of decolonization. During 1950-x - 1970-x. Most of the African, Asian, Caribbean, and Oceanic colonies of the European powers gained political independence. The last colonial empire that stubbornly refused to liberate their African possessions was Portugal. This small European country since the Great Geographical Discoveries has acquired a large number of overseas colonies. By the middle of the twentieth century, most of the Portuguese colonies were located in Africa - Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe. As in other African colonies, the anticolonial movement gradually intensified in the Portuguese possessions. From popular uprisings of the late XIX - early XX centuries. it gradually evolved towards more modern forms of the national liberation struggle. This partly contributed to the policy of the Portuguese leadership in the years of the dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.

As you know, Salazar sought at all costs to keep the overseas colonies under Portuguese rule, knowing full well that without them, Portugal would turn into a small country, deprived of serious economic resources and no one would reckon with it. Therefore, the Portuguese dictator fully supported the concept of lusotropicism. Its author, the Brazilian philosopher Gilberto Freire, believed that the Portuguese were most adapted to communication with the tropical peoples of Africa, Asia and South America, and the Portuguese civilization was multicultural, uniting representatives of different races. In accordance with this concept, the Portuguese authorities sought to form in the colonies an indigenous elite that would become a reliable support for Lisbon and assist in the management of the indigenous population. Representatives of the Asimilados, as the Africans were called in Portugal, who adopted Catholicism, knew Portuguese, and learned the Portuguese way of life, had the opportunity to study in the metropolis. Actually, this was the beginning of a new phase in the national liberation movement of the African colonies of Portugal. The natives of the colonies, studying in Portugal, got acquainted with the local socialists and communists, got access to the revolutionary literature and became more and more convinced of the injustice of the existing colonial system. Almost all the leaders of the national liberation movements of the Portuguese colonies were educated in the metropolis. At the medical faculty of the famous University of Coimbra, Agostinho Neto studied - the future leader of the MPLA of Angola. In Lisbon, he studied medicine another famous Angolan - Jonas Savimbi, then created UNITA. Eduardo Mondlane, one of the founders of the Mozambique National Liberation Front (FRELIMO), and Joaquín Chissano, the future President of Mozambique, studied in Lisbon. Amilcar Cabral, who led the national liberation struggle of the peoples of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, was among African students in Lisbon.

"Portuguese Vietnam". How with the help of the USSR Guinea-Bissau achieved independence

In 1446, a Portuguese expedition led by navigator and slave trader Nuno Tristan landed on the west coast of Africa, near the Cape Verde Islands. The Portuguese discovered the land they called Guinea. However, Tristan himself and some of his companions were killed by local residents. Only twenty years later, the king of Portugal granted the Portuguese colonists of Cape Verde the right to develop Guinean lands. Since 1471, the Portuguese have begun to colonize coastal lands. A number of settlements were created, the largest of which were Cacheu and Bissau. The basis of the economy for many centuries was the export to Brazil - to work on sugar and tobacco plantations - slaves bought from local leaders. Guinean territories were under the control of the Governor of the Cape Verde Islands and only in 1879 was a separate colony of Portuguese Guinea established. However, compared with Angola and Mozambique, Guinea was a much less significant Portuguese colony. However, in 1951, she, among other former colonies, received the status of an “overseas province”.

The asimilados living in Guinea, who can write Portuguese, lead the European way of life and profess Catholicism, received Portuguese citizenship. One of them was Amilcar Cabral (1924-1973) - a native of the city of Bafata, who came from a wealthy Asimilados family from the Cape Verde Islands. In Portuguese Guinea, people from Cape Verde have always occupied a privileged position, since they have learned Portuguese culture to a greater degree, and Portuguese was a native language for them. Amilcar Cabral was educated in Lisbon - at the Higher Agronomical Institute, after which in 1952 he returned to Guinea and got a job as an agronomist at the Pessube farm. Cabral returned to his homeland as a staunch supporter of the national liberation movement — while still in 1948, while studying in Portugal, he made connections with other African students who held left-wing political views. In 1951, together with Angolans Agostinho Neto and Mario de Andrade, San Francisco Jose Tenreiro, Amilcar Cabral created the Center for African Studies.

Returning to Guinea, in 1953, the city of Cabral founded the Guinea National Independence Movement, which was joined mainly by Asimilados - intellectuals and skilled workers. In 1955, the governor of Guinea sent Cabral to Angola, with the right to visit his family in Guinea no more than once a year. But that was enough for Amilcar. 19 September 1956 in Bissau, Amilcar Cabral, who came for a “leave”, his half-brother Luis Cabral, Fernando Fortes, Aristides Pereira, Julio Almeida and Elise Turpin founded a new political organization called the African Independence Party. From 1960, it became known as the "African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde" (Portuguese abbreviation - PAIGC). The headquarters of the new national liberation organization is located in the city of Conakry - the capital of the neighboring Republic of Guinea, the former French colony, which has already gained political independence. The President of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure, advocated the complete decolonization of Africa, the development of friendly relations with the Soviet Union, and supported national liberation movements on the continent, including in Portuguese Guinea.

Initially, the African Party’s independence of Guinea and Cape Verde set itself the goal of proclaiming a single independent state with a democratic political system and a socialist economy. Gradually, the PAIGC managed to create an extensive network of its groups and cells in both Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde Islands. Much of the leadership of the party were mulattoes and "asimiladush" - people from the Cape Verde Islands, and the lower composition - representatives of the people balante, one of the largest in Portuguese Guinea. In August, the leadership of PAIGC 1961 announced the need for a transition to armed struggle against Portuguese rule. At the same time, party leaders began to look for channels of access to the Soviet leadership in order to receive assistance from the Soviet Union. This task was greatly facilitated by the relocation of the headquarters in Conakry (Guinea), since the President of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Touré, followed the pro-Soviet line. At the end of 1961, Moscow received a message from the Soviet Embassy in Guinea, according to which PAIGC General Secretary Amilcar Cabral asked permission to come to the Soviet Union to meet with representatives of the Soviet leadership. In Moscow, they decided to go for a meeting with Cabral. The Soviet Union, interested in strengthening its political influence in Africa, has established links with the PAIGC.

- Amilcar Cabral and the PAIGC Partisans

In the meantime, armed guerrilla warfare began in 1963 in Portuguese Guinea. Under the PAIGC, an armed wing was created - Revolutionary armed forces of the people - FARP, which copied the organizational structure of the Angolan FNLA. Since the Portuguese forces were much smaller in number in the colony than in Angola or Mozambique, the guerrillas managed to establish control over large areas in the south and in the center of Portuguese Guinea for a short time. The war in Portuguese Guinea was even nicknamed “Portuguese Vietnam”, since the guerrillas of the PAIGC operated in the jungle of Guinea and successfully attacked the Portuguese colonial forces. The erroneous tactics chosen by the Portuguese military command contributed to the success of the partisans - the forces of the colonial troops (Portuguese armed forces abroad) were scattered between separate settlements, farms and plantations to protect them, making the small units of the Portuguese troops a suitable target for partisan attacks. At the same time, in Cape Verde, where the majority of the population was mulatto and asimiladush, the guerrilla war against the Portuguese authorities did not start. Most of the population of Cape Verde had Portuguese passports and was not eager to weapons in the hands of seeking independence. This factor subsequently played a major role in the further delimitation of the PAIGC of Guinea-Bissau and the PAIGC of Cape Verde.

The development of guerrilla warfare in Portuguese Guinea was facilitated by large-scale assistance from the Soviet Union. Moscow gave African comrades full support. As you know, in the Crimea, in the village of Perevalnoe, then the secret 165-th Training Center for training foreign troops of the USSR Ministry of Defense was located. Fighters from revolutionary and national liberation organizations from around the world were trained there. In 1965, the first group of PAIGC fighters in 75 was trained at this training center. At the beginning of 1966, the first group of fighters left the USSR for Guinea. In total, according to some data, around 12 Guinean partisans passed through the training center in Perevalno during the 1500 years of the war in Portuguese Guinea (although some authors are convinced that this figure is somewhat overestimated).

As a result of the guerrilla war, already by 1967 the city of PAIGC controlled two thirds of the territory of Portuguese Guinea. Gradually, the actions of the PAIGC gained support not only from the Soviet Union, Cuba, other countries of socialist orientation and African states, but also from the entire world community. So, in November 1972, the UN Security Council officially recognized the PAIGC as the sole representative of the peoples of Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde. However, the Portuguese leadership took all possible steps to keep Guinea as part of the colonial empire. Since 1968, the post of Governor of Portuguese Guinea was held by Brigadier General António de Spinola - one of the most talented Portuguese military leaders, in 1967-1968. served as deputy commander of the National Republican Guard, and before that he had experience serving in Angola, where he commanded a mechanized cavalry group. Spinola pursued a policy of "Africanization" of the colonial troops, hoping to fight against the Africans with the hands of the Africans themselves. Two combat units — the commando battalion and the marine infantry battalion — were fully staffed by Africans born in Portuguese Guinea, and the Africans also served in officer positions, which was nonsense for the early colonial forces.

In 1970, the Portuguese Air Force began to use the scorched earth tactics, repeating the American experience of the Vietnam War and burning the Guinean jungle napalm in which PAIGK bases were hiding. On November 22, 1970, Portugal organized an attempted armed invasion of Conakry, the capital of Guinea, to overthrow President Ahmed Secu Toure, who provided basic assistance to the PAIGC rebels. A squad of 220 Portuguese paratroopers, reinforced by local opponents Sekou Toure, attacked the city. But the attacks of the Portuguese were repulsed. Naval ships were sent to help Guinea fleet THE USSR. The United Nations condemned the actions of Portugal. On January 20, 1973, Amilkar Cabral, returning from a reception at the Polish Embassy in Conakry, was stopped by a group of armed men - his supporters, who later turned out to work for Portuguese intelligence. The PAIGC leader was shot in the back of the head. After the assassination of Amilkar Cabral, the leader of PAIGC was taken by his half-brother Luis Cabral (1931-2009), an accountant by profession.

- Amilcar Cabral and Fidel Castro

April 25 The Portugal Carnation Revolution began on April 1974, resulting in the successor of Salazar Marcel Caetan. One of the reasons for the revolution of the carnations was precisely the protracted and bloody colonial wars that were waged by Portugal in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea. The new Portuguese government understood the need for a radical change in the paradigm of Portuguese politics in Africa. Even General Spinola emphasized that insisting only on a military solution to the problem is equal to acknowledging the defeat of Portuguese politics on the continent. However, all attempts to preserve the colonial empire through concessions to the national liberation movements failed: after decades of resistance, the leaders of the national liberation organizations no longer wanted to hear about being part of Portugal. 26 August 1974 As a result of negotiations in Algeria, Portugal pledged to ensure the withdrawal of all Portuguese troops from the territory of Guinea-Bissau by the end of October 1974 and officially recognize the independence and government of the country. 10 September 1974 was officially recognized the political independence of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. 1973 to 1980 Luis Cabral served as chairman of the State Council of the Republic. However, 14 November 1980 was a bloodless coup in the country. All the "mulatto" leadership of the PAIGC, headed by Luis Cabral, was removed from power, and Juan Bernardo Vieira, nicknamed "Comandante Nino", became the new head of the country. Under his leadership, the PAIGC in 1981 finally abandoned the idea of ​​uniting Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. parusnik
    parusnik April 29 2016 06: 35
    I remember the flexible record in "Horizon", "Songs of the partisans of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands" .. Thank you, Ilya ...
  2. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack April 29 2016 06: 53
    Thank you - a completely unknown page in our history ......
  3. ovod84
    ovod84 April 29 2016 07: 03
    I did not know about Amilkar thanks.
  4. inkass_98
    inkass_98 April 29 2016 07: 22
    The colonial heritage will go around for a long time around the world. In Africa itself, it’s hard enough to find a country that does not wage war with its neighbors or is not torn apart by a civil war. Even relatively prosperous Egypt is not quite stable, let alone countries with a Negro population, which so far have not really departed from primitive communal and tribal relations. Only now they got firearms, and tribal hatred did not go anywhere. Hence the bloody showdown with a huge number of victims.
    1. Vladimirets
      Vladimirets April 29 2016 09: 54
      Quote: inkass_98
      which so far has not really departed from primitive communal and tribal relations. Only now they got firearms, and tribal hatred did not go anywhere. Hence the bloody showdown with a huge number of victims.

      The main problem is that the borders inherited by modern African countries were formed at the request of the metropolises that divided land among themselves. As a result, some tribes were divided between neighboring countries; in others, on the contrary, antagonist tribes were gathered under the flag of one country.
      1. atalef
        atalef April 29 2016 10: 24
        Quote: Vladimirets
        The main problem is that the borders inherited by modern African countries were formed at the request of the metropolises that divided land

        same thing in the Middle East.
        Quote: Vladimirets
        As a result, some tribes were divided between neighboring countries; in others, on the contrary, antagonistic tribes were gathered under the flag of one country.

        Iraq Lebanon. Syria - see the consequences today.
  5. cdznjckfd
    cdznjckfd April 29 2016 07: 34
    I heard about Cabral in Bissau, but I didn’t know that he was the youngest, thanks to a wonderful article, I wonder why the actions of our marines on forcing Portugal to peace were not described?
  6. Aleksander
    Aleksander April 29 2016 09: 16
    And why was it necessary to spend huge folk funds on support-unsupportment of someone? WHAT have achieved? Absolute stupidity ......
    1. pigkiller
      pigkiller April 29 2016 09: 20
      In order to spend that the war did not go on the borders of the USSR, but on other continents.
      Now the war is 700 km from Moscow, if you do not already know this.
      1. Whitesnow
        Whitesnow 5 May 2016 06: 53
        The stupid foreign and mediocre national policy of the leadership of the USSR led to wars on the borders of present-day Russia. If blacks can live without the dictates of Europe, then why is this not possible for the former parts of the USSR? If Moldovans can live separately, then why not Transnistria? If Georgia can, then why not Abkhazia? Does the thought catch?
    2. The comment was deleted.
    3. atalef
      atalef April 29 2016 09: 22
      Quote: Aleksander
      And why was it necessary to spend huge folk funds on support-unsupportment of someone? WHAT have achieved? Absolute stupidity ......

      What you have achieved, read, see (not a few pictures) and generally show me at least one country where the USSR was able to build at least something a little bit normal and viable.

      In Guinea-Bissau, everything is so bad that people are forced to take extreme measures. Immediately after the border, the police stopped my car in the hope of getting at least something. Checked for the presence of a fire extinguisher, triangle, wipers. In the end, they found fault with the fact that there is no water in the washer. And they fined the driver a hundred dollars. Unheard-of audacity by African standards.

      Somewhere in the center of the country there is a scene - in the middle of the road are three teenagers, two on the edges of the road are holding a rope on outstretched hands, one in the center is trying to stop passing cars. What do you want? Uncle, give me the money. Need to go further.
      1. Pre-cat
        Pre-cat April 29 2016 09: 49
        Quote: atalef
        and in general show me at least one country where the USSR was able to build at least something a little bit normal and viable.

        And what, Israel is no longer considered? laughing
        1. atalef
          atalef April 29 2016 09: 55
          Quote: Cat undereducated
          Quote: atalef
          and in general show me at least one country where the USSR was able to build at least something a little bit normal and viable.

          And what, Israel is no longer considered? laughing

          USSR created Israel? Again for the fish - a pittance.
      2. Anglorussian
        Anglorussian April 29 2016 16: 12
        Experience shows that in Africa, build something viable and it’s simply not possible to look after it yourself. Mugabe will not give lies.
      3. Alexey RA
        Alexey RA April 29 2016 18: 11
        Quote: atalef
        What you have achieved, read, see (not a few pictures) and generally show me at least one country where the USSR was able to build at least something a little bit normal and viable.

        The place is damned. ©
        In those parts, few people were able to build at least something a little bit normal and viable. Rwanda alone was worth what ... Even South Africa lived only while apartheid was.

        There was a bitter joke at one time:
        The results of a survey of residents of the newly independent African states "who would you like to see at the head of the country":
        1st place: return the colonizers
        2nd place: tribal leaders
        N-th place: the current government - local politicians, graduates of the Sorbonne, Oxford and Yale
      4. Whitesnow
        Whitesnow 5 May 2016 06: 59
        Soviet foreign policy mirrors US foreign policy. That is, a competitor does not give a shit, even to the detriment of himself. And to name successful projects is easy - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and all other countries of the socialist camp in Europe. And African countries can live normally, only under external control.
  7. Bredovich705
    Bredovich705 April 29 2016 09: 58
    Very interesting! A little lit topic! Thank you for the article!
  8. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky April 29 2016 12: 53
    Thanks to the author for the article!
  9. h_d
    h_d April 29 2016 15: 05
    not enough for a review ...
  10. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA April 29 2016 16: 50
    On January 20, 1973, Amilkar Cabral, returning from a reception at the Polish embassy in Conakry, was stopped by a group of armed men - his supporters, who later turned out to be working for Portuguese intelligence. The PAIGK leader was shot in the back of the head.

    In one of the rooms of "Gangut" there was a description of this event from our side. The fact is that the group that killed Cabral and captured his wife and several members of the PAIGK top tried to leave by sea (this action was led by PAIGK fleet officers who had previously studied in the USSR, to whom the commands of all three PAIGK boats were loyal). And then the commander of the Soviet stationary (EM "Experienced") in Conakry, a cap-two Yu.I. Ilinykh, received independent and sole solution: catch the boats with the abductors. And caught up. Two out of three.
    For which he received the traditional award for our fleet: dismissal "for arbitrariness and violation of job descriptions", reinstatement in office (army advisers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stood behind the Ilyinykh Gora) and the subsequent gratitude of the ComSF"for courageous and decisive actions during military service in the Atlantic". smile
    At midnight from January 20 to 21, 1973, the commander of the People’s Army of the Republic of Guinea and the Soviet military adviser, Major General F.V., suddenly arrived at the “Experienced” Chicherin. They said that at about 23 pm a group of unidentified persons killed A. Cabral on one of Conakry streets, and his wife and several members of the executive committee and the PAIGK Central Committee were seized and transported to boats that left in the direction of Portuguese Guinea. On behalf of the President of the Republic of Guinea and the Soviet Ambassador A.P. Ratanova captain 2nd rank Yu.I. The Ilyins were asked to go to sea to intercept the criminals, since only the Soviet destroyer was able to solve this problem as soon as possible.

    Taking on a huge responsibility, Yu.I. The Ilyins decided to go to sea. Based on combat alert, the destroyer prepared for the exit, took on board a platoon of Guinean soldiers and at 0 hours 50 minutes went to sea. The Ilyins sent several reports to the General Staff of the Navy, but received no instructions, except for a ban on the use of weapons.

    At 3 o’clock in the morning, the radar traveling at 18 nodal speed along the Guinean coast of a destroyer at a distance of 220 kb found two motionless small-sized targets. At about 5 a.m., two of the three boats that left Conakry were visually identified in them. The destroyer promptly approached one of the boats and moored it at the side. The second boat at gunpoint 130 mm guns himself came up and surrendered. Guinean soldiers immediately got onto the boats, disarmed the teams and sent them to the “Experienced”. As it turned out, due to the poor preparation of the teams on the boats, all navigation and radar equipment was out of order, so they had to wait until dawn.

    At 15 o’clock, the “Experienced” safely returned to Conakry, towing both boats in tow. Around the same time, a third boat was discovered and captured by Guinean sailors in coastal thickets, on which all prisoners were freed. By this time, a direct connection with Moscow was restored. Initially, Yu.G. Ilyins for arbitrariness was removed from office, but the next day, after the best reviews about the action of the destroyer, Major General F.V. Chicherin, Ilinykh again became the commander of the "experienced". And in the evening, the commander of the Northern Fleet announced Yu.G. Ilyin thanks for bold and decisive actions.
  11. QWERTY
    QWERTY April 29 2016 17: 32
    It seems that giving the African colonies independence was still a mistake. So many years have passed, and there is an endless mess everywhere. Well, they cannot live on their own.
  12. GUSAR
    GUSAR April 29 2016 21: 17
    We helped them, helped them ... Read more about these "liberation wars", how those who seem to need this independence fought "well". About the same Angola, for example, where local comrades were clearly not eager to go into battle, wanting the Russians and Cubans to do everything for them. In my opinion, during the existence of the USSR, there are only 2 examples when we helped not in vain, even if those whom we helped - went into battle ourselves, and did not go only on our hump - these are Vietnam and Cuba, about the Arabs and other "brothers" even reluctance to remember. And by the way, under the same oppressors there was order in Africa, a more or less sensible economy, a generally normal sanitary situation, there was no hunger and total devastation. The Dutch, Portuguese, British, French, hated in the Union (and many now), pulled their colonies out of the primitive system into a more or less modern society, the entire material and technical base in the former African colonies was built under the leadership of the "oppressors". Yes, these countries gained independence, and then what?
    1. Sergej1972
      Sergej1972 April 30 2016 16: 12
      Actually, independence was also given to those countries whose national liberation movements the USSR did not help. Do you seriously think that the independence of the countries of Asia and Africa was the result of Soviet assistance?
      1. Whitesnow
        Whitesnow 5 May 2016 07: 15
        Exactly! All colonies gained independence thanks to the actions of the USSR in the third world. Another question is whether the Soviet people needed it. Yes, and actions in fact rather destroyed this very third world. Millions of people of us all died, the economy turned to dust.