Carlos Lopes Pereira, former member of the Secretariat of the liberation organization led by the late Amílcar Cabral and contributor to the newspaper Avante (organ of the Portuguese Communist Party), sent this message to the Lenin Centennial held in New York City on Jan. 21.

This international anti-imperialist day marking the centenary of Lenin’s death is rightly dedicated to solidarity with the resistance of the heroic people of Palestine, who are facing yet another stage in the criminal war of extermination waged by the Israeli state, with the complicity and support of the U.S. and its allies.

Amílcar Cabral

By coincidence, 2024 also marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Amílcar Cabral, the revolutionary leader of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), who organized and led the victorious struggle for national independence in both countries, from the mid-1950s until his cowardly assassination in 1973 by agents of Portuguese colonialism.

Cabral was born on Sept. 12, 1924, in Bafatá, in the then “Portuguese” colony of Guinea, where he lived the first years of his childhood. While still a child, he emigrated with his family to Cabo Verde, another Portuguese colony, where he attended primary school in Praia, on the island of Santiago, and high school in Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente.

A brilliant student, he won a scholarship and, at the end of 1945, went to Lisbon to study Agronomy, a course he chose influenced by his desire to combat the hunger and extreme poverty suffered by the majority of the archipelago’s people, who were subjected to periodic droughts that aggravated colonial exploitation.

Cabral joined Portuguese struggles vs. fascist regime

In Portugal, Cabral quickly joined and took part in the struggles of Portuguese student associations and democratic organizations, especially the youth wing of the Movement for Democratic Unity (MUD), close to the Portuguese Communist Party, in the underground, against the fascist-colonial dictatorship.

In those post-World War II years of renewed historical optimism inspired by the defeat of Nazi-fascism, the growing prestige of the Soviet Union and the rise of the emancipation movement of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Cabral met other young Africans who had left their colonies to study in Portugal and who would later become prominent fighters for the liberation of their countries. He fraternized with young people like Agostinho Neto, Mário Pinto de Andrade and Lúcio Lara, from Angola; like Marcelino dos Santos and Noémia de Sousa, from Mozambique; like Vasco Cabral, from Guinea; like Alda Espírito Santo and Hugo Menezes, from São Tomé and Príncipe and others with whom he debated and developed common independence ideals.

At the beginning of the 1950s, after finishing his university degree in Lisbon with honors, Cabral chose to go to his native Guinea to work as an agronomist. He spent two years there and carried out the colony’s agricultural census for the state, which allowed him to travel around the territory, make contact with city workers and peasants, study the ethnic and cultural diversity of the people and gain a deeper understanding of the economic and social situation resulting from colonial domination.

Cabral became popular and prestigious in his homeland, but the colonial authorities kept a close eye on him and, in 1954, “advised” him to leave the colony and only allowed him to visit his family once a year. He returned to Portugal and worked as an agronomist in the metropolis and in Angola, while at the same time intensifying his clandestine contacts with the independence movement in the “Portuguese” African colonies. In September 1956, while in Bissau, he founded the PAIGC with other Guinean and Cabo Verdean patriots. In December, he helped set up the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in Luanda.

Continuing to work in Portugal and Angola, Cabral traveled around Africa and kept in touch with his PAIGC comrades in Guinea and his fellow fighters in the other colonies. In January 1960, he left Lisbon for good and, in May, with the support of the newly independent Republic of Guinea and its president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, he set up the PAIGC headquarters in Conakry.

Cabral focused on liberation struggle

From then on, Cabral devoted himself entirely to the liberation struggle of the peoples of Guinea and Cabo Verde. He led the popular mobilization for the struggle, created a cadre training school, established relations with African countries, sent the first fighters to China for military training, strengthened ties of cooperation with the Soviet Union, Cuba and other socialist countries and proposed that the Portuguese government negotiate the colonial conflict peacefully.

Faced with the colonial-fascist dictatorship’s refusal of a peaceful solution, Cabral began the armed struggle in Guinea in January 1963 and clandestinely organized the PAIGC in Cabo Verde. Against the same enemy — Portuguese colonialism — the MPLA had already been waging armed struggle in Angola since 1961, and Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) proclaimed the general insurrection of the Mozambican people in 1964.

The emancipation guerrilla movement in Guinea made rapid progress, establishing liberated areas in the territory where the PAIGC set up structures for the future state (food production, schools, hospitals, courts). Despite the war crimes of the colonialist forces, which were armed by NATO and the racist regimes of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia, by the end of the 1960s two\-thirds of Guinean territory had been liberated.

The colonial army was confined to the cities and in a few barracks and the PAIGC and its liberation struggle enjoyed wide recognition from the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the socialist countries and the progressive forces of the world.

In 1970, the Portuguese colonialists, supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, France and other colonial powers, planned — at the highest level of the state — and carried out an attack by special troops and mercenaries, with the support of the navy, against Conakry and other locations, with the aim of liquidating Amílcar Cabral, destroying the PAIGC and bringing about a change of regime in the Republic of Guinea. They failed to achieve their aims and suffered a shameful military and political defeat.

But in desperation, trying to avoid an inevitable defeat in Guinea, the colonialists once again organized the assassination of Amílcar Cabral on Jan. 20, 1973, in Conakry, using traitors paid by Lisbon and Bissau. They killed Cabral, but his comrades-in-arms continued the fight with a general offensive on all fronts.

In a few months, they shot down enemy planes, using new weapons delivered by the Soviet Union — the Sam 2 surface-to-air missiles — putting an end to the colonial forces’ aerial domination; and they attacked and took over barracks, causing heavy casualties and contributing to the demoralization of the Portuguese troops.

On Sept. 24, 1973, in the Boé forests, in the liberated areas, a National People’s Assembly, elected in the middle of the war, proclaimed the birth of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, which was soon recognized as a state with part of its territory occupied by foreign troops.

On April 25, 1974, less than a year-and a-half after Cabral’s shameful assassination, progressive sectors of the Portuguese armed forces overthrew the 48-year-old fascist-colonial dictatorship in Portugal and paved the way for the April Revolution and the end of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, which helped accelerate the historical transformations in southern Africa.

Cabral and Palestine

On the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s death and to address this international assembly against imperialism in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance, it makes sense here to evoke statements by Amílcar Cabral, a prominent anti-imperialist fighter, about the founder of the Soviet state and about Palestine.

Cabral wrote in 1970, at the end of a text entitled “A fruitful light illuminates the path of the struggle: Lenin and the national liberation struggle” (*): “Whether Marxist or not, Leninist or not, it is difficult for anyone not to recognize the validity, even the genius of Lenin’s analysis and conclusions, which prove to be of immense historical scope, illuminating with fruitful clarity the often thorny and even sombre path of the peoples who are fighting for their total liberation from imperialist domination.”

In his text, Cabral corroborated Lenin’s conclusions, “explicitly or implicitly contained in his work on imperialism and confirmed by the events of contemporary history,” considering them to be “another notable contribution to the thought and action of the liberation movement.” And he reaffirmed that “the oppressed peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America are necessarily called upon to play a decisive role in the struggle to liquidate the world imperialist system, of which they are the main victims.”

Years earlier, in 1965, Cabral referred to the question of Palestine, speaking in Dar es Salaam, during the work of the Second Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP), on behalf of FRELIMO, the MPLA, the PAIGC and the Committee for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe.

In the Tanzanian capital, the Guinean-Cape Verdean leader said: “We are with the refugees, the martyred refugees from Palestine, who have been reviled, expelled from their homeland by the maneuvers of imperialism. We stand with the refugees of Palestine and we support with all the strength of our hearts everything that the children of Palestine are doing to liberate their country, and we support with all our strength the Arab countries and African countries in general to help the Palestinian people regain their dignity, their independence and their right to life.”

SOURCES:
(*) – CABRAL, Amílcar, Obras Escolhidas, vol. I – A Arma da Teoria, pp. 257 to 265, published by the Amílcar Cabral Foundation, Praia, Cape Verde, 2013.
(**) – CABRAL, Amílcar, Textos da Luta, p. 267, Avante! editions, Lisbon, 2023.

Carlos Lopes Pereira (guest author)

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Carlos Lopes Pereira (guest author)

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