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Chapter V
THE SOVIET UNION AND
THE LIBERATION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
 
1. Support for the Liberation Struggle of the
Former Portuguese Colonies
 

p With the active support of all progressive forces in the world the national liberation movement of the African peoples registered fresh and substantial gains in the mid1970s, when the last colonial empire collapsed and Portuguese colonialism ceased to exist. On 25 April 1974 the Portuguese people led by the Armed Forces Movement overthrew the fascist dictatorship which held sway in the country for almost half a century. On 27 July 1974 the Provisional Government of Portugal passed a constitutional law which stipulated that in keeping with the UN Charter Portugal recognised the right of nations to self– determination and that the problems of its former overseas territories should be resolved politically and not militarily. The collapse of the Portuguese colonial empire was a result of the joint liberation struggle of the Portuguese, Mozambican, Angolan and Guinean peoples.

p These momentous events in Africa were preceded by years of bitter struggle of the peoples of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau for their rights and freedom which was steadfastly supported by the Soviet Union and other socialist countries.

p In their efforts to defeat the national liberation movement in the colonies the Portuguese authorities resorted not only to arms. They hatched plots against leaders who were most dedicated to the cause of the people. Eduardo Mondlane, Chairman of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO), was murdered in 1969. On 21 January 1973 128 hired assassins killed Amilcar Gabral, General Secretary oi the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Gape Verde Islands (PAIGG). In spite of these heavy losses the struggle of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies not only did not decline, but, on the contrary, gained in intensity.

p The Soviet Union’s attitude to this struggle is widely known. The CPSU Programme states: "The GPSU regards it as its internationalist duty to assist the peoples who have set out to win and strengthen their national independence, all peoples who are fighting for the complete abolition of the colonial system.”  [128•1 

p It steadfastly pursued this policy also with regard to the national liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. In a speech at the Joint Jubilee Meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR on 3 November 1967 Leonid Brezhnev said: "Our militant union with peoples which still have to carry on an armed struggle against the colonialists constitutes an important element of our line in international affairs.”  [128•2 

p After the UN, acting on the initiative of socialist and many developing countries, adopted the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960), the question of the Portuguese colonies was repeatedly discussed by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.

p On 27 May 1961 the Soviet Government called upon all countries and peoples to force Portugal to end its bandit colonial war in Angola and fulfil the demands of the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. "It is impossible to shut one’s eyes to the fact,” the Soviet statement continued, "that what Portugal is doing in Angola creates a serious threat to peace and the security of the peoples of Africa, and not only of Africa. In these circumstances it is the duty of the United Nations to take effective measures to curb the Portuguese colonialists. Such crimes should not be permitted in our time.”  [128•3  The Soviet statement was received with approval by the peoples of the world and was an act of moral support for the peoples of Angola.

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p Thanks to the determined stand of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries and also many independent African, Asian and Latin American states in the UN, in 1963 the Security Council adopted a resolution urging the Portuguese Government to recognise the right of peoples to self– determination and political independence, end the war in Angola, and hold talks with national organisations. Supported by other peace forces, the Soviet Union succeeded in having an appeal to all countries to stop arms deliveries to Portugal included in the resolution. In compliance with the demands of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries and also of African states Portugal was expelled from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

p Portugal’s isolation in other international organisations of which it was still a member became more and more pronounced.

p As a result of the consistent and principled line of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in the United Nations, the consolidated positions of African, Asian and Latin American countries in that Organisation, and their intensified joint struggle against colonialism, in 1972 the Security Council met for the first time in history on African territory (Addis Ababa). This meeting severely censured the Portuguese colonialists. The Security Council heard statements by representatives of the liberation movements of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies and confirmed their right to freedom and independence. The UN and some other international organisations extended their recognition to the MPLA, FRELIMO and PAIGC. MPLA representatives were admitted to UNESCO, World Health Organisation, the Economic Commission for Africa, and other organisations.

p All this considerably enhanced the prospects of the national liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique and GuineaBissau, and made for greater international solidarity in the struggle of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies.

p The Soviet Union supported the struggle of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies by strengthening direct contacts with the national liberation movements. Back in 1915 Lenin pointed out that if the need arose the socialist state would 130 extend military assistance to the oppressed peoples "against the exploiting classes and their states".  [130•4 

p Accordingly, the USSR furnished military aid to the peoples of Portugal’s African colonies. It supplied them with weapons and trained the men and officers of the military units of the liberation movements. Many Africans from the Portuguese colonies were educated at Soviet universities and colleges. The Soviet Union also sent considerable quantities of medicines, food and clothes to help the fighting peoples.

p The Soviet Union’s all-round assistance and its struggle for the unity uf the anti-imperialist forces were highly assessed by the peoples of the Portuguese colonies. The successes of the struggle, wrote PAIGC General Secretary AmilcarCabral, depend "on the concrete assistance of our allies from the socialist camp and in Africa, with a special stress on the effective aid rendered us by our friend, the Soviet Union".  [130•5 

p Young Soviet doctors looked after the health of the population in the liberated areas in the former Portuguese colonies, treated the wounded fighters and trained the local medical personnel.

p Soviet public organisations substantially supported the struggle of the peoples of the former Portuguese colonies also through international democratic organisations: World Federation of Trade Unions, World Peace Council, Women’s International Democratic Federation, Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and World Federation of Democratic Youth. Representatives of Soviet public organisations campaigned for all-round assistance to the fighters for freedom and independence.

p Special mention should be made of the Soviet Union’s vigorous activity in the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) which consistently works for the liquidation of colonialism and racialism. At its sessions the AAPSO Council repeatedly advised all Asian and African countries to extend effective aid to the liberation struggle of the peoples of the Portuguese colonies and immediately introduce economic and political sanctions against Portugal’s colonial government.

p AAPSO adopted all its decisions concerning the liberation 131 of the Portuguese colonies with the active participation of Soviet delegations.

p Firmly implementing its internationalist principles, the Soviet Union provided all-round assistance to the peoples of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique in their just struggle for independence until they attained full freedom. The Soviet Government acted in keeping with the resolution of the 24th CPSU Congress which said in part: "The CPSU is invariably true to the Leninist principle of solidarity with the peoples fighting for national liberation and social emancipation. As in the past, the fighters against the remaining colonial regimes can count on our full support."  [131•6 

p The Soviet Union’s firm and consistent attitude to the colonial regimes in many respects influenced the course of events which brought about the collapse of the Portuguese colonial empire and the international imperialist forces that stood behind it.

p The independence of Guinea-Bissau was proclaimed in 1973; in September 1974 the new government in Portugal and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) signed an agreement on the formation of a transitional government and on 25 June 1975 Mozambique proclaimed its independence.

p The forces of imperialism and neocolonialism, however, did not lay down their arms. This was borne out by the events which took place in Angola in 1975 and which were rooted in the fact that its natural resources—oil, diamonds, iron ore and other raw materials—whetted the appetites of the giant foreign monopf Ues. It should be borne in mind that once such giants as the Anglo-American Company owned by the "diamond king" from South Africa Oppenheimer, the US’s Gulf-Oil, the French Elf and the South African INEXCAFE, which gained control over Angolan coffee trade, and others had firmly entrenched themselves in the Angolan economy.

p Imperialism displayed special interest in Angola also because it borders on Namibia which is illegally occupied by South Africa. Taking this into consideration the South African racialists and their imperialist accomplices made every effort to prevent the formation of a really free and independent Angola.

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p In fulfilment of its internationalist duty the Soviet Union provided moral and material assistance to the patriotic forces of Angola—the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA)—in their struggle against colonialism. With the help of the USSR, Cuba and other socialist countries, the Angolan people led by the MPLA smashed the regular troops of the interventionists from South Africa and other white mercenaries. The units of the splitter antipopular organisations FNLA and UNITA were also defeated.

p Thus, the struggle of the Angolan people for freedom and independence was crowned with success. But as they fight for full independence, the peoples of the former Portuguese colonies will have to beat off more than one counter-attack of the neocolonialists.

p To a very large extent the successful outcome of this struggle depends on Angola’s and Mozambique’s further rapprochement with the USSR. The documents that were signed during the visits of the President of the People’s Republic of Mozambique Samora Machel and Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Angola Lopo do Nascimento in May 1976, noted that the relations between the Soviet Union and the young states which were formerly Portuguese colonies, were in line with their vital interests and served the cause of international peace and security. Agreement was reached that the USSR would take steps to help Angola strengthen its defensive capacity.

p Soviet-Angolan relations continued to develop in the ensuing years. During the official visit to the Soviet Union at the end of September 1977, MPLA Chairman and President of the People’s Republic of Angola Agostinho Neto said: "Our cooperation is making good progress. This applies to inter-party cooperation, relations in the economic, scientific, technical, cultural and other spheres.”  [132•7 

The bonds of friendship between the Soviet people and the peoples of Mozambique and Angola, countries that have chosen the road of social progress, do much to stimulate the struggle of the peoples of these countries for full national liberation. The Soviet-Mozambique and Soviet-Angolan treaties of friendship and cooperation signed on 31 March and 8 October 1977 respectively are undoubtedly a step in this direction.

* * *
 

Notes

 [128•1]   The Road to Communism, Moscow, 1962, p. 497.

 [128•2]   L. I. Brezhnev, Following Lenin s Coarse, Moscow, 1972, p. 56.

 [128•3]   Pravda, 27 May 1961.

[130•4]   V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 21, p. 342.

[130•5]   World Marxist Review, Vol. 10, No. 11, November 1967, p. 49.

[131•6]   24th Congress of the CPSU, Moscow, 1971, p. 215.

 [132•7]   Pravda, 29 September 1977.