- The US government has declassified documents on the death of Cape Verde's and Guinea-Bissau's celebrated freedom fighter, Amílcar Cabral, who was assassinated in 1973, thus not living to see the independence of the two Portuguese colonies. The historical documents show that Washington suspected Portugal to be involved in the killing, although leaning towards an ethnic conflict between the freedom fighters.
Less than a month after the assassination of the leader of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), Amílcar Cabral, in 1973, the United States concluded that then-colonial power Portugal was not directly involved in his death, according to official documents made public Monday in Washington. Even so, the US State Department's Information and Investigation Services also concluded that "Lisbon's complicity" in the assassination of the leader of the struggle for Cape Verde's and Guinea-Bissau's independence "cannot be ruled out."
According to journalist José Pestana of Portuguese news agency Lusa, the documents now made public include telegrams, minutes from high-level US government meetings and policy proposals for Washington in the face of the deterioration of the military situation in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, both of which at the time were immersed in wars between Portugal and their respective independence movements.
Mr Cabral, who led the fight for the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, was assassinated on 20 January 1973 in Conakry (Republic of Guinea), and on 1 February, the US Department of State issued a report in which it stated that "most signs indicate [that Cabral’s assassination] was the result of a feud between mulattoes from the islands of Cape Verde and continental Africans [Bissau-Guineans]," adding, however, that there were "signs of Portuguese involvement."
The declassified documents also reveal that US diplomats were aware of the PAIGC leader's plans to declare the independence of Guinea-Bissau in the territory's liberated zones - which ended up taking place in September 1973 - and that, with the deterioration of the military situation, Portugal had been involved in contacts with representatives of the liberation movement during the same year.
A study from the US Department of State's Information and Investigation Services dated 5 October 1973, concludes that the PAIGC at the time controlled "approximately one-third of the territory" and advises that the PAIGC would request Guinea-Bissau's membership to the United Nations "this year or next."
In December 1973, then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger presided over a meeting in which the situation in Guinea-Bissau was discussed, and in which Mr Kissinger and other high-level US officials expressed their annoyance at Portugal's inflexibility on the colonial issue.
During the meeting, then-undersecretary of state for political affairs William Porter complained bitterly that "the problem is that they [the Portuguese] aren't giving us anything we can work with. They're not giving us anything we can defend. They're not giving us a single thing. They talk a lot." Mr Kissinger affirmed at one point that there was not other solution than to take the territories away from Portugal.
Five months later, on 25 April 1975, the military coup was carried out in Portugal, which was followed by a cease-fire in the various battle fronts and eventually by the independence of all of Portugal's former colonies in Africa. This freed Washington from the need to make a "political decision" regarding the African colonies, the declassified documents show.
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