Guinea-Bissau History: Independence War (1961-74)

Figure 1.--This photograph was taken in the village of Aldeia Formosa (April 2, 1972). It shows a Portuguese army patrol arresting a family believed to be involved in independence movement. Those arrested seem to be shirtless women and unclothed children. We are not sure what the Portuguese did with them. They were presumably interogated about the men. What happened after the interogation we are not sure. I have not read about any killing of women and children. A reader writes, "I too have not heard of killing, especially of children and women. Probably they were detained far from the village. Perhaps that was a means to induce the men to leave the fight."

Nationalist activities appeared in Guinea Bissau after World War II (1950s). Amílcar Cabral, from the Cape Verde islands, and Rafael Barbosa founded the Partido Africano da Independencia da Guiné ê Cabo Verde (PAIGC--African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde) (1956). Cabral conceived of a political effort to achieve independence, but was able to make little progress while British and French colonies were being granted independence. The first major action organized by PAIGC was a dock-workers strike in Bissau (August 3, 1959). The Portuguese colonial police brutally repressed the strike. More than 50 people were killed. The action became known as the Pijiguiti Massacre. The massacre only served to increase popular support for PAIGC. PAIGC moved its headquarters to Conakry in neighboring Guinea in order to prepare for an armed struggle. PAIGC together with FRELIMO of Mozambique, MPLA of Angola and MLSTP of São Tomé and Príncipe created the Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) during a meeting in Morocco (April 18, 1961). The different national liberation organizations agreed to cooperation in the libration of their respective countries. The PAIGC as a result of the Pijiguiti Massacre and other Portuguese actions decided to adopt guerrila tactics. The Portuguese had about 30,000 well armed troops in Guinea Bissau. PAIGC was able to recruit some 10,000 guerillas, but they were at first poorly trained and armed. They had one major advantage, safe haves in the now independent countries of Senegal and Guinea. Gradually PAIGC begins to gain control over the country side. The Portuguese maintain control over the coastal and estuary towns. The Portuguese military effort become increasingly expensive. Cabral established a government in exile in Conakry, the capital of neighbouring Guinea (1972). He was assassinated outside his home in Conakry (1973).


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Created: 8:37 PM 5/26/2013
Last updated: 8:37 PM 5/26/2013