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The Portuguese Colonial War (Portuguese: Guerra Colonial Portuguesa), .. Main article: Guinea-Bissau War of Independence applied with some success in Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique. Unlike Portugal's other African territories, successful small-unit Portuguese.
Table of contents
They were employed especially in Guinea, but also in the Congo River and other smaller rivers in Angola and in the Zambezi and other rivers in Mozambique. In an effort to intercept infiltrators, the Fuzileiros even manned small patrol craft on Lake Malawi. The Navy also used Portuguese civilian cruisers as troop transports, and drafted Portuguese Merchant Navy personnel to man ships carrying troops and material and into the Marines.
There were also many Portuguese irregular forces in the Overseas War such as the Flechas and others, as mentioned above. Native black warriors were employed in Africa by the Portuguese colonial rulers since the 16th century. Portugal had employed regular native troops companhias indigenas in its colonial army since the early 19th century. After , with the beginning of the colonial wars in its overseas territories, Portugal began to incorporate black Portuguese Africans into integrated units as part of the war effort in Angola, Portuguese Guinea, and Mozambique, based on concepts of multi-racialism and preservation of the empire.
African participation on the Portuguese side of the conflict varied from marginal roles as laborers and informers to participation in highly trained operational combat units like the Flechas. As the war progressed, use of African counterinsurgency troops increased; on the eve of the military coup of 25 April , black ethnic Africans accounted for more than 50 percent of Portuguese forces fighting the war. From to the end of the Colonial War, the paratrooper nurses nicknamed Marias , were women who served the Portuguese armed forces being deployed in Portuguese Africa's dangerous guerrilla-infiltrated combat zones to perform rescue operations.
Throughout the war period Portugal had to deal with increasing dissent, arms embargoes and other punitive sanctions imposed by most of the international community. The later included UN-sponsored sanctions , Non-Aligned Movement -led defamation, and myriad boycotts and protests performed by both foreign and domestic political organizations, like the clandestine Portuguese Communist Party PCP. Near the end of the conflict, a report by the controversial priest Adrian Hastings , alleging atrocities and war crimes of the Portuguese military, was printed a week before the Portuguese prime minister Marcelo Caetano was due to visit Britain to celebrate the th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance in Portugal's growing isolation following Hastings's claims has often been cited as a factor that helped to bring about the "carnation revolution" coup in Lisbon which deposed the Caetano regime in , ending the Portuguese African counter-insurgency campaigns and triggering the rapid collapse of the Portuguese Empire.
However, they also used small arms of U. Later in the war, most guerrillas would use roughly the same infantry rifles of Soviet origin: the Mosin—Nagant bolt-action rifle, the SKS carbine, and most importantly the AK series of 7. Rebel forces also made extensive use of machine guns for ambush and positional defense.
Rapid-fire arms in use with the insurgents included the 7. The Like U. Mines and other booby traps were one of the principal weapons used by the insurgents against Portuguese mechanized forces to great effect, who typically patrolled the mostly unpaved roads of their territories using motor vehicles and armored scout cars.
Guerrillas in all the various revolutionary movements used a variety of mines, often combining anti-tank with anti-personnel mines to ambush Portuguese formations with devastating results. A common tactic was to plant large anti-vehicle mines in a roadway bordered by obvious cover, such as an irrigation ditch, then seed the ditch with anti-personnel mines.
Detonation of the vehicle mine would cause Portuguese troops to deploy and seek cover in the ditch, where the anti-personnel mines would cause further casualties. If the insurgents planned to confront the Portuguese openly, one or two heavy machine guns would be sited to sweep the ditch and other likely areas of cover. Even amphibious mines were used such as the PDM , along with numerous home-made antipersonnel wood box mines and other nonmetallic explosive devices. The impact of mining operations, in addition to causing casualties, undermined the mobility of Portuguese forces, while diverting troops and equipment from security and offensive operations to convoy protection and mine clearance missions.
The government presented as a general consensus that the colonies were a part of the national unity, closer to overseas provinces than to true colonies. The communists were the first party to oppose the official view, since they saw the Portuguese presence in the colonies as an act against the colonies' right to self determination. However, being the only truly organized opposition movement, the PCP had to play two roles.
One role was that of a communist party with an anti-colonialist position; the other role was to be a cohesive force drawing together a broad spectrum of opposing parties. Therefore, it had to accede to views that didn't reflect its true anticolonial position. The communist candidates had, obviously, the same positions. After the electoral fraud of , Humberto Delgado formed the Independent National Movement Movimento Nacional Independente — MNI that, in October , agreed that there was a need to prepare the people in the colonies, before giving them the right of self-determination.
Despite this, no detailed policies for achieving this goal were set out.go to site
Portuguese Colonial War
The official feeling of the Portuguese state, despite all this, was the same: Portugal had inalienable and legitimate rights over the colonies and this was what was transmitted through the media and through the state propaganda. The end of Salazar's rule in , due to illness, did not prompt any change in the political panorama. The universities played a key role in the spread of this position. The students that participated in this underground opposition faced serious consequences if caught by the PIDE — from immediate arrest to automatic conscription into a combat branch infantry, marines, etc.
The major actions were the attack on the Tancos air base that destroyed several helicopters on March 8, , and the attack on the NATO headquarters at Oeiras in October of the same year. The BR, on its side, began armed actions on 7 November , with the sabotage of the NATO base at Pinhal de Armeiro , the last action being carried out 9 April , against the Niassa ship which was preparing to leave Lisboa with troops to be deployed in Portuguese Guinea. By the early s, the Portuguese Colonial War raged on, consuming fully 40 percent of Portugal's annual budget.
While the human losses were relatively small, the war as whole had already entered its second decade. The Portuguese ruling regime of Estado Novo faced criticism from the international community and was becoming increasingly isolated. It had a profound impact on Portugal — thousands of young men avoided conscription by emigrating illegally, mainly to France and the US. The war in the Portuguese overseas territories of Africa was increasingly unpopular in Portugal itself as the people got weary of war and balked at its ever-rising expense. Many ethnic Portuguese of the African overseas territories were also increasingly willing to accept independence if their economic status could be preserved.
In addition, younger Portuguese military academy graduates resented a program introduced by Marcello Caetano whereby militia officers who completed a brief training program and had served in the overseas territories' defensive campaigns, could be commissioned at the same rank as military academy graduates. Caetano's government had begun the program which included several other reforms in order to increase the number of officials employed against the African insurgencies, and at the same time cut down military costs to alleviate an already overburdened government budget.
Thus, the group of revolutionary military insurgents started as a military professional class  protest of Portuguese Armed Forces captains against a decree law: the Dec. Faced with government inflexibility over proposed reforms, some Portuguese junior military officers, many from underprivileged backgrounds and increasingly attracted to the Marxist philosophy of their African insurgent opponents,  began to move the MFA to the political left.
Portuguese Colonial War - Wikipedia
The revolt later became known as the Carnation Revolution. After the coup on April 25, , while the power struggle for control of Portugal's government was occurring in Lisbon, many Portuguese Army units serving in Africa simply ceased field operations, in some cases ignoring orders to continue fighting and withdrawing into barracks, in others negotiating local ceasefire agreements with insurgents. In June , after a period of eight months under which Mozambique had been administered by a provisional government, representatives of the Portuguese government and FRELIMO signed an agreement to grant independence to Mozambique, with the president of FRELIMO to assume the presidency of the newly independent nation.
This was followed the next month by the announcement of the independence of Cape Verde, and the establishment of a new nation, the Republic of Cape Verde. The Alvor Agreement formally ended the war for independence. The coalition government established by the Alvor Agreement soon fell apart as the various nationalist parties each attempted to seize power.
Unable to broker a new compromise, in November Portugal's last African High Commissioner Rosa Coutinho hauled down his nation's flag and departed Angola. Moderate elements of the new military government eventually won, preventing Portugal from becoming a communist state. By , Portugal had converted to a democratic government.
Portugal had been the first European power to establish a colony in Africa when it captured Ceuta in and now it was one of the last to leave. The departure of the Portuguese from Angola and Mozambique increased the isolation of Rhodesia , where white minority rule ended in when the territory gained international recognition as the Republic of Zimbabwe with Robert Mugabe as the head of government.
In contrast to some other European colonial possessions, many of the Portuguese living in Portuguese Africa had strong ties to their adopted land, as their ancestors had lived in Africa for generations. Nevertheless, most accepted the inevitable, and while an abortive right-wing settler revolt broke out in Mozambique, it quickly died out as Portuguese coup leaders made it clear that the decision to grant independence was irrevocable.
Fear of reprisals and impending changes in political and economic status by the Marxist governments of the new African states resulted in the peaceful exodus of over one million Portuguese citizens of European, African and mixed ethnicity from the newly independent African territories to Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, and other countries. The new governments of Angola and Mozambique, faced a severe set of challenges as devastating civil wars broke out in both countries.
Lasting several decades, these ongoing conflicts would eventually claim over two million lives and an even greater number of refugees, while destroying much of the infrastructure in both nations. These problems were exacerbated by a tendency to consolidate power by directing public anger against ethnic Portuguese, mixed-race Africans,  and those who had supported the former colonial regime. Many of the local black soldiers that served in the Portuguese Army and who had fought against the insurgents were demobilized by Portuguese authorities and left behind in Africa.
The most infamous reprisal occurred in Guinea-Bissau.
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Demobilized by the Portuguese authorities and abandoned to their fate, a total of 7, black African soldiers who had served in Portuguese native commando forces and militia were summarily executed by the PAIGC after Portuguese forces ceased hostilities. Because the political regimes involved in wars or counterinsurgency tend to minimize unfavorable news stories about their military actions, many Portuguese remained unaware of the atrocities committed by the colonial regimes and the army.
In , a Radiotelevisao Portuguesa RTP documentary by Joaquim Furtado , made public both these government-supported atrocities and the organized massacres and terror campaign policies of some pro-independence guerrilla movements or their supporters; it was watched by over a million people, a tenth of the population at the time. With the fall of the Estado Novo regime, most Portuguese citizens, tired of the long war and their isolation from the world community under the Caetano regime, supported the decision to recognize the independence of Portuguese Africa immediately, while accepting the inevitable loss of their former overseas territories.
However, controversies over the MFA coup of 25 April and the decisions made by coup leaders remain to this day. In Portugal, government budgets increased significantly during the war years. The country's expenditure on the armed forces ballooned since the beginning of the war in The expenses were divided into ordinary and extraordinary ones; the latter were the main factor in the huge increase in the military budget. The succession of Marcelo Caetano , after Salazar's incapacitation, resulted in steady increases in military spending on the African wars through Other indicators like GDP as percentage of Western Europe would indicate that Portugal was rapidly catching up to its European neighbors.
In , at the initiation of Salazar's more outward-looking economic policy influenced by a new generation of technocrats, Portugal's per capita GDP was only 38 percent of the EC average; by the end of the Salazar period, in , it had risen to 48 percent. In , the year of maximum revolutionary turmoil, Portugal's per capita GDP declined to 52 percent of the EC average.
Convergence of real GDP growth toward the EC average occurred as a result of Portugal's economic resurgence since In Portugal's GDP per capita climbed to 55 percent of the EC average, exceeding by a fraction the level attained just during the worst revolutionary period. For many decades to come after independence, the economies of the three former Portuguese African territories involved in the war continued to remain problematic due to continuing internecine political conflicts and power struggles as well as inadequate agricultural production caused by disruptive government policies resulting in high birth mortality rates, widespread malnutrition, and disease.
By the 21st century, the Human Development Index of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, were among the lowest in the World, while corruption and social inequality soared. After , the deterioration in central planning effectiveness, economic development and growth, security, education and health system efficiency, was rampant. None of the newly independent ex-Portuguese African states made any significant economic progress in the following decades, and political progress in terms of democratic processes and protection of individual human rights was either minimal or nonexistent.
With few exceptions, the new regimes ranked at the bottom of human development and GDP per capita world tables. By , however, the end of the Angolan Civil War , combined with exploitation of the country's highly valuable natural resources, resulted in that country becoming economically successful for the first time in decades.