12. Portuguese Guinea (1951-1974)


Pre-Crisis Phase (June 11, 1951-September 18, 1956):  On June 11, 1951, the Portuguese parliament approved a law granting provincial status to all Portuguese colonies, including Portuguese Guinea (which became the Province of Guinea).

Crisis Phase (September 19, 1956-January 22, 1963): The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde – PAIGC) was established by Amilcar Cabral and Luis de Almeida Cabral on September 19, 1956.  Government police suppressed a dock-workers strike at the Pidjiguiti docks in the Port of Bissau on August 3, 1959, resulting in the deaths of some 50 workers.  On September 19, 1959, the PAIGC proclaimed an independence struggle “by all possible means, including war.”

Conflict Phase (January 23, 1963-September 9, 1974):  The Front for the Liberation of Portuguese Guinea (FLPG) began a armed rebellion against the Portuguese government on January 23, 1963.  The Portuguese government deployed some 30,000 troops to the colony beginning in September 1963.  The governments of Guinea and Senegal provided military assistance to the PAIGC.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) foreign ministers expressed support for PAIGC in 1965. Some 56,000 individuals fled as refugees to Senegal.  The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) established a mission to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in Senegal.  The Cuban government provided military assistance (weapons, military advisors, and 60 medical personnel) in support of the PAIGG beginning in 1966.  Portuguese government troops and PAIGC rebels clashed on December 30, 1971, resulting in the deaths of 215 rebels and eight Portuguese government soldiers.  On November 22, 1972, the United Nations (UN) Security Council appealed to the government of Portugal to “cease immediately its military operations and all acts of repression” in Portuguese Guinea.  PAIGG Secretary-General Amilcar Cabral was assassinated by dissident members of the PAIGC in Conakry, Guinea on January 20, 1973.  The Portuguese government denied involvement in the assassination on January 22, 1973.  The OAU condemned the assassination on January 22, 1973.  UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim condemned the assassination on January 22, 1973.  Aristide Pereira was appointed as secretary-general of the PAIGC on February 2, 1973.  PAIGC rebels shot down a Portuguese military aircraft on April 9, 1973, resulting in the death of one Portuguese military personnel.  Portuguese government troops and PAIGC rebels clashed on June 1-15, 1973, resulting in the deaths of 45 rebels and 24 Portuguese soldiers.  Portuguese government troops killed eight PAIGC rebels on June 19, 1973.  The Swedish government provided economic assistance to the PAIGC beginning on September 6, 1973.

PAIGC proclaimed the independence of Guinea-Bissau from Portugal on September 24, 1973, and the National People’s Assembly elected PAIGG Secretary-General Luis Almeida Cabral as president of the 15-member Council of State.  Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Upper Volta, and Yugoslavia recognized the independence of Guinea-Bissau on September 25, 1973.  The UN General Assembly condemned Portugal for its “illegal occupation” of Guinea-Bissau on November 2, 1973.  PAIGC rebels killed six Portuguese government soldiers near Tite on January 23, 1974.  Guinea-Bissau formally attained its independence from Portugal on September 9, 1974.  Some 15,000 individuals, including some 2,000 Portuguese government soldiers, were killed during the conflict.  Some 56,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict. Portuguese government troops completed their withdrawal from Guinea-Bissau on October 15, 1974.

[Sources: Africa Diary, January 29-February 4, 1973, February 19-25, 1973, October 1-7, 1973; Africa Research Bulletin (ARB), January 1-31, 1973, June 1-30, 1973, September 1-30, 1973, October 1-31, 1973, February 1-28, 1974, September 1-30, 1974; Butterworth, 1976, 299-302; Chabal, 1981, 75-99; Dupoy and Dupoy, 1977, 1325; Jessup, 1998, 260-261; Keesing’s Record of World Events, March 25-April 1, 1967, February 5-11, 1973, September 10-16, 1973, November 12-18, 1973, September 30-October 6, 1974, December 8-14, 1975; Tillema, 1991, 63-64; Weisburd, 1997, 79-80.]


Selected Bibliography

Chabal, Patrick. 1981. “National Liberation in Portuguese Guinea, 1956-1974.” African Affairs 80 (January): 75-99.

Chilcote, Ronald H. 1968. “The Political Thought of Amilcar Cabral,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 6 (3), pp. 373-388.

Martelli, George. 1965. “The Portuguese in Guinea,” The World Today, vol. 21 (8), pp. 345-351.