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Cabo Verde - Pre-Independence Political Activities!
The União Democrática de Cabo Verde, Democratic Union of Cape Verde (UDCV or UDC) was created in the late 1950s. It was against independence.

It was considered Spinolist because it advocated a federal system with Portugal. The UDCV comprised a tiny group of petite bourgeoisie, mostly lawyers and civil servants, as reactionary forces it deemed PAIGC as fascists. Key leaders were João Baptista Monteiro, a lawyer and wealthy merchant and Jorge Fonseca. As a group the UDCV is sadly reminiscent of José Lopes' statement from O Manduco (The Cudgel): "Independence for Cape Verde? For these poor and abandoned rocks thrown up in the sea--independence? What sense is there in that? God have pity on thoughtless men!" Furthermore, "the UPICV supported the UDCV position of a referendum on unity with Guinea-Bissau." UDCV's supporter in the United States established Juridical Congress led by Aguinaldo Veiga "a Cape Verdean lawyer who served colonialism in Angola, and Roy Teixeira and his son."

UPICV and UDCV were allowed to broadcast on the radio station, Radio Barlavento, but FARN was not allowed. Spínola did not want to 'lose' Cape Verde; hence, he proposed a federal system in which Cape Verde had autonomy. Spinolists and others questioned the Africanity of Cape Verde and said that it was just as European as African. To support their theories, they cited culture, ethnicity and geography. Moreover, the islands were strategically located which made giving PAIGC transfer of power difficult, because the latter was associated with the Soviet Union during the cold war.
Some Cape Verdean elites, especially operating from the Diaspora in Europe and the United States, were intrigued by Spínola's federalist idea. This exacerbated the push for independence under PAIGC because the latter advocated unity between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau; Amílcar Cabral clearly identified Cape Verde with Africa, which the Cape Verdean Diaspora as a whole was overwhelmently against.

Moreover, with colonial repression the PAIGC did not operate from strength of total hegemony on the islands. Thus, the Portuguese government was slow to recognize Cape Verde's independence. Whereas the post-coup government in Lisbon on August 1974 agreed to recognize the independence of Guinea Bissau on September 10, 1974, for Cape Verde eventual independence was only agreed upon on December 18, 1974. This willingness to agree to give Cape Verde independence was culminated in "the massive pro-PAIGC demonstration of 1974" organized by FARN to counter the UDCV and UPICV. Furthermore, on July 3, 1974, Cape Verdeans who were enlisted into the colonial army refused to take the oath and proclaimed allegiance to PAIGC, thus demanding independence. With leaders such as Silvino Da Luz, Osvaldo Lopes Da Silva, João José Da Silva, Corsino Tolentino and others, on August 25, 1974, the push for Cape Verdean independence was accelerated. The demonstrations continued, which in September 1974 resulted in unarmed civilians being injured by the local colonial forces.

However, PAIGC had declared de facto independence for Guinea on September 23, 1973. During the transitional government, the PAIGC was busy organizing the population. In March 1975, PAIGC established the Cape Verdean National Commission as the basis for their "organizational apparatus". The members increased from 18 to 33, and by 1976, it had grown to 1, 800. The PAIGC regime arrested and deported to Portugal about "30 leaders of UPICV and UDCV."

The emigrant community was bigger than the islands population and with remittances they had a great political influence. In the Cape Verdean Diaspora, as in the United States, there were two groups for PAIGC: PAIGC Support Committee and Tchuba. Their members tended to be second and third-generation Cape Verdeans that were heavily influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and Black Liberation Movement. UDCV and UPICV were against PAIGC and the "re-Africanization" of Amílcar Cabral. They tended to be immigrants. Antone and Corinne Monteiro have said "most of those who weren't Black Cape Verdeans were against it (PAIGC)". On February 22, 1974, Carlos Veiga, member of the UPICV, had a meeting at the Boston Sheraton opposing PAIGC; while, PAIGC Support Committee USA demonstrated outside in support of PAIGC. The majority of Cape Verdeans in USA did not support PAIGC. "The month of May 1974 saw pro-Spínola and anti-PAIGC demonstrations."

PAIGC had created a clandestine underground network in the islands but it was only after the April 25 coup in Portugal that demonstrations occurred. PAIGC sent more organizers to the islands and with the release of prisoners, such as Lineu Miranda, from Tarrafal, the political atmosphere became more intense. People like Silvino da Luz and Osvaldo Lopes da Silva arrived shortly and after September 1974 Aristides Pereira and Pedro Pires went to Cape Verde. However, in 1975, Aristides Pereira visited Cape Verde to assess the situation with transitional government. He claimed that after the elections of June 30, 1975, a national assembly will be created and independence will be proclaimed on July 5 1975.

The author - Mr. Lumumba Shabaka - holds a master's degree in African Studies from Rhode Island College.

 

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