The Socialist Agronomist Who Helped End Portuguese Colonialism
orn in 1912, Amílcar Lopes de costa Cabral was a prolific Marxian theorist who not only led the war of independence that toppled Portuguese rule in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde but influenced the fight for decolonization across the continent.
The first battle — a thirteen-year war of liberation that came to be known as “Portugal’s Vietnam” — pitted ten thousand members of Cabral’s African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) against thirty-five thousand Portuguese troops and mercenaries. For decades, the Portuguese had run a deeply exploitative, deeply repressive colonial regime. Then on August 3, 1959, colonial authorities killed fifty dockworkers striking under the PAIGC’s leadership. The massacre convinced many in the liberation movement that a peaceful path to national independence was impossible. They would have to take up arms.