In Angola, the rebel guerrilla group, the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA) held its 12th annual congress last week (31 May).
In Angola, the rebel guerrilla group, the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA) held its 12th annual congress last week (31 May). At the congress -- held at an undisclosed location in the Angolan bush -- the assembled UNITA representatives head a call from their leader, Dr. Jonas Savimbi, for a fully independent Angola free of foreign influence. They also witnessed the signing of a solidarity pact between Savimbi, on behalf of UNITA, and representatives of more than a million Cuban exiles.
SYNOPSIS: At UNITA's secret headquarters deep in the Angolan bush, the atmosphere was remarkably relaxed, despite the chance of attack by Cuban supported government forces. Dr. Jonas Savimbi, welcomed Tomas Regaldo, News Director of a Miami-based Spanish speaking radio station, and Dr. Amalio Fiallo, a Venezuelan University professor, who attended the congress on behalf of more than a million Cuban exiles.
Dr. Savimbi opened the congress with a resume of UNITA's achievements over the past few months. UNITA forces claim to have captured a southern border town recently and seized large quantities of armed and ammunition.
The UNITA leader told the party faithful, who numbered more than 400, that as soldiers they had fulfilled their duty to UNITA. As Angolans, he said, they had a duty to lead their country to freedom and independence.
Dr. Savimbi repeated his call for an end to Cuban involvement in Angolan affairs and pressed for more social and educational facilities for the Angolan people. He said, "we want schools here. We want Angolan children to go to Angolan schools. Cuban children can go to Cuban schools. We do not want Angolan children to go to Cuban schools."
After the speech, Dr. Savimbi signed a declaration of solidarity with the Cuban exile representatives Tomas Regalado and Dr. Amalio Fiallo. It pledged support for the aimed of a million Cuban exiles and Angolans opposed to the government of the ruling Marxist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). It was counter signed by UNITA's Secretary-General Miguel Sao Puna.
In the three years since the MPLA seized power, UNITA forces and those of another organisation -- the Front for the National Liberation of Angola -- have continued fighting against President Neto's MPLA government. Last month the two groups announced they had formed a common from and would co-ordinate future activities.
According to the guerrillas, the formation of a common front gives them full control of the country's rural areas. And they say they're now poised to make a major strike against the Cuban troops. Dr. Savimbi, who has fought from the bush for 12 years, claims to have 12,000 men under his command. Their morale appears to be high.