• Short Summary

    While the world hears of war in Angola and unrest is Mozambique, Portugal's third African colony, the small west African country of Guinea-Bissau, has problems even in peace.

  • Description

    While the world hears of war in Angola and unrest is Mozambique, Portugal's third African colony, the small west African country of Guinea-Bissau, has problems even in peace.

    Guinea-Bissau began its independent life as one of the poorest countries in the world. 500 years of Portuguese domination left a people with no industry, geared only to the fight against the colonisers. The populations was generally illiterate and undernourished. When the Portuguese left in September 1974 they destroyed what they could, wrecking the radio station, even tearing out electrical wires and smashing toilets in buildings -- as Guinea-Bissau's President Luis Cabral said, "We started from zero."
    Before the Portuguese finally granted independence, the Guinea-Bissau freedom fighters had the greatest success against Portuguese troops although the smallest of the three former colonies. The freedom fighters of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands (PAIGC) controlled more than three quarters of the territory, limiting the Portuguese to forts in the interior and cities near the coast.

    One of the priorities of President Cabral's government has bene the return of refugees who fled to neighbouring countries during the liberation struggle. Most of these were in Senegal where they aided by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. After independence it was important that these people returned before the planting season in order to bring more production to the new republic. The repatriation began in April 1974 and more than 65,000 people had returned by February 1976.

    President Cabral has had political troubles as well as providing the survival services of food, education and health for the country's 700,000 people. In March last year there was a plot to kill him and the country's other left-wing leaders -- but it was foiled. The plot was believed to have been connected with a similarly unsuccessful right-wing coup in Portugal, for several of those arrested had fought with Portuguese troops during the 13 year Independence war.

    Last year the Guinea-Bissau National Assembly nationalised all the country's land. It was a popular move, but President Cabral has found there are problem in peace as well. As he said after the Portuguese left, "We lost our greatest freedom -- the freedom not to have any money. In the conditions of the bush there was no need to have any money. Now we must make a budget to pay people."

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA8TCQC2GZE4IUUM9XPUHDUJ1LL
    Media URN:
    VLVA8TCQC2GZE4IUUM9XPUHDUJ1LL
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    15/02/1976
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:03:03:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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