History

Cape Verde’s Independence from Portuguese occupation in 1975 after neglect during famine & droughts

September 15, 2015

The largesse the Portuguese colonialists bestowed on the Cape Verdeans backfired on their rulers. The Cape Verdeans were originally brought into the uninhabited islands as African slaves in the 1400s that resulted in many of them fleeing to the hills, where they became hardworking folk left in peace by their masters to set up homesteads and cultivate their lands as free men. A small minority received an education and Cape Verde was the first African-Portuguese colony to have a school for higher education.

These literate Cape Verdeans became aware of the pressures for independence building on mainland Portugal, and while their islands continued suffering from frequent drought and famine, and at times from epidemic diseases and volcanic eruptions, the Portuguese government sat back and did nothing. Thousands of people died of starvation during the first half of the 20th Century.

The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, the Portuguese Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), was founded in 1956 by Amílcar Cabral and other pan-Africanists, and many Cape Verdeans fought for independence in the war for independence in Guinea-Bissau.

In 1926 Portugal had become a rightist dictatorship which regarded the colonies as an economic frontier, to be developed in the interest of Portugal, and Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar wasn’t about to give up his colonies as easily as the British and French had abandoned theirs.

Following the fall in April 1974 of the regime in Portugal, widespread unrest forced the government to negotiate with the PAIGC, and on 5 July 1975 Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal.

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