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Patrick Chabal
Amílcar Cabral: revolutionary leadership and people's war

Cambridge; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1983. xiii, 272 p.

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V. — Cabral's political legacy

Cabral's Assassination: Facts and Implications

Revolutionary movements are sensitive to the death of party leaders both because leadership is usually a key to the success of their political action and because they often have no institutionalised mechanism to replace the leadership. In the early stages of a revolution, particularly, the loss of a strong leader may well challenge the very unity and cohesion of the party itself. Our discussion so far has established the central importance of Cabral in the development and effectiveness of the PAIGC. There is thus no doubt that his death was the most severe blow to the party in its 18 years of struggle against Portuguese colonial rule.

Cabral was shot dead in front of the PAIGC office in Conakry at 10.30 p.m. on 20 January 1973 as he was returning home with his wife. The man who pulled the trigger was Inocencio Kani, a PAIGC naval commander 1. The events which followed the killing revealed an internal plot in the party to overthrow and neutralise the PAIGC leadership, to seize control of the party, to eliminate all party functionaries who refused to follow the new leadership and to gain recognition from Sékou Touré.

Although Cabral himself was killed, the plan failed to materialise. Twenty-four hours after the assassination all the participants in the coup had been arrested and Cabral's colleagues had re-established control of the PAIGC headquarters in Conakry. The party members whom the conspirators had imprisoned during the night were released by the Guinéen police the next morning. Kani, who, along with a few accomplices, had taken Aristides Pereira prisoner and fled with a PAIGC boat to rendez-vous with Portuguese naval units, was captured by the Guinéen navy and returned to Conakry. The coup had virtually no effect on the PAIGC outside Conakry and, had it not been for Cabral's death, would have been of little significance. But because Cabral had been killed it must be seen as the most serious challenge to the PAIGC leadership since the Cassaca Congress in 1964.

The evidence suggests that Cabral's death had not been planned. The intention had been simply to take him and the other leaders out of Guinée alive, and to deliver them safely by boat to Portuguese naval units waiting in international waters. But Cabral resisted and started talking to Kani directly in the hope of changing his mind. Kani panicked and shot him. This was made clear by the conversation which took place between Kani and Cabral, as reported by his wife, Ana Maria Cabral, who was standing a few feet away. Neither she, nor any of the other important leaders of the party who were in Conakry, was harmed. They were simply detained in the PAIGC ‘jail’. Yet they included an important proportion of the top leadership, Aristides Pereira, Jose Araujo, Vasco Cabral and Buscardini — all members of the CSL. The journalist Aquino de Bragança, who was in Conakry in the days following the murder, claims that the conspirators intended to shoot the party leaders the next day 2. The coup might have succeeded with the support of Sékou Touré. But there is no evidence to indicate that the conspirators had had any prior contact with Touré or that they had been encouraged by him. The Portuguese, however, alleged that Sékou Touré was responsible for the assassination. They claimed that Touré, who had hoped to annex Guinea after the war, was disturbed by Cabral's growing international stature. This is unlikely, since Touré was instrumental in the capture and interrogation of the assassins and is reported to have given the PAIGC leadership every assistance 3. The inquiry which followed the killing involved 465 persons, of whom 43 were found guilty of having participated in the plot, 9 of complicity and 42 of suspected complicity. They were referred to a PAIGC tribunal and the leaders of the conspiracy were sentenced to death. At least 10, including Kani, were executed inside Guinea-Bissau in March 1973 4.

Cabral's assassination was the outcome of an operation initiated by the Portuguese secret police, the PIDE-DGS, in 1971-72, as Bruno Crimi, an investigative journalist, has shown in his 1975 article 5. At the time, the Portuguese government was informed by the governor of Guinea, General Spinola, that the secret negotiations he had sought with the PAIGC through the mediation of President Senghor were unlikely to take place. However, the Portuguese government knew that the PAIGC planned to declare independence in 1973. They feared that it could lead to greater pressure for decolonisation elsewhere and perhaps to a challenge of their authority in Portugal itself. By 1972 the Portuguese army had been so humiliated in Africa that a military coup was a real possibility. The country was exhausted and there was considerable opposition to the colonial wars among all sectors of the population. Thousands had left Portugal to avoid conscription. All anti-fascist political movements now actively opposed the wars and the government had already sent hundreds to prison. Militant groups determined to stop the wars by all possible means had started a bombing campaign in Portugal. The country's international standing was at its lowest and its economy drained by the financial demands of the war. The success of the PAIGC in Guinea was the most obvious evidence that the Portuguese were losing ground in Africa. By neutralising the PAIGC leadership and preventing Guinea's declaration of independence, the Portuguese government thus hoped, against all odds, to defuse the crisis.

Secret negotiations with the PAIGC, through Senghor's mediation, were not interrupted, although the decision had already been taken to put the plan into operation. The Portuguese were not to participate directly in the plot. The coup was designed to appear as a purely intra-party matter prompted by dissatisfaction with the party leadership and its policies. The Portuguese were convinced that the Guinean-Cape Verdean issue could be successfully exploited in order to recruit Guinean agents in the PAIGC. Because there was a high concentration of Cape Verdeans in the upper echelons of the party, the Portuguese calculated that much of the largely Guinean rank and file could be swayed against the party leadership.

The success of the operation thus depended on the exploitation of what the Portuguese believed to be a real racial split inside the PAIGC. In order to lend the plan greater credibility they engaged in a massive anti-Cape Verdean propaganda campaign. Their most powerful asset in this respect undoubtedly was the collaboration of Rafael Barbosa, a Guinean, and the first president of the PAIGC, who, after many years in jail, had been released on the understanding that he would work with the Portuguese. Some informants claim, however, without providing evidence, that he was a double agent and was still loyal to the PAIGC. They point out that Barbosa, who was implicated in an attempted coup in November 1978, although sentenced to death, was never executed 6. Promises were made to the leaders of the conspiracy that the Portuguese would be willing to discuss ‘Guinean autonomy’ with the new ‘Guinean PAIGC’ on condition that all claims to the independence of Cape Verde were abandoned 7. Guinea was of no value to the Portuguese while Cape Verde was of great strategic significance. The Portuguese suggested that, provided they could retain Cape Verde, they would be willing to negotiate a compromise whereby the war in Guinea would come to an end and some form of autonomy would be granted to their collaborators. Although it is doubtful whether the colonial government would have fulfilled these promises, it was a measure of their ignorance to have thought that such a plan would have been acceptable to a significant proportion of the PAIGC members 8.

It was not the first time that the Portuguese had attempted to recruit agents inside the PAIGC and it is reasonable to assume that they had a network of informers in the party. Their plan, however, demanded the support of party members capable of infiltrating the leadership and ultimately of replacing it. Their agents did acquire the following of a number of disgruntled party members willing to go along with the plan, but there is no evidence to suggest that they succeeded in recruiting high-ranking PAIGC officials. Most of those involved in the conspiracy had personal grievances against the party leadership because they had been found guilty of misdemeanours and had consequently been demoted.

Kani, who had been an important guerrilla commander and a member of the Conselho executivo da luta, had been sacked for gross personal misconduct and abuse of power 9. Aggrieved officials like Kani were therefore receptive to the promises made by the Portuguese of important financial and political rewards if they succeeded in taking over the PAIGC leadership.

Much to the disappointment of the Portuguese, however, these discontented men neither acquired any degree of appreciable support for the idea of an alternative ‘Guinean’ leadership nor effectively concealed the details of the conspiracy; indeed, none of the ringleaders held any position of importance m the party. In fact, the PAIGC leadership had detailed information about the plot and about the identities of most of the conspirators 10.
Cabral's reaction to the Portuguese plan was to give it wide publicity, thereby seeking to prevent any successful infiltration of the party. He also countered the Portuguese claim about a Guinean-Cape Verdean split. Strict instructions were given to tighten security and report any suspicious action 10. This policy proved successful. There was little, if any, infiltration into the rank and file of the party inside Guinea. Indeed, all the conspirators were in Conakry, many of them in jail. There was, however, a combination of factors which made Cabral's assassination possible in Conakry:

his personality and his style of leadership the structure of the PAIGC leadership as a whole a series of fortuitous circumstances which effectively aided the conspirators

Cabral's personality, his style of leadership and the political values he held, made any attempt on his life relatively easy. As a political leader he did not believe that violence should be used in order to assert or maintain authority and he was extremely reluctant to admit that not all party members shared this principle. Although there had already been one assassination attempt (in 1967), he appeared not to have taken such threats seriously. He wrongly assumed that his sway over party members was sufficient to prevent any further attempt on his life. Despite the existence of indisputable evidence regarding the 1972 plot and the identity of its leaders, Luiz Cabral confirmed that he failed to take any special security precautions. The fact that Amílcar Cabral had sought to build a party based upon trust and mutual understanding, a party of comrades, naturally implied a reluctance to be constantly shielded and protected by military security. But it did not really justify his total disregard for personal safety after he had been warned of the plot. On the night he was killed he was unarmed and unprotected.

More significantlyå, Cabral had an almost obsessive desire to rehabilitate party members who had been convicted for personal or political misconduct. He viewed this task as a personal challenge. As a result, he often had the offenders transferred to Conakry so that he could personally influence and supervise their progress. It is with this intention that he summoned the leaders of the plot to Conakry, thus providing them with an unexpected opportunity to pursue the preparation for the coup at the PAIGC headquarters itself.
The two main leaders of the plot were Momo Ture and Aristides Barbosa. Both had been members of the PAIGC and imprisoned by the Portuguese in the early sixties. They were released in 1969 and later rejoined the PAIGC as Portuguese agents. They had been under suspicion for a long time, but it was only after Cabral had been shown proof of their involvement that he agreed to their detention. Although they and several of their friends had been convicted and imprisoned before, Cabral insisted, against the advice of his colleagues, that they be given another chance to reform themselves. In particular, he prevailed over those colleagues who argued that since the PAIGC's own legal code called for the death penalty in cases of treason, the sentences must be carried out in order to maintain the credibility of the party. Instead, the ringleaders were simply placed under house arrest.

Cabral's attitude appeared to some of his colleagues as an exaggerated and foolishly rigid adherence to a set of principles. Indeed, it is probable that he knew himself that he was unlikely to succeed in his attempt to reform the leaders of the plot. Nevertheless, he refused to deviate from what he believed to be an essential element of his political leadership. He had stated before that he placed the principles of rehabilitation and trust above his own position as a leader. He was convinced that execution, however apparently justified, as a means of maintaining party security or cohesion would create a dangerous precedent and would lead to a practice of party repression which he rejected. If executions of guerrilla leaders did indeed take place at the Cassacá Congress, Cabral may have seen these as a desperate last resort rather than a precedent. The evidence which has emerged since the November 1980 coup on the use of political repression and executions under Luiz Cabral's regime suggests that Amílcar Cabral may well have had cause to fear such a practice.

The structure of the party leadership also helps to explain the success of the coup. In the first instance, Cabral's undisputed position of authority made it possible for him to reject majority decisions. Although in fact it was a rare occurrence, there was no institutional mechanism whereby his veto could be overridden. In the case of the 1972 conspiracy, it is clear that Cabral had failed to convince his colleagues that he was right in not sanctioning the death penalty for treason against the conspirators 11. However there was an undeniable tendency within the PAIGC to rely excessively on his leadership. Inertia and lack of initiative were weaknesses which Cabral had sought in vain to overcome. Despite his casual attitude towards security at the PAIGC headquarters in Conakry, his colleagues, as Luiz Cabral admitted, should have acted on their own initiative to provide adequate security and thus to increase Cabral's protection. Luiz Cabral said in an interview a few days after the assassination:

‘My brother did not like to take sanctions because for him unity was priceless … He did not understand that a revolutionary struggle also has its own requirements and that one simply cannot trust everyone. He did not understand that national consciousness in Guine and Cape Verde was still fragile.’ 12

The collaboration of his colleagues in security matters was all the more important since towards the end of 1972 Cabral was abroad most of the time and was in no position to exercise day-to-day control himself.

Furthermore, the PAIGC leadership in Conakry was far removed from the officials inside Guinea. Although they travelled frequently and for long periods in the liberated regions they were not permanently based there. This was especially true of Cabral who, in the last three years of his life, spent months abroad on diplomatic missions. He was therefore almost entirely dependent on his colleagues for the information upon which he acted and it is likely that he was not always accurately informed. Despite his attempts to maintain close contacts with party members inside Guinea, he was sometimes criticised for his long absences. To the extent that these criticisms reflected some tension within the party, they lent credibility to the Portuguese propaganda claims about a split between a largely Cape-Verdean leadership living abroad and a Guinean rank and file fighting in the bush 13. The leadership may not always have been sensitive to this issue and their distance must have been a cause of dissatisfaction among some at least of the men who participated in the conspiracy. Finally, there is little doubt that by 1973 the success of the PAIGC at home and abroad had led its leaders to assume, perhaps too complacently, that Cabral's policies were always right. There is evidence that they, like him, tended to overestimate his charisma and the sway he held over party officials.

Ultimately, however, Cabral's assassination was made possible only because a number of circumstances, some entirely fortuitous, played into the hands of the conspirators.
First, Cabral might well have been compelled, on the strength of evidence, to agree to the execution or at least the imprisonment of the ringleaders. He was able to defer a final decision on the matter only because he argued that to carry out the executions of party members a few weeks before his crucial address to the UN General Assembly in December 1972 would be a major diplomatic blunder. He took the view that it was not reasonable to jeopardise the party's hard-won capital of international sympathy at a time when the PAIGC's most urgent priority, following the elections, was to gain recognition for the forthcoming declaration of independence. The executions would provide a facile excuse to denounce PAIGC repression and to delay international recognition.
Secondly, the September 1972 amnesty, marking the 16th anniversary of the creation of the party, had led to the release of most of the conspirators. Because of the evidence against them, Momo Ture and Aristides Barbosa were not released, but the generous regime of house arrest under which Cabral placed them left them free to communicate with the other conspirators. To their delight Kani was returned to the command of a PAIGC boat, which he was to use to ferry the PAIGC leaders out of the country.
Furthermore, and totally by accident, Mamadu Ndjai, one of the conspirators who had escaped the attention of the party, was temporarily placed in charge of security at the PAIGC headquarters in Conakry. At the time, the Portuguese had feared that the coup would no longer be possible because the key leaders had been identified by the PAIGC. But this gave them a totally unexpected last chance. Ndjai communicated the details of Cabral's whereabouts to them and more importantly, he informed zthem of all security arrangements. The coup attempt would not have been possible without Ndjai's control of the party's security on the night of 20 January. Finally, several last-minute events further aided the conspirators. On the night of 20 January, PAIGC officials were attending a meeting addressed by a FRELIMO leader 14. Except for Aristides Pererira, who had stayed behind alone, they were all out of the PAIGC headquarters. Cabral, who would have been safe had he gone to the meeting and later returned with the mass of PAIGC officials, had accepted an invitation to the Polish embassy. He went there alone with his wife and returned to the party headquarters shortly before the FRELIMO leader's meeting was over.
It was under these unusual circumstances that Kani was able to take over the PAIGC compound, to detain Pereira and to await Cabral's arrival. A few days later Ndjai was scheduled to be relieved of his temporary security post!

In sum, then, there is no doubt that the PAIGC leadership and Cabral in particular responded in a careless, casual and unsystematic fashion to the information they had of the conspiracy. But in the end his useless death was the outcome of a number of unrelated circumstances, not of the skills of the conspirators — whose only achievement, Cabral's death, was not part of their plan.

The assassination raises two important issues. In the first place it demands an assessment of the importance of the Guinean-Cape Verdean division within the party and of its possible relation to the attempted coup.
Secondly, it requires an examination of the immediate effects of Cabral's death on the party. As we have seen, it was historically the case that many Cape Verdeans in Guinea occupied positions of relative authority and privilege, particularly in the lower echelons of the Portuguese colonial service. It is not clear, however, that there was much resentment against Cape Verdeans in Guinea as a whole. Nevertheless, it is true that Cabral was the proponent of the PAIGC policy of unity between Guinea and Cape Verde. All other Guinean movements of national liberation specifically excluded such a policy — thus making it an easy issue to exploit for those who opposed the PAIGC or Cabral. There is no evidence that these rival nationalist groups had much of a following inside Guinea, even on this issue 15. However, because Cape Verdeans formed a large proportion of the nationalists leadership, it is inconceivable that, despite PAIGC denials, this should not have been an issue in the party. Quite obviously, without the explicitly formulated policy of unity between Guinea and Cape Verde, the PAIGC would have had little place for Cape Verdeans. But then there would have been no PAIGC at all.

Since the assassination, the issue has undoubtedly become much more salient in the party. Although the present leadership denies the existence of any tension between Guineans and Cape Verdeans, Cabral's own references to the question make it clear that a general acceptance of the policy of unity could not neccssarily be taken for granted. Certainly those Guineans who joined the FLING were strongly opposed to such unity. Some Guineans be lieved — and no doubt continue to believe — that the policy of unity was a convenient device for justifying Cape Verdean domination in the party. Those who take this view base their argument on an analysis of the PAIGC since independence. They point out that, after Cabral's death, the party increased the number of Guineans in positions of leadership. They contend that, if the issue of a Guinean-Cape Verdean division had not been politically sensitive, it would not have been necessary for the PAIGC to send back so many of its Cape Verdean members to the archipelago when there was an acute shortage of qualified officials in Guinea. They argue further than the total absence of Guinean representation within the Cape Verdean PAIGC is final proof of their case: Guineans would simply not be acceptable to Cape Verdeans. The November 1980 coup, which was interpreted by many as a Guinean reaction against Cape Verdean domination and which has effectively halted the process of integration between the two countries, would appear to lend even greater weight to this argument. As we shall see below, however, the coup was not primarily a result of Guinean antagonism against Cape Verdeans.

There are good reasons to be suspicious of a neat historical argument purporting to explain both Cabral's assassination and the evolution of the PAIGC until 1973 by reference to racial and political antagonism between the two groups. This interpretation of the facts has only been given credence by a small section of the Guinean petite bourgeoisie, many of whom resented the loss of positions of influence in the PAIGC and some of whom subsequently collaborated with the Portuguese. Such arguments are mostly rumoured in Bissau, where PAIGC domination was not readily accepted by those who enjoyed the benefits of Portuguese protection and generosity during the last years of the war. They gained wider currency following the Portuguese campaign of ‘Guine melhor’ in which the political alternative to the PAIGC was presented in this way.

Nevertheless, Cabral was fully aware of the potential dangers of the successful exploitation of this divisive issue and, consequently, much PAIGC counter-propaganda addressed itself to the question. Cabral pointed out that, until the colonial war began in Guinea and the need was felt by the Portuguese to drive a wedge between the two communities, Portuguese historical studies had shown that the populations of Guinea and Cape Verde were linked.
He drew a parallel between the Portuguese attempt to split Guineans and Cape Verdeans and their efforts to split the Fulas (who were loyal to the Portuguese) from other ethnic groups. He emphasised that those Guineans who rejected unity between Cape Verde and Guinea all collaborated or sought to collaborate with the Portuguese.

To say that there was a traditional antagonism between Guineans and Cape Verdeans in Guinea is to fly in the face of the historical evidence. There simply is no record of this issue until the Portuguese propaganda campaign of the late sixties. So that what is at issue is whether a split developed within the PAIGC under Cabral's leadership. All the data available suggest that, by 1973, the PAIGC was a cohesive and united party which had effectively overcome the problems of ethnicity, localism, racism and other separatist tendencies which have marred so many other political movements in Africa.

It is unlikely that discontent on such a potentially dangerous issue could simply have been suppressed if, as alleged, it had been widespread in the party. Although Cabral's arguments concerning the historical links between Guinea and Cape Verde can be disputed, there was no one within the party who could furnish credible historical counter-arguments. Those rival movements which sought to utilise the alleged opposition between Guineans and Cape Verdeans were unable to draw upon historically durable traditions of conflicts or divisions similar to those readily found in South-East Asia. They relied on political arguments reminiscent of those used by ‘Africans’ against ‘mestiços’ in Angola and Mozambique where it is hard to distinguish between legitimate grievances against a privileged elite and mere racism or political opportunism. In short, despite the attraction of a racial explanation for the 1972-73 conspiracy, there is no evidence to suggest that the alleged division between Guineans and Cape Verdeans was a politically salient issue in the party. After all, the conspiracy had virtually no success in developing Guinean opposition to Cape Verdeans. Nor, finally, is it clear that this was a determining factor for the conspirators themselves. Most of them had been previously convicted by the party and thus had personal reasons for seeking revenge. None was known to have expressed concern over the issue prior to his conviction and none showed much success in convincing others of the rationale for the coup. Their declared hostility to the Cape Verdean leadership thus appears as a justification rather than a motive for their action.

Even if the conspirators had eliminated all the PAIGC leaders present in Conakry and then convinced Sékou Touré to support them, they could not have succeeded without support inside Guinea — support which never materialised. Luiz Cabral and the other leading party officials were not in Conakry at the time and there is no reason to believe that they would have had any difficulty in maintaining control over the PAIGC. The internal party itself was intact and there was no evidence of political infiltration in the liberated areas.
Furthermore, by 1973, the struggle was too far advanced and would not have been stopped by a reversal of Touré's support, a reversal which never materialised. Despite the 1970 Portuguese attack on Conakry which specifically aimed at overthrowing Sékou Touré, he never withdrew his support for Cabral.
The allegations that he was behind the assassination carry little weight since it is precisely Sékou Touré who detained the conspirators, freed the PAIGC leaders and gave orders to his navy to prevent Aristides Pereira's transfer to the Portuguese ship waiting in international waters. It is reasonable to assume that, had he agreed with the conspirators' objectives, he would have behaved differently. Had he opposed the PAIGC, it would doubtless have been a severe blow to them. But the party was united and would have survived. Cabral was greatly admired and respected inside the country and his death only strengthened the unity of the party. His assassins could not have hoped for much sympathy and none was shown at their trial.

Finally, it is now clear that, despite early reports to that effect, Guinean antagonism against Cape Verdeans was not the primary cause of the November 1980 coup in Bissau even if it became one of its unintended consequences. The new Guinean regime has maintained its support for some form of integration with Cape Verde. It has taken every step to prevent the victimisation of the many Cape Verdeans who live in the country and, most significantly, it has retained several Cape Verdean ministers and advisers in the new government. An analysis of the coup confirms, rather than undermines, the argument that (until recently at least) the issue of Guinean-Cape Verdean relations has not been as politically salient in the party as other conflicts over political and economic policies. It is ·convenient, but historically inaccurate, to explain Cabral's assassination as well as the subsequent political splits within the PAIGC by means of an all-encompassing racial view of the party. A final point to be discussed concerns the immediate political consequences of Cabral's killing. Surprisingly, given Cabral's role in the PAIGC, the effects of his death were minimal. The party had a de facto collegiate leadership in the three-man Commissao permanente. Pereira and Luiz Cabral were quite capable of filling the vacuum immediately. Pereira, the deputy leader of the party, was later confirmed as party leader and Luiz Cabral as deputy. Two members of the CEL, Francisco Mendes and João Bernardo Vieira, both highly respected guerrilla commanders, were brought into a new four-man Commissao permanente. Not unexpectedly, perhaps, they were both Guinean. The important objectives scheduled for 1973 were not altered or delayed by the assassination, although it rapidly became apparent that Cabral's successors were now less willing to follow his strategy of limited warfare and much more inclined to seek to achieve military victory. As a result, the PAIGC launched the most ambitious military campaign of the war in an effort to break the deadlock. The second party congress was convened in July, and the newly created National Assembly met to proclaim independence in September. The diplomatic activities of the PAIGC continued and the skill with which the negotiations with the Portuguese were conducted after the April 1974 revolution showed that Cabral had been adequately replaced even in this area where success had been so directly linked to his personal abilities. To the surprise of most foreign observers, and certainly of the Portuguese, the PAIGC overcame the loss of its leader with apparent ease and effectiveness. The split which the Portuguese had sought to achieve did not materialise; in fact greater cohesion and unity followed the assassination. Support for the PAIGC grew both inside and outside Guinea. International condemnation of the killing increased the isolation of the regime in Lisbon.

The successful replacement of a leader whose role was of such obvious importance to the development of a political movement is historically rare. It must therefore be seen as a direct legacy of Cabral's leadership,leadership not solely based on the exercise of personal power. There was a tradition of genuine collective leadership in the Commissão permanente and in the CEL. Although it often appeared that Cabral's wishes prevailed in all matters, policies were always discussed before decisions were made. Cabral usually managed to carry majority opinion because of his ability to convince his colleagues and not simply because of his pre-eminence within the leadership. His most intimate associates and friends all point to his unusual capacity for bringing about a consensus which placated dissenting opinions. His ideas and policies were well known, and to a large extent shared, by the top leadership. It is therefore not surprising that, following his death, there should have been little change in the short- and medium-term policies of the PAIGC, a fact which emerged quite clearly during the second party congress in July 1973.

Cabral created and shaped the party largely according to his personal beliefs and style. Except for a handful of his colleagues, all the other important leaders had been trained by him directly and were (and still remain today) deeply under the influence of his ideas and character. This helps to explain the unusually strong homogeneity and unity achieved throughout the party. Cabral had created a ‘band of comrades’ who thought alike, men who, rightly or wrongly, saw him as an example to emulate rather than merely a chief to obey. The ideology of the PAIGC relied essentially on its own history and not on foreign ideas or models. Party policies were thus clear to the members. Furthermore, because of their common origin, training and experience, the PAIGC officials actually viewed these policies as their own, not those of a distant and foreign leadership. This is partly why the argument used by the conspirators about the alleged Guinean-Cape Verdean antagonism met with little response.

There is reason to believe (although no positive proof) that Cabral had prepared his succession with some care. He said in 1969:

We are all necessary to the struggle but no one is indispensable … Today, I am proud because I am certain that, given the work that we have done together, if l went, left, died or disappeared, there would be others in the party capable of continujng the struggle. If this were not the case we would not have achieved anything yet. A man who has achieved something which he alone can continue, has achieved nothing 16.

It is likely that the emphasis placed in 1972-73 on the strengthening of party structures and on the creation of democratic political institutions (through popular elections) were designed to ensure that the PAIGC could continue to develop without him. The reinforcement of central party control and the institutionalisation of collective leadership did much to prevent potential intra-party fighting about the identity of his successor. The 1972 elections, the establishment of the first National Assembly, and the organisation of a government to assume power at independence also reduced the chance that his death would delay the proclamation of independence, or hinder the operation of the Guinean state. It is also reported that in any case Cabral did not wish to lead the Guinean government after independence 17. He believed that he could be more effective as the leader of the PAIGC which he viewed as the driving force of the revolution and of the unity between Cape Verde and Guinea. This interpretation gains support from the fact that Cabral's successor, Pereira (also a Cape Verdean), has sought to play that role despite his responsibilities as president of Cape Verde.

In the long term, however, there is no doubt that Cabral's death was a crippling loss to the PAIGC. While the party has shown that it can function adequately without him, his place as an original and creative thinker cannot be filled. Nor has anyone emerged in the PAIGC with a similar degree of charisma. As we shall see below, there remain many practical questions about the development of the revolution which the PAIGC began in the liberated areas of Guinea and it is here that Cabral's absence is bound to be most cruelly felt.

1. Interview with Ana Maria Cabral, the leader's second wife, in Oleg Ignatiev, Três tiros da PIDE. Quêm, porque e como mataram Amílcar Cabral (Lisbon: Prelo Editora, 1975), pp. 173-5.
Other oral information for this chapter was obtained from interviews with Luiz Cabral, Silvino da Luz, Manuel Santos, Olivio Pires, Otelo de Carvalho (who worked in the propaganda section of Spinola's headquarters in Guinea); and Nuno Teotónio Pereira and Luis Moita (who militated against the colonial wars and were subsequently imprisoned by the Portuguese).
2. Aquino de Bragança, Amílcar Cabral (Lisbon: Iniciativas Editoriais, 1976), p. 26.
3. On his position, see Sékou Touré, Crime crapuleux de l'impérialisme (Conakry: Imprimerie nationale Patrice Lumumba, 31 January 1973).
4. The following ringleaders were executed, according to Ignatiev, Três tiros da PIDE, p. 185:

5. Bruno Crimi, ‘La vérité sur l'assassinat d'Amílcar Cabral’, Jeune Afrique, 723 (31 January 1975), pp. 18-21. Crimi also provides evidence of the PIDE's involvement in the assassination of General Delgado in 1965 and in that of Eduardo Mondlane in 1969. On Delgado's murder, see Bruno Crimi, ‘Autopsie d'un assassinat politique’, Jeune Afrique, 604 (5 August 1972), pp. 36-9.
6. Barbosa also seems to have been implicated in the November 1980 coup. Although he was released immediately after the coup, the new leader, Vieira, has now placed him again under house arrest. Some reports indicate that he might have been, and still is, at the head of the anti-Cape Verdean faction.
7. This is what the conspirators claimed during their trial. Bragança. Amílcar Cabral, p. 29. The documents which Cabral obtained confirrn that the Portuguese had indeed made such promises.
8. Before the assassination the PAIGC published the Portuguese document which described the plan in detail. See Cabral, 'Vamos refonçar a nossa vigilancia para demascar e eliminar os agentes do inimigo, para defendermos o partido e a luta e para continuarmos a condenar ao fracasso todos os planos dos criminosos colonialistas portugueses' (Conakry, March 1972), p. 7.
9. Ignatiev, Três tiros da PIDE, pp. 83-9, gives an account of the reasons why Kani was sacked.
10. The Portuguese document which the PAIGC obtained was entitled ‘Instrução 42171 - DGS’. See Cabral, ‘Vamos reforçar a vigilancia’.
11. Ignatiev, Três tiros da PIDE, pp. 138-40, gives an account of the meeting during which Cabral sought to convince his colleagues.
12. Le Soleil (Dakar), 29 January 1973.
13. Sékou Touré, Crime crapuleux, pp. 22-3, hinted at this problem as one which might have caused resentment among some party members.
14. Crimi, ‘La vérité sur l'assassinat’, p. 21.
15. See Richard Gibson, African Liberation Movements. Contemporary Struggle against White Minority Rule (Oxford University Press 1972), pp. 253-63. Gibson gives a favourable account of the PAIGC's rival movements. Contrast the account given in Abshire & Samuels, Portuguese Africa, pp. 455-6, where a potential split between Cape Verdeans and Guineans is envisaged; and Cornwall (The Bush Rebels, p. 169) who saw no sign of such a split. The former relied on Portuguese sources for their assessment, the latter spent several weeks in the liberated areas of Guinea.
16. Cabral, ‘La démocratie révolutionnaire’, Unité et lutte I, p. 244.
17. Private communication from informants who have requested to remain anonymous.

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