Angola: A Global Perspective and the Strategy for Success

Presented TO the National Captive Nations Committee’s Conference on the Captive Nations’ Week in Washington, D.C., July 18, 1983.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of UNITA and President Savimbi, I thank you very much. We are pleased and quite honored to be here. The occasion is a reminder of the sad event of the Soviet subjugation of various nations in Europe. But more disturbing yet is the fact that the list of so- called captive nations has been getting longer and longer each passing year throughout the world with continuing Soviet gains in its world domination enterprise. We are not here to commiserate about this, but rather to assess the chances for a reversal of this trend. Many of you came from captive nations but are now proud American citizens, enjoying the boundless wonders of being free. But, unless there is a serious effort to expand and defend freedom on a global basis, the day may come when we won’t even be free to commemorate the Captive Nations Week here in America, lest it might “anger the Soviets.” For the next few minutes, I would like to review briefly with you the situation in my country, Angola, where the prospects of a victory against Soviet expansionism are quite good.

Last March, the Armed Forces of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) captured 66 Czechoslovakians. Also last March, our forces captured a Cuban Army lieutenant who told us he arrived in Angola in January of this year as part of a new 1500-man Cuban troop reinforcement.

Indeed, since 1975 the Cuban expeditionary force in Angola has been steadily increased to more than 40,000 men. This is contrary to reports in the press which continue to underestimate the Cuban force at 20-30,000 men. In addition to the 40,000 Cubans, there are about 2,000 Soviets, 3,000 East Germans, and thousands of paramilitary personnel from other Soviet bloc countries.

The Cuban military increase is partly in response to intensified Angolan resistance, and partly in anticipation of the larger role the Cubans are expected to play as Soviet surrogate troops in the whole region of Southern Africa.

This region includes the countries of Zaire, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, and contains 86% of the platinum, 64% of the vanadium, 53% of the manganese, 52% of the cobalt, and a dominant share of the world’s reserves and production of gold and diamonds. These are some of the most strategic minerals, essential in the manufacture of submarines, jet engines, frames of advanced aircraft, cars, armor plate and high- strength stainless steel.

The industrialized Western countries depend largely upon Southern Africa for the supply of much of these minerals: and the Soviet Union is doing all it can to exploit this vulnerability by eventually denying the West access to these sources of raw materials that are vital to the security and economy of the West.

Since 1975, the Soviets have already utilized Angola to promote their expansionist policies: armed attempts to destabilize neighboring countries; intervention in the Horn of Africa; open support of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet puppet regime of Angola; use of Angola as a base to fly reconnaissance missions against the British Navy in the South Atlantic during the Falklands ,war; and the use of Angola as a vast training camp for numerous subversive groups from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America.

The Soviet intentions on Angola’s southern neighbor are well known, too — to establish another Communist regime in Namibia and ultimately in South Africa. This is why South Africa cannot dissociate the Soviet-Cuban presence in Angola from the fate of the rest of the region, no matter what the world feels about apartheid or racism. Thus, the Namibia independence process is hampered by the Soviet stranglehold in Angola.

The Soviets had long-term plans for Angola, beginning 30 years ago, when the Angolan Communist Party was created to provide for the core of the future leadership of the MPLA, founded in 1957 as a liberation movement. The Soviet Union has been working steadily on its plan for domination not only of Angola, but also of the rest of Africa. In contrast, the West, which has colonized Africa, has practically only discovered Angola in 1975 in the wake of the Soviet-Cuban invasion, in reaction to which too little was done.

The Soviet Union has penetrated aggressively the region by unprecedented use of Cuban proxies in 1975, to put in power in Angola a faction of its choice, against the free elections that were already underway for a democratic transfer of power from Portugal to Angola’s liberation movements (UNITA, FNLA and MPLA) who had fought against the Portuguese colonial rule and who were supposed to share power.

Still, the West would rather not talk about the vexatious Cuban presence in Angola, were it not for its relation to Namibia where efforts toward Namibian independence continue to be hampered by this Soviet stranglehold on Angola.

There are obvious historical, economic and strategic factors that heavily underscore the internationalization of the Angolan conflict: massive Soviet military intervention, vital Western interests at stake, and a whole regional security in jeopardy.

Internally, however, the key issue is self-determination: the Angolan people have not been allowed, to date, to exercise their right to vote. Moreover, the MPLA’s minority regime has been far more oppressive than colonialism under Portugal. That is why UNITA reorganized its forces and mobilized the people to continue the national liberation struggle.

But, in sharp contrast to vigorous support of majority rule in Zimbabwe and now in Namibia by the international community, there has been no similar effort to promote the withdrawal of foreign forces, national reconciliation, and to ensure democracy in Angola.

There are Western analysts who argue that Africans instinctively reject Communism, so they’ll sooner or later throw the Communists out of Angola, and that therefore the U.S. should keep its hands off. They cite the examples of Egypt, Sudan, and Somalia where the Soviets were thrown out. But these analysts overlook two basic factors. First, the regimes in question, notwithstanding their ties with the Soviet Union at the time, were not Communist; in fact, the Communist parties in these countries were either banned or non-existent, so there was no reliable ideological base for the Soviets to consolidate their hold. Second, there were Soviet advisors but no military force of occupation. The creation of loyal Marxist parties and the advent of Cuban proxy armies have changed all that. Today there is an ideological marriage, not just a co-habitational arrangement, between Moscow and its puppet regimes in Africa. One can no longer give the Soviets 48 hours to pack and leave. The use of raw military force to subjugate a country defies the will of even the most heroic people. And isn’t this the way the Captive Nations came about in the first place? Change is possible only through a sustained national liberation struggle waged from within by the people. And this process requires solidarity and help from the Free World, from the West, from the United States.

The United States’ leadership is needed to provide a unified purpose for the Free World; for, the Soviet Union, through its sophisticated propaganda, especially in the West, manages to divide and isolate the anti-Soviet liberation movements around the world. But even if the U.S. were to yield to the pacifists and keep its hands off, we would still need a fundamental change in the attitude of the West toward our predicament in Angola, where there is not only lack of support for our national liberation process, but also, the situation has been such that Western business activities in Angola are actually subsidizing the Soviet-Cuban occupation of our country, thus compounding our national and regional problems.

At $3 million a day to finance its war in Angola, the Soviet Union might not hang in there forever, were it not for Gulf Oil Corporation and other investors who ease the financial burden on Russia. Gulf Oil lobbies in Washington to influence U.S. policies to favor of the Marxist MPLA regime. These investors argue that since the Marxist MPLA regime accepts doing business with the capitalist West, it ought to receive more economic and diplomatic support from the United States. But don’t all countries (including the U.S.S.R. and its satellites) seek economic ties with the West? Are the political objectives of these countries reconcilable with the interests of the Free World? Absolutely not.

Investment considerations alone cannot safeguard freedom and democracy. Russia does not believe in giving economic aid to attain her goals of expansionism. The Soviet economic weapon has been outdone by the West’s superior ability to grant economic assistance to Third World countries. Armed conflicts offer the Soviet Union its new strategy, the opportunity to increase its influence by way of massive military assistance, to ensure that in any regional conflict the faction of Moscow’s choice comes to power and stays beholden to the U.S.S.R.

Gulf Oil and others should understand the profound implications of their actions in the Angolan conflict. They have an obligation to help create the basis for a free, democratic Angola as the surest way of protecting their long-term interests. We do not suggest they cut off their business ventures in Angola; but at the very least, they should not complicate Angola’s search for peace and justice.

UNITA is committed to the defense of human liberties, political tolerance, religious freedom, free trade unions and a socio-economic system in which the individual is the main factor for progress and well being. We believe that where democracy is allowed to succeed, there can be no losers, only winners; we believe that the essence of true democracy is not to confer absolute power to the majority, but rather the ability to protect the rights of minorities, including the political opposition. These ideals are pretty much like Western ideals. And this is the main reason UNITA is called “pro-Western” — not because of presumed support from the West, which we do not receive.

We do not seek pity nor compassion. But if there is sincere determination by the Free World to stand up for liberty and democracy against global Soviet aggression, UNITA wants and needs to be a partner in the process.

Our present success against the Cubans is certainly an important contribution to the world cause against Communist aggression. Numerous journalists and observers including a delegation of four members of the European Parliament, who toured our areas recently, have all concluded that in Angola the West could win, whether militarily or politically — militarily because UNITA has developed a viable armed force, well trained, highly disciplined and highly patriotic: 16.000 regulars and 30,000 guerrillas comprise the UNITA force right now. Politically, because if free elections are held in Angola, UNITA is the sure winner.

Several factors occur in IJNITA’s favor, including the vast popular support and the competent leadership of Dr. Jonas Savimbi. Rampant socio-economic misery underscores MPLA’s total incompetence to govern. Also, there is the humiliating presence of the Cubans, the suppressive nature of the MPLA regime, and the availability of our armed forces.

Despite all this, we believe dialogue among Angolans is essential for lasting peace and stability. But peace must be peace with justice, and dialogue is a two-way street. As long as the MPLA refused to engage in national reconciliation, we have no choice but to continue to prepare for war until we succeed.

How soon we can succeed would depend largely on many external factors, especially Western attitudes. Politically and diplomatically, for the time being, we perceive an attitude that is not conducive to victory.

For example, in the so-called “stock-and-carrot approach” by the United States to induce the MPLA to cooperate with Western initiatives, there has been only “the carrot” to the MPLA: loans by the Export-Import Bank, humanitarian financial assistance, exposure of the MPLA to the U.S. business community: while on the other side, the Clark Amendment stands out singularly against us, affecting also relations with our friends around the world.

Western diplomats believe only in negotiations, while the Soviets believe only in armed struggle. Ideally, our efforts could complement those of the Western negotiators.

We recognize the importance of diplomatic efforts by the West under the stewardship of the United States. But at this point in time, I know of no reason to remain optimistic about the helpfulness of such efforts toward getting the Cubans out of Angola. We believe we can only effectively attempt to negotiate the Cuban withdrawal if we are capable and willing to use other options, including force. Otherwise, it is just a disguised accommodation of Soviet preferences.

UNITA seeks national reconciliation with our compatriots, including the MPLA. We see no reason whatsoever to negotiate a compromise with Fidel Castro’s mercenaries. After all, we have unmasked the vulnerability of the Cuban troops in Angola, where they find an overwhelmingly hostile environment, and they are losing; they have to be defeated. And in terms of a global strategy for the Free World, we believe a clear victory against Fidel Castro would strongly enhance deterrence to his interventionist adventures in the rest of Africa and even in Central and South America. We believe Angola presents today an excellent opportunity for a big win against Soviet expansionism. You can help Angola, the West, and the Free World — Do not let this opportunity slip by.


  • Jeremias K. Chitunda

    In 1983, Jeremias K. Chitunda was Secretary of Foreign Affairs for UNITA. He became Vice President of UNITA in 1986.

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