First Published: Getting Together, Vol. VII, No. 1, May 1976, under the title, “Coalition speech condemns both superpowers.”
Reprinted: In the pamphlet, Countries want independence, Nations want liberation, People want revolution!, n.d. 
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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IWK delivered the following speech on behalf of the Coalition for Angolan Self-Determination. [ ] indicate our summary of sections summarized from the original speech. . .. indicates deletions. The speech was edited due to the length of the original. Subheads are ours.
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It was through the combined effort of the three liberation movements that five long centuries of Portuguese colonialist domination of Angola was finally ended. The MPLA, FNLA, and UNITA, who had all fought against the Portuguese colonialists, signed the Alvor and Mombassa Agreements in January 1975. The Alvor Agreement was signed in Alvor, Portugal by the three liberation organizations and the Portuguese government. This joint agreement replaced the separate agreements previously made between the liberation organizations and the Portuguese government. It called for an end to hostilities with Portugal in exchange for Portuguese withdrawal from Angola. The Mombassa Agreement, signed in Mombassa, Kenya, was an agreement among the three liberation organizations themselves to make preliminary plans for the projected coalition government. These agreements, along with a previous ceasefire agreement, represented a great step forward in forging a workable unity between the three liberation movements for national reconstruction following the date set for final independence in November, 1975. As further evidence of their working to achieve unity to end colonial domination, the Nakura Agreement was signed in June, 1975. Each group pledged to work together to form a transitional coalition government and to merge their military forces to carry out the transfer of power from the Portuguese back to the Angolan people themselves.
Each of these movements acknowledged that historical, regional and political differences existed between them, but they felt these differences were secondary and that the primary aspect of the situation was to maintain principled unity and move towards independence. The work of resolving their differences could be done within the confines of a nationally united Angola and would have to be done free from outside intervention. Each agreement, therefore, was a further step toward a united and liberated Angola and a concrete blow against imperialism.
There were also strong forces working for the unity of the liberation movements, who saw that this unity would safeguard Angola’s sovereignty and independence. The Organization for African Unity historically has played a strong role in the fight of the African nations against colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism. The OAU analyzed the Angolan situation in mid-1975 and felt that it was crucially important to uphold the unity of the three liberation movements. They refused to recognize any one organization as representing the Angolan people, and instead recognized FNLA, MPLA, and UNITA as the combined representative of the Angolan people.
The People’s Republic of China also strongly supported the unity of the three liberation movements – asserting that existing differences among them could only be resolved without foreign interference. China concretely implemented this by aiding all three liberation movements in their just struggle against the Portuguese up until the Nakura agreement in June, 1975. At this time, with the agreement to form a coalition government signed, the affairs of Angola were seen by China as an internal matter for the Angolan people themselves to determine. China indicated that henceforth it would provide assistance to a coalition government only.
Despite this drive and support for unity, however, the fight for Angolan independence was brutally sabotaged by the aggressive intervention of the two superpowers with the Soviet Union acting as the initial and primary instigator. Following the defeat of the U.S.-backed Portuguese colonialists and the resolve for unity among the liberation movements, the Soviet Union heightened its campaign to label one of the movements, the MPLA, revolutionary and patriotic, and the other two as reactionary and against the interests of the Angolan people. The call issued from Moscow was that the main task in Angola was the “transference of political power into the hands of the patriotic forces.”
Simultaneously, the Russians began shipping arms, heavy weaponry and military personnel into Angola to support this position. These arms shipments were at a level which far surpassed the whole previous 15 years of fighting against the Portuguese colonialists and included thousands of tons of heavy weaponry. Although liberation forces had previously requested heavy arms, the Soviet Union refused to send them to the liberation forces in their fight against the Portuguese. Furthermore, there was an influx of Russian military advisors and personnel into Angola who actively participated in planning attacks against the Angolan people, and Soviet warships were used to cover ground forces by firing on non-Soviet-backed Angolans.
By exploiting the differences among the three liberation movements to further its own designs, the Soviet Union has exposed its true nature. Under its socialist cover, it is functioning as an imperialist power. It is betraying the genuine desires of the Angolan people and contending with the U.S. in seeking to grab up and exploit the natural resources of Angola, exert control over the destiny of the Angolan people and the rest of southern Africa, and establish a military presence in the Southern Atlantic. In addition to these acts against Angola and her people, the Soviet Union has tried to undermine the unity of the African continent as a whole.. . For example, the Soviet Union sent a memo to the OAU’s 12th Summit Conference in 1975 denouncing FNLA and UNITA as reactionary organizations going against the interests of the Angolan people, while labelling MPLA as the only revolutionary and patriotic force. Because of acts such as this, member nations of the OAU have repeatedly warned the Soviet Union that it must stop its big nation bullying tactics and threats in trying to manipulate member nations. The OAU has had to assert time and time again that Africans will settle their own affairs.
Of course, the other superpower, the United States, has also played a strong role in undermining the Angolan people’s fight for independence and self-determination. As the main backer of the Portuguese fascist regime, U.S. imperialism suffered another crucial blow with the fall of this regime. Contending actively with the social-imperialists of the Soviet Union for control over Angola and the rest of southern Africa, the U.S. has tried to gain another foothold in the Angolan situation by sending aid both overtly and secretly through the CIA and through other means to forces which had been incited to civil war. By further exploiting the differences between the liberation movements and raising the cry of “fight communism,” the U.S. attempted to subvert the Angolans’ struggle for self-determination and gain neo-colonialist control over Angola. A number of U.S.-based multi-national corporations like Gulf Oil have large operations in Angola and after years of exploiting the natural resources such as oil in the northern Cabinda region, they are not about to give them up without a fight. At the time that Portuguese domination was defeated, U.S. imperialism was the single largest exploiter in Angola. We can see, therefore, that for the Angolan people to exercise self-determination as a people, the Soviet Union – which aggressively instigated the civil war – and the U.S. – BOTH these superpowers must get out.
In addition to these superpowers, their allies and agents must leave as well. Under the deceiving guise of proletarian internationalism, the Soviet Union and Cuba have justified the presence of 10,000 Soviet-backed Cuban troops in Angola. The Soviet Union, which dominates the political and economic life of Cuba, is once again guilty of shedding the blood of third world people to advance its own social-imperialist designs. Clearly these Cuban troops are not helping the Angolans’ struggle. Their presence, along with all other foreign presence, has served to split the Angolan people and is holding back the struggle of the Angolan people for true self-determination.
Another enemy of the Angolan people has been the racist South African regime which has openly invaded Angola in an attempt to safeguard its already shaky position in southern Africa, and to protect the dam sites in Angola which supply South Africa with power. State Chief Vorster, in alliance with the U.S., has sent troops and support into the Soviet-instigated civil war in the hope of exerting control and protecting the racist South African regime’s self-interest.
The rising up of the Angolan people is a direct threat to Vorster’s white minority rule, both in South Africa and Namibia (which borders Angola and South Africa). The struggle of the Angolan people also provides strength to the people’s struggles in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa against white minority rule. By throwing itself into the Angolan civil war, South Africa along with its ally the U.S. hopes to forestall the day when they are crushed under the revolutionary tide of the African people.
A further aspect of the South African involvement is the way it has furthered the split among African nations. Because of their racist and colonial stand, the South African regime has earned the hatred and determined opposition of the masses of African people. When they intervened in the Angolan struggle to further their own needs, this served the disunity already preyed upon by the two superpowers. In reaction to South African involvement in Angola, many of the member nations of the OAU who had strongly supported the unity of the three movements now recognize the MPLA as a way of opposing the South African’s bold interference in Angola. Furthermore, the Soviet Union and others have added fuel to the slanders of UNITA, falsely accusing UNITA of inviting the hated South African invaders to come in. The Soviet Union has also slung mud at China to cover up its own tracks in Angola, by accusing China of aligning with South Africa in the Angolan civil war. This points up even more the thoroughly destructive effect that superpower contention has had on Angola. This contention succeeded in splitting the liberation movements and laid the material groundwork for the expansionist designs of the likes of South Africa. [The civil war was a direct result of superpower intervention and contention. The struggle of the Angolan people for genuine self-determination continues.]
The issue of Angola and how to support the just struggle of the Angolan people has been a main question of struggle among the oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world. In the U.S. it has become an important issue differentiating positions on the international situation. In the course of this struggle, revisionist and reactionary lines have been exposed.
As other struggles have shown us, the leading upholder of revisionism in the United States is the Communist Party-U.S.A. The CPUSA glorifies so-called detente and upholds the Soviet Union as a great socialist country, thereby attempting to deceive and disarm the oppressed people of the world. Though once the spearhead of the revolutionary struggle in this country, the CPUSA has degenerated into a prop of imperialism and social-imperialism. It has abandoned the revolutionary struggle, putting forward a bankrupt program of “peaceful transition to socialism” and a reliance on the bourgeois electoral process and the myth of detente, the stand it takes aids the war-producing contention of the two superpowers by sabotaging the revolutionary struggle against both superpowers through deceptive claims about the Soviet Union. The CPUSA promotes the Soviet social-imperialists in every way as the leaders of the oppressed peoples in their struggles against imperialism and as the upholders of world peace. In this era of imperialism, imperialist war is inevitable. What we mean by this is that only the revolutionary world-wide struggle against the superpowers, against imperialism and social-imperialism can prevent imperialist war. Through their activities, the CPUSA is taking a firm stand against the oppressed peoples and nations of the world. We must fight to expose and defeat this position in our movement in every form it shows itself.
Around this question of how to support the Angolan struggle, there are also many honest forces who have raised the call – “Support the MPLA, U.S. Out of Angola.” These demands are seen by some as part of the continuing struggle against U.S. imperialism, which they see as the main danger in the world today. However, they see only the intervention of one superpower and fail to grasp the primary role of the Soviet Union as well, with its rising, aggressive and treacherous system of social-imperialism which incited the Angolan civil war. Angola must be seen in its international context. We are raising slogans of “SUPERPOWERS OUT OF ANGOLA” and “SELF-DETERMINATION FOR ANGOLA” so that people will see the true nature of the Angolan situation.
There are still other forces who are blatantly dishonest and who attack us as conciliators of U.S. imperialism because we firmly oppose the intervention of both superpowers, all imperialist intervention, and expose the war-producing contention of the superpowers. We especially see the Guardian newspaper playing such a role. They have destructively promoted incorrect ideas and confusion among the people in the U.S. and have objectively aided the Soviet social-imperialists by covering up their role in Angola and apologizing for the CPUSA revisionists at home.
Though giving lip service to the fact that the Soviet Union is a social-imperialist power, they remain “unconvinced” that capitalism has been restored and insist that the struggle should be focused on one superpower – the United States. By treating the Soviet Union’s role as a secondary question in Angola, they feed into the very criticism they claim to make against the CPUSA. They treat social-imperialism as a policy, not as a system of world-wide exploitation and aggression. This cannot be true, for there is no such thing as a benevolent imperialism, a kindly imperialism. The Soviet Union is a social-imperialist power and has proven this – in Angola by ruthlessly exploiting the differences among the Angolan people, by robbing the products and natural resources of the African people, by using big nation bullying tactics to gain hegemony in Africa, and by establishing military presence on foreign soil. By championing one liberation movement over the others, the Guardian is not “performing its proletarian internationalist duty” as it would like to think, but rather it is upholding the position of the superpowers. It is doing the work of supporting the Soviet Union and providing a left-sounding justification for Soviet social-imperialism and modern revisionism. Instead of supporting national liberation movements, the Guardian’s analysis helps to cover up Soviet oppression of people throughout the world. The Guardian fails to see that national liberation struggles are objectively revolutionary because they are striking blows against imperialism. They should be supported by all progressive forces. In the case of Angola, the unity of all three liberation movements needed to be upheld, not destroyed.
... By not exposing both superpowers and attacking those who do, we state again – the Guardian has objectively sided with the revisionists and is contributing to the disarming of the oppressed peoples here and abroad.
[The U.S. raised the call for a coalition government midway through the civil war, from a recognition of its own weakness in contending with the Soviet Union over Angola. The United States’ call for unity was a cover-up for its imperialist hopes of installing their own puppet regime as they have done in other parts of the world.]
This coalition came together around two principles – Superpowers out of Angola, and Self-Determination for the Angolan People. Through these slogans, we are raising two of the important lessons to be learned from Angola.
First, the superpowers will contend everywhere throughout the globe in an attempt to establish their domination over the oppressed peoples and nations of the world. Furthermore, this contention, especially by the more aggressive superpower whose strength is on the rise, threatens the people of the world with world war.
Detente is a myth which hides this fact. Concretely, both superpower are now engaged in an escalation of arms and war preparations. The reality of the “arms agreements” are that the-agreed-upon levels far exceed what each country presently contains and gives each the excuse for even further escalation. This includes both nuclear arms as well as conventional arms.
In the Soviet Union, this growing militarization accounts for over 35% of their overall expenditures. The Soviet Union’s use of its force and arms is clearly revealed in Angola.
The second lesson revolves around the revolutionary struggle of the Angolan people for self-determination. The Angolan people have waged a fierce struggle for hundreds of years, for independence and liberation. This cannot be accomplished with the presence and intervention of foreign powers. We support the right of all countries to freely determine their own destiny. Thus Angola reflects the world situation today. The struggles of countries for independence, nations for liberation and people for revolution is the irresistible tide of world history. In the present period, factors for both war and revolution are increasing.
[In the U.S. the ruling class is stepping up militarization and arms build-ups, as well as its propaganda campaigns directed against the national liberation movements. Repression is intensifying. The U.S. ruling class is preparing for war. At the same time, the struggles of the working class and oppressed nationalities are increasing. Militant and concrete support for national liberation movements among the masses in this country is growing, too.]
The people of the United States must support the Angolan people’s struggle for true self-determination and to kick the U.S. and Soviet social-imperialists out of Angola. The Angolan people are fighting the same enemy as the United States working class and oppressed nationalities, as well as the vast majority of the world’s people. They are fighting against imperialism and superpower hegemonism. The masses, not the superpowers, are the makers of history!
SUPERPOWERS OUT OF ANGOLA! SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE ANGOLAN PEOPLE!