Amilcar Cabral

Message to the people of Portugal

First Published:1969
Source: Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, stage 1, London, 1974, pp123-125
Translated: Richard Handyside
Transcription/Markup: Steve Palmer
Copyleft: Copyright stage 1 .

Declaration to Voz de Liberdade radio (Khartoum January 1969)

The Khartoum Conference marks for us a new stage in our struggle in relation to international public opinion. We have never before had a meeting of this kind, with the objective of informing the representatives of anti-colonialist opinion. particularly in Europe and America, about the advance of our struggles, about the concrete situations in our countries, and about the negative and even criminal attitude of the Portuguese colonialist government.

We are convinced that the Conference will fulfill its purpose. From now on, international public opinion, being better informed, will be able to take more concrete measures to show its solidarity with the struggle of the African peoples of the Portuguese colonies.

On the question of the freeing of prisoners-of-war by the PAIGC, I would like to say that for our people in Guinea and Cabo Verde and for our combatants in general, the freeing of three more Portuguese prisoners-of-war at Christmas does not constitute anything new, and is in line with our policy. We have always clearly proclaimed that we never confuse the people of Portugal with Portuguese colonialism. In March 1968 we freed three prisoners-of-war, and in the context of Christmas we considered it worthwhile to free three more. This gesture towards the Portuguese people also proves to the world that the Portuguese colonialist government is lying when it claims that we are bandits, terrorists and a savage people.

We expressed to the three freed prisoners our desire that they should rejoin their families and speak to them about us, so that in this way, despite the crimes of the colonialist government, the links between our people and the people of Portugal should be maintained.

Obviously when a government faces the situation in which the Portuguese government finds itself, it has to lie, and lie a lot. This we understand but can never accept.

If the war communiqués of the fascist government, in an attempt to conceal the existence of prisoners, claim that soldiers have died or disappeared and these soldiers then 'miraculously' appear, only one conclusion can be drawn from such lies, namely that the Portuguese government has no consideration either for its own people, to whom it tells gross lies, or for the young men who, at the cost of sacrifices and of their own lives, are fighting without glory in a criminal war in our country.

We consider that a prisoner-of-war deserves respect, because he is giving his life, whether or not the cause he is fighting for is just. For this reason we call on the people and patriots of Portugal to force the government to respect the people it governs and to respect the minimum of international norms regulating the situation of prisoners-of-war.

Many people thought that the political eclipse of Salazar would mean at the very least some modifications by the Portuguese government with regard to respect for international laws and above all with regard to the defence of the interests of the Portuguese people.

Salazar, whose mind was obstinately closed to the realities of the world today, carried out a policy which dragged him into the enormous pit of colonial war. But Marcelo Caetano was not obliged to fall into the same pit; his continuing of Salazar's colonial policy is conscious and truly criminal. To justify his attitude. Marcelo Caetano has to invent 'historias do arco-da-velha'[1], as they say in Portugal.

The story that we are fighting in order to create in Guinea a base from which to attack Cabo Verde and hand it over to the Communists means that Marcelo Caetano thinks he can still deceive the Portuguese people. We are certain that the Portuguese people will not let themselves be deceived, and we and the patriots of Portugal are here today to put things in their proper perspective.

We are fighting to effectively liberate Guinea and Cabo Verde, in order that our peoples may have the possibility of determining their own destinies. If we took up arms to fight against Portuguese colonialism, against foreign domination in our country, it was not so that we could then hand our country over to somebody else. We repeat what we have already proclaimed many times: we want to liberate our country in order to create in it a new life of work, justice, peace and progress, in collaboration with all the peoples of the world, and most of all with the people of Portugal.

What Marcelo Caetano fears is that the Portuguese people will know that Guinea and Cabo Verde will be part of a free and independent Africa, willing to collaborate openly and loyally with the Portuguese people. While fighting for the total liberation of our country, we do not lose sight of an objective which we consider important for our own people, namely fraternal collaboration and co-operation with the people of Portugal.

When Marcelo Caetano says that Guinea must be defended whatever the price, the price he is thinking of is the life Of the young Portuguese whom he is going to send to their deaths like the many who have already been h~lle0 or mutilated. We know that the Portuguese colonialist government is going to send to our country a further 10 or 15 thousand men, or even 20 thousand as they are beginning to say. However many they send, the Portuguese government will just be sending them to their death. This is why the Portuguese people must oppose this, and demand the return of its sons who are dying for an unjust cause while their own country lacks young hands to work the land, to build Portugal and, as the poets say, to rediscover their own country.

We know (and I speak as a technician) that Portugal has the means of offering a dignified life to all its sons. That is to say that it is their own country which the Portuguese must defend and build with their efforts and sacrifices, and in a certain future they will collaborate with us of Guinea and Cabo Verde, and we will all link hands fraternally, on the basis of history, of friendship and of all the ties that unite us.

In relation to the demonstrations against the colonial wars which have recently taken place in Portugal, we must say that we appreciate them greatly and are following them very attentively. We have always said to our people, to our combatants, that the Portuguese people is a worthy people which in the course of history has already made an outstanding contribution to the evolution of humanity.

We wish to affirm to you that the attitude of the students and people in their recent demonstrations, both at the church of S. Domingos and on the occasion of the funeral of Antonio Sergio, should be a source of encouragement to you and above all a confirmation of the fact that no contradictions exist between the people of Portugal and our people, that there is not, has never been, and will never be any conflict to separate them, and that whatever crimes the colonialists may commit, in the future our people will join hands in fraternal collaboration.

Marcelo Caetano, when he took over from Salazar, could have ended the colonial wars, but did not want to. We are certain that this mission will be accomplished by the Portuguese people, by their workers and peasants, by their young people, by their progressive and anti-colonialist intellectuals, in fact by all those who truly respect and love Portugal and who know that to fight against the colonial war is to save Portugal from the suffering, ruin and danger for their own independence which this war creates.

[1] An expression peculiar to Portuguese, meaning a fairytale or long, fantastic story. Ed.