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Angolan national liberation, 1961–1974

Jeff Shantz


Despite its mineral wealth, the Portuguese colony of Angola was poor, and there were few attempts at modernization until the 1920s, when Portuguese control was finally consolidated and the fascistic Estado Novo (New State) regime came to power. The widespread used of forced labor and forced cash-cropping, rapid urbanization and high unemployment, a surge in white immigration and heightened job competition, all generated growing tensions, and a variety of militant African nationalist currents emerged in the 1950s. The Angolan Communist Party was formed in 1953, followed by the Party of the United Struggle for Africans in Angola (PLUA) in early 1956. These merged to form the Popular Liberation Movement of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola) (MPLA) . The MPLA was influenced by Marxism-Leninism as well as cultural nationalism, and drew its cadres from the educated African and mulatto elite, many of whom were from the tiny assimilado (“assimilated”) caste of black citizens ostensibly exempt from the racial laws. It initially focused on Luanda's shanty towns. The collapse of the neighboring Belgian Congo (subsequently Zaire, then the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1959 sparked off riots in Luanda, suppressed through mass arrests and military operations. The MPLA's urban base shattered and the party turned to rural armed struggle, headed by António Agostinho ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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