U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, Part 1: Cheating the Poor


U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, Part 1: Cheating the Poor

May 2, 1984 17 min read Download Report
Stanley J.
Distinguished Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

I 347 May 2, 1984 ANGOLA AND THE U.S THE SHAPE OF A PRUDENT COMPROMISE INTRODUCTION The most successful anti-communist resistance movement in the world in the past decade has been the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in Angola.

Afghan freedom fighters, also is the most determined movement.

UNITA has resisted efforts of the Soviet and Cuban backed regime in Luanda to crush it, now controls one th ird of Angola and has placed guerrillas in nearly every province. Soviets Cubans and their Angolan wards feel safe fective support for this resistance. The Reagan Administration policy haslbeen to try to secure a pullout of Cuban troops from A reconciliat i on of the Angolan conflict could then proceed with its greatest obstacle--Cuban troops--already removed the momentum of such negotiations should not be permitted to lead to an imprudent llcompromisell--one that leaves the Cuban troops in on the Luanda reg i me that pushes it toward negotiations. other hand, a settlement in Angola with the removal of Cuban troops would do more than any other action to facilitate a settle- ment of the Namibia issue and therefoce should be a paramount U.S. aim And it, along wit t i the Nowhere can the I Not since early 1976 has the United States provided any ef I Angola as a part of an overall settlement of the issue of inde- i pendence for Southwest Africa or, as it is widely called, Namibia i However I place. This would undermin e UNITA and remove the very pressure I On the I BACKGROUND After the 1974 coup in Portugal, the new regime in Lisbon declared that it would grant Angola independence. There were three contenders to succeed the Portuguese: the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Independence of Angola (MPLA) led by 2 Agostinho Neto, the anti-colonial National Front for the Libera- tion of Angola (FNLA) based mainly in Zaire and led by Holden Roberto, and UNITA whose leader Jonas Malheiro Savimbi had.led a guerrilla moveme n t inside Angola At Alvor in Portugal in January 1975, an agreement was reached among the parties callin9 for joint rule by the three contenders under a rotating presidency and a unified Angolan Portuguese army to draft a constitution and hold elections pr ior to the end of Portuguese rule in November 1975.

There followed in early 1975 an intense political struggle for control among the MPLA, FNLA, and UNITA. Each feared a mili tary takeover by its adversaries financial aid, arms and Cuban military advisors. The FNLA from its base in Zaire trained a small army while trying to build political support, especially in the north. UNITA found fairly broad political backing throughout Angola.

African Unity (OAU) mission in August 1975 estimated that UNITA enjoyed the best prospect of electoral success.

After much wrangling and skirmishes among the followers of the three groups, the MPLA used its greater military strength around Luanda in the summer of 1975 to expel the FNLA from the capital. Having done that, the M PLA turned on UNITA and did the same to them. A civil war ensued. In early 1976, the MPLA, with massive Soviet and Cuban support, forced its two chief rivals to give up a conventional war and take to the bush. The MPLA ran up its flag in the colonial capi tal of Luanda and claimed to be the government of all Angola.

Backed by the USSR from its inception, the MPLA was assured of a preponderance of weapons by the Soviets and was provided with a Cuban army expeditionary force to do much of the fighting.

The U nited States, Zaire and eventually South Africa supported the two other liberation movements-the UNITA and the FNLA--at first politically and later with arms when the political agreement made at Alvor, Portugal in January 1975 broke down further aid to th e FNLA and UNITA. Support which the FNLA and UNITA enjoyed elsewhere quickly dissipated following this vote.

But the MPLA regime in Luanda--even with 25,000-40,000 Cuban troops to stiffen its army--failed to pacify Angola. The MPLA could neither win the allegiance of the majority of Angolans nor sub] ugate them.

UNITA, led by Savimbi, retreated into the bush of southeast Angola the land of the end of the world From there, with little outside support but drawing on a reservoir of p'opular sym pathy, Savimbi re-formed the UNITA forces and began a guerrilla war bush from 1964 to 1974 Today, UNITA controls at least a third of Angola and vigorously contests another third, where its patrols appear to roam almost at will The MPLA received Soviet An Organization o f On December 18, 1975, the United States Senate voted against It was nothing new for him; he had been fighting in the ANGOLA: BASIC FACTS Angola is sparsely populated, with six million people over an area as large as Texas and New Mexico. It is ethnically divided among what are usually called tribes, but which have the charac teristics of separate nationalities--people sharing a common language and customs and occupying a particular and readily de fined area. Within each of these ethnic groups there are ma ny individual clans. The differences between, say, Bakongo and Ovimbundu are of the same order as between Frenchmen and Germans.

Roughly from north to south, the principal ethnic groups are Bakon 0--spill over into Zaire and form the tribal base of 1) the F d LA a out 14 percent of the population 2) Mbundu--occupy the region of the capital of Luanda and its hintem Luanda, on the co ast, was the center of Portuguese colonization about 23 percent of the population 3) Ovimbundu--occupy the food-producing central highlands The Ovimbundu tend to be rural, and characteristically independent minded and traditionally inclined.

UNITA (about 3 9 percent of the population 4) the others who make up 24 percent: the Lunda-Quioco (Chokwe the N an ueLa the Nhanaka-Humbe, the Cuanhama (Ovambo in South The Mbundu region is the heartland of the MPLA They are the tribal base of West- and the Lunkhumbi. 1 This great diversity in strong-minded ethnic groups makes it highly unlikely that any single group successfully can dominate a11 the others to govern the whole country. This explains the difficulty the two movements, FNLA and UNITA, found in uniting in 19 75 even when faced with a common enemy.

TRIBES, FACTIONS AND POLITICS During Portuguese rule, Angolans were divided into readily Whites, mixed race or mestjzos, black distinguishable classes: assimilados--Portuguese-speaking, educated and enjoying politica l rlghts as Portuguese-and black indi enas-the mass of the popula tion, most of whom were illiterate an with relatively rare ex ceptions, not politically conscious.

The Portuguese rule was extended through and benefitted the whites, mestizos and assimilad os in that order. These groups tended to be located in urban areas especially along the coast and, in particular, around Luanda where the black population is predominately Mbundu. It is from the Mbundu tribe that a large portion of prominent assimilados w a s drawn Mention should also be made of the Mayombe who are the prominent tribe in oil-rich Cabinda. 4 The attitudes of Angolans reflect their ethnic and socio racial background. Example: leftist mestizos and assimilados from Luanda and other cities have l argely tavored the MPLA, as have blacks from the Mbundu ethnic group larger initial cadre of educated and trained personnel than other groups. Many of the MPLA leaders were educated by the Portuguese or in Eastern Europe.

Communist Party or related groups and trained in special schools in Communist countries. MPLA leaders tend to have taken Portu guese names This gave the MPLA a They have been active in the Portuguese The Bakongo have been the backbone of the now weakened FNLA. Their traditional tribal dom a ins extend into Zaire--where many have kinsmen--and it is relatively easy for them to move to Zaire when their position in Angola becomes temporarily untenable have favored UNITA, although recently they have been obtaining support from other tribes. These people have had less contact with the old Portuguese regime and tend to resist domination from the capital and by foreign troops Blacks of the Ovimbundu and other groups of the interior THE MPLA REGIME Seven years after taking power, the MPLA still needs t he Cuban troops as its chief prop. In addition, East Germans run the security services and the Soviets provide armaments, oversee the Cubans, and ensure a communist education and indoctrination of the population. Economically, MPLA rule is a disaster. Foo d is scarce: Anqola's once sizable food surpluses have vanished and needs are being met by costly imports. An accord on fishing with the USSR has meant that the catch from Angola's rich fishing grounds now goes to the USSR and fish has disappeared from Ang olans' diet.

Angola's economic life, employment and government services are all at catastrophically low levels. Sanitation has broken down and the regime is unable to provide elementary social services for the cities it controls. Where possible, the Angola n people have been coerced into submission, with political reeducation camps, reprisals and informers the order of the day.

That Moscow controls the MPLA has been clear from the start.

Individual MPLA leaders at times have tried to assert independ ence, but were quickly forced into oblivion. A large faction the "Active Revolt composed mainly of leftists who sought to control their country's own destiny, was eventually crushed by blacks in the army. Initially successful, the insurgents seized army barrack s and headquarters, the radio station, the telephone center, and key government offices. Some five hours later, after apparently having received a signal from Moscow and Havana, Cuban armor rolled out of its compound and crushed the revolt In 1977, a coup. d 'etat was mounted against Neto's government 5 The MPLA leaders all know who is in charge and the conse- quences of diverging from what the Soviets want and can enforce through the Cuban army and the foreign technicians. are in no position to challenge the Soviet rule nor openly to call for steps such as the removal of Cuban troops. can make secret contacts with UNITA and try to cover themselves in the event of an unlikely but not impossible Soviet pull-out The moderates At best they UNITA: CURRENT POSITION After the MPLA broke up the attempt at coalition qovernment in mid-1975, Savimbi organized his followers for a military cam- paign which was scoring impressive successes until the Cuban troops arrived with their heavy weapons, and until American sup- port ended. After that, Savimbi retreated into the isolated bush where he has created a unified, largely self-sufficient movement able to defend itself against a modern and well-equipped army the bush a well-functioning administration, and what visitors descri b e as the participation of the population in local and na tional party conferences and other political activity. Foreign visitors to the area--journalists and European parliamentarians among others--have remarked on the signs of genuine support for UNITA a m ong the population the 1975-1976 period, some subsequent modest help from European and Arab countries and some limited access to South West Africa (Namibia) for diesel fuel, used military material and other essen- tials from the outside world UNITA now co n trols a large liberated area, with a capital in This has been accomplished with the foreign aid remnants of I SOUTH AFRICA AND ITA UNITAIs Savimbi describes UNITAIs relationship with South Africa as 'luncomfortable.lf He points out that with no other coun t ry willing to help, UNITA has had to turn to Pretoria. UNITA's only overland access to the outside world has been through Namibia.* UNITA has needed this access to survive, just as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Zambia rely on South African railways, ports, an d trade to survive economically. In fact, UNITA's eco- nomic relations with South Africa are far less in aggregate value than are those of any of these "front line" states. Indeed the MPLA regime which attacks UNITA as a ''South African puppet reveals in i t s own trade statistics that South Africa is its largest trading partner in Africa UNITA depends on this access through Namibia for fuel for its 300 captured diesel trucks, medicine, spare parts, and old military material. Some of this it may get without c h arge out of the proceeds of a small 5 to $10 million a year) trade in which UNITA exports wood and other products through Namibia Other items are purchased on credit or 6 Savimbi stresses that UNITA is not bound to South Africa politically, and that UNITA does not approve of apartheid. Western journalists who have gone into UNITA-held territory deter- mined to expose the South African,hand behind UNITA's success, have come back without finding any evidence of either a South African presence or significant opposition to UNITA control.

MILITARY SITUATION For UNITA 1983 saw its first major offensive--the anti-Cuban campaign. in Cuanza Norte, Malanje, Moxico, Lunda, Cuanza Sul and even Luanda province. UNITA's military success in so many areas has had the impor tant political consequence of transforming it into an all-Angola movement. And in late 1983, UNITA'gained control of the Angolan side of the border with Zambia (the Cazombo Strip).

UNITA fdrces have developed skills in communications, mili- tary engineering, intelligence and logistics to move from earlier defensive operations An officer corps has been developed with battle.tested young company and battalion commanders.

The Cuban troops for the present have abandoned aggressive sweeps into UNITA controlled areas. Rather, they stay in well- defended garrisons and avoid battle, sending small advisory missions with the MPLA forces and providing air support. practice may have to change as UNITA drives into more and more of Angola weapons from the USSR, there w i ll be pressure on the Cuban army to use them to crush UNITA Battles were fought in nearly every province in Angola This With the arrival in 1983 of huge quantities of heavy In March 1983, UNITA captured 61 Czechoslovaks, later some seventeen Portuguese, C a nadians and Brazilians,l and in December a group of Brazilians, Japanese and Filipinos. All but 20 Czech- oslovaks have been released. The MPLA has refused to exchange them for its UNITA prisoners. such foreigners despite the aid their presence may have o f fered the MPLA, although policy on Soviet-bloc prisoners may be changing.3 As it expands, UNITA recruits new soldiers for its training schools, and as it moves out of the Ovimbundu tribal lands, it forges a national army. more tanks, artillery, missiles a n d helicopters It has been UNITA policy to release Moscow has redcted by sending the Cubans UNITA POLITICAL GOALS Savimbi always has sought a unified Angola--free of the domi- nation of foreign troops-and the reconciliation of the diverse Two Soviet pilots , captured in 1980 when their transport aircraft was shot down by UNITA employing a Communist-made SA7 anti-aircraft mission were released in a trade for three Americans captured in 1976. 7 groups which make up the country. He probably does not expect to d e feat the Cuban army and chase it out of Angola soon. But he is believed to feel that his war of attrition, the deteriorat ing state of affairs in MPLA-controlled areas, losses suffered by the Cuban soldiers, and desertions from the MPLA army will lead to t he MPLA's collapse of will. Savimbi has said that even tually Moscow will be forced to choose between committing Soviet troops to help the MPLA and the Cubans or cutting off its aid to the Luanda regime. the process of removing the Cuban troops. idea of s u bstituting Nigerian for Cuban troops, if the MPLA regime insisted that such forces were needed to protect against a South African attack; the MPLA leaders oppose this. But if UNITA forces continue to be victorious and as Savimbi's willingness to compro- m i se becomes better known, there should be greater acceptance of Savimbi in Africa, Western Europe and North America. One compro- mise that seems a key plank in his platform is to include the Mbundu people in important government positions Savimbi seems wil l ing to involve other African nations in He has welcomed the ANGOLA AND THE NAMIBIA NEGOTIATIONS The U.S. skillfully has promoted the cooperation of South Africa and the MPLA, leading in spring 1984 to a disengagement of their forces in Angola and the rest r aint of attacks i6to Namibia from Angola by the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO the terrorist group that has been fighting for Namibian inde- pendence. A joint South African-MPLA commission has begun to oversee the South African withdrawal f rom southern Angola. This is to be followed by the application of U.N. Security Council Resolution 435/78 which calls for the introduction of a U.N. military force to patrol the Namibia-Anyola border, the with drawal of South African troops from Namibia, and U.N. supervised elections in Namibia. But the U.S. and South Africa will only proceed on the.implementation of this resolution when a satis- factory agreement is reached concerning the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola.

The problem is that the Sov iets retain sufficient power in Angola to frustrate this American effort. They may permit some accommodating rhetoric by the MPLA, such as a promise to ask the Cuban troops to withdraw. withdraw 200 Cuban troops per week saw the Cuban expeditionary force a ctually reinforced in the process If Moscow will make any concrete concession it surely only will be under relentless military pressure from UNITA. If that pressure should cease, the MPLA could return to business as usual the MPLA in power. their interven t ion in Angola might do to East-West detente have not yet suffered economic, material or human casualties of I An earlier promise by Fidel Castro to For over 20 years the Soviets have worked to put and keep They were not deterred in 1975 by the damage They 8 great magnitude. tion in Angola as long as they see some hope that their MPLA clients will retain total power but there are no present signs that the Soviets will cut and run They cannot be expected to abandon their posi The MPLA regime is faltering AME R ICAN OIL COMPANIES IN ANGOLA One reason the Soviets can afford to hold on is economic. The cost of the Cuban army of occupation and the East European technicians is more than covered by the revenue from the larqely American-managed'oil companies,4 which r e ached 1.7 billion in 1983, amounting to 90 percent of export Even though the MPLA has mismanaged its agriculture, fishing and non-mineral resources, it can pay the USSR, Cuba, East Germany and others with much needed hard currency because of oil revenues.

U.S. POLICY IN ANGOLA in Angola based on the Alvor Agreement of early that year. that failed--the Soviets having rushed arms to the MPLA--the U.S attempted to arm the two anti-Communist factions--UNITA and FNLA. This was cut off by Congress in late 1975 a nd early 19

76. The following June, Congress passed the so-called Clark Amendment (named after Senator Dick Clark, the Iowa Democrat) which pro- vided that Congress must approve any American aid which directly or even indirectly might improve a nation or group's ability to fight in Angola. International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1980 but it retains its essential character. In effect, this law which is constitutional ly questionable--tightly tied the Presi- dent's hands in developing and pursuing U.S. policy toward southern Africa.

When the Reagan Administration came to power, it tried to repeal the Clark Amendment. short of outright repeal which was blocked in the Hou se In 1975, Washington tried to promote a political settlement When The Clark Amendment was revised somewhat in the The Senate accepted a compromise Several foreign oil companies, including American ones, are present. Gulf Oil remains the largest quite cl e ar. Gulf developed and exploited the Cabinda field when Angola was Portuguese. Now Cabinda, an enclave north of Angola proper, is con trolled by the MPLA and the offshore oil wells are for now out of UNITA's reach--in effect protected by Cuban troops stan d ably placed no obstacles in Gulf's way unilateral action--upset Angola's oil sales of scruples about contributing to the Communist hold on Angola, another operator would move in. For three months ending September 30, 1983, Gulf produced an average of 57,0 00 barrels per day from its 49 percent share of the Cab-inda field. The other 51 percent belongs to the MPLA's Sonangol Company day from-Gulf's production in the United States.

Agence France Press, Paris, March 22, 1984 The position of the Gulf Oil Corpora tion is The MPLA has quite under Gulf could not--by its own If Gulf pulled out because This production compares with 253,000 barrels per POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS The MPLA leadership says that it needs Cuban troops to pro- tect Angola from South Africa. In t r uth, the MPLA hard core leaders need the Cuban troops to keep themselves in power--and for protection against more nationalistic elements within the MPLA itseIf; they remember how Agostinho Neto was saved by Cuban troops after he was briefly deposed in 19 7 7 Thus, there is little likelihood that the present MPLA leadership will ask the Cuban troops to leave. no foreseeable way they could induce the Cuban troops to leave even if they were to so ask; and there is slight chance that South Africa will hand over Namibia to SWAP0 as long as Cuban troops--that expression of Soviet power--remain in Angola.

The U.S. can offer some carrots to the MPLA reqime such as the prospect of diplomatic recognition; the suggestion of future American aid; and the expectation of A merican political support toward some greater independence of Luanda from foreign rule. However, it would be a mistake to give up such carrots, and thereby undermine UNITA, if the Cuban troops do not leave Further, there is Repeal of the Clark Amendment w o uld be a strong stick to accompany the carrots. To black nationalist elements of the MPLA somewhat estranged from, but intimidated by, the Soviets and Cubans, repeal may signal a further rise in UNITAIs fortunes and the need to seek secret accommodation w ith UNITA for their future safety. demoralized MPLA army.

European and North American governments and private groups--may deter a potential Cuban-led counter-offensive against UNITA that would make a future reconciliation even more difficult. Moreover, bot h the U.S. and South Africa should make it clear to Luanda that any major offensive against UNITA would undermine confidence in the existing agreement that provides for the South African withdrawal from Angola remains of tremendous importance to the U.S. B ut the essential pre-conditions for achieving this goal are: the restoration of peace in Angola; a reconciliation of its people; and most impor- tant, the removal of foreign troops from Angola Included in this group would be elements of the thoroughly Sim i larly, greater public attention to UNITA--by African The goal of a satisfactory resolution in the Namibia question CONCLUSION Washington must confront the likelihood that the MPLA is not negotiating in good faith. regime to enter into negotiations to play for time, to weaken an adversary, and to curry the favor of the potential allies of that adversary. The U.S. should not let such neqotiations handcuff it in what it does and says about southern Africa. The U.S. should It is not unusual for a faltering i 1 0 I I Re-state its policy of firmly supporting the rights of the Angolan people to choose their own regime in peace Call for the reconciliation of the contending factions in Angola and for the establishment of a government free of foreign troops. Any agree m ent for the withdrawal of troops must be verifiable I I I I Draw the world's attention to the current repression of Encourage expanded humanitarian aid for Angola, including Angolans relief supplies to the parts of Angola controlled by UNITA. The U.S. sho uld ask UNITA's neighbors to facilitate the move- ment of such supplies from Africa, Europe, and America. Such aid becomes more urgent as the Soviets and Cubans prepare more devastating retaliation .for UNITA's successes.

Americans to Jamba, the provincial capital of UNITA in south- east Angola, to confer with Savimbi regarding humanitarian assistance to the area as well as to the future of southern Africa. Luanda. about how to bring peace to Angola.

Clark Amendment would remove an important psychological defense now enjoyed by those responsible for the most re- pressive neo-colonial regime in Africa It would encourage other countries to re-examine their own positions Encourage missions of prominent Africans, Europeans and This would balance the many offic i al missions to Consulting with Savimbi might elicit some new ideas Repeal the Clark Amendment. A simple vote to remove the Provide scholarships for educating UNITA's youth, as a step toward filling future needs for doctors, teachers, engineers and adminis trators.

These are modest steps. impact on Africa and the world U.S. opposes the subjugation of an African people by foreign troops and will cooperate with those who are sympathetic to that view and who seek the end of such neo-colonialism in Africa. Such steps would impress those who seek a truly conciliatory and peace- ful solution of the issues of Angola and Namibia But they would have an immediate They would serve notice that the Prepared for The Heritage Foundation by James Potts a Washington-based co nsultant on African issues.


Stanley J.

Distinguished Fellow