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The Angolan Civil War began in Angolamarker after the end of the war for independence from Portugalmarker in 1975. The war featured conflict between two primary Angolan factions, the Communist MPLA and the anti-Communist UNITA. Yet a third movement, the FLEC, an association of separatist militant groups, fought for the independence of Cabindamarker.

By the time the 27-year war was formally brought to an end in 2002, an estimated 500,000 people had been killed. The Angolan Civil War was one of the largest, longest, and most prominent armed conflicts of the Cold War. Both the Soviet Union and the U.S. considered it critical to the global balance of power and to the outcome of the Cold War.

In addition to the war's two primary factions (the MPLA and UNITA), several other factions also were engaged in the conflict. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola's (MPLA) base is among the Kimbundu people and the multiracial intelligentsia of Luandamarker. The MPLA, supported by the Soviet Unionmarker and the Eastern bloc, fought against the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), an organization based in the Bakongo region of the north and allied with the United States, the People's Republic of Chinamarker and the Mobutu government in Zaïremarker. The United States, apartheid South Africa, and several other African nations also supported Jonas Savimbi's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), whose ethnic and regional base lies in the Ovimbundu heartland of central Angola.

Roots of the conflict

Before independence in 1975, Angola was a part of Portuguese West Africamarker from the annexation of several territories in the region as a colony in 1655 until its designation as an overseas province, effective October 20, 1951. The Portuguese government incorporated Angola as a colony on May 12, 1886.

Portuguesemarker explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luandamarker in 1575 as "São Paulo de Loanda", with a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers. Luanda was granted the status of city in 1605. In 1618 the Portuguese built Fortaleza São Pedro da Barra fortress, followed by the Fortaleza de São Miguelmarker fortress in 1634. Luanda was Portuguese Angola's administrative centre from 1627, with one exception. The Dutch ruled Luanda from 1640 to 1648 as Fort Aardenburgh. In the 19th century, Portugal expanded its Angolan territory further inland, in accordance with the Conference of Berlin. The fortified Portuguese towns of Luanda and Benguelamarker (a fort from 1587, a town from 1617) remained almost continuously in Portuguese hands until the independence of Angola in 1975.

In 1961, Angolan nationalists based in foreign countries and supported by the world powers (i.e. United Statesmarker and URSS) claimed for independence and started a guerrilla campaign in several fronts. The Portuguese Colonial War, which included the Angolan War of Independence, lasted until the Portuguese regime'smarker overthrow in 1974 through a leftist military coup in Lisbonmarker. When the timeline for independence was known, over 300,000 ethnic Portuguese Angolans fled the nearly-independent territory. Portugal left behind a newly-independent country whose population was mainly composed by Mbundu, Ovimbundu, and Bakongo peoples, backed by the three main antagonistic guerrilla movements turned into heavily armed parties - the MPLA, UNITA and FNLA.



After the Carnation Revolution in Lisbonmarker and the end of the Angolan War of Independence, Agostinho Neto, the leader of the MPLA, declared the independence of the until then Portuguese Overseas Province of Angolamarker as the People's Republic of Angola on November 11, 1975, in accordance with the Alvor Accords. UNITA and the FNLA also declared Angolan independence as the Social Democratic Republic of Angola based in Huambomarker and the Democratic Republic of Angola based in Ambrizmarker. FLEC, armed and backed by the French government, declared the independence of the Republic of Cabinda from Parismarker. The FNLA and UNITA forged an alliance on November 23, proclaiming their own coalition government based in Huambomarker with Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi as co-presidents and José Ndelé and Johnny Pinnock Eduardo as co-Prime Ministers.

The South African government told Savimbi and Roberto in early November that the South African Defence Force (SADF) would soon end operations in Angola despite the failure of the coalition to capture Luanda and therefore secure international recognition at independence. Savimbi, desperate to avoid the withdrawal of the largest, friendly, military force in Angola, asked General Constand Viljoen to arrange a meeting for him with South African Prime Minister John Vorster, Savimbi's ally since October 1974. On the night of November 10, the day before independence, Savimbi secretly flew to Pretoriamarker, South Africa and the meeting took place. In a reversal of policy, Vorster not only agreed to keep troops through November but promised to withdraw the SADF troops only after the OAU meeting on December 9. The Soviets, well aware of South African activity in southern Angola, flew Cuban soldiers into Luanda the week before independence. While Cuban officers led the mission and provided the bulk of the troop force, 60 Soviet officers in the Congomarker joined the Cubans on November 12. The Soviet leadership expressly forbid the Cubans from intervening in Angola's civil war, focusing the mission on containing South Africa.

In 1975 and 1976 most foreign forces, with the exception of Cuba, withdrew. The last elements of the Portuguese military withdrew in 1975 and the South African military withdrew in February 1976. On the other hand, Cuba's troop force in Angola increased from 5,500 in December 1975 to 11,000 in February 1976.

Clark Amendment

President Gerald Ford approved covert aid to UNITA and the FNLA through Operation IA Feature on July 18, 1975, despite strong opposition from officials in the State Departmentmarker and the CIA. Ford told William Colby, the Director of Central Intelligence, to establish the operation, providing an initial US$6 million. He granted an additional $8 million on July 27 and another $25 million in August.
Senator Dick Clark
Two days before the program's approval, Nathaniel Davis, the Assistant Secretary of State, told Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State, that he believed maintaining the secrecy of IA Feature would be impossible. Davis correctly predicted the Soviet Unionmarker would respond by increasing involvement in the Angolan conflict, leading to more violence and negative publicity for the United States. When Ford approved the program, Davis resigned. John Stockwell, the CIA's station chief in Angola, echoed Davis' criticism saying the success required the expansion of the program, but its size already exceeded what could be hidden from the public eye. Davis' deputy, former U.S. ambassador to Chile Edward Mulcahy, also opposed direct involvement. Mulcahy presented three options for U.S. policy towards Angola on May 13, 1975. Mulcahy believed the Ford administration could use diplomacy to campaign against foreign aid to the Communist MPLA, refuse to take sides in factional fighting, or increase support for the FNLA and UNITA. He warned however that supporting UNITA would not sit well with Mobutu Sese Seko, the ruler of Zairemarker.

Dick Clark, a Democratic Senator from Iowamarker, discovered the operation during a fact-finding mission in Africa, but Seymour Hersh, a reporter for The New York Times, revealed IA Feature to the public on December 13, 1975. Clark proposed an amendment to the Arms Export Control Act, barring aid to private groups engaged in military or paramilitary operations in Angola. The Senate passed the bill, voting 54–22 on December 19, 1975 and the House passed the bill, voting 323–99 on January 27, 1976. Ford signed the bill into law on February 9, 1976. Even after the Clark Amendment became law, then-Director of Central Intelligence, George H. W. Bush, refused to concede that all U.S. aid to Angola had ceased. According to foreign affairs analyst Jane Hunter, Israelmarker stepped in as a proxy arms supplier for the United States after the Clark Amendment took effect.

The U.S. government vetoed Angolan entry into the United Nations on June 23, 1976. Zambia forbid UNITA from launching attacks from its territory on December 28, 1976 after Angola became a member of the United Nations.


The Vietnam War tempered foreign involvement in Angola's civil war as neither the Soviet Union nor the United States wanted to be drawn into an internal conflict of highly debatable importance in terms of winning the Cold War. CBS Newscaster Walter Cronkite spread this message in his broadcasts to "try to play our small part in preventing that mistake this time." The Politburo engaged in heated debate over the extent to which the Soviet Union would support a continued offensive by the MPLA in February 1976. Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Premier Alexey Kosygin led a faction favoring less support for the MPLA and greater emphasis on preserving détente with the West. Leonid Brezhnev, the then head of the Soviet Union, won out against the dissident faction and the Soviet alliance with the MPLA continued even as Neto publicly reaffirmed its policy of non-alignment at the 15th anniversary of the First Revolt.

The following claims rest heavily on one Time Magazine article. The Angolan government and Cuban troops had control over all southern cities by 1977, but roads in the south faced repeated UNITA attacks. Savimbi expressed his willingness for rapprochement with the MPLA and the formation of a unity, socialist government, but he insisted on Cuban withdrawal first. "The real enemy is Cuban colonialism," Savimbi told reporters, warning, "The Cubans have taken over the country, but sooner or later they will suffer their own Vietnammarker in Angola." Government and Cuban troops used flame throwers, bulldozers, and planes with napalm to destroy villages in a wide area along the Angola-Namibia border. Only women and children passed through this area, "Castro Corridor," because government troops had shot all males ten years of age or older to prevent them from joining the UNITA. The napalm killed cattle to feed government troops and to retaliate against UNITA sympathizers. Angolans fled from their homeland; 10,000 going south to Namibia and 16,000 east to Zambia where they lived in refugee camps. Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington of the United Kingdommarker expressed similar concerns over British involvement in Rhodesia's Bush War during the Lancaster House negotiations in 1980.

Shaba invasions

Shaba Province, Zaire

About 1,500 members of the Front for the National Liberation of the Congo (FNLC) invaded Shabamarker, Zairemarker from eastern Angola on March 7, 1977. The FNLC wanted to overthrow Mobutu and the Angolan government, suffering from Mobutu's support for the FNLA and UNITA, did not try to stop the invasion. The FNLC failed to capture Kolwezimarker, Zaire's economic heartland, but took Kasaji and Mutshatsha. Zairian troops were defeated without difficulty and the FNLC continued to advance. Mobutu appealed to William Eteki of Cameroonmarker, Chairman of the Organization of African Unity, for assistance on April 2. Eight days later, the French government responded to Mobutu's plea and airlifted 1,500 Moroccan troops into Kinshasamarker. This troop force worked in conjunction with the Zairian army and the FNLA of Angola with air cover from Egyptianmarker pilots flying French Mirage fighter aircraft to beat back the FNLC. The counter-invasion force pushed the last of the militants, along with refugees, into Angola and Zambia in April.

Mobutu accused the Angolan government, as well as the Cuban and Soviet governments, of complicity in the war. While Neto did support the FNLC, the Angolan government's support came in response to Mobutu's continued support for Angola's anti-Communists. The Carter Administration, unconvinced of Cuban involvement, responded by offering a meager $15 million-worth of non-military aid. American timidity during the war prompted a shift in Zaire's foreign policy from the U.S. to France, which became Zaire's largest supplier of arms after the intervention. Neto and Mobutu signed a border agreement on July 22, 1977.

John Stockwell, the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Angola, resigned after the invasion, explaining in an article for The Washington Post article Why I'm Leaving the CIA, published on April 10, 1977 that he had warned Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that continued American support for anti-government rebels in Angola could provoke a war with Zaire. He also said covert Soviet involvement in Angola came after, and in response to, U.S. involvement.

The FNLC invaded Shaba again on May 11, 1978, capturing Kolwezi in two days. While the Carter Administration had accepted Cuba's insistence on its non-involvement in Shaba I, and therefore did not stand with Mobutu, the U.S. government now accused Castro of complicity. This time, when Mobutu appealed for foreign assistance, the U.S. government worked with the Frenchmarker and Belgianmarker militaries to beat back the invasion, the first military cooperation between France and the United States since the Vietnam War. The French Foreign Legion took back Kolwezi after a seven-day battle and airlifted 2,250 European citizens to Belgium, but not before the FNLC massacred 80 Europeans and 200 Africans. In one instance the FNLC killed 34 European civilians who had hidden in a room. The FNLC retreated to Zambia, vowing to return to Angola. The Zairian army then forcibly evicted civilians along Shaba's long border with Angola. Mobutu, wanting to prevent any chance of another invasion, ordered his troops to shoot on sight.

U.S. mediated negotiations between the Angolan and Zairian governments led to a peace accord in 1979 and an end to support for insurgencies in each others' respective countries. Zaire temporarily cutoff support to FLEC, the FNLA, and UNITA and Angola forbid further activity by the FNLC.


Neto's Interior Minister, Nito Alves, had successfully put down Daniel Chipenda's Eastern Revolt and the Active Revolt during Angola's War of Independence. Factionalism within the MPLA became a major challenge to Neto's power by late 1975 and he gave Alves the task of once again clamping down on dissent. Alves shut down the Cabral and Henda Committees while expanding his influence within the MPLA through his control of the nation's newspapers and state-run television. Alves visited the Soviet Union in October 1976. When he returned, Neto began taking steps to neutralize the threat he saw in the Nitistas, followers of Alves. Neto called a plenum meeting of the Central Committee of the MPLA. Neto formally designated the party Marxist-Leninist, abolished the Interior Ministry and DOM, the official branch of the MPLA used by the Nitistas, and established a Commission of Enquiry. Neto used the commission, officially created to examine and report factionalism, to target the Nitistas, and ordered the commission to issue a report of its findings in March 1977. Alves and Chief of Staff José Van-Dunem, his political ally, began planning a coup d'état against dos Santos.

Alves represented the MPLA at the 25th Soviet Communist Party Congress in February 1977 and may have then obtained support for the coup from the Soviet Unionmarker. Alves and Van-Dunem planned to arrest Neto on May 21 before he arrived at a meeting of the Central Committee and before the commission released its report. The MPLA changed the location of the meeting shortly before its scheduled start, throwing the plotters' plans into disarray, but Alves attended the meeting and faced the commission anyway. The commission released its report, accusing him of factionalism. Alves fought back, denouncing Neto for not aligning Angola with the Soviet Union. After twelve hours of debate, the party voted 26 to 6 to dismiss Alves and Van-Dunem from their positions.

Ten armored cars with the FAPLA's 8th Brigade broke into São Paulo prison at 4 a.m. on May 27, killing the prison warden and freeing more than 150 supporters, including 11 who had been arrested only a few days before. The brigade took control of the radio station in Luandamarker at 7 a.m. and announced their coup, calling themselves the MPLA Action Committee. The brigade asked citizens to show their support for the coup by demonstrating in front of the presidential palace. The Nitistas captured Bula and Dangereaux, generals loyal to Neto, but Neto had moved his base of operations from the palace to the Ministry of Defence in fear of such an uprising. Cuban troops retook the palace at Neto's request and marched to the radio station. After an hour of fighting, the Cubans succeeded and proceeded to the barracks of the 8th brigade, recaptured by 1:30 p.m. While the Cuban force captured the palace and radio station, the Nitistas kidnapped seven leaders within the government and the military, shooting and killing six.

The government arrested tens of thousands of suspected Nitistas from May to November and tried them in secret courts overseen by Defense Minister Iko Carreira. Those who were found guilty, including Van-Dunem, Jacobo "Immortal Monster" Caetano, the head of the 8th Brigade, and political commissar Eduardo Evaristo, were then shot and buried in secret graves. The coup attempt had a lasting effect on Angola's foreign relations. Alves had opposed Neto's foreign policy of non-alignment, evolutionary socialism, and multiracialism, favoring stronger relations with the Soviet Unionmarker, which he wanted to grant military bases in Angola. While Cubanmarker soldiers actively helped Neto put down the coup, Alves and Neto both believed the Soviet Unionmarker supported Neto's ouster. Raúl Castro sent an additional four thousand troops to prevent further dissension within the MPLA's ranks and met with Neto in August in a display of solidarity. In contrast, Neto's distrust in the Soviet leadership increased and relations with the USSR worsened. In December, the MPLA held is first party Congress and changed its name to the MPLA-PT. The Nitista coup took a toll on the MPLA's membership. In 1975, the MPLA reached 200,000 members. After the first party congress, that number decreased to 30,000.

Rise of dos Santos

The Soviets, trying to increase their influence in Luandamarker, began sending busts of Vladimir Lenin, a plane full of brochures with Brezhnev's speech at the February 1976 Party Congress, and two planes full of pamphlets denouncing Mao, to Angola. They sent so many busts that they ran out in the summer of 1976 and requested more from the CPSU Propaganda Department. Despite the best efforts of the Soviet propaganda machine and persistent lobbying by G. A. Zverev, the Soviet chargé d'affaires, Neto stood his ground, refusing to grant the permanent military bases the Soviets so desperately wanted in Angola. Neto allies like Defense Minister Iko Carreira and MPLA General Secretary Lúcio Lara also irked the Soviet leadership through their policies and personalities. With Alves out of the picture, the Soviet Union promoted Prime Minister Lopo do Nascimento, another 'internationalist', against Neto, a 'careerist,' for the MPLA's leadership. Neto moved swiftly to crush his adversary. The MPLA-PT's Central Committee met from December 6 to 9. The Committee concluded the meeting by firing Nascimento as both Prime Minister and as Secretary of the Politburo, the Director of National Television, and the Director of Jornal de Angola. Commander C. R. Dilolua resigned as Second Deputy Prime Minister and a member of the Politburo. Later that month the Committee abolished the positions of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Paving the way for dos Santos, Neto increased the ethnic composition of the MPLA-PT's political bureau as he replaced the hardline Old Guard with new blood. On July 5, 1979, Neto issued a decree requiring all citizens to serve in the military for three years upon turning the age of 18. The government gave a report to the UN estimating $293 million in property damage from South African attacks between 1976 and 1979, asking for compensation on August 3, 1979. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Cabinda, a Cabindan separatist rebel group, attacked a Cuban base near Tshiowa on August 11.

President Neto died from inoperable cancer in Moscowmarker on September 10, 1979. Lara and Pascual Luvualo flew to Moscow and the MPLA declared 45 days of mourning. The government held his funeral at the Palace of the People on September 17. Many foreign dignitaries, including Organization of African Unity President William R. Tolbert, Jr. of Liberiamarker, attended. The Central Committee of the MPLA unanimously voted in favor of José Eduardo dos Santos as President. He was sworn in on September 21. Under dos Santos' leadership, Angolan troops crossed the border into Namibiamarker for the first time on October 31, going into Kavango. The next day, the governments of Angolamarker, Zambiamarker, and Zairemarker signed a non-aggression pact.


SWAPO's and South Africa's operations (1978–1980)
In the 1980s, fighting spread outward from southeastern Angola, where most of the fighting had taken place in the 1970s, as the National Congolese Army (ANC) and SWAPO increased their activity. The South African government responded by sending troops back into Angola, intervening in the war from 1981 to 1987, prompting the Soviet Unionmarker to deliver massive amounts of military aid from 1981 to 1986. The USSR gave the Angolan government more than US$2 billion in aid in 1984. In 1981, newly elected United States President Ronald Reagan's U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Chester Crocker, developed a linkage policy, tying Namibianmarker independence to Cuban withdrawal and peace in Angola.

The South African military attacked insurgents in Cunene Province on May 12, 1980. The Angolan Ministry of Defense accused the South African government of wounding and killing civilians. Nine days later, the SADF attacked again, this time in Cuando-Cubango, and the MPLA threatened to respond militarily. The SADF launched a full-scale invasion of Angola through Cunene and Cuando-Cubango on June 7, destroying SWAPO's operational command headquarters on June 13, in what Prime Minister Botha described as a "shock attack". The Angolan government arrested 120 Angolans who were planning to set off explosives in Luanda, on June 24, foiling a plot purportedly orchestrated by the South African government. Three days later, the United Nations Security Council convened at the behest of Angola's ambassador to the UN, E. de Figuerido, and condemned South Africa's incursions into Angola. President Mobutu of Zaire also sided with the MPLA. The Angolan government recorded 529 instances in which South African forces violated Angola's territorial sovereignty between January and June 1980.

Cuba increased its troop force in Angola from 35,000 in 1982 to 40,000 in 1985. South African forces tried to capture Lubangomarker, capital of Huíla provincemarker, in Operation Askari in December 1983.

On June 2, 1985, American conservative activists held the Democratic International, a symbolic meeting of anti-Communist militants, at UNITA's headquarters in Jambamarker. Primarily funded by Rite Aid founder Lewis Lehrman and organized by anti-Communist activists Jack Abramoff and Jack Wheeler, participants included Savimbi, Adolfo Calero, leader of the Nicaraguanmarker Contras, Pa Kao Her, Hmong Laotianmarker rebel leader, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, South African security forces, Abdurrahim Wardak, Afghanmarker Mujahideen leader, Jack Wheeler, American conservative policy advocate, and many others. While the Reagan administration, although unwilling to publicly support the meeting, privately expressed approval. The governments of Israelmarker and South Africa supported the idea, but both respective countries were deemed inadvisable for hosting the conference.

The participants released a communiqué stating,

"We, free peoples fighting for our national independence and human rights, assembled at Jamba, declare our solidarity with all freedom movements in the world and state our commitment to cooperate to liberate our nations from the Soviet Imperialists."

The United States House of Representatives voted 236 to 185 to repeal the Clark Amendment on July 11, 1985. The Angolan government began attacking UNITA later that month from Luena towards Cazombo along the Benguela Railway, taking Cazombo on September 18. The government tried unsuccessfully to take UNITA's supply depot in Mavingamarker from Menonguemarker. While the attack failed, very different interpretations of the attack emerged. UNITA claimed Portuguese-speaking Soviet officers led government troops while the government said UNITA relied on South African paratroopers to defeat the government. The South African government admitted to fighting in the area, but said its troops fought SWAPO militants.

A war intensifies

SWAPO's and South Africa's operations (1981–1984)
By 1986, Angola began to assume a more central role in the Cold War, with both the Soviet Union, Cuba and other East bloc nations enhancing support for the MPLA government, and American conservatives beginning to elevate their support for Savimbi's UNITA. Savimbi developed close relations with influential American conservatives, who saw Savimbi as a key ally in the U.S. effort to oppose and rollback Soviet-backed, non-democratic governments around the world. The conflict quickly escalated, with both Washingtonmarker and Moscowmarker seeing it as a critical strategic conflict in the Cold War.

The Soviet Union gave an additional $1 billion in aid to the Angolan government and Cuba sent an additional 2,000 troops to the 35,000-strong force in Angola to protect Chevron oil platforms in 1986. Savimbi had called Chevron's presence in Angola, already protected by Cuban troops, a "target" for UNITA in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine on January 31.

In Washington, Savimbi forged close relationships with influential conservatives, including Michael Johns (the Heritage Foundation's foreign policy analyst and a key Savimbi advocate), Grover Norquist (President of Americans for Tax Reform and a Savimbi economic advisor), and others, who played critical roles in elevating escalated U.S. covert aid to Savimbi's UNITA and visited with Savimbi in his Jamba, Angolamarker headquarters to provide the Angolan rebel leader with military, political and other guidance in his war against the Angolan government. With enhanced U.S. support, the war quickly escalated, both in terms of the intensity of the conflict and also in its perception as a key conflict in the overall Cold War.

In addition to escalating its military support for UNITA, the Reagan administration and its conservative allies also worked to expand recognition of Savimbi as a key U.S. ally in an important Cold War struggle. In January 1986, Reagan invited Savimbi to meet with him at the White Housemarker. Following the meeting, Reagan spoke of UNITA winning a victory that "electrifies the world" at the White Housemarker in January 1986. Two months later, Reagan announced the delivery of Stinger surface-to-air missiles as part of the $25 million in aid UNITA received from the U.S. government. Jeremias Chitunda, UNITA's representative to the U.S., became the Vice President of UNITA in August 1986 at the sixth party congress. Fidel Castro made Crocker's proposal, the withdrawal of foreign troops from Angola and Namibiamarker, a prerequisite to Cuban withdrawal from Angola on September 10.

UNITA forces attacked Camabatela in Cuanza Nortemarker province on February 8, 1987. ANGOP alleged UNITA massacred civilians in Damba in Uíge Provincemarker later that month, on February 26. The South African government agreed to Crocker's terms in principle on March 8. Savimbi proposed a truce regarding the Benguela railway on March 26, saying MPLA trains could pass through as long as an international inspection group monitored trains to prevent their use for counter-insurgency activity. The government did not respond. In April 1987 Fidel Castro sent Cuba's Fiftieth Brigade to southern Angola, increasing the number of Cuban troops from 12,000 to 15,000. The Angolan and American governments began negotiating in June 1987.

Cuito Cuanavale and New York Accords

Cuando Cubango province
UNITA and South African forces attacked the MPLA's base at Cuito Cuanavalemarker in Cuando Cubangomarker province from January 13 to March 23, 1988, in the second largest battle in the history of Africa, after the Battle of El Alameinmarker, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa since World War II. Cuito Cuanavale's importance came not from its size or its wealth but its location. South African Defense Forces maintained an overwatch on the city using new, G5 artillery pieces. Both sides claimed victory in the ensuing Battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

The Cuban government joined negotiations on January 28, 1988, and all three parties held a round of negotiations on March 9. The South African government joined negotiations on May 3 and the parties met in June and August in New Yorkmarker and Genevamarker. All parties agreed to a ceasefire on August 8. Representatives from the governments of Angola, Cuba, and South Africa signed the New York Accords, granting independence to Namibiamarker and ending the direct involvement of foreign troops in the civil war, in New York Citymarker on December 22, 1988. The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 626 later that day, creating the United Nations Angola Verification Mission, a UN peacekeeping force. UNAVEM troops began arriving in Angola in January 1989.


As the Angolan Civil War began to take on a diplomatic component, in addition to a military one, two key Savimbi allies, The Conservative Caucus' Howard Phillips and the Heritage Foundation's Michael Johns visited Savimbi in Angola, where they sought to persuade Savimbi to come to the United States in the spring of 1989 to help the Conservative Caucus, the Heritage Foundation and other conservatives in making the case for continued U.S. aid to UNITA.

President Mobutu invited 18 African leaders, Savimbi, and dos Santos to his palace in Gbadolitemarker in June 1989 for negotiations. Savimbi and dos Santos met for the first time and agreed to the Gbadolite Declaration, a ceasefire, on June 22, paving the way for a future peace agreement. President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambiamarker said a few days after the declaration that Savimbi had agreed to leave Angola and go into exile, a claim Mobutu, Savimbi, and the U.S. government disputed. Dos Santos agreed with Kaunda's interpretation of the negotiations, saying Savimbi had agreed to temporarily leave the country.

On August 23, dos Santos complained that the U.S. and South African governments continued to fund UNITA, warning such activity endangered the already fragile ceasefire. The next day Savimbi announced UNITA would no longer abide by the ceasefire, citing Kaunda's insistence that Savimbi leave the country and UNITA disband. The government responded to Savimbi's statement by moving troops from Cuito Cuanavale, under government control, to UNITA-occupied Mavinga. The ceasefire broke down with dos Santos and the U.S. government blaming each other for the resumption in armed conflict.


Political changes abroad and military victories at home allowed the government to transition from a nominally communist state to a nominally democratic one. Namibiamarker's declaration of independence, internationally recognized on April 1, eliminated the southwestern front of combat as South African forces withdrew to the east. The MPLA abolished the one-party system in June and rejected Marxist-Leninism at the MPLA's third Congress in December, formally changing the party's name from the MPLA-PT to the MPLA. The National Assembly passed law 12/91 in May 1991, coinciding with the withdrawal of the last Cuban troops, defining Angola as a "democratic state based on the rule of law" with a multi-party system. Observers met such changes with skepticism. American journalist Karl Maier wrote, "In the New Angola ideology is being replaced by the bottom line, as security and selling expertise in weaponry have become a very profitable business. With its wealth in oil and diamonds, Angola is like a big swollen carcass and the vultures are swirling overhead. Savimbi's former allies are switching sides, lured by the aroma of hard currency."

Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly

Government troops wounded Savimbi in battles in January and February 1990, but not enough to restrict his mobility He went to Washington, D.C.marker in December and met with President George H. W. Bush again, the fourth of five trips he made to the United States. Savimbi paid Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., $5 million to lobby the Federal government for aid, portray UNITA favorably in Western media, and acquire support among politicos in D.C. Savimbi reaped huge rewards.

Senators Larry Smith and Dante Fascell, a senior member of the firm, worked with the Cuban American National Foundation, Representative Claude Pepper of Floridamarker, Neal Blair's Free the Eagle, and Howard Phillips The Conservative Caucus to repeal the Clark Amendment in 1985. From the amendment's repeal in 1985 to 1992 the U.S. government gave Savimbi $60 million per year, a total of $300 million. A sizable amount of the aid went to Savimbi's personal expenses. Black, Manafort filed foreign lobbying records with the U.S.marker Justice Departmentmarker showing Savimbi's expenses during his U.S. visits. During his December 1990 visit he spent $136,424 at the Park Hyatt hotel and $2,705 in tips. He spent almost $473,000 in October 1991 during his week-long visit to Washington and Manhattanmarker. He spent $98,022 in hotel bills, at the Park Hyatt, $26,709 in limousine rides in Washington and another $5,293 in Manhattan. Paul Manafort, a partner in the firm, charged Savimbi $19,300 in consulting and additional $1,712 in expenses. He also bought $1,143 worth of "survival kits" from Motorola. When questioned in an interview in 1990 about human rights abuses under Savimbi, Black said, "Now when you're in a war, trying to manage a war, when the enemy... is no more than a couple of hours away from you at any given time, you might not run your territory according to New Hampshiremarker town meeting rules."

Bicesse Accords

President dos Santos met with Savimbi in Lisbon, Portugalmarker and signed the Bicesse Accords, the first of three major peace agreements, on May 31, 1991, with the mediation of the Portuguese governmentmarker. The accords laid out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United Nations' UNAVEM II mission with a presidential election in a year. The agreement attempted to demobilize the 152,000 active fighters and integrate the remaining government troops and UNITA rebels into a 50,000-strong Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). The FAA would consist of a national army with 40,000 troops, navy with 6,000, and air force with 4,000. While UNITA largely did not disarm, the FAA complied with the accord and demobilized, leaving the government disadvantaged.

Angola held the first round of its 1992 presidential election on September 29–30. Dos Santos officially received 49.57% of the vote and Savimbi won 40.6%. As no candidate received 50% or more of the vote, election law dictated a second round of voting between the top two contenders. Savimbi, along with many other election observers, said the election had been neither free nor fair, but he sent Jeremias Chitunda, Vice President of UNITA, to Luanda to negotiate the terms of the second round. The election process broke down on October 31, when government troops in Luanda attacked UNITA. Civilians, using guns they had received from police a few days earlier, conducted house-by-house raids with the Rapid Intervention Police, killing and detaining hundreds of UNITA supporters. The government took civilians in trucks to the Camama cemetery and Morro da Luz ravine, shot them, and buried them in mass graves. Assailants attacked Chitunda's convoy on November 2, pulling him out of his car and shooting him and two others in their faces.

Then, in a series of stunning victories, UNITA regained control over Caxitomarker, Huambomarker, M'banza Kongomarker, Ndalatandomarker, and Uígemarker, provincial capitals it had not held since 1976, and moved against Kuito, Luena, and Malange. Although the U.S. and South African governments had stopped aiding UNITA, supplies continued to come from Mobutu in Zaire. UNITA tried to wrest control of Cabinda from the MPLA in January 1993. Edward DeJarnette, Head of the U.S. Liaison Office in Angola for the Clinton Administration, warned Savimbi that, if UNITA hindered or halted Cabinda's production, the U.S. would end its support for UNITA. On January 9, UNITA began a 55-day long battle over Huambo, the War of the Cities. Hundreds of thousands fled and 10,000 were killed before UNITA gained control on March 7. The government engaged in an ethnic cleansing of Bakongo, and, to a lesser extent Ovimbundu, in multiple cities, most notably Luanda, on January 22 in the Bloody Friday massacre. UNITA and government representatives met five days later in Ethiopiamarker, but negotiations failed to restore the peace. The United Nations Security Council sanctioned UNITA through Resolution 864 on September 15, 1993, prohibiting the sale of weapons or fuel to UNITA. Perhaps the clearest shift in U.S. foreign policy emerged when President Clinton issued Executive Order 12865 on September 23, labeling UNITA a "continuing threat to the foreign policy objectives of the U.S.". By August 1993, UNITA had gained control over 70% of Angola, but the government's military successes in 1994 forced UNITA to sue for peace. By November 1994, the government had taken control of 60% of the country. Savimbi called the situation UNITA's "deepest crisis" since its creation.

Lusaka Protocol

Savimbi, unwilling to personally sign an accord, had former UNITA Secretary General Eugenio Manuvakola represent UNITA in his place. Manuvakola and Angolan Foreign Minister Venancio de Moura signed the Lusaka Protocol in Lusakamarker, Zambiamarker on October 31, 1994, agreeing to integrate and disarm UNITA. Both sides signed a ceasefire as part of the protocol on November 20. Under the agreement the government and UNITA would ceasefire and demobilize. 5,500 UNITA members, including 180 militants, would join the Angolan National police, 1,200 UNITA members, including 40 militants, would join the rapid reaction police force, and UNITA generals would become officers in the Angolan Armed Forces. Foreign mercenaries would return to their home countries and all parties would stop acquiring foreign arms. The agreement gave UNITA politicians homes and a headquarters. The government agree to appoint UNITA members to head the Mines, Commerce, Health, and Tourism ministries, in addition to seven deputy ministers, ambassadors, the governorships of Uige, Lunda Sul, and Cuando Cubango, deputy governors, municipal administrators, deputy administrators, and commune administrators. The government would release all prisoners and give amnesty to all militants involved in the civil war. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and South African President Nelson Mandela met in Lusaka on November 15, 1994 to boost support symbolically for the protocol. Mugabe and Mandela both said they would be willing to meet with Savimbi and Mandela asked him to come to South Africa, but Savimbi did not come. The agreement created a joint commission, consisting of officials from the Angolan government, UNITA, and the UN with the governments of Portugalmarker, the United States, and Russia observing, to oversee its implementation. Violations of the protocol's provisions would be discussed and reviewed by the commission. The protocol's provisions, integrating UNITA into the military, a ceasefire, and a coalition government, were similar to those of the Alvor Agreement that granted Angola independence from Portugal in 1975. Many of the same environmental problems, mutual distrust between UNITA and the MPLA, loose international oversight, the importation of foreign arms, and an overemphasis on maintaining the balance of power, led to the collapse of the protocol.

Arms monitoring

In January 1995, United States President Bill Clinton sent Paul Hare, his envoy to Angola, to support the Lusaka Protocol and impress the importance of the ceasefire onto the Angolan government and UNITA, both in need of outside assistance. The United Nations agreed to send a peacekeeping force on February 8. Savimbi met with South African President Nelson Mandela in May. Shortly after, on June 18, the MPLA offered Savimbi the position of Vice President under dos Santos with another Vice President chosen from the MPLA. Savimbi told Mandela he felt ready to "serve in any capacity which will aid my nation," but he did not accept the proposal until August 12. The United States Department of Defensemarker and Central Intelligence Agency's Angola operations and analysis expanded in an effort to halt weapons shipments, a violation of the protocol, with limited success. The Angolan government bought six Mil Mi-17 from Ukrainemarker in 1995. The government bought L-39 attack aircraft from the Czech Republicmarker in 1998 along with ammunition and uniforms from Zimbabwe Defence Industries and ammunition and weapons from Ukrainemarker in 1998 and 1999. U.S. monitoring significantly dropped off in 1997 as events in Zaire, the Congo and then Liberia occupied more of the U.S. government's attention. UNITA purchased more than 20 FROG-7 scuds and three FOX 7 missiles from the North Korean government in 1999.

The UN extended its mandate on February 8, 1996. In March, Savimbi and dos Santos formally agreed to form a coalition government. The government deported 2,000 West African and Lebanese Angolans in Operation Cancer Two, in August 1996, on the grounds that dangerous minorities were responsible for the rising crime rate. In 1996 the Angolan government bought military equipment from Indiamarker, two Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters and three Sukhoi Su-17 from Kazakhstanmarker in December, and helicopters from Slovakiamarker in March.

The international community helped install a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation in April 1997, but UNITA did not allow the regional MPLA government to take up residence in 60 cities. The UN Security Council voted on August 28, 1997 to impose sanctions on UNITA through Resolution 1127, prohibiting UNITA leaders from traveling abroad, closing UNITA's embassies abroad, and making UNITA-controlled areas a no-fly zone. The Security Council expanded the sanctions through Resolution 1173 on June 12, 1998, requiring government certification for the purchase of Angolan diamonds and freezing UNITA's bank accounts.

The UN spent $1.6 billion from 1994 to 1998 in maintaining a peacekeeping force. The Angolan military attacked UNITA forces in the Central Highlands on December 4, 1998, the day before the MPLA's fourth Congress. Dos Santos told the delegates the next day that he believed war to be the only way to ultimately achieve peace, rejected the Lusaka Protocol, and asked MONUA to leave. In February 1999, the Security Council withdrew the last MONUA personnel. In late 1998, several UNITA commanders, dissatisfied with Savimbi's leadership, formed UNITA Renovada, a breakaway militant group. Thousands more deserted UNITA in 1999 and 2000.

The Angolan military launched Operation Restore, a massive offensive, in September 1999, recapturing N'harea, Mungo and Andulo and Bailundo, the site of Savimbi's headquarters just one year before. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1268 on October 15, instructing United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to update the Security Council to the situation in Angola every three months. Dos Santos offered an amnesty to UNITA militants on November 11. By December, Chief of Staff General João de Matos said the Angolan Armed Forces had destroyed 80% of UNITA's militant wing and captured 15,000 tons of military equipment. Following the dissolution of the coalition government, Savimbi retreated to his historical base in Moxico and prepared for battle.


UNITA's success in mining diamonds and selling them abroad at an inflated price allowed the war to continue even as the movement's support in the Western world and among the local populace withered away. De Beers and Endiama, a state-owned diamond-mining monopoly, signed a contract allowing De Beers to handle Angola's diamond exportation in 1990. According to the United Nation's Fowler Report, Joe De Deker, a former stockholder in De Beers, worked with the government of Zairemarker to supply military equipment to UNITA from 1993 to 1997. De Deker's brother, Ronnie, allegedly flew from South Africa to Angola, directing weapons originating in Eastern Europe. In return, UNITA gave Ronnie bushels of diamonds worth $6 million. De Deker sent the diamonds to De Beer's buying office in Antwerpmarker, Belgiummarker. De Beers openly acknowledges spending $500 million on legal and illegal Angolan diamonds in 1992 alone. The United Nations estimates Angolans made between three and four billion dollars through the diamond trade between 1992 and 1998. The UN also estimates that out of that sum, UNITA made at least $3.72 billion, or 93% of all diamond sales, despite international sanctions.

Executive Outcomes (EO), a private military company. EO played a major role in turning the tide for the MPLA with one U.S. defense expert calling the EO the "best fifty or sixty million dollars the Angolan government ever spent". Heritage Oil and Gas, and allegedly De Beers, hired EO to protect their operations in Angola. Executive Outcomes trained 4,000 to 5,000 troops and 30 pilots in combat in camps in Lunda Sul, Cabo Ledo, and Dondo.

Cabinda separatism

Unofficial flag of Cabinda
The territory of Cabindamarker is north of Angola proper, separated by a strip of territory long in the Democratic Republic of the Congomarker. A coup d'état in Portugalmarker in 1926 led to military rule under the Estado Novo (New State). The new government annexed Cabinda from Belgian Congo in 1927 and the Constitution of 1933 designated Angola and Cabinda as overseas provinces. The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) formed in 1963 during the broader war for independence from Portugal. Contrary to the organization's name, Cabinda is an exclave, not an enclave. FLEC later split into the Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) and Renewal (FLEC-Renovada). Several other, smaller FLEC factions later broke away from these movements, but FLEC-R remained the most prominent because of its size and its tactics. FLEC-R members cut off the ears and noses of government officials and their supporters, similar to the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leonemarker in the 1990s. Despite Cabinda's relatively small size, foreign powers and the nationalist movements coveted the territory for its vast reserves of petroleum, the principal export of Angola then and now.

In the war for independence, the primary ethnic division of assimilados versus indigenos peoples masked the inter-ethnic conflict between the various native tribes, a division that emerged in the early 1970s. The Union of Peoples of Angola, the predecessor to the FNLA, only controlled 15% of Angola's territory during the independence war, excluding MPLA-controlled Cabinda. The People's Republic of China openly backed UNITA upon independence despite the mutual support from its adversary South Africa and UNITA's pro-Western tilt. The PRC's support for Savimbi came in 1965, a year after he left the FNLA. China saw Roberto and the FNLA as the stooge of the West and the MPLA as the Soviet Union's proxy. With the Sino-Soviet split, South Africa presented the least odious of allies to the PRC.

Throughout the 1990s, Cabindan rebels kidnapped and ransomed off foreign oil workers to in turn finance further attacks against the national government. FLEC militants stopped buses, forcing Chevron Oil workers out, and setting fire to the buses on March 27 and April 23, 1992. A large-scale battle took place between FLEC and police in Malongo on May 14 in which 25 mortar rounds accidentally hit a nearby Chevron compound. The government, fearing the loss of their prime source of revenue, began to negotiate with representatives from Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda-Renewal (FLEC-R), Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC), and the Democratic Front of Cabinda (FDC) in 1995. Patronage and bribery failed to assuage the anger of FLEC-R and FLEC-FAC and negotiations ended. In February 1997, FLEC-FAC kidnapped two Inwangsa SDN-timber company employees, killing one and releasing the other after receiving a $400,000 ransom. FLEC-FLAC kidnapped eleven people in April 1998, nine Angolans and two Portuguese, released for a $500,000 ransom. FLEC-R kidnapped five Byansol-oil engineering employees, two Frenchman, two Portuguese, and an Angolan, on March, 1999. While militants released the Angolan, the government complicated the situation by promising the rebel leadership $12.5 million for the hostages. When António Bento Bembe, the President of FLEC-R, showed up, the Angolan army arrested him and his bodyguards. The Angolan army later forcibly freed the other hostages on July 7. By the end of the year the government had arrested the leadership of all three rebel organizations.


Illicit arms trading characterized much of the last years of the Angolan war. Each side tried to gain the upper hand by buying arms abroad in Eastern Europe and Russiamarker. A Russian freighter delivered 500 tons of Ukrainian 7.62 mm ammunition to Simportex, a division of the Angolan government, with the help of a shipping agent in Londonmarker on September 21, 2000. The ship's captain declared his cargo "fragile" to minimize inspection. The next day, the MPLA began attacking UNITA, winning victories in several battles from September 22–25. The government gained control over military bases and diamond mines in Lunda Nortemarker and Lunda Sul, hurting Savimbi's ability to pay his troops.

Angola agreed to trade oil to Slovakia in return for arms, buying six Sukhoi Su-17 attack aircraft on April 3, 2000. The Spanish government in the Canary Islandsmarker prevented a Ukrainian freighter from delivering 636 tons of military equipment to Angola on February 24, 2001. The captain of the ship had inaccurately reported his cargo, falsely claiming the ship carried automobile parts. The Angolan government admitted Simportex had purchased arms from Rosvooruzhenie, the Russian state-owned arms company, and acknowledged the captain might have violated Spanish law by misreporting his cargo, a common practice in arms smuggling to Angola.
UNITA carried out several attacks against civilians in May in a show of strength. UNITA militants attacked Caxito on May 7, killing 100 people and kidnapping 60 children and two adults. UNITA then attacked Baia-do-Cuio, followed by an attack on Golungo Alto, a city east of Luandamarker, a few days later. The militants advanced on Golungo Alto at 2:00 pm on May 21, staying until 9:00 pm on May 22 when the Angolan military retook the town. They looted local businesses, taking food and alcoholic beverages before singing drunkenly in the streets. More than 700 villagers trekked from Golungo Alto to Ndalatandomarker, the provincial capital of Cuanza Nortemarker, without injury. According to an aid official in Ndalatando, the Angolan military prohibited media coverage of the incident, so the details of the attack are unknown. Joffre Justino, UNITA's spokesman in Portugal, said UNITA only attacked Gungo Alto to demonstrate the government's military inferiority and the need to cut a deal. Four days later UNITA released the children to a Catholic mission in Camabatela, a city from where UNITA kidnapped them. The national organization said the abduction violated their policy towards the treatment of civilians. In a letter to the bishops of Angola, Jonas Savimbi asked the Catholic church to act as an intermediary between UNITA and the government in negotiations. The attacks took their toll on Angola's economy. At the end of May, De Beers, the international diamond mining company, suspended its operations in Angola, ostensibly on the grounds that negotiations with the national government reached an impasse.

Militants of unknown affiliation fired rockets at United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) planes on June 8 near Luena and again near Kuitomarker a few days later. As the first plane, a Boeing 727, approached Luena someone shot a missile at the aircraft, damaging one engine but not critically as the three man crew landed successfully. The plane's altitude, , most likely prevented the assailant from identifying his target. As the citizens of Luena had enough food to last them several weeks, the UNFWP temporarily suspended their flights. When the flights began again a few days later, militants shot at a plane flying to Kuito, the first attack targeting UN workers since 1999. The UNWFP again suspended food aid flights throughout the country. While he did not claim responsibility for the attack, UNITA spokesman Justino said the planes carried weapons and soldiers rather than food, making them acceptable targets. UNITA and the Angolan government both said the international community needed to pressure the other side into returning to the negotiating table. Despite the looming humanitarian crisis, neither side guaranteed UNWFP planes safety. Kuitomarker, which had relied on international aid, only had enough food to feed their population of 200,000. The UNFWP had to fly in all aid to Kuito and the rest of the Central Highlands because militants ambushed trucks. Further complicating the situation, potholes in the Kuito airport strip slowed aid deliveries. Overall chaos reduced the amount of available oil to the point at which the UN had to import its jet fuel.

Government troops captured and destroyed UNITA's Epongoloko base in Benguela province and Mufumbo base in Cuanza Sul in October 2001. The Slovak government sold fighter jets to the Angolan government in 2001 in violation of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.

Death of Savimbi

Government troops killed Savimbi on February 22, 2002, in Moxico province. UNITA Vice President António Dembo took over, but died from diabetes 12 days later on March 3, and Secretary-General Paulo Lukamba became UNITA's leader. After Savimbi's death, the government came to a crossroads over how to proceed. After initially indicating the counter-insurgency might continue, the government announced it would halt all military operations on March 13. Military commanders for UNITA and the MPLA met in Cassamba and agreed to a cease-fire. However, Carlos Morgado, UNITA's spokesman in Portugalmarker, said he UNITA's Portugal wing had been under the impression General Kamorteiro, the UNITA general who agreed to the ceasefire, had been captured more than a week earlier. Morgado did say that he had not heard from Angola since Savimbi's death. The military commanders signed a Memorandum of Understanding as an addendum to the Lusaka Protocol in Luena on April 4, Dos Santos and Lukambo observing.

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1404 on April 18, extending the UNAVEM III mission by six months. Resolutions 1412 and 1432, passed on May 17 and August 15 respectively, suspended the UN travel ban on UNITA officials for 90 days each, finally abolishing the ban through Resolution 1439 on October 18. UNAVEM III, extended an additional two months by Resolution 1439, ended on December 19.

UNITA's new leadership declared the rebel group a political party and officially demobilized its armed forces in August 2002. That same month, the United Nations Security Council replaced the United Nations Office in Angola with the United Nations Mission in Angola, a larger, non-military, political presence.


The civil war spawned a disastrous humanitarian crisis in Angola, internally displacing 4.28 million people, one-third of Angola's population. The United Nations estimated in 2003 that 80 percent of Angolans lacked access to basic medical care, 60 percent lacked access to water, and 30 percent of Angolan children would die before the age of 5, with an overall life expectancy of less than 40 years of age. The government spent $187 million settling IDPs between April 4, 2002 and 2004, after which the World Bank gave $33 million to continue the settling process. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that fighting in 2002 displaced 98,000 people between January 1 and February 28 alone. The IDPs, unacquainted with their surroundings, frequently and predominantly fell victim to these weapons. IDPs comprised 75% of all landmine victims. Militant forces laid approximately 15 million landmines by 2002. The HALO Trust charity began demining in 1994, destroying 30,000 by July 2007. There are 1,100 Angolans and seven foreign workers who are working for HALO Trust in Angola, with operations expected to finish sometime between 2011 and 2014.

Human Rights Watch estimates UNITA and the government employed more than 6,000 and 3,000 child soldiers respectively, some forcibly impressed, during the war. Human rights analysts found 5,000 to 8,000 underage girls married to UNITA militants. Some girls were ordered to go and forage for food to provide for the troops. If the girls did not bring back enough food as judged by their commander, then the girls would not eat. After victories, UNITA commanders would be rewarded with women who were often then sexually abused. The government and U.N. agencies identified 190 child soldiers in the Angolan army and relocated 70 of them by November 2002, but the government continued to knowingly employ other underage soldiers.

Cultural influence

John Milius's 1984 film Red Dawn explores a future in which the United States loses a nuclear war with the Soviet Union and is invaded by a joint Cuban-Soviet force, similar to the contemporary reality in Angola. One of the officers depicted in the film, a Cuban named Bella, is said to have fought in the Cold War conflicts in Angola, El Salvadormarker, and Nicaraguamarker.

Anti-communist activist Jack Abramoff wrote and co-produced the film Red Scorpion with his brother Robert in 1989. Dolph Lundgren played Nikolai, a Soviet agent sent to assassinate an African revolutionary in a country modeled on Angola. The film has a strongly anti-Communist message, and goes to great lengths to depict the sadism and violence of the Soviets, including a scene in which chemical weapons are used. The South African government financed the film through the International Freedom Foundation, a front-group chaired by Abramoff, as part of its efforts to undermine international sympathy for the African National Congress.

Produced by Fernando Vendrell, and directed by Zézé Gamboa, the 2004 film The Hero is about the life of average Angolans after the civil war. The film follows the lives of three individuals: Vitório, a war veteran crippled by a landmine who returns to Luandamarker; Manu, a young boy searching for his soldier father; and Joana, a teacher who mentors the boy and begins a love affair with Vitório. The Hero won the 2005 Sundancemarker World Dramatic Cinema Jury Grand Prize. A joint Angolan, Portuguese, and French production, Gamboa filmed The Hero entirely in Angola.

See also

Further reading

  • Brittain, Victoria. Death of Dignity, Red Sea Press, 1998. ISBN . An account of the conflict from the MPLA's point of view.
  • Stockwell, John. In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story, W.W. Norton, 1978.
  • Kapuściński, Ryszard. Another Day of Life, Penguin, 1975. ISBN 014118678X. A Polish journalist's account of Portuguese withdrawal from Angola and the beginning of the civil war.
  • Une Odyssee Africaine (Frankreich, 2006, 59mn) Regie: Jihan El Tahri
  • ICAIC (Instituto cubano del arte e industria cinematograficos)
  • Gleijeses, Piero: Kuba in Afrika 1975–1991. In: Bernd Greiner /Christian Th. Müller / Dierk Walter (Hrsg.): Heiße Kriege im Kalten Krieg. Hamburg, 2006, ISBN
  • Gleijeses, Piero: Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, (The University of North Carolina Press)
  • Saney, Isaac, "African Stalingrad: The Cuban Revolution, Internationalism and the End of Apartheid," Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 33, No. 5 (September 2006): pp. 81–117.
  • Nelson Mendela & Fidel Castro, How Far We Slaves Have Come! (New York:Pathfinder Press, 1991)
  • Pazzanita, Anthony G, "The Conflict Resolution Process in Angola." The Journal of Modern African Studies Vol. 29 No 1(March 1991): pp. 83–114.


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