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WEB POSTED 03-11-2002
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Jonas Savimbi:
U.S. sponsored terrorist?

by Charles E. Simmons

-Guest Columnist-

(FinalCall.com)--Had there been no significant deposits of oil and diamonds in Angola, the world would probably never have heard of the Angolan civil war, or U.S. interests in that part of Africa, nor the life and death of Jonas Savimbi and his organization, UNITA.

"In 2002, we must be aware that the policy against international and domestic justice is still the mission of Washington policy makers, regardless of the fact that articulate and polished Black Americans such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are now used as their advocates of mass destruction of peoples’ rights."

Portugal, the oldest of the Western colonial powers, began to occupy the rich African nation nearly five centuries ago, and conducted the profitable slave trade from Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau toward Brazil. It was the economic decline of Portugal in the mid-1970s combined with the peoples’ heroic struggle for independence in the three colonies that led to the elimination of Portuguese colonialism.

The transition from colonialism to independence was won by armed liberation movements in each of the former colonies, but the final change of hands from Lisbon to Angola was complicated by the fact that there were three organizations in that nation claiming leadership of the struggle. This allowed an opportunity for the enemies of Africa to step in and fan the flames of disunity, and they leapt at the chance. The split in the African struggle had its counterpart in a split among the African supporters as well.

The situation was further complicated by the division and opposition of the international powers during the Cold War—the U.S., the Soviet Union, and The People’s Republic of China, consistently viewed each contested zone in Africa, Asia and Latin America as an urgent mission to win new converts to their ideological camp. Outside supporters, looking for such alignments as an indication of political direction, often made their decisions based on whether or not a national struggle was supported by East or West.

Jonas Savimbi led the organization UNITA, National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola, based in an area of the Ovumbundu, which had about a third of the population. Depending upon when and where he was interviewed, Savimbi appealed to tribalism, nationalism, anti-communism, or revolution, whichever suited his needs at the time. When speaking to Black American audiences, he would claim friendship with Malcolm X, and with international revolutionaries, he would invoke the spirit of the Argentine, Che Guevara, who became a leader of the Cuban Revolution.

In European capitals and in Washington, D.C., Savimbi became the darling of the most racist right wing elements, and they handsomely financed his terrorist struggle against the peoples throughout southern Africa for nearly 30 years.

That was a perfect fit for U.S. foreign policy makers who have for centuries opposed justice and independence for people of color, whether it involved stealing land from the original Americans or the Mexicans, or trampling the peoples of the Philippines, Haiti and Cuba or of supporting apartheid governments throughout Africa in the 20th century.

In 2002, we must be aware that the policy against international and domestic justice is still the mission of Washington policy makers, regardless of the fact that articulate and polished Black Americans such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are now used as their advocates of mass destruction of peoples’ rights.

Pay attention as the U.S. budget expands to throw more billions of dollars at the enormous military state at home and abroad and as warlord George Bush continues to slash and burn the services and support for the lives of the little folk everywhere. Watch closely as Bush drops daisy cutters on the health care, education and civil liberties of most Americans.

But keep in mind that those who have won the struggles for justice have to organize at the grassroots, build coalitions with those who have common interests, be creative with new ideas for new situations and think independently of the U.S. corporate establishment. In spite of Bush and the likes of Jonas Savimbi, let us pay attention to the ideas and the tall spirit of the 60,000 international conferees representing the peoples struggles for bread and roses who proclaimed recently in Porto Alegra, Brazil, "A Better World is Possible."

(Charles E. Simmons is a former reporter of international affairs and editor of Muhammad Speaks newspaper. He currently teaches law and journalism at Eastern Michigan University and is co-chair of CPR-Detroit. Contact him at csim592951@aol.com)

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