By André Patrick TCHISSAMBOU, Doctor of Economic Sciences from the University of Franche-Comté (France).
In October 1997, Cabinda was in the spotlight when Angola transgressed two fundamental principles of the Charter of Nations : non-interference in the internal affairs of a country and above all non-respect for its integrity. territorial. The reason given was to neutralize UNITA troops in Congo-Brazzaville. The Angolans often use this name as a screen used to hide or conceal the various components of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), created in 1963, in Pointe-Noire (Congo-Brazzaville).
From now on, Cabinda serves as a military base for the Angolans to protect American and French oil interests. This was demonstrated during the outcome of the Congolese crisis in Pointe-Noire. Two objectives were achieved : to protect the oil exploitation of Elf ; control and stifle all the Cabindese independence movements based in the Congo. From now on, the entire Congo Basin is under the influence and control of Angola, since the military aid provided to Laurent-Désiré Kabila in Congo-Kinshasa and the presence of Angolan military troops in Congo-Brazzaville.
Angolan troops have nevertheless been present in Cabinda since November 1975, with all the exactions that a military and colonial occupation can cause. And yet, the Portuguese Congo (Cabinda) was placed under the Portuguese protectorate by the princes of Cabinda, under the terms of the treaty which was signed on February 1, 1885, after the Berlin Conference (which took place the same year). It was only from 1956, for reasons of administrative convenience, that the Portuguese decided to appoint a single administrator at the head of Angola and Cabinda.
The two territories, although considered distinct, were managed by a single authority. This same provision was applied in French Equatorial Africa, where France had only one administrator for all of its colonies in Central Africa.
At independence, Congo-Brazzaville did not occupy and militarily annex the other colonies. But this is what Luanda did in Cabinda with the support of the Portuguese Communists. In the height of the Cold War, Cabinda was one of the few points of convergence between Soviet communists and American capitalists. Despite the systematic United States embargo on Cuba, Cuban troops landed in Cabinda to protect Gulf oil exploitation and to militarily reinforce Angolan troops. Why ? Cabinda is too rich, which represents, according to Pierre Péan, “a cash drawer, a geological anomaly”.
Cabinda is emptied of its oil without compensation for the natives: the oil revenues are transferred to Angola and provide 80% of the budget of this country. While oil is sold at a low price, a real looting and a perfect exclusion takes place, of which the Cabindais are the victims.
During the invasion of Congo-Brazzaville by Angolan military troops, Cabinda believed that it was going to relive the massive and abusive arrests of its nationalist militants and political leaders, as happened in 1976. This did not happen. was not the case. But, the local population is under close surveillance.
The Cabindans are now a people without a fixed territory. How should they react ? First, the infighting between the many movements that discredit the very basis of their struggle must end. The dominant feature is the apparent impediment to understanding each other among all Cabindais stakeholders: the succession of failures over more than thirty-five years is impressive. Then, we can only note the absence of a charismatic leader.
History shows that each independence struggle is personalized in an exceptional being, carried by all towards the objective of each. Let us quote pacifists such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King. In another style, let’s think of Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir for Israel, and today of Yasser Arafat for Palestine. A look back would rather comfort the Angolans to do nothing. It therefore remains for the Cabindans to find an essential point of support which punishes moving the Angolans: to resort to an international mediator (in the absence of an indisputable leader) but with a coherent and unique political platform.
History and law plead and justify independence for Cabinda. The proof : the Organization of African Unity (OAU) admitted in 1974 Cabinda as the 39th African country to decolonize. It is the basis of all dialogue.
Author’s comment : In 2020, unfortunately, we can see the ongoing topicality of the context, issues and effects judiciously described in this article published in 1998.