Amilcar Cabral: les racines du cancer de la trahison et lutte contre l’impunité

L’assassinat d’Amilcar a ouvert une sinistre boite de pandore d’impunité insupportable. Fratricide, pogroms, guerre civile et règlements de compte au sommet de l’État, corruption et narcotrafic ont défiguré le pays si historiquement libéré par Cabral. Il n’empêche, Cabral reste au dessus de tout cela et son esprit transcende nos luttes et éclaire l’horizon panafricain.

Aziz Fall, politologue de l’UQAM, fondateur du GRILA (Groupe de recherche et d’initiatives pour la libération de l’Afrique) et collaborateur régulier à Amandla, revient sur les 40 ans de l’assassinat d’Amilcar Cabral.

“Cabral : Extirper les racines du cancer de la trahison”, un texte par Aziz Salmone Fall

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Remembering Amilcar Cabral

Amílcar Cabral was a Guinea-Bissauan and Cape Verdean nationalist thinker and politician assassinated on 20 January 1973. GRILA’s Ameth Loo speaks to Amandla’s Gwen Schulman about his legacy on the 40th anniversary commemoration of his assassination.

Another Coup in Guinea-Bissau

Ameth Lo, activist with the Group for the Research and Initiatives for the Liberation of Africa, GRILA, speaks to Amandla’s Gwen Schulman about the current situation in Guinea-Bissau following yet another coup.

Guinée-Bissau: transit de cocaïne/ Guinea-Bissau: cocaine transit

Le Sunday telegraph fait un excellent article sur la Guinée-Bissau qui devient peu à peu une plaque tournante du trafic mondial de cocaïne. Ce petit pays d’Afrique occidentale est instable politiquement et très pauvre. Il a aussi beaucoup de difficultés à surveiller ses côtes, son espace aérien et ses frontières, toutes des zones par où transite un trafic de cocaïne provenant d’Amérique latine et qui est destiné aux consommateurs européens. Il faut savoir que cette situation date d’il y a quelques mois déjà, comme en fait fois cet autre excellent article d’Afrik.com.

The Sunday Telegraph does an excellent article on Guinea-Bissau. This country is becoming a new transit destination for the world cocaine traffic:

[…]

The shipwreck at Ondame, 18 months ago, was just the first confirmation of what Western drug enforcement officials have long suspected: that impoverished west African states such as Guinea Bissau have become the key transit routes for Latin American cartels in their effort to flood Europe with their product.

Facing a saturated American market, traffickers have increasingly turned their attentions to Europe, where a kilogram of cocaine will fetch the equivalent of £23,000, nearly twice what it sells for in America.

Cocaine used to be brought directly into Europe via Spain and Morocco, andCocaine routes boats crossed the Atlantic carrying several tons at a time. But with stricter monitoring of Europe’s waters, especially since September 11, 2001, the established routes have become more difficult.

Traffickers were forced further south to the Cape Verde Islands and then on to the unpoliced deltas and deserts of Guinea Bissau, where the drugs are collected and then moved north to meet demand on the streets of London and Barcelona.

Yet if it is bad news for Europe, it is potentially disastrous for Africa, whose weak, cash-strapped governments may prove no match for the corrupting influence of drug money. Nowhere is that truer than in Guinea Bissau, a former Portuguese colony of 1.6 million, where a civil war nine years ago wrecked its governmental institutions.

With chronic poverty, rampant corruption and almost no police or customs force to speak of, Western drug enforcement officials fear it could soon become Africa’s first “narco-state”.

“There is an absolute risk of that,” said Antonio Mazzittelli, the west and central African representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “It cannot control its own territory, and if someone is arrested it is easy to buy impunity. It’s not just drug trafficking that you risk either, but all kinds of criminality. Osama Bin Laden could be here and nobody would know.”

Western officials estimate that the value of cocaine pouring through Guinea Bissau in just one month is equivalent to the country’s entire £150 million annual GDP.

Since 2005, there have been more than 50 large seizures of cocaine in Guinea Bissau, although most, like that at Ondame, have been by accident rather than design.

The geography is perfect for smuggling: the coast is a delta of thousands of islands, rivers and swamps, many inaccessible by road.

There are also hundreds of landing strips for light aircraft, built by the Portuguese during the 13-year war for independence from 1961.

A tour round the cluster of white-walled shacks that passes for the judiciary police department shows just how heavily the scales of justice are weighted in favour of the traffickers. Its officers juggle the fight against trafficking along with murders, robberies and other crimes, yet they are just 70-strong, operating with ancient typewriters, no radios, and only four cars, two of which are broken down.

Nor, in the unlikely event that they arrest someone, is there anywhere to put him. Guinea Bissau’s only prison was burnt down during the civil war, and there are only a few makeshift cells in the former ministry of commerce, so squalid that the police are unwilling to put long-term prisoners there.

“We have the will to tackle the problem of drugs, but not the means,” said Orlando da Silva, the director of the judiciary police, whose secretary has no seat for her desk.

The judiciary police are also up against officials in their own navy, army and government, many of whom are on the drug barons’ payroll.

The cartels have purchased such impunity that gangs of pony-tailed Colombians wander openly on the streets of the capital, Bissau, drive luxury cars and carouse in restaurants. “Often they don’t even bother going armed when they are transporting drugs here – that is how confident they feel,” said a foreign diplomat.

The results of the police’s few drugs busts illustrate their problems. Last September, they intercepted 674 kg (1,485 lb) of cocaine, only for it to mysteriously “disappear” from the treasury building after men in military uniforms had opened the vaults for “counting”.

Meanwhile, the two Colombians caught smuggling the consignment were freed by a judge, with no explanation.

Then, two months ago, police intercepted a convoy of vehicles carrying nearly three tons of cocaine which had been flown into a military airstrip, but seized less than a quarter because their cars did not have enough petrol to chase the traffickers. This time, 635 kg (1,400 lb) of intercepted cocaine did find its way as far as an official burning ceremony.

“During the burning, seven or eight cops tried to wander off with blocks of cocaine and under their jackets,” said another foreign diplomat. “But it’s hardly surprising, given that they haven’t been paid for months.”

Guinea Bissau’s prime minister, Martinho Dafa Cabi, insists that because cocaine is a vice only among feckless Westerners, their own governments should lead the fight against it. “Nobody here makes it or consumes it, and we are too weak to fight the problem alone,” he said.

In fact, there is also a growing addiction problem on his own doorstep. Not far from Ondame is the country’s only drug treatment clinic, where growing numbers are addicted to qisa, a form of crack cocaine. At £3 a hit, it gives locals a cheap, but addictive, taste of the goods passing through their country.

“Until 12 months ago I had never seen this stuff, but in the past year I have had 50 boys who are addicted,” said the clinic’s director, Pastor Domingos Te.

The true scale of the country’s first crack epidemic remains unknown. But nobody doubts how it began. “We first saw qisa here after the fishermen found all that cocaine in the sea,” said Nils Cassama, 22, a recovering addict who stole from his family to fund his habit. “I am clean now, but half of my friends are using it.”

Instabilité politique en Guinée-Bissau/ Political instability in Guinea-Bissau

La petite Guinée-Bissau fait les nouvelles mais, encore une fois, pour les mauvaises raisons. On a pointé du doigt cet État, l’un des plus pauvres d’Afrique, de servir de plaque tournante du trafic de drogue international, il est aussi connu pour ses changements violents de régime et, récemment, de s’être impliqué militairement dans les événements de Guinée-Conakry, il y a un peu plus d’un mois.

Aujourd’hui, le gouvernement de Joao Bernardo Vieira risque d’être renversé (lien enJoao Bernardo Vieira anglais). Vieira (voir image ci-contre) a été élu le 24 juillet 2005 pour former un gouvernement qui:

[promettait] d’oeuvrer pour la réconciliation, l’unité nationale, la paix sociale, la stabilité politique et le développement économique du pays.

“La réconciliation nationale est un facteur incontournable à l’unité de tous les Bissau-Guinéens”, a-t-il déclaré…

La parlement a voté une motion de non-confiance contre le président. Il faut savoir qu’une coalition s’est aussi formée la semaine passée et qui est constituée d’anciens partisans.

L’armée, force politique majeure dans le pays, n’a pas pris position et Viera lui-même est demeuré silencieux.

Vieira est celui qui a bouleversé la politique de Guinée-Bissau en 1980 en renversant Luis Cabral, demi-frère du père de l’indépendance de Guinée Bissau, Amilcar Cabral. Vieira et son groupe qui fomentèrent le coup, en voulaient à la politique “des Cabrals” qui favorisait trop les cap-verdiens. Il faut savoir que l’indépendance de Guinée-Bissau s’est faite en même temps que celle du Cap-Vert par Cabral, qui était lui même d’origine cap-verdienne bien que né en Guinée-Bissau (à Bafata).

Vieira a failli goûter à sa propre médecine en 1985 avec une tentative manquée (les mutins seront condamnés à mort) . Il instaurera une lente démocratisation du régime en 1991. Les premières élections libres auront lieu en 1994 et c’est Vieira qui les remportera avec 52% des voix. En 1998, une grave crise politique a lieu à cause d’une mutinerie de l’armée qui se révolte contre Vieira suite à sa décision de suspendre le général Ansumane Mané, accusé de trafic d’armes dans le but d’aider les indépendantistes de Casamance, au Sénégal. Mais Mané prendra la tête d’une insurrection armée contre le gouvernement de Vieira qui avait pourtant bénéficié de l’aide de 3000 soldats sénégalais et guinéens. Le 7 mai 1999, la junte militaire de Mané prendra le pouvoir et Vieira fuira au Portugal. Pour Mané, l’affront est lavé. Il semble que Vieira était, de toutes façons, impliqué lui aussi dans ce Kumba Yalatrafic d’armes. Cette situation intenable aura facilité la tâche de Mané.

Mané promet des élections qui auront bel et bien lieu en 2000 avec la victoire de Kumba Yala (voir photo à gauche, 72% des voix). Mais de vives frictions apparaîtront entre les deux hommes et qui mèneront à une autre insurrection de Mané. Cette fois, le gouvernement Yala l’arrêtera et Mané le paiera de sa vie. La gestion catastrophique de l’État par Yala provoquera un mouvement de grève et des grognements de la part de l’armée. Yala passait son temps à limoger ministres, juges et fonctionnaires. Des rumeurs de coup d’État, un autre, referont surface. Et c’est ce qui arrivera. L’incompétence de Yala forcera l’armée à le déposer. Yala s’engagera même à ne plus réapparaître dans la scène politique pendant 5 ans. Jusqu’en juillet 2005, date de l’élection de Vieira revenu du Portugal, la Guinée-Bissau s’enfoncera dans une spirale de chaos, avec des élections annulées et des mutineries militaires. En 2005, la victoire de Vieira, qui se présente comme un unificateur, est donc significative et est une lueur d’espoir pour une population qui vit dans le marasme économique depuis des décennies. C’est pourquoi la crise actuelle de 2007 est préoccupante. Car, advenant un supposé départ de Vieira, il y quelqu’un qui sautera sur l’occasion pour le remplacer…Kumba Yala.

Small Guinea-Bissau is making the news but for the wrong reasons. People pointed the finger at this country, accusing Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest State in Africa, to serve as a hub for international drug trafficking (link in french). Guinea-Bissau is also known for the violent regime changes taking place and, more recently, for the role her army played in the events that occured in Guinea more than a month ago.

Today, it’s Joao Bernardino Vieira’s (picture above-right) government that may be toppled:

Guinea-Bissau’s parliament has passed a no-confidence motion against the country’s prime minister, triggering fears that more political instability could provoke violence as it has in the past.

Last week, many of President João Bernardo ‘Nino’ Vieira’s former supporters in parliament defected, creating a new coalition, which on Monday voted for the dismissal of Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, the president’s ally.

If Vieira dissolves parliament he would have to organise new parliamentary elections within 90 days, which donors have already said they would not support.

Many people in Bissau say they fear a dangerous new political crisis will end with conflict and the army taking over the impoverished, cashew-producing country as it did in 1999 and again in 2003.

Officially the army has not yet made any statement on the latest political developments but senior officials told IRIN that members of the army would consider stepping in.

“If the politicians are not able to solve their own problems we’ll not let them put the country into a deeper crisis,” said a high-ranking officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The military is deeply divided between senior officers who have received some of their salaries and low-ranking troops who have not. Most soldiers come from former president Kumba Yala’s Balanta ethnic group, while President Vieira has cultivated loyalty amongst some of the best-trained troops.

As of Tuesday President Vieira had not made any public comment.

  • Note: IRIN is United Nation’s Integrated Regional Information Networks.

Vieira was elected on July 24th 2005 (link in french), and presented himself as a a persons who wanted to unify the political class of the country in a great coalition.

He is also the one who disrupted the politics of Guinea-Bissau in 1980. He lead a coup d’État against Luis Cabral, stepbrother of Amilcar Cabral, the father of Guinea-Bissau’s independence. Vieira and his gang, thought that the Cabrals gave too much political power to the people of Cape-verdean origins. The independence of Guinea-Bissau was acquired along with Cap-Vert with Cabral leading the fight for both countries. Cabral himself was born in Guinea-Bissau (in Bafata) but from Cape-verdean parents.

Vieira almost got a taste from his own medicine in 1985 when a failed coup against him took place. He will slowly put in place a democratic regime in 1991 and the first free elections will happen in 1994. Vieira will win with 52% of the votes. In 1998 a political crisis will happen after the suspension of general Ansumane Mané. He was accused of arms trafficking in Casamance (Senegal) and helping the indepedentist movement. But Mané will lead a mutiny within the army that will turn into an insurrection. Even with the help of 3000 soldiers from Senegal and Guinea, Vieira will loose power to Mané in May 1999. Vieira will flee to Portugal and Mané, in power, will gain back his honor. It seems that Vieira himself was involved in the arms traffic with Casamance and the independentists, but Mané was a scapegoat. He will promise to step down from power after an election. That election will take place in 2000, with the victory of Kumba Yala (see picture, above-left) with 72% of the votes. Yala will be an incompetent. Quickly, he started to fire judges, ministers and civil servants. Mané and the army were unsatisfied and another military insurrection will start. But this time, Mané looses and he will be killed in a confrontation. But, with the catastrophic economic situation and the army still angry, Yala won’t last long. He will be deposed and a long political crisis involving the cancellation of elections and fights between armed factions will follow. Elections finally take place in 2005, and Vieira will come back to win them. But, in 2007, the present crisis brings back ghosts from the past: instability, dissatisfaction, protests and… Yes… Kumba Yala is coming back…