Angola, Gulf, and Harvard

(The following was issued by PALC yesterday).

The Role of the United States in Southern Africa

The Portuguese have been in Africa since the 15th century enslaving blacks through the slave trade and through colonialism. The Portuguese propagandize their role in Africa as a "christianizing and civilizing mission" which in reality has meant inhuman oppression of Blacks for the economic benefit of a small ruling class of whites.

Portugal is a weak, poverty-stricken nation and would be unable to remain in Africa without the support of the United States government. In January of 1972, Portugal signed an agreement leasing the Azores Islands military base to the United States for $436 million dollars which conveniently nearly covers Portugal's budget deficit for the year. Through NATO, the U.S. supplies weapons, bombs, fighter jets and napalm so that the Portuguese can continue their colonial wars against the people's movements of Angola (MPLA), Mozambique (FRELIMO), and Guinea-Bissau (PAIGC).

In Europe, U.S. military men, experienced from military action in Vietnam, train Portuguese soldiers in guerilla tactics to use against the African freedom fighters. Last year American "advisers" were clandestinely flown into Mozambique. Shortly thereafter, MPLA reports, the Portuguese abruptly switched their military tactics to a distinctly American style. In the United Nations, the United States has continually either voted with South Africa and Portugal or abstained on matters concerning Southern Africa.


Large American corporations in Southern Africa, such as Gulf, only serve to prop up these racist regimes and strengthen the political and economic ties of these regimes to the United States. When these United States corporations, the State Department, and their faithful supporters (such as Harvard University) talk about improving conditions for blacks they betray their paternalist, racist and colonialist mentality and act against the wishes of the African people they claim they are "helping."

This statement by Abel Guimaraes, a member of MPLA, aptly sums up the sentiments of the African people living in the colonized areas.

"We are not interested in how many scholarships Gulf can provide to Portuguese schools, or how many jobs they will allow us to work for them. We want our land and the right to govern it. Anything less is meaningless."

The Role of Gulf in Angola

Gulf Oil Corporation, through its subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil, is the largest American operation in Portuguese Colonial Africa. (Portuguese Colonial Africa includes Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands.) Gulf's operation in Angola is located on the 10.116 sq. km. Cabinda concession. Exploration in Cabinda was begun by Gulf in 1954. In 1957 Gulf received the concession from Portugal, and in 1968 production began. By the end of 1970, Gulf had invested $150 million in Cabinda and had plans to increase the figure to over $200 million. By 1971, 150,000 barrels were being collected per day. With minimum Cabinda oil reserves of 300 million tons, the field held by Gulf has a 40-year life span. Gulf could, therefore, be the fourth largest producer in Africa.

Portugal requires companies with gross earnings over $1.7 million to pay a 28 per cent defense tax, in exchange for which the colonialists promise to protect these companies from interference from third parties. There is a 12.5 per cent royalty which can be demanded in foreign exchange or in oil, as well as a government option to purchase an additional 37.5 per cent of produced crude oil in peacetime and an option to purchase all the oil produced in wartime. The 1969 amended contract doubled Gulf's surface rental fees, but also demanded that Gulf pay certain taxes in advance. Portugal thus required more revenue than the increased oil production could provide immediately. The 1971 contract increased the posted price of oil as a basis for royalty and income tax payments.

From 1965 to 1968 Portugal's defense expenditures rose by more than 50 per cent. Prior to 1969, Gulf had paid $3 million annually to the Portuguese colonialists. In 1969, payments increased to $11 million and in 1970 to $16 million; estimated payments in 1972 are $33 to $50 million. Gulf's 1970 payments represented about 30 per cent of their budget for the war in Angola for that year of $54 million. If 1972 estimates of royalties are accurate, Gulf's payments will represent a much higher percentage of Angola's military budget, which rose to $68 million in 1971. Gulf is, therefore, an active contributer to the murder of Angolan peoples, and it is here that the real moral issue exists.

Gulf has attempted to shift the emphasis of its involvement in Angola to an emphasis upon what it considers its contributions to the Angolan people. Gulf has stated that "real progress for Angolan people lies in more, rather than fewer jobs." However, Cabinda Gulf Oil Company employs 125 European-born Portuguese, 55 white expatriots, 14 Angolanborn whites and 33 "Negroes" (in Gulf's terminology this includes black Africans and Mestizos.) The African population of Angola is 5 million: the white population is 400,000.

Gulf has spoken of introducing new skills in drilling, welding, light and heavy machinery, cars, trucks, and boat and barge handling. All these new skills are of course necessary to Gulf's Cabinda operations. Gulf has not discussed housing or pensions: the Portuguese colonialists recognize no right of collective bargaining or right to strike.

Clearly, Gulf's positive effects upon the wider Angolan community as an employer and a trainer have been minimal or nonexistent. Foreign exchange provided by Gulf and other mineral concessions are critical to the Portuguese in financing its colonial wars.