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Gulf and Harvard


THE HARVARD Corporation's decision to retain its stock in the Gulf Oil Company, delivered in defiance of black leaders both here at Harvard and throughout the country, illustrates the University's callous disregard for the lives of black people in Angola.

Although the occupation of Massachusetts Hall by black protesters has ended, Harvard's ownership of Gulf stock remains a vital moral issue.

The Corporation's statement of April 19 ex-planning the reasons behind its decision was both hypocritical and immoral. The Corporation first said that divestiture by Harvard would not cause Gulf to withdraw from Angola. The Corporation pointed out that there would be "no dearth" of other investors willing to purchase Gulf stock.

Thus statement is only half true. Harvard's divestiture, accompanied by a public statement condemning Gulf's complicity in Portuguese colonialism, would have a considerable effect on the investment policies of private foundations, church groups, and other universities.

The Corporation then contended that Gulf's withdrawal from Angola, should it ever occur, would not "serve the cause of Angolan independence."

This statement is directly contrary to a United Nations General Assembly Resolution, drafted in 1969, which called Gulf's investments in Portuguese colonies "a major obstacle" in the fight by native forces for political independence.

Between 1954 and 1971, Gulf paid Portugal approximately $42.8 million for its oil concession on the province of Cabinda. According to certain observers, Gulf's payments in the fiscal year 1972 may total as much as $30 million as the Cabinda operation reaches a new high in its level of production.

These payments aid Portugal, either directly or indirectly, in its war against the liberation forces of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. It is doubtful whether a dying colonialist power such as Portugal could afford to equip and transport 140,000 troops to fight a war in Africa which has gone on intermittently for the last 11 years without the flow of money from outside sources, such as Gulf.

Furthermore, under the terms of the present contract, Portugal has the right to purchase 50 per cent of the crude oil produced in Cabinda. Should the Portuguese government ever exercise this option, the oil would undoubtedly be used to fuel the Portuguese military machine.

FINALLY, IN THE conclusion of its statement, the Corporation said that "in view of the constructive actions a shareholder can take," it is not "morally wrong" to invest in companies which deal with governments engaging in "repressive or immoral" actions.

The Corporation argued that Harvard had a moral obligation to retain its stock in order to influence Gulf in a socially responsible manner.

This argument for "constructive action" is a smokescreen. For the "constructive action" that the Corporation says it is considering consists only of palliatives like hiring and promotional policies. While there may be controversy over the financial and strategic merits of divestiture, the issue of colonialism is clear. Gulf must be condemned for its complicity in the Portuguese colonial state.

The Corporation, by refusing to express in any way condemnation of Gulf's colonial adventure, has committed a terrible injustice against the people of Angola. At this point, the least Harvard can do is grant amnesty to those people who put their Harvard degrees and, in some cases, their jobs, on the line in the fight against colonialism. To subject these people to the political machinations of the Committee of Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) or the Cambridge courts would be reprehensible. Harvard has inflicted enough damage on black people already.

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