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THERE IS another war, not so different from the one in Asia, being waged at this moment in Africa. It is the war between the nationalist African troops in Angola and the colonial army of Portugal. The issues of the war are simple: will Africans expel their Portuguese rulers and win self-determination, or will Portugal remain in Africa to rule by oppression and to drain the country's natural wealth into her own bank account?
Portugal's conduct has been widely condemned abroad, in America and at the United Nations. But at the same time, Portugal's efforts are being aided financially by the Gulf Oil Corporation, which drills in Angola under contract to Portugal--and which is owned, in part, by the Harvard Corporation.
Harvard's decision to retain its 683,000 shares in Gulf, after the Pan African Liberation Committee (PALC) had reasonably appealed to the University for a publicly announced sale, was doubly irresponsible. For it came with a refusal even to cast a vote of no confidence in the management of Gulf at the annual stockholders' meeting. Instead, the Corporation made a deal with Gulf to abstain from voting for the disclosure of information on Gulf's operations in Angola in return for a voluntary yielding of that information.
It was after these decisions that PALC occupied Massachusetts Hall.
IN THEIR mutual accommodation, Harvard and Gulf gave the lie to the notion that large American corporations can be semi-democratic institutions. In a system where power is proportional to the money invested, the management of most large corporations make an elaborate effort to pretend that they are controlled in some small way by the people who share in corporate power through ownership of stock: yet in huge corporations (like Gulf) it is all but impossible for even relatively large stockholders (like Harvard) to effect changes in company policy through the normal channels of corporate elections and proxy decisions. And when institutional stockholders refuse even to join in a symbolic assertion of their rightful powers, they desert the responsibilities that come with the power of money and throw their lot in with the men who go to any length and support any government, to maximize profits. As long as corporation directors piously claim that their only concern should be to multiply the dollars of their investors. Harvard's acquiescence must be taken only as support for their conscienceless arguments.
Harvard must not be an institution which preaches humanitarian values without practicing them. Students, alumni and faculty alike should demand that Harvard express its outrage over the oppression of the Angolan people and the supporting role that Gulf plays in this oppression. To coax petty concessions from the management of Gulf Oil is no expression of outrage. What is needed is a public denunciation of Gulf's and Portugal's policies, accompanied by the sale of the University's holdings.
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