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The Mail


To the Editors of the Crimson

The article on Angola by Peter Shapiro, published in your September 18 issue strikes me as being a disconnected piece. The first part describes what are obviously his personal impressions of Angola. He rightly states that "there is no atmosphere of war instead there is a feeling of confidence. The tranquil atmosphere extends far beyond the capital...whites and wealthy blacks travel freely, moving throughout the countryside unarmed." This is what he saw and reported. The second part contain no original arguments rather it merely reproduces the usual accusations made against Portugal which can be found in the literature published by anti Portuguese organizations.

I will not discuss his lengthy expose nor his interpretations of some of the realities he has seen such as the aldeamentos (new villages established to defend the populations from intimidation by the so-called rebels, which provide better educational and health facilities.)

However, Mr. Shapiro is far from the truth in matters of statistics, and consequently his conclusions are misleading. Some figures will illustrate the point: Portugal's population (European territory), according to the 1970 census, was 9,700,000; not 7 million. Even in 1960 the population of Metropolitan Portugal stood at 8.6 million. The total emigration amounted to less than 1 million over the last ten years, not 1.5 million. Half of the stated 140,000 men in the Portuguese armed forces serving in the entire Portuguese territory (842,686 square miles) is composed of blacks drawn from the local populations of the African provinces. Therefore, when he makes a comparison with the American forces in Vietnam. Portugal's total population of 22 million should be considered. This would give the equivalent of 1.4 million men drawn from the United States; not 4 million.

The current Portuguese per capita income is $800; not $460. The illiteracy rate in Metropolitan Portugal is 16 per cent; not 40 per cent. In the Overseas Provinces more than 60 per cent of the children, and 10 per cent of the entire population, attend school. Forty-two per cent of the national budget is allocated to defense; not 50 per cent. It is to be noted that included in the defense allocation are expenditures for construction by the Army of infrastructures such as roads and airports, as well as outlays for medical assistance ad educational facilities for the civilian populations. I might add that Portugal does not receive any assistance from abroad for the defense of its territory.

Regarding race relations, Mr. Shapiro merely cites a few unauthenticated incidents of alleged racism which, even if they were true, would have no significance in the total context of the existing multiraciality.

It is regrettable that a fact-finding mission came back with so many distorted facts. Reque Feltx Dins   Press Attache   Portuguese Embassy   Washington, DC

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