Cape Verde, officially known as the Republic of Cabo Verde, celebrates its independence today. Previously, the island nation was occupied and controlled by Portugal and with the help of an armed resistance movement, Cape Verde joined Guinea-Bissau as an independent African nation in the early ’70’s.
Italian and Portuguese sailors found their way to the cluster of islands off the coast of West Africa. Natural resources were scarce but the archipelago served as a thriving midway point during the Atlantic Slave Trade, standing in as a hub for pirates, merchants, and slavers alike. When slavery ended in the 19th Century, Cape Verde ceased being a focal point for merchants.
In 1951, Portugal officials named the islands as its overseas department but a growing movement for independence was brewing. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde was formed as a peaceful protest group seeking to help the two occupied regions become their own nations. In the ’60’s, the PAIGC began arming themselves and revolted against Portugal at every turn.
The PAIGC was assisted by the Soviet Union military and in 1973, Guinea-Bissau gained independence but stayed outside of the affairs in Cape Verde. In 1974 after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, the PAIGC grew in strength in Cape Verde and struck a deal with the European nation to grant Cape Verdeans a transitional government as a route to independence. After elections for a national assembly in June 1975, the country was declared independent on this day.
The PAIGC, based in Guinea-Bissau, oversaw Cape Verde from 1975 until 1980 when tensions between the nations grew. The African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) was formed after a coup in Guinea-Bissau. Unity between the nations ceased until the tail end of the 20th Century. A one-party system governed Cape Verde until the ’90’s, opening the pathway to a multi-party system and granting the nation the status of being a true democracy.
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Little Known Black History Fact: Cape Verde Independence was originally published on blackamericaweb.com