Para veres esta reportagem,
gira o telemóvel.

To see this report, hold
your phone in landscape.

O Facebook e o Instagram bloqueiam o formato de visualização desta reportagem.

Acede a www.divergente.pt através da barra de navegação do teu navegador (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) para poderes ler, ver e ouvir.

You cannot view this report through Facebook and Instagram.

Go directly to the website by typing the address www.divergente.pt directly into your browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) to get the full experience.

Um trabalho DIVERGENTE

A work by DIVERGENTE

Esta é uma reportagem dividida
em quatro capítulos.
Se ainda não o fizeste,
começa por ler os anteriores.

Menu Principal

This is a report divided
into four chapters.
If you haven’t already,
start from the beginning.

Main Menu

“They betrayed us,
that’s what”

As a child, lulled by the sound of the birds and the mysteries of the mangroves, Juldé Jaquité and his father used to roam the waters of the Cacine River, in the south of Guinea-Bissau. Together, aboard a wooden canoe, they would catch fish to sell at the market and to feed the whole family. After the “Spínola’s Coup” festivities ended, this childhood was a distant memory to Juldé— a past with no return. In the months following April 1974, he felt lost, tormented by his thoughts. Only cigarettes — one after another — seemed to bring him some peace.

 
 
 
 
 

Silence can invade in many forms: a river that flows without challenging the law of nature, the fear of someone holding their breath in hiding, a pent-up rage, accumulating year after year, denied a chance to explode. The army, the war, stole his youth from him. Could it be that, now, this limbo they called “peace” had come to rob him of his adult life too?

In September 1974, Juldé, an imposing man who the Portuguese Army made lance-corporal of the Commandos, left Bissau and fled to Senegal. He left full of uncertainty; he didn’t even really know why he wanted to disappear. He couldn’t get the night his wife’s ex-husband snuck over and knocked on his door to warn him out of his mind. “Juldé, leave Bissau and go to Senegal. I’m telling you this because you’ve been good to my children, I can’t betray you. I know the PAIGC [Party for the Independence of Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde] will kill all the Commandos, even the commissioned ones. You’ll all die.” Nearly 50 years later, Juldé swears he still remembers the minute details of this meeting:

“I told him I wasn’t going anywhere, that I had no reason to flee. He asked me not to tell anyone what he had told me, or they’d kill him. He got in his jeep and left. I sat down to smoke.”

Joaquim Boquindi Mané

Lance-corporal

 

Portuguese Guinean section of the African Commandos, 1st Company

“After the festivities came difficult times. They captured many Commandos, they said we were whites. Anyone who had fought on the whites’ side was punished. They called us colonizers, said that we had boasted about it and that, now, they were in charge. Many people said, ‘Leave us alone, the war is over now. The war made us enemies, but we are brothers now. Leave us alone.’”

On 8 October, the continental Commandos returned to Lisbon. Florindo Morais arrived in Bissau in June to replace Raul Folques as battalion leader. He remembers how, at the time, the African Commandos were still convinced that they would be the future “Colonels of Guinea-Bissau”. VIDEO

They believed the promises made to them, had faith in the hope these words had sown. Faith in a country that they hadn’t chosen, but for which they had sworn to die if necessary. The same country that now was preparing to leave them behind, abandoned to their fate, lost.

They refused to believe that the promises made by General Spínola — “the African Commandos will be the future leaders of Portuguese Guinea”, “Guinea for Guineans” — were nothing but empty words.

Sources:

 

“Spínola”, Luís Nuno Rodrigues

 

“Fim do Império – últimos meses de vida do Batalhão de Comandos da Guiné”, Florindo Morais, Mama Sume Magazine, n.º83

When the ceasefire was declared between the Portuguese Army and the PAIGC guerrilla, the African Commandos companies contained “some prestigious leaders”, with “significant military strength”. Therefore, they represented an “unknown to all the political forces interested in the Bissau-Guinean decolonialization process”, as described in the Portuguese Armed Forces summary of reports from August and September 1974.

In the view of the Portuguese government, an alliance between the Commandos and the PAIGC could hasten the Portuguese Army’s withdrawal, forcing the country to accept unfavourable conditions during the negotiations. In the view of the PAIGC, a possible alliance between the African Commandos and the opposing political forces represented a threat they wanted to avoid. Caught in the middle, were the men who swore they were “soldiers, not politicians”.

“[…] We are soldiers, not politicians, united to ensure a dignified and fair end, in uniting the ideas of all our brothers, children of the same land, pitted against each other by a fascist-colonialist political regime. [...]

The Battalion of Commandos comprises the most experienced and well-trained African soldiers. The Battalion is an elite unit and a cornerstone for all African units, around which the remaining African force should unite [...]

We will not enter into dirty games with the ill-intentioned; they will be driven out should they try to create a climate of indecision, insecurity and distrust.

Immediate measures to be taken:
- Ensure our forces remain united at all times.
- Respect hierarchies to the greatest of discipline and mutual respect.
- Safeguard respect for our superiors and comrades.
- Intensify the training of all soldiers, strengthening a spirit of discipline and physical preparation.
- Punish any who disobey and those who break disciplinary rules.
- Abolish ethnic factors that could divide us.

We fear no one as long as we remain united, strong and disciplined, but we will respect all those who fought for the well-being and progress of the people.”

Glória Alves