|Angola Table of Contents
Angola's relations with the United States were ambivalent. The United States aided the FNLA and UNITA before independence. During most of 1976, the United States blocked Angola's admission to the UN, and in late 1988 the two nations still lacked diplomatic ties. United States representatives pressured Luanda to reduce its military reliance on Cuba and the Soviet Union, made necessary in part by United States and South African opposition to the MPLA-PT and support for UNITA. In 1988 Angola's government news agency quoted Minister of Foreign Relations Afonso Van Dúnem (nom de guerre Mbinda) as saying the United States had a "Cuban psychosis" that prevented it from engaging in talks about Namibia and Angola. Nevertheless, after the December 1988 regional accords to end the Cuban military presence in Angola, United States officials offered to normalize relations with Angola on the condition that an internal settlement of the civil war with UNITA be reached.
Political and diplomatic differences between the United States and Angola were generally mitigated by close economic ties. American oil companies operating in Cabinda provided a substantial portion of Angola's export earnings and foreign exchange, and this relationship continued despite political pressures on these companies to reduce their holdings in Cabinda in the mid-1980s. The divergence of private economic interests from United States diplomatic policy was complicated by differences of opinion among American policymakers. By means of the Clark Amendment, from 1975 to 1985 the United States Congress prohibited aid to UNITA and slowed covert attempts to circumvent this legislation. After the repeal of the Clark Amendment in 1985, however, trade between Angola and the United States continued to increase, and Cuban and Angolan troops attempted to prevent sabotage against United States interests by UNITA and South African commandos.
Western Europe, like the United States, feared the implications of a strong Soviet client state in southern Africa, but in general European relations with the MPLA-PT were based on economic interests rather than ideology. France and Portugal maintained good relations with the MPLA-PT at the same time that they provided financial assistance for UNITA and allowed UNITA representatives to operate freely in their capitals. Portugal was Angola's leading trading partner throughout most of the 1980s, and Brazil, another Lusophone state, strengthened economic ties with Angola during this period.
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John A. Marcum's two-volume series, The Angolan Revolution, analyzes historical trends in Angolan politics and society from the early colonial struggle through the early years of independence. Marcum also views the postwar environment and its political implications in "Angola: Twenty-five Years of War," and he analyzes obstacles to the socialist transformation in "The People's Republic of Angola." Keith Somerville's Angola: Politics, Economics, and Society provides an extensive discussion of Angola's variant of Marxism-Leninism and raises the question of its implications for the rural majority of Angolan people. Kenneth W. Grundy's "The Angolan Puzzle" assesses Angolan prospects for peace in 1987 in the context of the regional struggle.
Gerald J. Bender analyzes Angola's contemporary predicament from a historical perspective in "American Policy Toward Angola" and "The Continuing Crisis in Angola." Catherine V. Scott, in "Socialism and the `Soft State' in Africa," compares 1980s political developments in these two Marxist states in southern Africa. Tony Hodges's Angola to the 1990s, essentially an economic analysis, also contains insight into political trends. Fred Bridgland's "The Future of Angola" and Jonas Savimbi provide critical views of MPLA-PT rule, while Fola Soremekun's chapter on Angola in The Political Economy of African Foreign Policy, edited by Timothy M. Shaw and Olajide Aluko, and Angola's Political Economy by M.R. Bhagavan view Angola's 1980s leadership from a more favorable perspective.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress