Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde - The history (3)

Rise and end of the colonial period
In 1790 the islands slowly began to recover. During the Napoleonic wars the slave trade was forbidden on the Northern Hemisphere in 1815 and England secured the right of trading with Portugal and Brazil. For the first time coffee from Brazil was cultivated on São Vicente, streets and urban squares were built in Praia and on the Island Sal salt was produced. After an insurrection of the slaves in the year 1853 which was put down bloodily, in the year 1878 slavery was at last abolished on the Cape Verde Islands. The cultivation of the land from that moment on has been done in the system of share-tenancy, which is typical for the agriculture of the Cape Verde Islands even today. However the exportation of salt, bananas, coffee, purgiernuts and fish did not bring the expected profit. Portugal had not invested in the land during its rule, the export costs were too high because of the remote location of the islands, the natural resources came to a decline and the water supplies were scarce. As the world market prices for coffee fell in 1900, the production on the islands collapsed. In Lisbon Primeminister Salazar established his dictatorial regime in 1932 and declared the Cape Verde Islands an overseas province in 1951 due to the growing national pressure. The status of colony however was only given up officially. By protesting strongly against the colonial attitude of Portugal, the Cape Verdeans eventually obtained all Portuguese civil rights and access to education.
From the year 1958 on again a disaster of drought started. In the meantime Caetano had followed Salazar in the government in Lisbon and supported the islands with development programmes, so that the consequences of the drought could be relieved. Most of all this was thanks to Amílcar Cabral’s pressure who in 1956 founded the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands) in Guinea-Bissau. Guinea-Bissau had already been administrated from the Cape Verde Islands between 1650 and 1878 and also the Creole culture and language connected the two countries. After some efforts from the Portuguese side to infiltrate the PAICV by the PIDE, a kind of secret service, and to prevent the alliance of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands, Amílcar Cabral was murdered in 1973. Nobody has found out up to now who was responsible for this murder. In the year 1974 dictatorship ended in Portugal through the “carnation-revolution”. The local troops on the Cape Verde Islands however maintained their rule. In December of the same year Pedro Pires and Aristides Pereira agreed on a transitorygovernment and in June 1975 the first election of the national representatives of the people followed: 92 % of the votes confirmed the PAIGC as a unity party and as such owner of all seats in the people’s assembly.


On the fifth of July 1975 the República Cabo Verde declared its independence. Aristides Pereira became the first president as secretary-general of the PAIGC. Pedro Pires was named Prime Minister. On the fifth of September 1980 the first constitution was passed. On January 20 in 1981 the PAIGC got a new name, PAICV (African party for the independence of the Cape Verde Islands) and was founded as a new ruling party. With the newly gained independence the government was confronted with difficult tasks: public treasury was empty, a terrible drought hit the land, and the number of unemployed people had risen to 60 % because the jobs in the colonial administration were gone. With the support of development aid organisations it was possible to rebuild the country step by step.
Today there is a political climate on the Cape Verde Islands which is dominated by social peace and stability.