Portugal Table of Contents
In Portuguese Guinea (present-day Guinea-Bissau), the struggle against Portuguese rule began officially in January 1963, although there had been earlier acts of sabotage by members of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano pela Independência de Guiné e Cabo Verde- -PAIGC). PAIGC was a Marxist movement guided by the Maoist concept of achieving revolution through the rural peasantry. By 1968 PAIGC claimed control of nearly 70 percent of the territory and half the population of the province, the Portuguese being confined largely to the towns and major villages of the coastal area. Under a vigorous new governor, General António de Spínola, regular forces numbering 33,000 (about half Africans) were supplemented by local armed militia based in strategic villages. PAIGC nevertheless kept up its pressure by guerrilla raids mounted from neighboring Senegal and the Republic of Guinea. The military situation was already deteriorating in 1973 when Soviet surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were introduced and a number of Portuguese planes were shot down. Portuguese pilots became reluctant to fly, and as a result Portugal had to curtail the air attacks that had been highly effective against guerrilla operations.
After Spínola returned to Lisbon in 1973, military morale eroded because the soldiers felt that they were fighting an unwinnable war in a territory of little value. A few months later, the revolutionary government that had recently come to power in Portugal began negotiations for withdrawing Portuguese troops from the province. Portugal recognized Guinea-Bissau as an independent state in September 1974. Portuguese losses in Portuguese Guinea were reported to be 1,656 killed in action and 696 noncombat deaths.
Data as of January 1993