Cape Verde Islands

Tuesday 17.09.2019


History (Part 3)

Cape Verde - colonial period
From the colonial period

History - Part 3

The islands began to slowly recover in 1790. In 1815, during the Napoleonic wars, the slave trade was prohibited in the northern hemisphere and England secured the right of trading with Portugal and Brazil. Coffee from Brazil was cultivated on São Nicolao for the first time, the settlers came to São Vicente, streets and city squares were built in Praia and salt was now produced on the island of Sal. After an uprising of the slaves in 1853, which was suppressed with much bloodshed, slavery was finally abolished on Cape Verde in 1878. From that time on, cultivation of the land was operated in the sharecropping system, which still is typical for the agricultural of Cape Verde. However, the exporting of salt, bananas, coffee, fish and purging nuts did not bring the desired profits. Portugal had not invested in the land during its rule, the export costs were too high due to the remote location of the islands, the already scarce natural resources declined and a shortage of water supplies ensued. When the world market prices for coffee drastically fell in 1900, its production on Cape Verde collapsed. Prime Minister Salazar installed his dictatorial regime in Lisbon in 1932 and declared Cape Verde to be an overseas province in 1951 due to the growing national pressure. But the colonial status was only ended in the official sense. As a result of massive protests against the continuing colonial attitude of Portugal, the Cape Verdeans finally obtained all of the Portuguese civil rights and better access to education in 1961. A new drought catastrophe started again in 1958. In the meantime, Caetano had become Salazar‘s successor in Lisbon and supported the islands with development programmes that mitigated the consequences of the drought. This was primarily due to the pressure exerted by Amílcar Cabral, who founded the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Cape Verdes) in Guinea-Bissau in 1956. Guinea-Bissau had already been administered from Cape Verde between 1650 and 1878 with the Creole culture and language also connecting the two countries. After repeated attempts by Portugal to infiltrate the PAICV through the PIDE, a type of secret police, and to prevent the alliance of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Amílcar Cabral was murdered in 1973. It is still unclear who was responsible for the murder. The dictatorship in Portugal was ended in 1974 by the Carnation Revolution. However, the local troops on Cape Verde maintained their rule. In December of that same year, a transitional PAIGC government was agreed upon under the direction of Pedro Pires and Aristides Pereira. In June 1975, the first election for national representatives of the people took place: 92% of the votes confirmed the PAIGC as a unity party and therefore the owner of all mandates in the people’s assembly.

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral, national hero of Cape Verde


The República Cabo Verde declared its independence on 5 July 1975. Aristides Pereira became the first president as the secretary-general of the PAIGC. Pedro Pires was appointed as the prime minister. The first constitution was adopted on 5 September 1980. On 20 January 1981, the PAIGC was founded as the new governing party of PAICV (African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde).
The newly achieved independence presented the government with difficult tasks: The state coffers were empty, a terrible drought once again plagued the country and the number of unemployed people had risen to 60% because the jobs in the colonial administration were lost. But with the support of development aid organisations, it was possible to gradually rebuild the country.
The current political climate on Cape Verde is characterised by social peace and stability.