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Angolan Civil War

The Angolan Civil War was a major civil conflict in the Southern African state of Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with some interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975. Prior to this, a decolonisation conflict had taken place in 1974–75, following the Angolan War of Independence. The Civil War was primarily a struggle for power between two former liberation movements, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). At the same time, it served as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War, due to heavy intervention by major opposing powers such as the Soviet Union and the United States.

The MPLA and UNITA had different roots in the Angolan social fabric and mutually incompatible leaderships, despite their sharing the aim of ending colonial occupation. Although both had socialist leanings, for the purpose of mobilising international support they posed as "Marxist-Leninist" and "anti-communist", respectively.[17] A third movement, the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), having fought the MPLA alongside UNITA during the war for independence and the decolonization conflict, played almost no role in the Civil War. Additionally, the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), an association of separatist militant groups, fought for the independence of the province of Cabinda from Angola.

The 27-year war can be divided roughly into three periods of major fighting – between 1975 and 1991, 1992 and 1994, and 1998 and 2002 – broken up by fragile periods of peace. By the time the MPLA finally achieved victory in 2002, an estimated 500,000 people had been killed and over one million internally displaced. The war devastated Angola's infrastructure, and dealt severe damage to the nation's public administration, economic enterprises, and religious institutions.[16]

The Angolan Civil War reached such dimensions due to the combination of Angola's violent internal dynamics and massive foreign intervention. Both the Soviet Union and the United States considered the conflict critical to the global balance of power and to the outcome of the Cold War, and they and their allies put significant effort into making it a proxy war between their two power blocs. The Angolan Civil War ultimately became one of the bloodiest, longest, and most prominent armed conflicts of the Cold War. Moreover, the Angolan conflict became entangled with the Second Congo War in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as with the Namibian War of Independence.


Political changes abroad and military victories at home allowed the government to transition from a nominally communist state to a nominally democratic one. Namibia's declaration of independence, internationally recognized on April 1, eliminated the southwestern front of combat as South African forces withdrew to the east.[113] The MPLA abolished the one-party system in June and rejected Marxist-Leninism at the MPLA's third Congress in December, formally changing the party's name from the MPLA-PT to the MPLA.[109] The National Assembly passed law 12/91 in May 1991, coinciding with the withdrawal of the last Cuban troops, defining Angola as a "democratic state based on the rule of law" with a multi-party system.[114] Observers met such changes with skepticism. American journalist Karl Maier wrote, "In the New Angola ideology is being replaced by the bottom line, as security and selling expertise in weaponry have become a very profitable business. With its wealth in oil and diamonds, Angola is like a big swollen carcass and the vultures are swirling overhead. Savimbi's former allies are switching sides, lured by the aroma of hard currency."[115]

Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly
Government troops wounded Savimbi in battles in January and February 1990, but not enough to restrict his mobility[116] He went to Washington, D.C. in December and met with President George H. W. Bush again,[109] the fourth of five trips he made to the United States. Savimbi paid Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., $5 million to lobby the Federal government for aid, portray UNITA favorably in Western media, and acquire support among politicians in Washington. Savimbi was highly successful in this endeavour.[117]

Senators Larry Smith and Dante Fascell, a senior member of the firm, worked with the Cuban American National Foundation, Representative Claude Pepper of Florida, Neal Blair's Free the Eagle, and Howard Phillips' Conservative Caucus to repeal the Clark Amendment in 1985.[118] From the amendment's repeal in 1985 to 1992 the U.S. government gave Savimbi $60 million per year, a total of $420 million. A sizable amount of the aid went to Savimbi's personal expenses. Black, Manafort filed foreign lobbying records with the U.S. Justice Department showing Savimbi's expenses during his U.S. visits. During his December 1990 visit he spent $136,424 at the Park Hyatt hotel and $2,705 in tips. He spent almost $473,000 in October 1991 during his week-long visit to Washington and Manhattan. He spent $98,022 in hotel bills, at the Park Hyatt, $26,709 in limousine rides in Washington and another $5,293 in Manhattan. Paul Manafort, a partner in the firm, charged Savimbi $19,300 in consulting and additional $1,712 in expenses. He also bought $1,143 worth of "survival kits" from Motorola. When questioned in an interview in 1990 about human rights abuses under Savimbi, Black said, "Now when you're in a war, trying to manage a war, when the enemy... is no more than a couple of hours away from you at any given time, you might not run your territory according to New Hampshire town meeting rules."[117]

Bicesse Accords
President dos Santos met with Savimbi in Lisbon, Portugal and signed the Bicesse Accords, the first of three major peace agreements, on May 31, 1991, with the mediation of the Portuguese government. The accords laid out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United Nations' UNAVEM II mission, with a presidential election to be held within a year. The agreement attempted to demobilize the 152,000 active fighters and integrate the remaining government troops and UNITA rebels into a 50,000-strong Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). The FAA would consist of a national army with 40,000 troops, navy with 6,000, and air force with 4,000.[119] While UNITA largely did not disarm, the FAA complied with the accord and demobilized, leaving the government disadvantaged.[120]

Angola held the first round of its 1992 presidential election on September 29–30. Dos Santos officially received 49.57% of the vote and Savimbi won 40.6%. As no candidate received 50% or more of the vote, election law dictated a second round of voting between the top two contenders. Savimbi, along with many other election observers, said the election had been neither free nor fair, but he sent Jeremias Chitunda, Vice President of UNITA, to Luanda to negotiate the terms of the second round.[121][122] The election process broke down on October 31, when government troops in Luanda attacked UNITA. Civilians, using guns they had received from police a few days earlier, conducted house-by-house raids with the Rapid Intervention Police, killing and detaining hundreds of UNITA supporters. The government took civilians in trucks to the Camama cemetery and Morro da Luz ravine, shot them, and buried them in mass graves. Assailants attacked Chitunda's convoy on November 2, pulling him out of his car and shooting him and two others in their faces.[122] The MPLA allegedly massacred tens of thousands of UNITA voters nationwide.[123]

Then, in a series of stunning victories, UNITA regained control over Caxito, Huambo, M'banza Kongo, Ndalatando, and Uíge, provincial capitals it had not held since 1976, and moved against Kuito, Luena, and Malange. Although the U.S. and South African governments had stopped aiding UNITA, supplies continued to come from Mobutu in Zaire.[124] UNITA tried to wrest control of Cabinda from the MPLA in January 1993. Edward DeJarnette, Head of the U.S. Liaison Office in Angola for the Clinton Administration, warned Savimbi that, if UNITA hindered or halted Cabinda's production, the U.S. would end its support for UNITA. On January 9, UNITA began a 55-day long battle over Huambo, the War of the Cities. Hundreds of thousands fled and 10,000 were killed before UNITA gained control on March 7. The government engaged in an ethnic cleansing of Bakongo, and, to a lesser extent Ovimbundu, in multiple cities, most notably Luanda, on January 22 in the Bloody Friday massacre. UNITA and government representatives met five days later in Ethiopia, but negotiations failed to restore the peace.[125] The United Nations Security Council sanctioned UNITA through Resolution 864 on September 15, 1993, prohibiting the sale of weapons or fuel to UNITA. Perhaps the clearest shift in U.S. foreign policy emerged when President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12865 on September 23, labeling UNITA a "continuing threat to the foreign policy objectives of the U.S."[126] By August 1993, UNITA had gained control over 70% of Angola, but the government's military successes in 1994 forced UNITA to sue for peace. By November 1994, the government had taken control of 60% of the country. Savimbi called the situation UNITA's "deepest crisis" since its creation.[115][127][128]

Lusaka Protocol
Savimbi, unwilling to personally sign an accord, had former UNITA Secretary General Eugenio Manuvakola represent UNITA in his place. Manuvakola and Angolan Foreign Minister Venancio de Moura signed the Lusaka Protocol in Lusaka, Zambia on October 31, 1994, agreeing to integrate and disarm UNITA. Both sides signed a ceasefire as part of the protocol on November 20.[127][128] Under the agreement the government and UNITA would cease fire and demobilize. 5,500 UNITA members, including 180 militants, would join the Angolan national police, 1,200 UNITA members, including 40 militants, would join the rapid reaction police force, and UNITA generals would become officers in the Angolan Armed Forces. Foreign mercenaries would return to their home countries and all parties would stop acquiring foreign arms. The agreement gave UNITA politicians homes and a headquarters. The government agreed to appoint UNITA members to head the Mines, Commerce, Health, and Tourism ministries, in addition to seven deputy ministers, ambassadors, the governorships of Uige, Lunda Sul, and Cuando Cubango, deputy governors, municipal administrators, deputy administrators, and commune administrators. The government would release all prisoners and give amnesty to all militants involved in the civil war.[127][128] Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and South African President Nelson Mandela met in Lusaka on November 15, 1994 to boost support symbolically for the protocol. Mugabe and Mandela both said they would be willing to meet with Savimbi and Mandela asked him to come to South Africa, but Savimbi did not come. The agreement created a joint commission, consisting of officials from the Angolan government, UNITA, and the UN with the governments of Portugal, the United States, and Russia observing, to oversee its implementation. Violations of the protocol's provisions would be discussed and reviewed by the commission.[127] The protocol's provisions, integrating UNITA into the military, a ceasefire, and a coalition government, were similar to those of the Alvor Agreement that granted Angola independence from Portugal in 1975. Many of the same environmental problems, mutual distrust between UNITA and the MPLA, loose international oversight, the importation of foreign arms, and an overemphasis on maintaining the balance of power, led to the collapse of the protocol.[128]

Arms monitoring
In January 1995, U.S. President Clinton sent Paul Hare, his envoy to Angola, to support the Lusaka Protocol and impress the importance of the ceasefire onto the Angolan government and UNITA, both in need of outside assistance.[129] The United Nations agreed to send a peacekeeping force on February 8.[39] Savimbi met with South African President Mandela in May. Shortly after, on June 18, the MPLA offered Savimbi the position of Vice President under dos Santos with another Vice President chosen from the MPLA. Savimbi told Mandela he felt ready to "serve in any capacity which will aid my nation," but he did not accept the proposal until August 12.[130][131] The United States Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency's Angola operations and analysis expanded in an effort to halt weapons shipments,[129] a violation of the protocol, with limited success. The Angolan government bought six Mil Mi-17 from Ukraine in 1995.[132] The government bought L-39 attack aircraft from the Czech Republic in 1998 along with ammunition and uniforms from Zimbabwe Defence Industries and ammunition and weapons from Ukraine in 1998 and 1999.[132] U.S. monitoring significantly dropped off in 1997 as events in Zaire, the Congo and then Liberia occupied more of the U.S. government's attention.[129] UNITA purchased more than 20 FROG-7 scuds and three FOX 7 missiles from the North Korean government in 1999.[133]

The UN extended its mandate on February 8, 1996. In March, Savimbi and dos Santos formally agreed to form a coalition government.[39] The government deported 2,000 West African and Lebanese Angolans in Operation Cancer Two, in August 1996, on the grounds that dangerous minorities were responsible for the rising crime rate.[134] In 1996 the Angolan government bought military equipment from India, two Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters and three Sukhoi Su-17 from Kazakhstan in December, and helicopters from Slovakia in March.[132]

The international community helped install a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation in April 1997, but UNITA did not allow the regional MPLA government to take up residence in 60 cities. The UN Security Council voted on August 28, 1997 to impose sanctions on UNITA through Resolution 1127, prohibiting UNITA leaders from traveling abroad, closing UNITA's embassies abroad, and making UNITA-controlled areas a no-fly zone. The Security Council expanded the sanctions through Resolution 1173 on June 12, 1998, requiring government certification for the purchase of Angolan diamonds and freezing UNITA's bank accounts.[124]

The UN spent $1.6 billion from 1994 to 1998 in maintaining a peacekeeping force.[39] The Angolan military attacked UNITA forces in the Central Highlands on December 4, 1998, the day before the MPLA's fourth Congress. Dos Santos told the delegates the next day that he believed war to be the only way to ultimately achieve peace, rejected the Lusaka Protocol, and asked MONUA to leave. In February 1999, the Security Council withdrew the last MONUA personnel. In late 1998, several UNITA commanders, dissatisfied with Savimbi's leadership, formed UNITA Renovada, a breakaway militant group. Thousands more deserted UNITA in 1999 and 2000.[124]

The Angolan military launched Operation Restore, a massive offensive, in September 1999, recapturing N'harea, Mungo and Andulo and Bailundo, the site of Savimbi's headquarters just one year before. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1268 on October 15, instructing United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to update the Security Council to the situation in Angola every three months. Dos Santos offered an amnesty to UNITA militants on November 11. By December, Chief of Staff General Joăo de Matos said the Angolan Armed Forces had destroyed 80% of UNITA's militant wing and captured 15,000 tons of military equipment.[124][135][136] Following the dissolution of the coalition government, Savimbi retreated to his historical base in Moxico and prepared for battle.[137]

UNITA's ability to mine diamonds and sell them abroad, provided funding for the war to continue even as the movement's support in the Western world and among the local populace withered away. De Beers and Endiama, a state-owned diamond-mining monopoly, signed a contract allowing De Beers to handle Angola's diamond exportation in 1990.[138] According to the United Nation's Fowler Report, Joe De Deker, a former stockholder in De Beers, worked with the government of Zaire to supply military equipment to UNITA from 1993 to 1997. De Deker's brother, Ronnie, allegedly flew from South Africa to Angola, directing weapons originating in Eastern Europe. In return, UNITA gave Ronnie bushels of diamonds worth $6 million. De Deker sent the diamonds to De Beer's buying office in Antwerp, Belgium. De Beers openly acknowledges spending $500 million on legal and illegal Angolan diamonds in 1992 alone. The United Nations estimates Angolans made between three and four billion dollars through the diamond trade between 1992 and 1998.[126][139] The UN also estimates that out of that sum, UNITA made at least $3.72 billion, or 93% of all diamond sales, despite international sanctions.[140]

Executive Outcomes (EO), a private military company. EO played a major role in turning the tide for the MPLA with one U.S. defense expert calling the EO the "best fifty or sixty million dollars the Angolan government ever spent".[citation needed] Heritage Oil and Gas, and allegedly De Beers, hired EO to protect their operations in Angola.[141] Executive Outcomes trained 4,000 to 5,000 troops and 30 pilots in combat in camps in Lunda Sul, Cabo Ledo, and Dondo.[142]

Cabinda separatism
The territory of Cabinda is north of Angola proper, separated by a strip of territory 60 km (37.3 mi) long in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[143] The Portuguese Constitution of 1933 designated Angola and Cabinda as overseas provinces.[144][145] The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) formed in 1963 during the broader war for independence from Portugal. Contrary to the organization's name, Cabinda is an exclave, not an enclave. FLEC later split into the Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) and Renewal (FLEC-Renovada). Several other, smaller FLEC factions later broke away from these movements, but FLEC-R remained the most prominent because of its size and its tactics. FLEC-R members cut off the ears and noses of government officials and their supporters, similar to the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone in the 1990s.[146] Despite Cabinda's relatively small size, foreign powers and the nationalist movements coveted the territory for its vast reserves of petroleum, the principal export of Angola then and now.[147]

In the war for independence, the primary ethnic division of assimilados versus indigenos peoples masked the inter-ethnic conflict between the various native tribes, a division that emerged in the early 1970s. The Union of Peoples of Angola, the predecessor to the FNLA, only controlled 15% of Angola's territory during the independence war, excluding MPLA-controlled Cabinda. The People's Republic of China openly backed UNITA upon independence despite the mutual support from its adversary South Africa and UNITA's pro-Western tilt. The PRC's support for Savimbi came in 1965, a year after he left the FNLA. China saw Holden Roberto and the FNLA as the stooge of the West and the MPLA as the Soviet Union's proxy. With the Sino-Soviet split, South Africa presented the least odious of allies to the PRC.[148][149]

Throughout the 1990s, Cabindan rebels kidnapped and ransomed off foreign oil workers to in turn finance further attacks against the national government. FLEC militants stopped buses, forcing Chevron Oil workers out, and setting fire to the buses on March 27 and April 23, 1992. A large-scale battle took place between FLEC and police in Malongo on May 14 in which 25 mortar rounds accidentally hit a nearby Chevron compound.[150] The government, fearing the loss of their prime source of revenue, began to negotiate with representatives from Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda-Renewal (FLEC-R), Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC), and the Democratic Front of Cabinda (FDC) in 1995. Patronage and bribery failed to assuage the anger of FLEC-R and FLEC-FAC and negotiations ended. In February 1997, FLEC-FAC kidnapped two Inwangsa SDN-timber company employees, killing one and releasing the other after receiving a $400,000 ransom. FLEC-FLAC kidnapped eleven people in April 1998, nine Angolans and two Portuguese, released for a $500,000 ransom. FLEC-R kidnapped five Byansol-oil engineering employees, two Frenchman, two Portuguese, and an Angolan, on March, 1999. While militants released the Angolan, the government complicated the situation by promising the rebel leadership $12.5 million for the hostages. When António Bento Bembe, the President of FLEC-R, showed up, the Angolan army arrested him and his bodyguards. The Angolan army later forcibly freed the other hostages on July 7. By the end of the year the government had arrested the leadership of all three rebel organizations.[151]


Illicit arms trading characterized much of the last years of the Angolan war. Each side tried to gain the upper hand by buying arms abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia. A Russian freighter delivered 500 tons of Ukrainian 7.62 mm ammunition to Simportex, a division of the Angolan government, with the help of a shipping agent in London on September 21, 2000. The ship's captain declared his cargo "fragile" to minimize inspection.[152] The next day, the MPLA began attacking UNITA, winning victories in several battles from September 22–25. The government gained control over military bases and diamond mines in Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul, hurting Savimbi's ability to pay his troops.[39]

Angola agreed to trade oil to Slovakia in return for arms, buying six Sukhoi Su-17 attack aircraft on April 3, 2000. The Spanish government in the Canary Islands prevented a Ukrainian freighter from delivering 636 tons of military equipment to Angola on February 24, 2001. The captain of the ship had inaccurately reported his cargo, falsely claiming the ship carried automobile parts. The Angolan government admitted Simportex had purchased arms from Rosvooruzhenie, the Russian state-owned arms company, and acknowledged the captain might have violated Spanish law by misreporting his cargo, a common practice in arms smuggling to Angola.[152]

UNITA carried out several attacks against civilians in May in a show of strength. UNITA militants attacked Caxito on May 7, killing 100 people and kidnapping 60 children and two adults. UNITA then attacked Baia-do-Cuio, followed by an attack on Golungo Alto, a city 200 kilometres (124 mi) east of Luanda, a few days later. The militants advanced on Golungo Alto at 2:00 pm on May 21, staying until 9:00 pm on May 22 when the Angolan military retook the town. They looted local businesses, taking food and alcoholic beverages before singing drunkenly in the streets. More than 700 villagers trekked 60 kilometres (37 mi) from Golungo Alto to Ndalatando, the provincial capital of Cuanza Norte, without injury. According to an aid official in Ndalatando, the Angolan military prohibited media coverage of the incident, so the details of the attack are unknown. Joffre Justino, UNITA's spokesman in Portugal, said UNITA only attacked Gungo Alto to demonstrate the government's military inferiority and the need to cut a deal.[153] Four days later UNITA released the children to a Catholic mission in Camabatela, a city 200 kilometres (124 mi) from where UNITA kidnapped them. The national organization said the abduction violated their policy towards the treatment of civilians. In a letter to the bishops of Angola, Jonas Savimbi asked the Catholic church to act as an intermediary between UNITA and the government in negotiations.[154] The attacks took their toll on Angola's economy. At the end of May, De Beers, the international diamond mining company, suspended its operations in Angola, ostensibly on the grounds that negotiations with the national government reached an impasse.[155]

Militants of unknown affiliation fired rockets at United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) planes on June 8 near Luena and again near Kuito a few days later. As the first plane, a Boeing 727, approached Luena someone shot a missile at the aircraft, damaging one engine but not critically as the three man crew landed successfully. The plane's altitude, 5,000 metres (16,404 ft), most likely prevented the assailant from identifying his target. As the citizens of Luena had enough food to last them several weeks, the UNFWP temporarily suspended their flights. When the flights began again a few days later, militants shot at a plane flying to Kuito, the first attack targeting UN workers since 1999.[156] The UNWFP again suspended food aid flights throughout the country. While he did not claim responsibility for the attack, UNITA spokesman Justino said the planes carried weapons and soldiers rather than food, making them acceptable targets. UNITA and the Angolan government both said the international community needed to pressure the other side into returning to the negotiating table. Despite the looming humanitarian crisis, neither side guaranteed UNWFP planes safety. Kuito, which had relied on international aid, only had enough food to feed their population of 200,000.[157] The UNFWP had to fly in all aid to Kuito and the rest of the Central Highlands because militants ambushed trucks. Further complicating the situation, potholes in the Kuito airport strip slowed aid deliveries. Overall chaos reduced the amount of available oil to the point at which the UN had to import its jet fuel.[158]

Government troops captured and destroyed UNITA's Epongoloko base in Benguela province and Mufumbo base in Cuanza Sul in October 2001.[159] The Slovak government sold fighter jets to the Angolan government in 2001 in violation of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.[160]

Death of Savimbi
Government troops killed Savimbi on February 22, 2002, in Moxico province.[161] UNITA Vice President António Dembo took over, but died from diabetes 12 days later on March 3, and Secretary-General Paulo Lukamba became UNITA's leader.[162] After Savimbi's death, the government came to a crossroads over how to proceed. After initially indicating the counter-insurgency might continue, the government announced it would halt all military operations on March 13. Military commanders for UNITA and the MPLA met in Cassamba and agreed to a cease-fire. However, Carlos Morgado, UNITA's spokesman in Portugal, said the UNITA's Portugal wing had been under the impression General Kamorteiro, the UNITA general who agreed to the ceasefire, had been captured more than a week earlier. Morgado did say that he had not heard from Angola since Savimbi's death. The military commanders signed a Memorandum of Understanding as an addendum to the Lusaka Protocol in Luena on April 4, with Santos and Lukambo observing.[163][164]

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1404 on April 18, extending the monitoring mechanism of sanctions by six months. Resolutions 1412 and 1432, passed on May 17 and August 15 respectively, suspended the UN travel ban on UNITA officials for 90 days each, finally abolishing the ban through Resolution 1439 on October 18. UNAVEM III, extended an additional two months by Resolution 1439, ended on December 19.[165]

UNITA's new leadership declared the rebel group a political party and officially demobilized its armed forces in August 2002.[166] That same month, the United Nations Security Council replaced the United Nations Office in Angola with the United Nations Mission in Angola, a larger, non-military, political presence.[167]


The civil war spawned a disastrous humanitarian crisis in Angola, internally displacing 4.28 million people – one-third of Angola's total population. The United Nations estimated in 2003 that 80% of Angolans lacked access to basic medical care, 60% lacked access to water, and 30% of Angolan children would die before the age of 5, with an overall national life expectancy of less than 40 years of age.[168]

Humanitarian efforts
The government spent $187 million settling internally displaced persons (IDPs) between April 4, 2002, and 2004, after which the World Bank gave $33 million to continue the settling process. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that fighting in 2002 displaced 98,000 people between January 1 and February 28 alone. The IDPs, unacquainted with their surroundings, frequently and predominantly fell victim to these weapons. IDPs comprised 75% of all landmine victims. Militant forces laid approximately 15 million landmines by 2002.[167] The HALO Trust began demining Angola in 1994, and had destroyed 30,000 landmines by July 2007. 1,100 Angolans and seven foreign workers are employed by the HALO Trust in Angola, with demining operations expected to finish by 2014.[169][170]

Child soldiers
Human Rights Watch estimates UNITA and the government employed more than 6,000 and 3,000 child soldiers respectively, some forcibly impressed, during the war. Additionally, human rights analysts found that between 5,000 and 8,000 underage girls were married to UNITA militants. Some girls were ordered to go and forage for food to provide for the troops – the girls were denied food if they did not bring back enough to satisfy their commander. After victories, UNITA commanders would be rewarded with women, who were often then sexually abused. The Angolan government and UN agencies identified 190 child soldiers in the Angolan army, and had relocated 70 of them by November 2002, but the government continued to knowingly employ other underage soldiers.[171]

In popular culture

In John Milius's 1984 film Red Dawn, Bella, one of the Cuban officers who takes part in a joint Cuban-Soviet invasion of the United States, is said to have fought in the conflicts in Angola, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.[172][173]

Jack Abramoff wrote and co-produced the film Red Scorpion with his brother Robert in 1989. In the film, Dolph Lundgren plays Nikolai, a Soviet agent sent to assassinate an African revolutionary in a fictional country modeled on Angola.[174][175][176] The South African government financed the film through the International Freedom Foundation, a front-group chaired by Abramoff, as part of its efforts to undermine international sympathy for the African National Congress.[177] While working in Hollywood, Abramoff was convicted for fraud and other offenses that he had committed during his concurrent career as a lobbyist.

The war provides a more comedic background story in the South African comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 inasmuch as a Cuban and an Angolan soldier repeatedly try to take each other prisoner, but ultimately part on (more or less) amicable terms.

The 2004 film The Hero, produced by Fernando Vendrell and directed by Zézé Gamboa, depicts the life of average Angolans in the aftermath of the civil war. The film follows the lives of three individuals: Vitório, a war veteran crippled by a landmine who returns to Luanda; Manu, a young boy searching for his soldier father; and Joana, a teacher who mentors the boy and begins a love affair with Vitório. The Hero won the 2005 Sundance World Dramatic Cinema Jury Grand Prize. A joint Angolan, Portuguese, and French production, The Hero was filmed entirely in Angola.[178]

The character of Danny Archer in the 2006 film Blood Diamond, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, discusses on several occasions his service within the SADF during its intervention in the Angolan Civil War. As the film unfolds, it is revealed that he is a white Rhodesian orphan who ran away to South Africa only to be conscripted into the infamous 32 Battalion, with whom he saw combat in Angola around 1987.


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