No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000
Edited by William Minter,
Gail Hovey, and Charles Cobb Jr.
Published by Africa World Press.
From Cape Town to Uptown
Work a Day for Freedom
Chronological References: Cabo Verde / Cape Verdean American
by Raymond A. Almeida
According to a report in the New Bedford Standard Times, of September 19, 2005 (available on http://www.southcoasttoday.com), two New Bedford men of Cape Verdean ancestry were awarded the Ordem Amilcar Cabral during a visit to New Bedford by the Cape Verdean President Pedro Pires. The two were Salah Matteos, founder of the PAIGC-USA Support Committee and Ray Almeida, founder of Tchuba, the American Committee for Cape Verde. The chronology below, on events from the 1960s to the 1990s is excerpted from a fuller chronology compiled in 1997 by Ray Almeida. For a 1973 interview with Salah Matteos, see http://www.noeasyvictories.org/research/matteos1973.php.
This page added to No Easy Victories August 2009.
Chronological References: Cabo Verde / Cape Verdean American
Raymond A. Almeida
(Last updated on March 14, 1997)
Partial excerpt beginning with 1950s. Full chronology available at
1956 Jazz saxaphonist, Paul Gonsalves, son of Cape Verdean immigrants, (1920-1974), receives major critical accalim for his improvised solo of Duke Ellington's "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" at the Newport Jazz Festival (captured on Columbia Records). Gonsalves was Ellington's principal soloist for over 25 years. (see Hayden 1993 and Barboza 1992 for additional material of Cape Verdean musicians).
1956 Amilcar Cabral founds the African Party for the Independence of Guine and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Cabral, born in Guine of Cape Verdean immigrant parents, was an agricultural engineer, poet, and Pan Africanist. He led the protracted political and armed struggle for the independence of both Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.
1957 Baltazar Lopes DaSilva publishes O Dialecto Crioluo de Cabo Verde, spearheading the movement to legitimize and standardize the Kriolu language.
April 3, 1959 Portuguese troops open fire on striking workers at the Pijiguiti Docks in the Port of Bissau, Guinea killing over 50 people. PAIGC initiates the 13 year armed struggle for independence.
1959-1960 Drought. No mortality recorded. Adequate measures taken by the government to guarantee minimal food requirements.
April 1961 At a meeting in Casablanca, leaders of the anti- colonialist movements in all of the Portuguese African colonies act to create the Conference of Nationalists of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP). The organization enhances dialogue and strategic planning among the African anti-colonialist movements.
1960s Revolutionary poetry movement builds opposition to colonialism. Poets Ovidio Martins, Kaoberdiano Dambara, Corsino Fortes, Onesimo Silveira, Abilo Duarte and many others used their poetry to raise the popular consciousness and public debate about conditions under colonialism and the need for change.
Mid-1960s. Charles Fortes leads a movement to organize a Black Coalition in the State of Rhode Island and forms the Providence Corporation. The group's primary focus was to pressure for entry of minorities into the building trades, increase minority enrollment in area colleges and build solidarity across different segments of the community. Many other Cape Verdean civic action groups would look to the example of Fortes' leadership.
1964 The schooner Ernestina arrives in New Bedford on its last commercial voyage to America.
1967 Belgian inventor and industrialist Georges Vynckier built a small guest house on the beach at Santa Martia, Sal. With investment incentives from government authorities and the assurances of South African Airways to lodge its crews, Vynckier began to build Hotel Morabeza. Throughout the period of sanctions against the apartheid government of South Africa, SAA planes would make refueling stops in Sal. At its peak there were almost 40 SAA flights per week in and out of Ilha do Sal. Revenues from these airport services, fuel sales, and hotel fees were a major source of revenue for the country. (In the 1970s, many of the secret talks which led to normalization of relations between South Africa and Angola would be hosted by Cape Verde).
1968 Drought in all of the Islands.
1969 Manuel T. Neves begins publishing a tabloid, the Cape Verdean News, Lynn, Massachusetts.
1969 The Rev. Martin Gomes, a popular New Bedford athlete whose grandparents were immigrants from Sao Nicolau, is the first Cape Verdean American ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.
1970 Riots erupt in New Bedford's West End, a predominantly African American neighborhood, immediately following an unprovoked drive-by shooting of a Cape Verdean American youth by whites. Cape Verdean and African American community leaders and youth broaden political alliances to respond to local crisis. Joaquim A. "Jack" Custodio takes to the radio airwaves and begins a 25 years career as a "talk show" host and critic of government desegregation and human rights efforts. Manuel Costa, Sr., becomes first Cape Verdean to run for city wide office in New Bedford.
1971 Transitional Bilingual Education Act passed by the Massachusetts State Legislature. In 1975, Cape Verdean parents and teachers of immigrant children in the Boston Public Schools organized to petition the Massachusetts House of Representatives to create a Cape Verdean Kriolu language bilingual education program. The Commissioner of Education officially recognizes Cape Verdean Kriolu as a "living language in Massachusetts.
1971 Internationally acclaimed rhythm and blues group of five Cape Verdean American brothers change their stage name from the "Turnpikes" to their family name, "Tavares". In the course of their career they produced 13 hit records and have sold over five million recordings around the world.
1972-1976 Mary Santos Barros, daughter of Sao Nicolau immigrants, serves as a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education. In 1989 Barros, a steadfast community advocate, is elected to a seat on the New Beford City Council.
1972 Salah Matteos, a Cape Verdean American, travels to Guinea Conakry and meets with PAIGC leadership. Upon his return to America, Matteos established the PAIGC-USA Support Committee and begins organizing in Southern New England communities. In the Fall of 1972 he conducts a regional conference in support of PAIGC in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1973 Judge James J. Bento (1898-1980) retires from the bench of the 4th District Court in Plymouth County (Massachusetts.) Bento was active in Cape Verdean community affairs in the Cape Cod and New Bedford area throughout his life.
January 20, 1973 Amilcar Cabral is assassinated in his Guinea- Conakry headquarters by agents of the colonial government. ("The criticism by opponents of the PAIGC was that it was dominated by Cape Verdeans. The effort to divide Cape Verdeans from Guineans was also an element in the plot to assassinate Amilcar Cabral...".) At secret meetings in New York City, New Bedford, Massachusetts and Providence, RI, in 1972 and 1973, PAIGC officials were engaged in building their political support and conducting informational programs. The Cape Verdean diaspora community and individual families were deeply divided at this time over the issue of Cape Verdean identity and support for or opposition to the PAIGC. (see Lobban, Richard in Cape Verde: Crioulo colony to Independent Nation, 1995, notes p. 11-12)
September 24, 1973 PAIGC declares the independence of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. Luis Cabral, brother of the slain Amilcar, is the country's first president.
February 1974 Cape Verdean-American Federation convention in Providence, RI. This landmark meeting drew over 800 representatives from Cape Verdean American communities throughout USA. At the center of conference deliberations were the questions about the political future of the Islands and the cultural identity of Cape Verdeans within American society.
April 25, 1974 Portuguese armed forces overthrow the fascist dictatorship in Lisbon.
1975 (and 1978) adequate rainfall guarantees the harvest in the Islands.
1975 Judge George N. Leighton (Leitao), son of Cape Verdean immigrants, was nominated by President Gerald Ford to serve as U.S. Distict Courct Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. Leighton serves on the Federal bench until his retirement in 1987. He was listed by Ebony Magazine as one of the "most influential Black men in America".
January 1975 Raymond A. Almeida, a Cape Verdean American from New Bedford, incorporates Tchuba, the American Committee for Cape Verde, Inc., in Boston. For three years the organization published the Tchuba Newsletter and lobbied state and federal officials to provide assistance to the new Republic of Cape Verde. The organization also worked in support of the Cape Verdean Institute of Solidarity in Praia.
February 22-23, 1975 Attorneys Aguinaldo Veiga, Roy Teixeira (Sr. & Jr.) and Antonio DeJ. Cardoso convene the Juridical Congress of World Cape Verdean Communities at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, and declare independence in exile. These political forces gathered in a desperate attempt to prevent approaching transfer of power by Portugal to the PAIGC. Outside of the Sheraton, pro-independence forces from throughout New England rallied in a demonstration organized by the PAIGC-USA Support Committee. Political divisions within the Cape Verdean- American community were exacerbated by this event. The UCID political party developed out of this Congress.
June 25, 1975 Mocambique assumes its independence under FRELIMO. Samora Machal is the nation's first president.
July 5, 1975. Independence of the Republic of Cape Verde is proclaimed in Praia. Aristides Maria Pereira is elected the nation's first president. Pereira, born in Boavista, worked as a telecommunications administrator in Guinea and a founding member of the Party. He was the Secretary General of the PAIGC after the assassination of Cabral. Pedro Verona Pires, born in Fogo (1934) and a commandant of the armed forces in Guinea, was elected prime minister. The United States joined many governments in according diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Cape Verde on the day of its independence.
A delegation of six Cape Verdean Americans from Tchuba, the American Committee for Cape Verde, Inc. (Boston) attend the independence ceremonies in Praia.
Cape Verde assumes its independence with less than three months essential supplies of food and medicine and a very weak private sector. Unemployment and popular expectations are equally as high. In a very good year Cape Verde can expect to produce only about 20% of the food it requires. The role of immigrant remittances in the national economy takes on a greater importance. By the 1980s almost 25% of the Gross National Product of Cape Verde is derived from immigrant remittances.
Cape Verde sends its first Ambassador to the USA. In 1977, a General Consulate is opened in Boston.
1975 (November 11) Angola assumes its independence under the government of the MPLA. Dr. Agustinho Neto is the nation's first president. Many years earlier Neto, a Medical doctor, was held as a political prisoner in Cape Verde by the Portuguese secret police. Many rural Cape Verdeans in Santo Antao and elsewhere have fond memories of Doctor Neto. Neto died in 1979.
1976 President Aristides Pereira of Cape Verde presents the vessel Ernestina to the "people of the United States" on the occasion of the bicentennial of American independence. Built in Essex, Massachusetts in 1894, the restored Ernestina is today berthed in the Port of New Bedford.
In 1976 the schooner Ernestina sailed from Mindelo enroute to Providence. Less than a day out of Cape Verde, the vessel was dismasted and forced to return to Sao Vicente. The historic voyage of re-patriation would have to wait for several years.
1976 Smithsonian Institution invites the Cape Verdean Folkloric Group from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to participate in the African Diaspora program of the Festival of American Folklife on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
1978 Mindelo, Sao Vicente. First conference of International Cape Verdean Communities. PAIGC-USA Support Committee and Tchuba, American Committee for Cape Verde, Inc. were invited to form delegations and participate in the conference. Cape Verdean associations from over 15 nations are represented at the Conference.
1978 Prime Minister Pedro Pires makes his first official visit to New England Cape Verdean communities in Boston, New Bedford and Providence.
1978 Extension School of Harvard University offers a course in Cape Verdean Kriolu.
1978 Cape Verdean immigrant, Alcides Vicente, begins the first regular radio broadcast in the United States in the Cape Verdean language. The program services Rhode Island. A few years later, Romana Ramos Silva joins Vicente to continue the program to the present day. There are Cape Verdean radio and TV programs throughout the southeastern New England region.
1979 Mindelo, Sao Vicente. Colloquium on Crioulo. Under the direction of Manuel Veiga, Dulce Almada Duarte and other Cape Verdean scholar-activists present the first draft of a proposed standardized orthography.
November 1980 Nino Vieira leads a coup d'etat in Guinea-Bissau and overthrows President Luis Cabral. Cabral receives safe passage to Cape Verde.
The schooner Ernestina sails from Sao Vicente to Newport RI and onto Providence and New Bedford. The formal repatriation process for the vessel moves forward. Today the vessel is the centerpiece of the historic Port of New Bedford.
Jan/Feb 1981 Following the split within the PAIGC in Guinea- Bissau, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) is created in Praia.
1983 First visit of President Aristides Perreira to New England Cape Verdean communities in Boston, New Bedford and Providence. Honorary Doctorate degrees were conferred at Rhode Island College (Providence, RI) and Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT).
1984 (July) Praia. At the invitation of President Pereira, a group of high school graduates and faculty from the Cape Verdean Bilingual Program of Madison Park High School (Roxbury, MA), visit Cape Verde. The visit is organized by Manuel DaLuz Goncalves, Cape Verdean teacher and long time bilingual education activist.
1986 (October 19) Samora Machel, President of Mozambique, is killed when his plane explodes under suspicious circumstances.
1987 In the 1980s Cape Verde "attracted the highest per capita international aid of any West African country.... In 1987, the country received $86 million in aid - equivalent to half of the gross national product, or $246 in aid for each islander. (NY Times Mar. 2, 1989: A15.)
1989 Edward Andrade, a Cape Verdean American, and Joao Rodrigues Pires, a Cape Verdean resident in Praia, establish Cabovideo, a joint business venture producing weekly television programming in the USA and Cape Verde.
1989 Praia. Conference on Literacy and Crioulo. Continued scholarly elaboration of a new orthography for Crioulo and its use in adult literacy.
1990 Prime Minister Pedro Pires formally initiates the political opening or "Abertura", a deliberate strayegy to open up the political process for eventual multi-party elections in Cape Verde.
1990 The World Bank reported that of the 344,350 population in Cape Verde, 45% were under 14 years old and less than 6% were over 65 years old. The infant mortaliy rate of 1,000 live births was 55. Life expectancy at birth was 65 years.
Jan. 13, 1991 First multi-party elections in Cape Verde. Carlos Wahnon Veiga (MpD - Movement for Democracy) elected Prime Minister.
February 17, 1991 Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, former President of the Cape Verdean Supreme Court, elected President of the Republic.
1993 (November) U.S. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts makes the first ever official visit by a Member of the U.S. Congress to Cape Verde. Frank's congressional district includes the New Bedford-Wareham area which is home to the largest Cape Verdean American community.
As a result of talks initiated during this visit, a group of private New Bedford commercial fishing industry representatives begin a dialogue with the Cape Verdean government to establish a joint fishing venture in West African waters. In spite of this strong occupational tradition, Cape Verdeans have not been a part of the fishing industry in New Bedford or elsewhere in the USA.
1994 Cesaria Evora, dubbed the "Barefoot Diva" by French music fans wins a prize for selling over 150,000 CDs in France. Her triumph signals the arrival of Cape Verde on the "World Music" scene. (see 1994 World Music (The Rough Guide, pp. 274-281.) In September-October 1995 after signing a contract with Atlantic Records, Cesaria made her first professional concert tour of the USA and Canada.
1995 Eruption of Pico volcano on the Island of Fogo. (April 2-3).
1995 President Mascarenhas of Cape Verde opens the 1995 Festival of American Folklife at the Smithsonian Institution. The Cape Verdean Connection program brings together over 100 musicians and grassroots tradition bearers from Cape Verde and the Cape Verdean-American community. The Festival draws over one million visitors to the National Mall and provides Cape Verdeans with the highest level of visibility they have ever had in the United States.
1995 Cholera epidemic in Cabo Verde. Over 10,000 cases reported. Over 210 deaths attributed to the epidemic by September 1995. Cape Verdean doctors petition their Government to take more aggressive action to fight the epidemic.
1995 (October) Cape Verdean President Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro makes his first official visit to New England Cape Verdean communities. Mascarenhas was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Rhode Island.
1995 (December 17) National elections in Cape Verde. The ruling party MpD (Movement for Democracy) retains power in Cape Verde.
1996 For the first time Cape Verde sends a team to compete in the Olympic Games (Atlanta, Ga).
1996 Cape Verdean Americans successfully organized a grassroots campaign to urge the U.S. government to extend food assistance to Cape Verde for three years beyond the scheduled termination of the program by USAID. As a direct result of these efforts, the U.S. committed an additional $5 million dollars in food aid. In the best of years Cape Verde is seldom able to feed more than 20% of its population from its own agricultural production.
1997 (January 27) Antonio Laurenco Lopes of Juncalinho, Sao Nicolau celebrated his 100th birthday at Our Lady of Assumption Church in New Bedford. Tony Lopes served aboard the whaling schooners William Graber and Claudia. During the 19th and early 20th century many Cape Verdeans made their way to a new life in America as crewmen on the Yankee whalers.
This page is part of the No Easy Victories website.