O "Baton" da Ditadura

O regime do MPLA está assustado. Os seus mentores, assim como o seu sustentáculo intelectual, já começam a agarrar-se à guerra com desespero. Já não conseguem disfarçar que, afinal, eles são os principais instigadores da guerra em Angola. Os principais causadores do efeito Savimbi. As eternas sanguessugas do poder.

Para já, duas figuras se destacam na linha da frente da polícia do pensamento do regime. João Melo e o triste Costa Andrade, vulgo Ndunduma. Eles representam e encarnam todo o surto da maldade política do MPLA.

Sem uma ideologia, obra política, social, económica e cultural a defender, os escribas de serviço da nomenclatura continuam a imaginar que ainda estão nos seus áureos tempos de perseguidores da mudança e da mentalidade independente. Continuam a imaginar que ainda têm todas as cartas na mão e que, de facto, podem jogá-las como bem entenderem. Assim como continuam a julgar que podem, efectivamente, forçar os filhos dos pobres e desgraçados a combater em defesa dos seus complexos e privados interesses.

João Melo, nas suas "Multivisões", considera oportunismo o facto de um grupo de cidadãos tentar criar uma corrente de solidariedade para a paz, de defesa dos interesses da nação e da vontade da maioria. Está tudo claro, esse senhor é o que se pode chamar de belicista cobarde. Quer a guerra, sim. Mas a que é feita entre os pés descalços e por si aplaudida.

Doutro modo, ter-se-ia voluntariado a integrar o exército e a ir para as matas, onde, com todo o patriotismo, poderia, pelo menos, escrever as cartas dos soldados analfabetos que, humanos, e já sem reclamar salários, gostariam apenas de comunicar-se com os seus familiares.

Por outro lado, esse mensageiro da morte em momento algum interveio na sensibilização da elite e do grupo minoritário a que pertence para o envio dos seus filhos para a tropa. Portanto, é mais do que evidente o papel de João Melo. Defender o poder pelo poder, a classe dominante, os seus bens, interesses e o resto que se lixe. Ou melhor, que seja lixado!

Mas, como a perversidade também tem as suas universidades, João Melo consegue, com muita argúcia, transformar um argumento totalmente esfarrapado em verdade de seda. "É preciso destruir a máquina militarista de Savimbi." Esse filho africano, tão inteligente quanto infestado de defeitos, só não é crucificado em praça pública porque não lhe conseguem deitar as mãos.

Porquê? Porque o regime precisa de tapar o seu principal buraco. A sua maior fraqueza de governação. A responsabilidade de José Eduardo dos Santos na destruição do país e no descalabro das instituições do Estado. A responsabilidade do presidente do MPLA e da República na promoção da incompetência, do peculato e da corrupção como valores sociais e políticos.

Nada melhor que elevar Savimbi à categoria de obsessão nacional para esconder José Eduardo dos Santos e tudo o que está por detrás dele. O mais discreto e astuto dos chefes dos regimes autoritários de que há memória em África. O exemplo mais alto do antipatriotismo em Angola. O modelo de liderança antipopular. Antipovo.

A esse respeito, o notável escritor luso-angolano José Eduardo Agualusa é mais prático. "Sim, é preciso julgar Jonas Savimbi. Mas porquê apenas Savimbi? Não podendo julgar todos os criminosos de guerra, que se levem a tribunal pelo menos os chefes: Jonas Savimbi e José Eduardo dos Santos."

Mas, o povo angolano quer, acima de tudo, paz duradoira, justiça social e reconciliação nacional. Porque, de acordo com Martin Luther King, "nós jamais nos libertaremos dum inimigo respondendo ao ódio com ódio. Só nos libertaremos dum inimigo libertando-nos da inimizade. Por sua própria natureza, o ódio destrói e dilacera; por sua própria natureza, o amor cria e constrói. O amor constrói com o seu poder redentor".

Nem José Eduardo dos Santos, nem Savimbi, quanto mais os seus fantoches, têm esse amor. Daí que o povo tenha necessidade de se unir e pacificamente lutar contra a guerra e os seus promotores.

É preciso cerrar fileiras contra o diversionismo de João Melo e Costa Andrade e a grande inimizade que estes nutrem pelo povo. Que o povo pergunte a esses senhores o que ambos já fizeram pelo seu bem-estar. Ambos são membros do Parlamento. Quantas vezes já defenderam os genuínos interesses do povo na Assembleia?

Defender o MPLA não é defender o povo angolano. Há quem o faça fanaticamente, não para defender o povo, mas como única alternativa de buscar o "caminho marítimo para a Índia".

Os mesmos foram colocar-se no pedestal político da intelectualidade angolana. Quantas vezes já usaram o seu verbo para defender os valores da cultura nacional e as ricas tradições dos povos de Angola? Mais perguntas? Fácil é ser intelectual do MPLA, ou escriba em troca de privilégios, mas difícil é ser intelectual a favor da Nação.

O programa do MPLA transformou-se no da UNITA e o da UNITA no do MPLA, pelo menos em tautologia. Ainda que na prática todos escrevem por cima da água.

"O diálogo, por sua vez, ensina-nos a conhecer melhor os demais e a descobrir que também eles têm boas intenções, desejos de paz, de justiça e de amor. Pelo diálogo, degelam-se sentimentos de dureza e hostilidade, sintonizam-se as almas, encontram-se os homens a si mesmos e confiam uns nos outros", ensinam-nos os bispos católicos na sua reflexão pastoral.

A persistência na guerra pretende tão-somente esconder os podres do poder. Apagar da memória colectiva a necessidade de educação, de equilíbrio social, de desenvolvimento e prosperidade para o país. Outrossim, essa confusão permite a gestão do país sem qualquer tipo de contestação. Sobretudo em relação às matanças que minam a suposta "santidade" do regime.

Veja-se, por exemplo, o caso de Thabo Mbeki, o actual Presidente da África do Sul. Já alguém teve coragem de expor as sevícias por que o homem passou na Estrada de Catete, quando lá foi detido em companhia de compatriotas seus, no ano de 1983? Já alguém teve a coragem de assumir que Thabo Mbeki foi forçado a assinar um documento em que tinha de assumir um inexistente atentado contra Oliver Tambo?

Tudo porque em 1983, 70 estudantes universitários sul-africanos que se haviam juntado às causas do ANC foram fuzilados no município do Cacuso, Malanje, por se terem recusado a combater a UNITA. Segundo informações dignas de apreço, os mesmos contavam receber treino aqui para lutar contra o "apartheid" e não para se envolver numa guerrilha civil alheia.

Consta que Thabo Mbeki juntou a sua voz à dos outros membros do ANC que repudiaram o acto. E, cadeia com eles!

Nesse mesmo ano, 26 outros membros do ANC, de um grupo de 40 detidos na Estrada de Catete, foram fuzilados. As sobreviventes Grace e Kate ainda podem contar a história.

Há muitos crimes por revelar e, graças a Deus, Thabo Mbeki sobreviveu para ser Presidente da África do Sul e estender a mão a José Eduardo dos Santos que, entretanto, a recusou.

Haja seriedade!

Rafael Marques
 

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Update as of 12.13.00: Government officials at the Luanda airport on December 12 seized Marques' passport and prevented him from travelling to Johannesburg for a meeting of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. The authorities detained Marques for 40 minutes although he gave them a copy of the December 8 lower court ruling that instructed the National Emigration Police to lift all travel restrictions against him. When they released Marques, officials did not return his passport and said they had orders from superiors not to let Marques leave the country.

Yet Manuel Augusto, vice minister of Social Communication, said on December 6 that Marques was "free to come and go as he pleases." Marques, coordinator for the Angolan Office of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, waged a successful appeal of the travel restrictions against him and two other journalists, Aquiar dos Santos and Antonio Freitas, after Angola's Supreme Court remanded the issue to the lower court earlier this month. The Supreme Court, however, on November 2 did uphold Marques' conviction for "abuse of the press" because he referred to Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos as a "dictator" in a July 1999 article.

It remains unclear whether the incident at the airport was intentional or an administrative error. Marques' detention has prompted international outcry and raised further doubts about the government's recent assurances to ease restrictions on the press and its ability to carry out the National Assembly's November 29 amnesty bill, which could affect Marques and other government critics.

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        Rafael Marques, Autobiography

Personal Data

I was born on August 31 1971 in Luanda Province, The City of Luanda - capital of Angola. Married with no children.

Education

I started my primary education at the age of 6 in Luanda. My primary education was done, at various schools in Luanda, singing "I am going to die for Angola/ with the weapons of war in my hands/ the grenade will be my casket/ and the burial will be in a patrol". All the children had to be revolutionary as well, according to the Marxist rulers.

Right after finishing primary school, in 1985, I was accepted to Makarenko Institute in Luanda, and enrolled in the Journalism Program. Due to overwhelming daily military conscription throughout the country at the time I was forced to attend school sporadically. Thus I failed two years in a row. People were being conscripted according to their height and weight, not age.

As the course was crammed with too many students, and there were no teachers nor facilities for the demand, anyone failing two years, had to remain out of school for two years in order to leave space for the others to attend. Only in 1990 was I able to resume normal studies and completed two of the three years course required for my high school diploma.

Career

In 1988 I applied for my first job at the National Radio of Angola. To work for the National Radio of Angola at the time one had to go through a series of examin, which I did and passed. I worked for a three-month trial period, but was forced to resign because I failed to present a military document. And this prevented me from being employed at the National Radio of Angola. In 1989, I went to the military but failed the medical examinations due to a hernia, and therefore I was dismissed from military service.

The country was going to the polls for the first-ever held democratic elections in Angola, following the 1991 Peace Accord signed by the MPLA government and the UNITA rebels. I dropped out of high school, and applied for a job at the only daily newspaper in the country, Jornal de Angola. Similar to the National Radio of Angola, in order to work for the newspaper one had to go through a series of exams. I did and passed with high marks, and started dividing my time between theater, in the evenings, and journalism, during the day.

In 1992 I had my first assignment as a journalist. I was assigned to cover the meetings between President Dos Santos and the UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi to prevent the country from going back to war, and to ensure the holding of general and democratic elections in the country. Afterwards, I was assigned to cover the first electoral process in Angola's history. Immediately following the general elections civil war broke out. I was assigned to cover the outbreak of the war.

Also, in 1992 I had my first performance, as an actor, abroad. I took part in the Expo-Sevilla in Spain, performing in the play "Nandyala," or "The Tyranny of the Monsters."

Due to my critical reporting in 1992, especially during the elections, and the lack of desire to follow the regime's strict censorship, by the end of the year I was demoted from the political desk to a newly set up Metro Desk (Editorial Luanda). This after receiving a letter from the newspaper director praising me, among others, for my excellent work, especially during the elections.

Luanda is a troubled capital, as it was built only for up to 500,000 people and at the time it was already bearing more than 3.5 million people on top of the same infrastructure. There was plenty to cover and report on, and, by April 1993, I was officially encouraged by the paper's management to join the army. In a letter posted in the newspapers reading board, the management expressed that it would support me with a letter of reference, on my way to the military.

This time, the doctor ignored the hernia. I spent the month of May in a military barracks, where there was no military rule but the plundering of the logistics and anything saleable. Doors, windows, mattress, pillows - you name it. The soldiers sold almost everything. The recruits had to sleep in plain wood. I just went back home. Thanks to a captain who decided to become my protector, the commandos, the marines, the tank division failed to take me to their units. Whenever they came and whenever they called my name I was absent. After a month the captain urged me to leave and go home as he could no longer protect me. He could not understand why the military wanted me in its army when it lacked journalists for its magazine.

For the next six months I was in hideout, though I kept playing theater. By the end of 1993, I started writing again for Jornal de Angola's cultural desk. I believed that addressing cultural affairs would keep me out of trouble and there would be no complications. This time I had to write on cultural issues for the newspaper's weekend supplement and nothing else.

In June 1995 due to the poor working conditions at the newspaper, I planned to organize a strike. While complaining loudly in the newsroom, I challenged a colleague to sign a petition on the grounds that we were cowards and that we would not even dare sign a petition demanding better working conditions. My colleague signed and three hours later most of the newsroom, including the editors had signed the petition. It did not take much to set up a commission and write the list of demands and deliver it to the management.

There were only 10 typewriters for almost 40 journalists and a broken telephone for the newsroom while the director himself had four telephones on his desk. The salaries were insulting and, as a junior top journalist, I was earning the equivalent of 12 dollars a month. I was appointed spokesperson for the movement. Unfortunately we achieved very little in terms of going on strike. However, my involvement in the movement for a strike at the newspaper forced me to leave Angola in January 1996. Threats were made against me by the Jornal de Angola's management, which is controlled by the State Security.

In January 1996 I left for England, and enrolled in an English course and, four months after, I had jumped from beginner to the Cambridge First Certificate. Then, I started publishing articles on the media situation in Angola for local English magazines, and freelancing to support my studies.

By the end of 1996, I returned to Angola, and started stringing for Reuters and freelancing for other international newspapers according to the opportunities arising. I also started to work for international non-government organizations as an interpreter/translator. I also became a regular journalist for the local and polemic by-weekly independent newspaper "Folha 8", which I still contribute to.

For the year 1997 onwards, I became a correspondent for the South African newspaper "Star" and acted as the representative of the US Library of Congress in Angola, until 1999.

In March 1997, I met, in Cape Town, the American philanthropist George Soros. I sat at his table for dinner and he embarrassed me immediately by urging me to speak at the podium about Angola. I do not recall what I said. But, I do recall him telling me, at the end of the meeting that, maybe, he would give me a job. By mid 1997, Reuters offered me a course, on business news, in London, which enabled me to write business stories for sometime for international newspapers.

By the end of 1997 I became the representative in Angola for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, which I still hold. My main goal is to make sure most of the resources allocated to Angola go to education and, thus, more than 2,500 primary education teachers have already benefited from Open Society's training in child centered methodologies plus a permanent follow up of their activities. For the majority of these teachers, the training provided by Open Society was the first training they have ever had on how to teach. Proper education is the key to Angola's future and the end of political ignorance in the country.

In April 1998 I was formally questioned for the first time by the Police of Criminal Investigation, following a complaint by the Army's Chief of Staff about an article I wrote against discriminatory military drafting and conscription, with the title " The Cannon Fodder." Nowadays, only the children of the poor and unprivileged serve in the army. I was accused of undermining the army and inciting civil disobedience. I am still waiting to respond in court to these charges.

The rest of my story caused a major international uproar, which is another story by itself.

Now, wherever there is a journalist in trouble, in Angola, I go there on behalf of Open Society, to provide the needed support.


 

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