The island of São Vicente, Cape Verde, hit the streets of Mindelo today on a massive scale. Thousands of people, on this July 5th, which commemorates 44 years of Cape Verde’s independence from Portugal, showed up to express their discontentment of Cape Verde’s federal government’s centralized political policies.
The people of São Vicente hit the streets of their island’s capital, Mindelo, to challenge the overwhelmingly centralist government, centralized in Cape Verde’s capital, Praia.”
Through out this protest the people from São Vicente chanted slogans such as “Down with centralism,” “Together we will never over come us” and “São Vicente wants out of isolation.”
These chants were ringing through the streets of Mindelo from 10:00 am until roughly 12:30 pm when the protesters dawned upon the periphery of the Mayor’s Office which was fortified with police force.
On the steps of the public square, Praça Dom Luís, interventions were given by citizens of São Vicente and by the president of the civic movement SOKOLS 2017, Salvador Mascarenhas, which organized this protest.
In his intervention, Salvador Mascarenhas, declared the urgent need for São Vicente to receive autonomy so that it can have a functioning local government that fights for São Vicente and not for the Mayor’s political party, which is the governing party of Cape Verde.
Salvador Mascarenhas also made it clear that SOKOLS 2017 is not a political group, but rather a civic group that is fighting for the best interests of Cape Verde by holding political officials accountable for their policies of isolating the island of Cape Verde, São Vicente.
Salvador also stressed that this movement not only emphasizes the need for autonomy just for São Vicente, but for all of the 9 inhabited islands of Cape Verde.
He states that only then can every island truly manifest its full potential because at the current state only the capital of Cape Verde, Praia, is benefiting from the federal governments politics of centralizing Cape Verde.
Zandir Santos was also present at this massive protest and he states, “It’s not that we’re against Praia. It’s that we’re in favor of São Vicente. We’re in favor of all of the islands of Cape Verde and not just the capital city of Cape Verde, Praia.”
Zandir goes on to say, “Our battle for autonomy in São Vicente will benefit the whole of the island of Santiago, and not just the capital city of Santiago, Praia. At the moment if you go to the island of Santiago, the massive development that is happening in Santiago is isolated to Praia. The poverty on the periphery and outside of Praia in the island of Santiago is massive.”
He continues, “The politics of centralization practiced by politicians in Cape Verde is a political game. What they aim to do is appease the residents of Praia to win their vote in elections. Because ultimately, because of Praia’s dominating population, half of Cape Verde’s populations lives in the island of Santiago and more than that half live in Praia. Politicians bet on winning Praia to win the elections. It’s an extremely dirty political game and the other 8 inhabited islands and the cities outside of Praia Santiago suffer excruciatingly because of it.” Zandir assures, “This must change! Autonomy now!”
In the book, No Fist Is Big Enough to Hide the Sky: The Liberation of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Basil Davidson, one of the most remarkable Africanist historians, shows the African independence movement of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau triumphing against overwhelming odds to gain their independence from Portugal. The book provides one of the earliest accounts of the assassination of the PAIGC’s founder, Amilcar Cabral, and documents the movement’s remarkable success in recovering from the death of its leader and in eventually attaining independence.
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