Cape Verde

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Overview
Occupying an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, Cape Verde is comprised of several islands off the west coast of Africa. Although originally settled by the Portuguese, Cape Verde found prosperity and eventually independence as a key part of the mid-Atlantic slave trade, and then as a perfectly positioned part of the traditional shipping lanes bound for the west. Cape Verde became independent from Portuguese rule in 1975 and quickly formed positive trade relations with the United States. The country has struggled with certain human rights problems, including police abuse, violence against women and child labor. Cape Verde recently signed a compact with the US-government funded Millennium Challenge Corporation to receive an aid package worth approximately $110 million to address economic expansion, infrastructure, tourism and community colleges. There is a large Cape Verdean population in the United States, numbering more than half as many who live in Cape Verde itself.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Cape Verde is a tropical archipelago of ten main islands and several islets lying about 350 miles west of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape Verde islands are slightly larger than Rhode Island.

 
Population: 500,000
 
Religion: Catholicism 85.2%, Protestantism 9.8%, Islam 2.8%, Baha'i 0.2%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Mixed European-African ancestry.
 
Languages: Kabuverdianu (Creole) 94.7%, Portuguese 3.7%
 

 

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History
Cape Verde’s history began in 1462, when Portuguese settlers founded Ribeira Grande (now known as Cidade Velha), which became the first European settlement city in the tropics. Over the next few centuries, the settlement became wealthy because of the slave trade, which operated across the Atlantic Ocean. Some Africans even stayed on the island and worked as slaves on the latifundas, or plantations, on the islands. Although pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements, including Francis Drake, who sacked Riberia Grande in 1585, they were able to continue in this business through 1712, when a French attack left the city unable to compete with growing Praia. Eventually, in 1770, Praia became the capital of Cape Verde.
 
As the slave trade declined, Cape Verde sank into poverty, until the islands’ location alongside mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made the country a perfect place to re-supply ships. Mindelo, the country’s major harbor on São Vicente, became a vibrant commercial center during the 19th Century. However, this period of prosperity didn’t last long. Drought and famine were compounded by poor administration and corruption in the government, with terrible results. Prosperity declined again after World War I, and Cape Verde experienced several devastating famines. Only after World War II did real prosperity return.
 
In 1951, Portugal changed Cape Verde’s status, from colony to overseas province. This was designed to stop a growing nationalist movement that wanted Cape Verde to secede from the Portuguese. In 1956, Amilcar Cabral, a Cape Verdean, and a group of Cape Verdeans and Guinea-Bissauans organized (in Guinea-Bissau) the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The group demanded improvements in the economic, social and political conditions of the islands and Portuguese Guinea, and in time it formed the basis for the nation’s independence movement.
 
In 1961, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal. This soon grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 Soviet bloc-supported PAIGC soldiers against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops. By 1972, the PAIGC controlled much of the country. Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence a year later. 
 
After the April 1974 revolution, the PAIGC became an active political movement in Cape Verde. In December of that year, the PAIGC and Portugal signed an agreement to share governmental responsibilities. On June 30, 1975, Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly, which accepted independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.
 
The country experienced a mostly peaceful existence for five years until 1980, when relations between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau became strained. Cape Verdeans formed the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). This party established a one-party system in the country and ruled the government until 1990.
 
In February 1990, the PAICV called an emergency congress to end one-party rule. Several groups formed the Movement for Democracy (MPD) in April 1990 and together they campaigned for the right to contest the presidential election scheduled for December 1990.
 
The one-party state was abolished on September 28, 1990, and the first multi-party elections were held in January 1991. The MPD won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, and MPD presidential candidate António Mascarenhas Monteiro defeated the PAICV’s candidate with 73.5% of the votes. Elections held in December 1995 increased the MPD majority in the National Assembly. The party won 50 of the National Assembly’s 72 seats, and a February 1996 presidential election returned President Monteiro to office.
 
Legislative elections in January 2001 returned power to the PAICV, with the PAICV holding 40 of the National Assembly seats, MPD 30, and Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD) and Party for Labor and Solidarity (PTS) one each. In February 2001, the PAICV-supported presidential candidate Pedro Pires defeated former MPD leader Carlos Veiga by 13 votes. He defeated Veiga again in 2006, this time by 3,342 votes, and the PAICV increased its legislative margin over the the MPD to 41-29.
 
In June 2006, Cape Verde hosted NATO’s first live military exercise in Africa.
 
Cape Verde – History and Culture (Cape Verdean World Wide Web Site)
Culture of Cape Verde (EveryCulture.com)
 

 

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Cape Verde's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Cape Verde

In the early 18th Century, whaling ships from the United States recruited crews from Brava and Fogo, both in Cape Verde. Whales were abundant in the waters off the islands, and ties between Cape Verde and the American colonies have been documented as early as the 1740s. American ships were also in the area to trade for salt or to buy slaves. 

 
The US established its first consulate in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1818 in Cape Verde, and this representation continued throughout the 19th Century. On Cape Verde’s Independence Day, the United States recognized Cape Verde and subsequently supported its admission to the United Nations. In 1983, Cape Verde sent one of its first ambassadors to the US.
 
Good relations between the US and Cape Verde have continued, with the US supplying emergency humanitarian aid and economic assistance following Cape Verde’s independence, as well as after various natural disasters, including a hurricane that struck the island of Brava in 1982, and a severe volcanic eruption on Fogo in 1995. Cape Verde also receives trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and has signed an Open Skies agreement to facilitate air travel safety and expansion.
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Cape Verde

It is estimated that there are 265,000 Cape Verdeans living in the US, mainly concentrated in New England and throughout parts of the Midwest.

 
Cape Verde’s prime minister came to the US in 2002 and visited many of the Cape Verdean communities in New England. President Pedro Pires visited the US in April of 2005. In July of that same year, Cape Verde signed a compact with the US government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The country received an assistance package worth over $110 million to address rural economic expansion, development of the country’s infrastructure, and facilities for tourism and a community college system. In 2007, Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves visited the US.
 
In 2006, 5,949 Americans visited Cape Verde, 183% more than the 2,102 who visited in 2005. During this same period of time, 1,562 Cape Verde nationals visited the US. The number of tourists has remained steady for the last few years.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

American imports from 2006 to 2007 from Cape Verde included farming materials which increased suddenly from $0 to $236,000, computer accessories which increased drastically from $19,000 to $557,000 and “other” (clocks, port typewriters, other household goods) which increased from $19,000 to $732,000.

 
Other imports showing large changes include “finished metal shapes and advanced manufacturing, except steel,” which decreased from $76,000 to $7,000, generators, transformers and accessories, which decreased from $428,000 to $0, “electric apparatus and parts, n.e.c.,” which decreased sharply from $83,000 to just $2,000 (at its highest, in 2003, this stood at $668,000), toys, shooting and sporting goods, and bicycles, which increased from $1,000 to $174,000 and apparel and household goods, which dropped from $1.9 million in 2003 all the way down to $0 in 2007.
 
US exports from 2006 to 2007 to Cape Verde include wheat, which declined from $711,000 to $0, corn, which increased from $1.1 million to $1.3 million, metalworking machine tools, which dropped from $2.2 million to $0, and telecommunications equipment, which dropped from $1.3 million to just $77,000.
 
Some of the biggest losses came in civilian aircraft, which dropped from $45 million in 2004 to $0 in 2007, passenger cars, which dropped from $1.1 million in 2006 to $85,000 in 2007, trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles, which decreased from $1.7 million in 2006 to $0 in 2007, and “minimum value shipments,” which dropped from $1.7 million in 2006 to $864,000 in 2007.
 
In 2005, Cape Verde signed a $110 million, five-year economic development deal with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The deal is expected to increase the nation’s annual revenues by $10 million upon completion. Of the $5.3 million in US aid to Cape Verde in 2006, $4.2 million went to economic growth (i.e. agricultural productivity), $1 million went to investing in people, and $100,000 went to peace and security.
 
The FY 2009 US aid budget includes a slight increase in counter-narcotics and law enforcement support.
 
WTO Profile on Cape Verde (World Trade Organization)
 
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Controversies
Is the Development of Tourism Really Helping Cape Verde?
As tourism continues to boom in Cape Verde, growing by an average of 22% each year, the country is poised to welcome one million tourists by 2015. This sector is expected to contribute up to 30% (up from 10%) of the nation’s GDP, thanks to a growing number of Americans and other tourists visiting the island nation. To accommodate this expanding industry, the government established the Zones of Integrated Tourism Development (ZTD), which raised controversy when government officials indicated that it was necessary to engage in a public debate about tourism and its potential dangers to the country’s development. Only one zone has been created since 2001, but more are planned for the future. These zones are set aside from the land the government sells for development, which is equivalent to about 1% of the country’s land mass. Two developments, planned for Boa Vista and Sal, would occupy 15-17% of the islands’ surface. Development has also brought with it the dangers of prsotituion and sex tourism, including the spread of HIV/AIDS.
 
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, Cape Verde’s government generally respects the human rights of its citizens. However, a few problems have been reported, mainly police abuse of detainees, poor prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, excessive trial delays, violence and discrimination against women, child abuse, and child labor.

 
Prison conditions were poor, and facilities were severely overcrowded. Sanitation and medical assistance were poor. Psychological problems among prisoners were common.
 
Lengthy pretrial detention was a serious problem; detainees often remained in jail without charge for more than a year. The judicial system was overburdened and understaffed, and the dropping of charges without a court judgment was a frequent means for terminating criminal cases.
 
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected this provision in practice; however, the judiciary was understaffed and inefficient.
 
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, language, or social status. But the government has not enforced these provisions effectively, and violence and discrimination against women and abuse of children were serious problems.
 
Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense, but the government generally did not effectively enforce the law. The penalties for rape were eight to 16 years imprisonment. Penalties are higher if the victim is under the age of 16, or if the offender takes advantage of job responsibilities in prisons, hospitals, schools, or rehabilitation centers, or with persons under his or her responsibility. Domestic violence against women, including wife beating, was widespread. The government and civil society encouraged women to report criminal offenses such as spousal abuse, which is punishable by two to 13 years imprisonment. But longstanding social and cultural values inhibited victims from doing so.
 
Child abuse and sexual violence against children were serious problems, regularly reported by the media. Child labor was also a problem. Government efforts to address these problems were inadequate.
 
The law prohibits trafficking in minors, but not adults, and there were reports that persons were trafficked to and from the country. Police reports alleged that the country was a transit point for trafficking in persons from West African countries to the Canary Islands and to Europe.
 
When Cape Verde received a mixed State Department human rights report in 2004, Prime Minister José Maria Neves downplayed it, saying the government did not “feel particularly affected by the report’s negative aspects.”
 
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
Melissa F. Wells
Appointment: Sep 16, 1976
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 23, 1977
 
Edward Marks
Appointment: Sep 15, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 11, 1980
Note: Also accredited to Guinea-Bissau; resident at Bissau.
Note: During Marks' tenure as non-resident Ambassador, Embassy Praia was established Jan 28, 1978 with Howard McGowan as Charge d'affaires ad interim.
 
Peter J. de Vos
Appointment: Sep 5, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left Bissau, Mar 30, 1983
 
John Melvin Yates
Appointment: Mar 18, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 26, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 24, 1986
 
Vernon Dubois Penner, Jr.
Appointment: Jun 16, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 15, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 21, 1989
 
Francis Terry McNamara
Appointment: Nov 21, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 31, 1992
 
Joseph Monroe Segars
Appointment: Jul 14, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 24, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 17, 1996
 
Lawrence Neal Benedict
Appointment: Jun 6, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 30, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 1999
 
Michael D. Metelits
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 15, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 24, 2002
 
Donald C. Johnson
Appointment: Oct 3, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 21, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post, July 27, 2005
 
Roger Dwayne Pierce
Appointment: Jun 21, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 27, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
 
 

 

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Cape Verde's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Rocha, José Luis

 

José Luis Fialho Rocha, a longtime member of his country’s foreign ministry, took over as Cabo Verde’s ambassador to the United States on May 12, 2014. Cabo Verde, also known as Cape Verde, is located off the coast of West Africa and has a population 0f about 512,000. More than 100,000 Americans are of Cape Verdean ancestry or were born in Cabo Verde.

 

Rocha was born August 6, 1956, on the island of San Vicente in Cabo Verde. He finished secondary school in 1974 and went to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations in 1981.

 

After college, Rocha went into government service, first as a staffer in the Ministry of Planning and Cooperation. In 1985, he was named head of the Division of Bilateral Cooperation. He took time out from that job to get some management training at the University of Pittsburgh in 1986, but otherwise stayed in the post until 1988. He was then named director of Services for Bilateral Cooperation in Cabo Verde’s Center for Promotion of Exports and Investment. Rocha was moved up in 1991 to become director general of International Cooperation and deputy national authorizing officer of the European Development Fund.

 

Rocha’s first ambassadorial post came in 1995, when he returned to Belgium as Cabo Verde’s representative to that country and to Luxembourg. He was also the envoy to the European Union and to the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States. In 1999, he was made ambassador to Organization Internationale de la Francophonie in Brussels.

 

He returned home in 2007 as director general of Foreign Policy for his government. In 2010, Rocha was made director of National Political Affairs and Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He became Secretary of State, the number two job in the ministry, in 2011. While in that post, he negotiated deals with China for that country to build infrastructure projects in the islands.

 

As ambassador to the United States, one of Rocha’s jobs is to look out for the interests of the Cabo Verdean diaspora in this country, many of whom live in the Boston area.

 

Rocha and his wife, Yamile, an anesthesiologist, have two sons and a daughter. He speaks Cabo Verdean, Portuguese, French, English and Spanish.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

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Cape Verde's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
Cape Verde Embassy in the United States
3415 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 965-6820
Fax: (202) 965-1207
 
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U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde

Heflin, Donald
ambassador-image

 

On July 29, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nomination for career Foreign Service officer Donald L. Heflin to be the next U.S. ambassador to Cabo Verde, also known as the Cape Verde Islands. It would be the first ambassadorial post for Heflin.

 

The son of Walter and Alice Heflin, Heflin was born in Leesburg, Virginia, but grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, graduating from Butler High School in 1976. He attended Birmingham-Southern College, earning B.A. degrees in political science and religion in 1980. He went on to law school at the University of Alabama, graduating with a J.D. in 1983.

 

After finishing school, he worked as a lawyer in Huntsville and Mobile, Alabama, until 1987, when he passed the Foreign Service exam and joined the State Department. His first assignment was as vice consul in Lima, Peru, serving there until 1990 when he took a similar post in Madras, India.

 

In 1992, Heflin was named consul and deputy principal officer in Hermosillo, Mexico. His first African posting came in 1993 as consul in Lusaka, Zambia. He returned to the United States in 1995 as Rwanda/Burundi desk officer and in 1997 was coordination division officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

 

Heflin was sent overseas again in 1999, this time as consul in London. He returned to Washington in 2004 as deputy director in the Office of African Regional and Security Affairs and in 2006 was deputy director in the Office of West African Affairs and served as acting director for a time.

 

He returned to Mexico in 2009 as the principal officer and consul general in the border town of Nuevo Laredo. In 2012, Heflin was brought back to Washington as managing director of the Consular Affairs Visa Office, where he served until his nomination to the Cabo Verde post.

 

Heflin has a daughter, Sara, and true to his Alabama roots, is a big fan of the Crimson Tide football team. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

Foreign Service Officer Reaches Deep Into the Heart of Africa (Birmingham Southern College) (pdf page 11)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde

O’Neal, Adrienne
ambassador-image

Ambassador to Cape Verde: Who Is Adrienne O’Neal?

 
On June 24, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Adrienne S. O’Neal to be the United States ambassador to Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking island nation 300 miles off the west coast of Africa. There is a significant Cape Verdean-American population, particularly in New Bedford, Massachusetts. O’Neal received her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on October 5, but she has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate.
 
Born circa 1954, O’Neal grew up in New Orleans with her father, Samuel O’Neal, and her mother, Vernese B. O’Neal, who served more than twenty years as director of admissions at Dillard University. After graduating from Abramson High School in 1972, O’Neal earned a double B.A. in Spanish Language and Business Administration at Spelman College in Atlanta and an M.M.L. in Spanish Language and Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont. She also completed the coursework, but not a thesis, for a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese Literature at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
 
O’Neal, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of minister-counselor, joined the State Department in 1983. Already proficient in Spanish and Portuguese, O’Neal received six months’ training in Italian and was sent on her first overseas mission to Rome, Italy. Other assignments have included service in Argentina; as Director of the Office of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy for Europe and Eurasian Affairs; and a detail as Deputy Press Secretary to the Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House.
 
O’Neal has also served as press attaché and chief of section at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, circa 1995 to 1998; as consul general at the consulate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, circa 1999 to 2003; and as chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the U. S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal, from June 2004 to July 2007. From August 2007 to July 2009, O’Neal was Diplomat in Residence at the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Returning to the State Department in Washington, DC, she served as the Director of the Senior Level Division of Career Development and Assignments in Human Resources from 2009 to 2011.
 
She has one son, Quincy O’Neal.
 
“U.S. Department of State Careers” (by Tom Phillips, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy) (podcast)

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Overview
Occupying an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, Cape Verde is comprised of several islands off the west coast of Africa. Although originally settled by the Portuguese, Cape Verde found prosperity and eventually independence as a key part of the mid-Atlantic slave trade, and then as a perfectly positioned part of the traditional shipping lanes bound for the west. Cape Verde became independent from Portuguese rule in 1975 and quickly formed positive trade relations with the United States. The country has struggled with certain human rights problems, including police abuse, violence against women and child labor. Cape Verde recently signed a compact with the US-government funded Millennium Challenge Corporation to receive an aid package worth approximately $110 million to address economic expansion, infrastructure, tourism and community colleges. There is a large Cape Verdean population in the United States, numbering more than half as many who live in Cape Verde itself.
 
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Cape Verde is a tropical archipelago of ten main islands and several islets lying about 350 miles west of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape Verde islands are slightly larger than Rhode Island.

 
Population: 500,000
 
Religion: Catholicism 85.2%, Protestantism 9.8%, Islam 2.8%, Baha'i 0.2%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Mixed European-African ancestry.
 
Languages: Kabuverdianu (Creole) 94.7%, Portuguese 3.7%
 

 

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History
Cape Verde’s history began in 1462, when Portuguese settlers founded Ribeira Grande (now known as Cidade Velha), which became the first European settlement city in the tropics. Over the next few centuries, the settlement became wealthy because of the slave trade, which operated across the Atlantic Ocean. Some Africans even stayed on the island and worked as slaves on the latifundas, or plantations, on the islands. Although pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements, including Francis Drake, who sacked Riberia Grande in 1585, they were able to continue in this business through 1712, when a French attack left the city unable to compete with growing Praia. Eventually, in 1770, Praia became the capital of Cape Verde.
 
As the slave trade declined, Cape Verde sank into poverty, until the islands’ location alongside mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made the country a perfect place to re-supply ships. Mindelo, the country’s major harbor on São Vicente, became a vibrant commercial center during the 19th Century. However, this period of prosperity didn’t last long. Drought and famine were compounded by poor administration and corruption in the government, with terrible results. Prosperity declined again after World War I, and Cape Verde experienced several devastating famines. Only after World War II did real prosperity return.
 
In 1951, Portugal changed Cape Verde’s status, from colony to overseas province. This was designed to stop a growing nationalist movement that wanted Cape Verde to secede from the Portuguese. In 1956, Amilcar Cabral, a Cape Verdean, and a group of Cape Verdeans and Guinea-Bissauans organized (in Guinea-Bissau) the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The group demanded improvements in the economic, social and political conditions of the islands and Portuguese Guinea, and in time it formed the basis for the nation’s independence movement.
 
In 1961, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal. This soon grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 Soviet bloc-supported PAIGC soldiers against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops. By 1972, the PAIGC controlled much of the country. Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence a year later. 
 
After the April 1974 revolution, the PAIGC became an active political movement in Cape Verde. In December of that year, the PAIGC and Portugal signed an agreement to share governmental responsibilities. On June 30, 1975, Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly, which accepted independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.
 
The country experienced a mostly peaceful existence for five years until 1980, when relations between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau became strained. Cape Verdeans formed the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). This party established a one-party system in the country and ruled the government until 1990.
 
In February 1990, the PAICV called an emergency congress to end one-party rule. Several groups formed the Movement for Democracy (MPD) in April 1990 and together they campaigned for the right to contest the presidential election scheduled for December 1990.
 
The one-party state was abolished on September 28, 1990, and the first multi-party elections were held in January 1991. The MPD won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, and MPD presidential candidate António Mascarenhas Monteiro defeated the PAICV’s candidate with 73.5% of the votes. Elections held in December 1995 increased the MPD majority in the National Assembly. The party won 50 of the National Assembly’s 72 seats, and a February 1996 presidential election returned President Monteiro to office.
 
Legislative elections in January 2001 returned power to the PAICV, with the PAICV holding 40 of the National Assembly seats, MPD 30, and Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD) and Party for Labor and Solidarity (PTS) one each. In February 2001, the PAICV-supported presidential candidate Pedro Pires defeated former MPD leader Carlos Veiga by 13 votes. He defeated Veiga again in 2006, this time by 3,342 votes, and the PAICV increased its legislative margin over the the MPD to 41-29.
 
In June 2006, Cape Verde hosted NATO’s first live military exercise in Africa.
 
Cape Verde – History and Culture (Cape Verdean World Wide Web Site)
Culture of Cape Verde (EveryCulture.com)
 

 

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Cape Verde's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Cape Verde

In the early 18th Century, whaling ships from the United States recruited crews from Brava and Fogo, both in Cape Verde. Whales were abundant in the waters off the islands, and ties between Cape Verde and the American colonies have been documented as early as the 1740s. American ships were also in the area to trade for salt or to buy slaves. 

 
The US established its first consulate in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1818 in Cape Verde, and this representation continued throughout the 19th Century. On Cape Verde’s Independence Day, the United States recognized Cape Verde and subsequently supported its admission to the United Nations. In 1983, Cape Verde sent one of its first ambassadors to the US.
 
Good relations between the US and Cape Verde have continued, with the US supplying emergency humanitarian aid and economic assistance following Cape Verde’s independence, as well as after various natural disasters, including a hurricane that struck the island of Brava in 1982, and a severe volcanic eruption on Fogo in 1995. Cape Verde also receives trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and has signed an Open Skies agreement to facilitate air travel safety and expansion.
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Cape Verde

It is estimated that there are 265,000 Cape Verdeans living in the US, mainly concentrated in New England and throughout parts of the Midwest.

 
Cape Verde’s prime minister came to the US in 2002 and visited many of the Cape Verdean communities in New England. President Pedro Pires visited the US in April of 2005. In July of that same year, Cape Verde signed a compact with the US government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The country received an assistance package worth over $110 million to address rural economic expansion, development of the country’s infrastructure, and facilities for tourism and a community college system. In 2007, Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves visited the US.
 
In 2006, 5,949 Americans visited Cape Verde, 183% more than the 2,102 who visited in 2005. During this same period of time, 1,562 Cape Verde nationals visited the US. The number of tourists has remained steady for the last few years.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

American imports from 2006 to 2007 from Cape Verde included farming materials which increased suddenly from $0 to $236,000, computer accessories which increased drastically from $19,000 to $557,000 and “other” (clocks, port typewriters, other household goods) which increased from $19,000 to $732,000.

 
Other imports showing large changes include “finished metal shapes and advanced manufacturing, except steel,” which decreased from $76,000 to $7,000, generators, transformers and accessories, which decreased from $428,000 to $0, “electric apparatus and parts, n.e.c.,” which decreased sharply from $83,000 to just $2,000 (at its highest, in 2003, this stood at $668,000), toys, shooting and sporting goods, and bicycles, which increased from $1,000 to $174,000 and apparel and household goods, which dropped from $1.9 million in 2003 all the way down to $0 in 2007.
 
US exports from 2006 to 2007 to Cape Verde include wheat, which declined from $711,000 to $0, corn, which increased from $1.1 million to $1.3 million, metalworking machine tools, which dropped from $2.2 million to $0, and telecommunications equipment, which dropped from $1.3 million to just $77,000.
 
Some of the biggest losses came in civilian aircraft, which dropped from $45 million in 2004 to $0 in 2007, passenger cars, which dropped from $1.1 million in 2006 to $85,000 in 2007, trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles, which decreased from $1.7 million in 2006 to $0 in 2007, and “minimum value shipments,” which dropped from $1.7 million in 2006 to $864,000 in 2007.
 
In 2005, Cape Verde signed a $110 million, five-year economic development deal with the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The deal is expected to increase the nation’s annual revenues by $10 million upon completion. Of the $5.3 million in US aid to Cape Verde in 2006, $4.2 million went to economic growth (i.e. agricultural productivity), $1 million went to investing in people, and $100,000 went to peace and security.
 
The FY 2009 US aid budget includes a slight increase in counter-narcotics and law enforcement support.
 
WTO Profile on Cape Verde (World Trade Organization)
 
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Controversies
Is the Development of Tourism Really Helping Cape Verde?
As tourism continues to boom in Cape Verde, growing by an average of 22% each year, the country is poised to welcome one million tourists by 2015. This sector is expected to contribute up to 30% (up from 10%) of the nation’s GDP, thanks to a growing number of Americans and other tourists visiting the island nation. To accommodate this expanding industry, the government established the Zones of Integrated Tourism Development (ZTD), which raised controversy when government officials indicated that it was necessary to engage in a public debate about tourism and its potential dangers to the country’s development. Only one zone has been created since 2001, but more are planned for the future. These zones are set aside from the land the government sells for development, which is equivalent to about 1% of the country’s land mass. Two developments, planned for Boa Vista and Sal, would occupy 15-17% of the islands’ surface. Development has also brought with it the dangers of prsotituion and sex tourism, including the spread of HIV/AIDS.
 
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, Cape Verde’s government generally respects the human rights of its citizens. However, a few problems have been reported, mainly police abuse of detainees, poor prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention, excessive trial delays, violence and discrimination against women, child abuse, and child labor.

 
Prison conditions were poor, and facilities were severely overcrowded. Sanitation and medical assistance were poor. Psychological problems among prisoners were common.
 
Lengthy pretrial detention was a serious problem; detainees often remained in jail without charge for more than a year. The judicial system was overburdened and understaffed, and the dropping of charges without a court judgment was a frequent means for terminating criminal cases.
 
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected this provision in practice; however, the judiciary was understaffed and inefficient.
 
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, language, or social status. But the government has not enforced these provisions effectively, and violence and discrimination against women and abuse of children were serious problems.
 
Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense, but the government generally did not effectively enforce the law. The penalties for rape were eight to 16 years imprisonment. Penalties are higher if the victim is under the age of 16, or if the offender takes advantage of job responsibilities in prisons, hospitals, schools, or rehabilitation centers, or with persons under his or her responsibility. Domestic violence against women, including wife beating, was widespread. The government and civil society encouraged women to report criminal offenses such as spousal abuse, which is punishable by two to 13 years imprisonment. But longstanding social and cultural values inhibited victims from doing so.
 
Child abuse and sexual violence against children were serious problems, regularly reported by the media. Child labor was also a problem. Government efforts to address these problems were inadequate.
 
The law prohibits trafficking in minors, but not adults, and there were reports that persons were trafficked to and from the country. Police reports alleged that the country was a transit point for trafficking in persons from West African countries to the Canary Islands and to Europe.
 
When Cape Verde received a mixed State Department human rights report in 2004, Prime Minister José Maria Neves downplayed it, saying the government did not “feel particularly affected by the report’s negative aspects.”
 
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
Melissa F. Wells
Appointment: Sep 16, 1976
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 18, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 23, 1977
 
Edward Marks
Appointment: Sep 15, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 11, 1980
Note: Also accredited to Guinea-Bissau; resident at Bissau.
Note: During Marks' tenure as non-resident Ambassador, Embassy Praia was established Jan 28, 1978 with Howard McGowan as Charge d'affaires ad interim.
 
Peter J. de Vos
Appointment: Sep 5, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 24, 1980
Termination of Mission: Left Bissau, Mar 30, 1983
 
John Melvin Yates
Appointment: Mar 18, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 26, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 24, 1986
 
Vernon Dubois Penner, Jr.
Appointment: Jun 16, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 15, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 21, 1989
 
Francis Terry McNamara
Appointment: Nov 21, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 23, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 31, 1992
 
Joseph Monroe Segars
Appointment: Jul 14, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 24, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 17, 1996
 
Lawrence Neal Benedict
Appointment: Jun 6, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 30, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 11, 1999
 
Michael D. Metelits
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 15, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 24, 2002
 
Donald C. Johnson
Appointment: Oct 3, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 21, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post, July 27, 2005
 
Roger Dwayne Pierce
Appointment: Jun 21, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 27, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
 
 

 

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Cape Verde's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Rocha, José Luis

 

José Luis Fialho Rocha, a longtime member of his country’s foreign ministry, took over as Cabo Verde’s ambassador to the United States on May 12, 2014. Cabo Verde, also known as Cape Verde, is located off the coast of West Africa and has a population 0f about 512,000. More than 100,000 Americans are of Cape Verdean ancestry or were born in Cabo Verde.

 

Rocha was born August 6, 1956, on the island of San Vicente in Cabo Verde. He finished secondary school in 1974 and went to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations in 1981.

 

After college, Rocha went into government service, first as a staffer in the Ministry of Planning and Cooperation. In 1985, he was named head of the Division of Bilateral Cooperation. He took time out from that job to get some management training at the University of Pittsburgh in 1986, but otherwise stayed in the post until 1988. He was then named director of Services for Bilateral Cooperation in Cabo Verde’s Center for Promotion of Exports and Investment. Rocha was moved up in 1991 to become director general of International Cooperation and deputy national authorizing officer of the European Development Fund.

 

Rocha’s first ambassadorial post came in 1995, when he returned to Belgium as Cabo Verde’s representative to that country and to Luxembourg. He was also the envoy to the European Union and to the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States. In 1999, he was made ambassador to Organization Internationale de la Francophonie in Brussels.

 

He returned home in 2007 as director general of Foreign Policy for his government. In 2010, Rocha was made director of National Political Affairs and Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He became Secretary of State, the number two job in the ministry, in 2011. While in that post, he negotiated deals with China for that country to build infrastructure projects in the islands.

 

As ambassador to the United States, one of Rocha’s jobs is to look out for the interests of the Cabo Verdean diaspora in this country, many of whom live in the Boston area.

 

Rocha and his wife, Yamile, an anesthesiologist, have two sons and a daughter. He speaks Cabo Verdean, Portuguese, French, English and Spanish.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

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Cape Verde's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
Cape Verde Embassy in the United States
3415 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 965-6820
Fax: (202) 965-1207
 
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U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde

Heflin, Donald
ambassador-image

 

On July 29, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nomination for career Foreign Service officer Donald L. Heflin to be the next U.S. ambassador to Cabo Verde, also known as the Cape Verde Islands. It would be the first ambassadorial post for Heflin.

 

The son of Walter and Alice Heflin, Heflin was born in Leesburg, Virginia, but grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, graduating from Butler High School in 1976. He attended Birmingham-Southern College, earning B.A. degrees in political science and religion in 1980. He went on to law school at the University of Alabama, graduating with a J.D. in 1983.

 

After finishing school, he worked as a lawyer in Huntsville and Mobile, Alabama, until 1987, when he passed the Foreign Service exam and joined the State Department. His first assignment was as vice consul in Lima, Peru, serving there until 1990 when he took a similar post in Madras, India.

 

In 1992, Heflin was named consul and deputy principal officer in Hermosillo, Mexico. His first African posting came in 1993 as consul in Lusaka, Zambia. He returned to the United States in 1995 as Rwanda/Burundi desk officer and in 1997 was coordination division officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

 

Heflin was sent overseas again in 1999, this time as consul in London. He returned to Washington in 2004 as deputy director in the Office of African Regional and Security Affairs and in 2006 was deputy director in the Office of West African Affairs and served as acting director for a time.

 

He returned to Mexico in 2009 as the principal officer and consul general in the border town of Nuevo Laredo. In 2012, Heflin was brought back to Washington as managing director of the Consular Affairs Visa Office, where he served until his nomination to the Cabo Verde post.

 

Heflin has a daughter, Sara, and true to his Alabama roots, is a big fan of the Crimson Tide football team. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

Foreign Service Officer Reaches Deep Into the Heart of Africa (Birmingham Southern College) (pdf page 11)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Cape Verde

O’Neal, Adrienne
ambassador-image

Ambassador to Cape Verde: Who Is Adrienne O’Neal?

 
On June 24, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Adrienne S. O’Neal to be the United States ambassador to Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking island nation 300 miles off the west coast of Africa. There is a significant Cape Verdean-American population, particularly in New Bedford, Massachusetts. O’Neal received her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on October 5, but she has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate.
 
Born circa 1954, O’Neal grew up in New Orleans with her father, Samuel O’Neal, and her mother, Vernese B. O’Neal, who served more than twenty years as director of admissions at Dillard University. After graduating from Abramson High School in 1972, O’Neal earned a double B.A. in Spanish Language and Business Administration at Spelman College in Atlanta and an M.M.L. in Spanish Language and Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont. She also completed the coursework, but not a thesis, for a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese Literature at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
 
O’Neal, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of minister-counselor, joined the State Department in 1983. Already proficient in Spanish and Portuguese, O’Neal received six months’ training in Italian and was sent on her first overseas mission to Rome, Italy. Other assignments have included service in Argentina; as Director of the Office of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy for Europe and Eurasian Affairs; and a detail as Deputy Press Secretary to the Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House.
 
O’Neal has also served as press attaché and chief of section at the U.S. Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique, circa 1995 to 1998; as consul general at the consulate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, circa 1999 to 2003; and as chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the U. S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal, from June 2004 to July 2007. From August 2007 to July 2009, O’Neal was Diplomat in Residence at the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Returning to the State Department in Washington, DC, she served as the Director of the Senior Level Division of Career Development and Assignments in Human Resources from 2009 to 2011.
 
She has one son, Quincy O’Neal.
 
“U.S. Department of State Careers” (by Tom Phillips, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy) (podcast)

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