The Two Faces of War

The Two Faces of War

The Two Faces of War (As duas faces da guerra in Portuguese) is a documentary shot in Guiné-Bissau, Cape Verde and Portugal, which includes a series of interviews and testimonies of people who lived through the colonial period of the war / liberation in Guinea-Bissau. This documentary, directed by Diana Andringa and Flora Gomes, sets the tone for a debate around the themes of reconciliation and historical memory in post-conflict Portuguese colonial war.



The documentary consists of interviews with veterans and leaders from Portugual, Guinea and Cape Verde. Those countries, lived in first person the conflict between 1963 and 1974, a conflict which opposed the PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verdean) and Portuguese troops.

In 1995, Diana Andringa, the director of the film, visited the town of Geba as a reporter and there she found a stone half-destroyed in the name of the Portuguese soldiers killed on African soil. This was the starting point for this work. Along with Flora Gomes, the second director, the documentary is the result of two points of view of Portugal and Guiné, about one of the bloodiest conflicts suffered during the Portuguese Colonial War.

For six weeks, Diana Andringa and Flora Gomes traveled through the regions of Mansoa, Geba, and guilegar in Guinea-Bissau,Cape Verde and Portugal where collected the testimonies of people who lived through the colonial war.

Throughout the documentary we see the homage to Amilcar Cabral, founder of the PAIGC. The testimonies shows the magnitude of Cabral that despite being in the middle of the conflict between the two countries has never ceased to feel the Portuguese people as something of yours.

According to Amilcar, existed between the two sides a complicity that went beyond the war. "We're not fighting against the portuguese people, but against colonialism," words that shows how many of the Portuguese colonies were recruited in solidarity with revolutionary movements for independence. It was the case of PAIGC in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) in the case of Angola and FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) in the case of Mozambique. Therefore, it is no accident that it was in Guinea who grew the captains' movement (Capitães de Abril in Portuguese) leading to the April 25 of 1974 (Carnation Revolution).

The two sides of the war resulted in two victories: the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde and democracy in Portugal. It is this "adventure in two" that Andringa and Flora want to tell through the voices of those who lived the conflit. Diana Andringa and Flora Gomes are the narrators of the documentary. The soundtrack is made up of Portuguese music, Guinea and Cape Verde at the time.

Historical background

The New State (Estado Novo)

The European colonies always expressed a certain resistance to the presence of the colonial powers. This feeling intensified in the 20th century where the first and second world wars have implemented a strong nationalist sentiment in the colonized peoples.

Moreover, the large emerging powers of World War II, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, supported the formation of nationalist resistance groups. It is in this context that the Bandung Conference, held in 1955 gives voice to the colonies seeking an alternative to the bipolarity that confronted those two countries. The U.S. and the former USSR were therefore keen to legitimize the claims of the colonies, or to maintain a balance in international relations, either for their own benefit.

In Portugal, the New State (Estado Novo)put the country into a dilemma: on the one hand, the Portuguese policy of neutrality in World War II which put the Portuguese Armed Forces away from a possible confrontation between East and West, and secondly, the responsibility for the maintenance sovereignty over its colonies. Yet the Portuguese governors of the time chose to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the consequent desire of an alliance with the winners.

This integration of Portugal in NATO formed a military elite that have become indispensable in the conduct of the Portuguese Colonial War. This established a series of conflicts between the military structure and political power.

In March 1961 happen in Portugal an attempt against the state conduct by the major general Botelho Moniz. This fact marked the beginning of the break, and the origin of a certain distrust of the arrangements for the maintenance of a single command center, facing the threat of confrontation with armed force. This led to rupture between the three staffs, the Army, Air Force and Navy.

The New State considered the independence movements as terrorist forces and camps as part of Portugal, and therefore never recognized the existence of a war.

In Portugal sees, the fighting in Guinea began in July 1961 when guerrillas of the Liberation Movement of Guinea (MLG) launched attacks on the villages of Santo Domingo, near the northwest border with Senegal. In view of Guinea, the clashes began in January 1963 when the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), launched an attack on the Moncada Tite, south of Bissau, in the Corubal River.

The attacks quickly spread through almost the whole territory of Guinea, growing in intensity to the surprise of the Portuguese who considered themselves, therefore, the contingency of a more proportionate commitment of its forces.

The theater of war in Guinea was led by two men of strong personality. On the Portuguese side, General Antonio Spinola and from Guinea side was Amilcar Cabral the president of PAIGC. With the decisions of the first, the Portuguese forces gained a more offensive in 1968 and 1972 and managed to keep the situation and sometimes take action to confirm the positions.

One can say that the Portuguese troops played in Guinea, a defensive force in order to control the actions of the PAIGC. To this end, Portugal manipulating public opinion through propaganda in favor of their troops, which profoundly affected the highest levels of the hierarchy of the party of Guinea. However, the situation rapidly changed position, favoring thus the position of the colony.

The anti-aircraft missiles forced the Portuguese troops to reassess the war effort. Marcelo Caetano, conflicts with Spinola exempting him from the position of governor who came to be occupied by Bettencourt Rodrigues on 21 September 1973. Three days later, the PAIGC declared the independence of the new state in Medina of Boe.


The PAIGC had its genesis as the African Party for Independence (PAI) and was founded on September 19, 1956 by Amilcar Cabral, in the company of Aristides Pereira, Luís Cabral, Fernando Fortes de Almeida, and Julius Elisee Turpin.

At first it was a non official party and only sees the legalization four years later when acquire its first office in Guinea Conakry.

In November 1957 the founders of the PAIGC participate in a meeting in Paris on the development of the struggle against Portuguese colonialism.

In January 1960 was held in Tunis, the second Conference of African peoples that Amilcar and his colleagues also take part.

Later this year in London, is reported, for the first time in an international conference, the Portuguese colonialism. This climate of denunciation gives stabilization to PAIGC and they initiated the trainning of militants and the expansion into the country at the same time that requests are made in support of bordering countries. The Republic of China was the first to contribute giving them training and ideological preparation. In 1961 was the turn of the Kingdom of Morocco to support the young party and so begins the armed struggle with Portugal in 1962.

Killed on 20 January 1973, the founder of the PAIGC not survive to see the fredoom of Guinea. However, went down in history as one of the most important chief among nationalists in the former colonies. The Amilcar Cabral is the essence of the doctrine of the party.


Afonso, Aniceto, e Carlos Gomes. Guerra Colinal

Azeredo, Carlos. Trabalhos e Dias de um Soldado do Império

Calvão, Alpoim. De Conakcry ao MDLP

Felgas, Hélio. Guerra na Guiné

Fraga, Luís Alves de. Força Aérea na Guerra em África

Marinho, Luís de. Operação Mar - Verde: Um documentário para a história

Mateus, Dalila Cabrita. A PIDE/DGS na Guerra Colinial 1961-1974

Monteiro, Sturnino. Batalhas e Combates da Marinha Portuguesa (vol. VIII)

Mourão, Coronel Piçarra. Guiné Sempre,

Pereira, Aristides. Uma luta, um partido, dois países

Vaz, Nuno Mira. Guiné 1968 e 1973 - Soldados uma vez, sempre soldados!

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