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Frente de Libertação do Estado de Cabinda (Cabinda, Angola)

Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: cabinda | flec | simulambuco monument |
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  image by Joan-Frances Blanc, 28 April 1998, regiffed by Robert Kee, 25 Feb 2001

See also:

Cabinda - historical and political background

The historical and political background to the enclave of Cabinda is provided here.

Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (FLEC) - introduction

The Political Handbook of the World (1997) has the following entry for Cabinda:
Since the early 1960s a number of groups have been active in the oil-rich Cabinda enclave under the banner of Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda - FLEC).  The original FLEC was founded in August 1963 by Luis Ranque Franque who, encouraged by Portuguese authorities to continue separatist activities, refused to join other Angolan independence movements. In 1974 the Front's attempts to gain military control of the enclave were rebuffed by the MPLA and in 1975 the movement broke into three factions:

  • FLEC - Ranque Franque
  • FLEC - N'Zita, led by Henrique Tiaho N'Zita
  • FLEC - Lubota, led by Francisco Xavier Lubota
In November 1977 a splinter group styling itself the Military Command for the Liberation of Cabinda was organized, while in June 1979 the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Cabinda established another splinter, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Cabinda (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Cabinda - MPLC). In the 1980s FLEC - UNITA (or UNIFLEC) was reported to be operating in Cabinda with South African assistance, however the group's activities ceased following withdrawal of Pretoria's aid. In the early 1990s two other groups, the National Union for the Liberation of Cabinda (União Nacional de Libertação de Cabinda - UNLC), led by Lumingu Luis Gimby, and the Communist Committee of Cabinda (Comité Communista de Cabinda - CCC), led by Kaya Mohamed Yay, were linked to separatist activities.

Anxious to create ties to the economically important region, both the government and UNITA have named Cabindans to leadership positions in their parties. Nevertheless, in July 1991 a joint MPLA-PT/UNITA offensive was launched in Cabinda to eradicate the terrorists. Meanwhile, although past attempts to unify the numerous FLEC factions had proven short-lived, it was reported that four of the identifiable groups (FLEC-Lubota, the UNLC, CCC, and FLEC - Renovada) were attempting to form a united front, with FLEC - N'Zita reportedly refusing to participate.

In mid-1992 increased incidents of FLEC initiated violence were reported in the province, with the situation further deteriorating during the run-up to the September 1992 elections. In August FLEC officials called for a boycott of the balloting. Subsequently, only 19% of the eligible voters registered, with one observer describing the low turnout as a "referendum on independence". In December FLEC activists, citing the likelihood of further unrest, urged São Tomé and Principe expatriates to depart and in January 1993 Angolan officials charged "Congolese politicians" with supplying arms to the separatists.

In mid-May 1993 FLEC responded to the US recognition of Luanda by declaring that it did not extend to Cabinda and warning that "all those people with companies in Cabinda must choose between supporting the extermination of the Cabindan people or leaving the territory." Following UNITA's capture of Soyo in northwestern Angola in late May, the government, fearing a pact between the separatists and rebels, was reported to be attempting to form an alliance with a FLEC-Renovada opponent, the FLEC-Armed Forces of Cabinda (Forças Armadas do Cabinda - FLEC-FAC). However, after a new guerilla offensive was launched in Cabinda from mid-1995, government and FLEC-Renovada representatives meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, in April 1996 concluded a ceasefire agreement that was thought likely to be observed by other FLEC-factions.

In 1996 a new FLEC was created, in the Netherlands, replacing the word "Enclave" by the word "State" (Estado). The "Frente de Libertação do Estado de Cabinda" (Liberation Front of the State of Cabinda) should not be confused with the Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda (which also goes by the same acronym).
Joan-Frances Blanc, 04 May 1998

[detail of the central emblem] detail of the central emblem by Joan-Frances Blanc (re-giffed by Robert Kee, 25 Feb 2001) 

The FLEC flag adopted in 1996 is a blue, yellow and black horizontal tricolor with a representation of the Simulambuco monument in the centre.

In February 1885 a treaty was signed establishing Cabinda as a Portuguese protectorate at Simulambuco . A monument was built to commemorate the event, which is similar to a padroe, but much higher. The three arrows are not arrows, but spears, representing the three kingdoms of Kakongo, Loango and Ngoyo. The three spears are actually in front of the Simulambuco monument.
Joan-Frances Blanc, 04 May 1998

The detail of the flag is a representation of a padrao, a column of stone, carved in the upper segment with the Portuguese quinas and topped by the cross of Christ, that the Portuguese sailors used to carry around to leave at the lands they claimed for Portugal. There are dozens of these monuments left by the Portuguese explorers and there may be one in Cabinda as well.
Jorge Candeias, 29 April 1998  

FLEC - flag without quinas variant

[FLEC Flag without quinas] image by Jarig Bakker, 06 Apr 2001

Another FLEC-faction, with its seat in Vilvoorde (Belgium), has the same flag as J. F. Blanc reported - but the quinas are missing. There is a good picture of the monument of Simulambuco with the quinas in blue, with the following explanation (in their words):

'Explanation of our national emblem - the flag

Blue : the royal row of the pre-colonial principality of Cabinda. It is also the colour of the Atlantic Ocean of the 200km of full of fish coast of Cabinda which is not an enclave (illusory word invented at the 19th century for the benefit of the Portuguese illiterates of the time).

Yellow : symbolize the various mineral not yet exploited in which abounds deep Cabinda, namely: white gold, pink, yellow; the diamond of jewellery and industrialist; money, platinum, copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, mercury, aluminum, bauxite, nickel, tin, antimony, lithium, tungsten, the molydene, zirconium, niobium, thorium, asbestos, asbestos, gypsum-talc, quartz, mica, graphite, the beryl, the lapse-lazuli, topaz, the ruby, sapphire, it salt-gem, sand-silicon (for the technology of micro-processing), coal, uranium (easily to be enriched for amateur of human destruction).

Black : finally, black gold (oil) and the KMT. And also membership of Cabinda in the African continent.

The logo in the center : represent the famous one and memorable historic monument of Simulambuco (Treaty of protectorate lusitano-cabindais initialed 01 February 1885 between princes and notable Cabindais and Portugal). Angular Stone of the Cabindan irredentism and irreplaceable initial treaty " Pacta Sunt Servanda " (article 15,26 of the convention of Vienna of 1969 on the right of the treaties.).'
Make no mistake, the quinas have and the three spears have gone.
Jarig Bakker, 06 Apr 2001

There is also a picture of the president of the government, holding a small desk flag with the central emblem missing. This is the third FLEC-faction, and seems to be implanted solely on the internet and in francophone Europe. The people from the inside talk about the "Enclave" of Cabinda, while this group talks about the "State" of Cabinda, for instance. Here there are representatives of both FLECs that operate inside Cabinda (FLEC-FAC and FLEC-Renovada), but no representative that I know of from this third FLEC grouping, which is basically a government in exile aimed at "organizing a national Cabinda conference reuniting all sensible entities that struggle for independence", as they say in the homepage. 
Jorge Candeias, 08 Apr 2001