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U.S. Policy Toward Mozambique
Statement before the Subcommittee on Africa of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 24, 1987. Mr. Crocker is Assistant Secretary for Arican Affairs.1
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to address the subcommittee on U.S. policy toward Mozambique. In view of the current high level of interest in that topic, I propose to deal with some of the prevailing myths about Mozambique and our policy toward that critical southern African country. By way of introduction, a little history.
Mozambique's Turn to the West
Mozambique achieved independence from Portugal in 1975 under a government comprised of the national liberation movement FRELIMO [Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Mozambique]. The new government took over from a Portuguese colonial administration that had never achieved full control over the vast and unruly Mozambican countryside, much less established an effective national administrative structure.
Mozambique at independence lacked even the rudiments of a modern economy. The new government inherited a large external debt and a currency that was virtually worthless abroad. With independence, most of the 250,000 Portuguese inhabitants fled, taking with them Mozambique's limited fund of administrative and technical expertise. Mozambique's workforce was untrained and uneducated; the illiteracy rate at independence was 96%. Given this dismal legacy, it is not surprising that by the late 1970's, factories were running far below preindependence efficiency and agricultural production had dropped sharply in many areas.
With two strikes against it at independence, the new Government of Mozambique proceeded to make matters even worse. FRELIMO tried to implement "socialist' economic and social policies--nationalization of industry and agriculture, rationing, proliferation of unproductive bureaucracy--which eventually brought the nation's economy to a standstill and contributed to the drought-induced famine of the early 1980s. Together with this disastrous course at home, Mozambique in the late 1970s deemphasized its relations with the Chinese and Western nations and opted for a closer relationship with the U.S.S.R., associating itself with Soviet objectives in southern Africa and internationally.
By 1983, faced with economic collapse, a suffocating and unproductive link to Moscow, and a growing insurgency, Mozambican leaders made a fundamental decision to reorient their country's foreign and domestic policies. Under the leadership of the late President Samora Machel, the Government of Mozambique began to change drastically its economic policies, reduce its dependence on Moscow, reassert its independence and nonalignment, and reach out to the West.
Relations between the United States and Mozambique have paralleled this evolution. When I first went to Mozambique in April 1981, relations were at a low ebb: the Government of Mozambique was harshly critical of our policies, and it had just expelled four of our diplomats from Maputo. In mid-1982, however, the Mozambicans signaled their desire to explore a new relationship. After Secretary Shultz and then-Foreign Minister Chissano had a constructive meeting during the 1982 UN General Assembly, we began to see tangible signs of Mozambique's determination to pursue a new course. Hostility gave way to cooperation, public criticism was replaced by more balanced language, and a productive dialogue began.
As hard …