On this day in 1976, the United States was the lone nation represented in the United Nations (UN) to veto against the inclusion of Angola in to the UN. Later in the year, Angola would be recognized by the UN, after the United States abstained from voting.
During the midst of Angola’s civil war, the warring factions, People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), were in the midst of a power struggle. The National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) were also another major player in the civil war, with South Africa, Zaire, and the United States supporting UNITA and the FNLA.
Angola gained its independence in 1975 and the MPLA became, and continues to be, its ruling party. Cuba sent a significant number of troops to support the MPLA against South African forces, stoking the fires of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. International involvement in the conflict was high, and it appeared that other forces were conspiring in egging on the Angola conflicts.
U.S. officials claimed that the reasons for their veto was the presence of Cuban troops in the former Portuguese colonial territory. The United States felt that Cuba’s military presence kept the country from being a “peace-loving” state.
Meanwhile, China abstained from voting, citing that the Soviet Union had been meddling in the region by supplying assistance to opposition forces on the ground.
American officials were dismayed at the Cuban troops and their support of the Marxist-led MPLA, contending that Angola’s alignment with the ideology and support from a known enemy contributed to dangers in the region. The Soviet Union viewed Angola as an ally, and China’s leaders felt that their influence and the support of Cuban forces were the reasons the MPLA came to power.
In December, Angola would obtain its membership in to the United Nations, with the United States abstaining from the voting process due to the presence of Cuban troops. The MPLA has long since abandoned its former Marxist policies and has embraced social democracy as its ideology.