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Guinea-Bissau Navy
Armada da Guiné-Bissau

In 1959, Amílcar Cabral, along with Aristides Pereira, Luís Cabral and others, founded the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC - Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde) Amilcar Cabral's PAIGC fought for the independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde from Portuguese colonialism. Amílcar Cabral was eventually assassinated on 20 January 1973, in Conakry, Guinea by two members of his own party. The assassination of Amilcar Cabral temporarily set back the African insurgency in Portuguese Guinea. Innocente Camil, the guerrilla naval commander, reportedly confessed to the crime after his effort to escape in a PAIGC patrol boat was thwarted with the help of a Soviet destroyer. While there was no evidence linking the Portuguese Government directly to the assassination, Lisbon's complicity cannot be ruled out. The assailants' motives remain unclear. Most signs pointed to a feud between mulattos from the Cape Verde Islands and mainland Africans, but there were also signs of Portuguese involvement.

Soviet maritime policy by no means consistently favored clients in the Third World. For example, Guinea-Bissau's fishing agreement with the USSR allowed Soviet trawlers to catch and then can tuna off the coast of West Africa, only to sell it back subsequently to Guinea-Bissau, packaged with inscriptions stating "caught in Russian waters." Soviet trawlers, in addition to serving non-military purposes, frequently supplement the Soviet Navy by providing surveillance, planting sensors for anti-submarine warfare, and serving command, control, communications and intelligence functins.

The 88 islands that make up the Bijagos Archipelago, combined with a military still able to sidestep the authority of the civilian government with impunity, continue to make the country a favorite transshipment center for drugs. The Bijagos Archipelago is a collection of some 90 islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau. By 2007 there was a Navy presence on the island of Bubaque and several other islands. According to many people who live on Bubaque, the Navy's chief purpose for being on the islands was to facilitate drug trafficking. The Governor of Bubaque said there is no coordination between the Army and Navy and in fact when the sailors wander up the hill away from their boat they must change out of uniform to avoid confrontations with the Army. A new Navy installation was built on Ilha Caravela. Locals did not know the purpose of the new post, which was a large multi-room concrete block structure about 200 meters up from the water.

According to the Department of State’s 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Guinea-Bissau provided an opportune environment for narcotics traffickers because of its lack of enforcement capabilities, susceptibility to corruption, porous borders, and location in relation to Europe, South America, and neighboring West African transit points. Cocaine transits through Guinea-Bissau from South America via air or sea, and continues on to Europe by way of maritime traffic, drug mules on commercial air flights, or traditional caravan routes through Northern Africa and across the Mediterranean to Southern Europe.

Former Navy Chief Admiral Lamine Sanha who was shot in his home and died on 06 January 2007. The murder of the former Navy Chief may have been political or drug-related, but his death has created political and religious tensions that could make it even more difficult for the Government to address its narcotics problem. After Sanha died from gunshot wounds, Muslim protesters became violent and burned down two houses, one belonging to João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira, the President of Guinea-Bissau [1980 to 1984, from 1984 to 1999, and for the third time from 2005 to 2009] and the other belonging to Ibrahima Sow, an advisor to Vieira. The military intervened and one protester was shot and killed and several others were wounded.

Carlos Domingos Gomes Junior, a Former Prime Minister and leader of the Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), was quoted in European press as blaming Vieira for Sanha's death. The Government responded by issuing an arrest warrant for Gomes Junior, even though he has immunity as a sitting parliamentarian. Gomes Junior fled to United Nations headquarters where he remained while he and the GOGB negotiate over the wording of a statement of apology or explanation of his remarks.

Of the Balanta ethnic group, José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto, known as general of the people - was in the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the People (FARP, the official name of the Guinean armed forces), since May 2, 1963. He participated in the armed struggle for independence in all fronts of combat, and attended after independence, a general military course in Ukraine and one in Marine tactics in Portugal. In 2003, he assumed the leadership of the Navy of Guinea-Bissau, where he remained until 2008.

After President of the Republic Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira dissolved the cabinet, the head of the armed forces, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, fired and placed under house arrest the head of the Navy, Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto. Bubo Na Tchuto, whom many suspected of being the highest ranking person in the armed forces directly involved in drug trafficking, met with head of the armed forces General Batista Tagme Na Wai on 07 August 2008 and wanted Tagme to assist him in arresting the President. Tagme told Bubo that he would not support Bubo's plan and then ordered Bubo suspended as Navy Commander and called for Bubo's arrest.

Most sources indicated that Na Tchuto's arrest was the result of a power struggle between a strong chief of the armed forces Batista Tagme Na Wae and a weak President Vieira on the one hand and on the other hand, Bubo Na Tchuto, until then the strongest local ally of the narco-traffickers. Bubo reportedly contacted fellow officers, who refused to back him, before fleeing to the interior. He was placed under house arrest, escaped to the Gambia by boat, and was re-arrested there 11 August 2008. The short term effect of Bubo Na Tchuto's departure from the scene is the loss of an important ally for the Latin American drug traffickers who transship cocaine through Guinea-Bissau to Europe.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on 08 April 2010 designated two Guinea-Bissau based individuals, Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto and Ibraima Papa Camara, as drug kingpins due to their significant roles in international narcotics trafficking. This action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

“Today’s action underscores the harmful role that narcotics-related corruption plays in West Africa, especially in Guinea-Bissau,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. “Targeting Na Tchuto and Camara impedes their ability to profit from the narcotics trade and engage in destabilizing activities.”

Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, Guinea-Bissau’s former Navy Chief of Staff, and Ibraima Papa Camara, current Air Force Chief of Staff, were both involved in narcotics trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, including being linked to an aircraft suspected of flying a multi-hundred kilogram shipment of cocaine from Venezuela to Guinea-Bissau on July 12, 2008.

Na Tchuto had long been suspected of being a major facilitator of narcotics trafficking in Guinea-Bissau. In August 2008, Na Tchuto fled into exile to The Gambia, but returned to Guinea-Bissau in late December 2009 to seek refuge at the United Nations Peace-Building Support Office. In addition to his narcotics trafficking activities that form the basis for his designation, most recently, Na Tchuto was complicit in the activities surrounding the illegal detention of Guinea-Bissau’s Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, and others on April 1, 2010.

Jose Americo “Bubo” Na Tchuto was sentenced to four years in jail by a New York federal court in October 2016 but was released for time already served. Na Tchuto, who returned home on 22 October 2016, asked President Jose Mario Vaz about resuming his military career during an audience with the West African nation’s head of state.

On 24 June 2010, the Council of Ministers endorsed a proposal by the Minister of Defence for the nomination of Major General António Indjai as the new Chief of General Staff and forwarded it to President Malam Bacai Sanha. The next day, President Sanha signed a decree dismissing Vice Admiral José Zamora Induta as Chief of General Staff and appointing Major General Indjai, who was subsequently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.

On 07 October 2010, following a proposal by the Government, President Sanha signed a decree reappointing the Rear Admiral as the Chief of Staff of the Navy. By the same decree, Major General Mamadú Turé was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the armed forces. On 8 October, the United States raised concerns over the alleged involvement of the Rear Admiral in illicit activities and stated that his reinstatement was “disappointing and a step backwards for the people of GuineaBissau”. In addition, the European Union termed the appointment “a further setback to good governance in Guinea-Bissau” as the Rear Admiral was currently “under sanctions by international partners for alleged links to illicit activities”.

On 12 August 2016, the Superior Military Tribunal opened a new case against Rear Admiral José Zamora Induta in connection with his alleged participation in the events of 21 October 2012 at the Bissalanca air force base, in which armed assailants had reportedly launched an attack on the base. Induta was accused of homicide, terrorism and the subversion of constitutional order and placed under house arrest. On 22 September, he was transferred to a detention cell in the military camp at Mansôa, in the Oio region. On 11 November, the Supreme Court of Justice approved a request for habeas corpus filed by his lawyers. The Rear Admiral was released from detention but remained under house arrest. On 16 December, the Superior Military Tribunal removed all coercive measures that it had imposed on Induta and declined a new request by the military prosecution.

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