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Argentina and Portugal - Naval sabotages

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Post 13 Oct 2018, 16:00
Argentine during the Cold War was a bastion of the USA control of South America; the country saw brutal “Junta” regimes notorious for torture mass killings of every kind of political opposition targeting the guerrilla resistance groups but also socialists, social-democrats and in general opponents of the Junta or people suspected or allegedly related with social movements and protesting students. CIA directly oversaw torture (and sexual abuse over women) of the “Desaparecidos”.
Of the two main groups opposing the regime, one was the ERP (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo) while the second one, the “Montoneros” followed a left-wing interpretation of the Peronism.
The “Montoneros” briefly operated a small team of frogmen that committed proper sabotages with limpet-mines attached to the hulls of targets (thus proving more advanced compared other urban guerrilla groups that used mostly bombs inside the ships). As most of other Urban Guerrilla naval actions, the primary target was achieve political-propaganda coups or carry on specific assassination.
While the current post-‘90s administration officially denounced the crimes of the regime, little has been made to tribute the fighters who opposed the Junta.

22 August 1974
Rio Santiago Raid
Frogmen of the guerrilla “Montoneros” group attacked in harbor the unfinished (but launched) destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad. The ship received moderate damage due limpet mine, contributing one extra year of delay for the entry in service. The attack day chosen to commemorate a massacre occurred 3 years before when a number of guerrilla of the ERP executed into a base operated by Navy.
The target was one of the only two destroyers ever attacked and successfully damaged by a communist or socialist-oriented group using a sabotage action (the second operation achieved by ETA Basque group).

7 October 1974
Argentinian tanker Mykinai (2157 GRT) heavily damaged by explosive device planted on the hull.

1 November 1974
“Montoneros” successfully assassinated the chief of the Argentinian federal Police General Alberto Villar (and his wife), blowing up his yacht after attacking limpet mine. The team avoided to detonate the explosive (from distance) while the yacht was close to dock because of high presence of civilians, even if this meant to miss the opportunity to kill also a dozen of officials.

14 December 1975
“Montoneros” placed explosive on the yacht Itati, attempting to kill the commander of the Argentinian Navy, Admiral Emilio Massera. He survived uninjured while the vessel suffered heavy damages.
Post 13 Oct 2018, 16:02
Portugal survived WWII being a neutral country despite being under the brutal dictatorship of the fascist leader António de Oliveira Salazar. Obviously, with the beginning of the Cold War, the United States backed the regime (and the nearby fascist Spanish state under Francisco Franco rule) for its general repression of left-wings oriented groups. The following “Junta” government, attempted to retain the old colonial Portuguese Empire after the loss of Goa by Indian operations (including naval warfare) waging wars in Portuguese Guinea, Angola and Mozambique. The conflicts stalled (the PAIGC group was especially successful including naval operations: viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55179 ) and the Portuguese population begun losing faith in the regime with the loss of lives and waste of money for the military costs.
Two different communists groups operated in Portugal: the ARA (Armed Revolutionary Action) and th RB (Revolutionary Brigades). The ARA was the armed wing of the Portuguese Communist Party carried entirely a campaign of sabotage of the war effort deliberately avoiding bloodshed (the entire ARA militancy resulted only in 1 accidental death).
The ARA most spectacular group was the destruction of 27 airplanes and helicopters on 8/March/1971 into the Tancos air base.

26 October 1970
The very first action of ARA, a sabotage with bomb blast explosion inside the transport ship Cunene (11556 GRT) causing heavy damages. The ship was part of the transport service of war materials for the colonial wars and scheduled to depart to Guinea. No casualties.

23 or 24 April 1971
Angoche incident
A mysterious and not resolved incident occurred to the Portuguese ship Angoche (1689 GRT).
The ship had 23 crewmembers and 1 passenger, and carried a military cargo (weapons, ammunitions and jet fuel) sailing on the Mozambique coast. She was found on 26 April, heavily damaged by fire with the whole crew missing but cargo mostly intact.
The Portuguese junta blamed a boarding attack by FRELIMO rebels with Tanzanian cooperation (and crew allegedly brought to Tanzania and eventually executed). The South Africa apartheid regime backed this view.
FRELIMO denied accusation and officially blamed the ARA for the action: however, ARA did not showed to have military or personal assets in Mozambique for such action, nor the political intention to kill Portuguese citizens.
Chinese press (at the time main supporter of Tanzania) alleged a “Soviet submarine” was responsible, but there is no proof of this bold claim.

While unproved and denied, excluding an incident lacking outside forces, the most likely reason was a surface action by Tanzanian Navy (likely using Chinese-made Type062 patrol boats). This could be the only naval success of the small Tanzanian Navy (a communist state at the time, aligned to China during the Cold War rather than Soviet Union). It is unlikely Tanzanian sources could admit it, even if at the time was a successful military action with elimination of a local supply ship.

9 April 1974
The group “Revolutionary Brigades” carried a high-profile successful attack sabotaging the troopship Niassa(10742 GRT), while the damage inflicted (with two bombs planted) was not heavy. It occurred when 1200 soldiers were lined-up and the explosion scheduled before they could embark for Guinea.

The 25 April 1974 Revolution was an outstanding and unique event occurred during the Cold War, surprising many of the main international Cold War nations. An almost bloodless coup instigated by left-wing soldiers saw massive popular support and the quick downfall of the regime.

As consequence of the Revolution, the Portuguese forces withdrawn from the former colonies, granting independence.

The Revolution saw for a brief period a Socialist-oriented transition, but the process was halted by conservatives in November 1975. As consequence, Portugal remained in NATO and the government (while retaining in constitution a formal purpose to “achieve Socialism”) maintained a capitalist society with the resulting economic problems.
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