'Code Name SEKRETÁŘ': Amílcar Cabral, Czechoslovakia and the role of human intelligence during the Cold War

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Since 1961, Czechoslovakia had been a key supporter of the liberation struggle in Guinea-Bissau, providing the PAIGC with arms, monthly financial assistance and scholarships for military training. The extraordinary extent of this assistance can be partly explained through the 'special relationship' developed between Amílcar Cabral and Czechoslovakia's Ministry of the Interior. Based on newly released records from the Czechoslovak security archives, this paper examines this clandestine relationship, addressing Prague's motivation for recruiting Cabral as a 'clandestine contact' under the code name of SEKRETÁŘ ('Secretary' in Czech), as well as ways in which the intelligence services sought Cabral’s help in making sense of African politics and engaging with leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah. Analysing the 'give and take' relationship between Cabral and Czechoslovak officials, the paper argues that in many ways it was Cabral who shaped the relationship with Czechoslovakia to benefit the PAIGC. By demystifying the relationship between Cabral and Czechoslovak Intelligence, the paper provides insight into the agency of so-called peripheral actors and of human intelligence in the Cold War.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1257-1273
Number of pages18
JournalThe International History Review
Issue number6
Early online date20 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020


  • Amilcar Cabral
  • Czechoslovakian history
  • Cold War in Africa
  • secret intelligence
  • African history
  • Warsaw Pact

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