CARLOS ALBERTINO VEIGA
“To The Service of Cape Verde”
On the thirteenth day in the month of January 1935, in the town of Santa Caterina in the interior of the Island of Santiago, Carlos Albertino Barreto de Carvalho Veiga, the penultimate of the eight children of Tomás Correia da Veiga and Feliciana Barreto de Carvalho was born. From his housemaid mother and his self employed father, who had a small business reselling items purchased in Praia and then resold in the interior of Ilha, he would inherit a framework of values and a reference for a life of, work ethics, honesty and merit.
In Cape Verde at this time, under the rule of the Portuguese, the only school which taught higher education was located on the Island of São Vicente and for that reason Carlos Albertino Veiga moved there during his childhood. Due to the geography of the islands, the scarcity of resources and the high cost of transportation the young Veiga lived for the seven long months of the year, term time, in the city of Mindelo, in the house of distant relatives who were estranged to him, awaiting for the holidays where he could regroup with his close family in Santa Catarina.
Upon finishing high school, still in the prime of his youth and full of adventurous spirit ready to launch himself into discovering the world, hell bent on conquering the right to a better standard of living that was offered in Cape Verde, he was lured by the invitation of Aguinaldo Veiga to the old Vila Marechal Carmona, now Uíge, in Angola, where he would work in his brother’s law firm.
At the year’s end he was approached for a new challenge which would forever change his destiny. At the invite of his elder sister, he left for the United States of America, land of new freedoms and opportunity, the ideology of so many Cape Verdeans, in the continued search for a better tomorrow. Launched into a society which was much more open and dynamic than which he was accustomed, he adapted and relinquished himself, to the new world which was offered to him.
So, at the age of twenty six, in Providence, Rhode Island, given the example of dedication to work that he inherited from his parents, he found himself employed in a textile factory where from an early stage he was distinguished through his professionalism and rapid apprenticeship. Overcoming the obstacle of a foreign language, he would spend his extra curricula hours in the study of the English language. It was domination of this new skill which would allow him, shortly after, to take a course in Electronics at local school.
At the same time he would meet Maria José, native from Santo Antão, whom with her mother would immigrate to the USA. The two of them would marry, and during the thirteen years that the family stayed there, they saw the birth of their first three children, Carlitos, Lisa and José Tomás, to which they would be joined by a fourth, Paulo, who would be born after their return to Cape Verde. In addition to these four children there was also Lígia, daughter from a previous relationship of his wife’s.
In Rhode Island, he earned a state license, a type of recognized notary, which enabled him to translate and complete forms from citizens of Portuguese speaking countries. This would allow him to officially teach the English language to Portuguese speaking immigrants who were in search of a better life. For many years he would dedicate the better part of his time in helping hundreds of people to harness the new language. He did this freely, accepting only in exchange the many friendships which he still keeps today.
The actual factory where he worked, owned by a Jewish family, appreciative of the hard work and capabilities of the emigrant Portuguese and Cape Verdean workers, who were the bulk of their labor force, employed his voluntary services as an English Teacher for over a decade. Through his studies and accumulated experience, he would attain the position of supervising technician of the factory, having under his responsibility all the technical assistance of the production.
In 1973, at the age of 39 and with his children entering the age of education, he decided to return to his native country so that they would have the opportunity of growing up in Cape Verde and developing their cultural roots and moral references. At a later date, having finished secondary education at Ilhas da Morabeza, they all had the opportunity to follow onto higher education in the United States of America. The return to his country and his roots was met, more through necessity, even after his successful American adventure.
After his return from the USA, Carlos Albertino Veiga launched himself into the Cape Verdean business world. With the savings he had made during his time abroad, he set up his first industrial laundry, with the machinery imported from the other side of the Atlantic and an investment in a property in the rural Praia Baixo, here began his dedication to agricultural production which still remains active today. At a later date, post-independence, he started to work in the commercial area.
Upon his return to Cape Verde, still at this time Portuguese colony, a few months away from the Portuguese Revolution of the 25th of April, which paved the way for independence in the colonies, Carlos Albertino Veiga found himself drawn into politics in a somewhat unusual way. On the day of the 19th of May 1974, soon after the 25th of April, in the main square of the Cidade de Praia, there were violent confrontations between the party for Independence and the colonial troops, who had been drafted in recently from Guine to Cape Verde. As a result of these confrontations many young Cape Verdeans were wounded, one of whom was his nephew who then sought refuge in a building next to the main square. During the whole night the colonial troops raided several buildings in an attempt to arrest the ringleaders of the opposing movement. The city was practically under siege.
On being informed of the situation regarding his nephew, Carlos Albertino Veiga dared to enter into the confusion and managed, through the use of his car and at a high cost, to rescue him from his hideout, even under the threat of the automatic guns of the Portuguese forces blocking their path home. This event awoke in him the desire to be involved in the fight for the emancipation of his country which, at that time, already had a visible change in the interior of Ilha de Santiago.
A few months later, Carlos Albertino Veiga would authorize the stocking of arms and munitions from the PAIGC at his property in Praia Baixo, through this they gained the strategic advantage of the nearby beach where these essential military resources for the fight for independence where unloaded, this would last until the sovereignty of Cape Verde was conquered. In the following months, before independence, Carlos Albertino Veiga was invited by the hierarchy of the PAIGC to build the future national navy, a task that he would dedicate himself to from the beginning.
He began by repairing the Portuguese ships left in the territory. The Santa Rita, a small wooden boat, which was in the shipyard of S. Martinho, would be the first asset. So as to focus the mission, in conjunction with Julio Vera Cruz and Antonio Azevedo, they created a partnership of ship owners – the Arca Verde, the precursor to the first national navigation company, financed by PAIGC.
The development of national maritime transportation constituted as one the priorities of the ruling government of the time. The insular State of Cape Verde demanded this. The process developed through 5 years, initializing with the acquisition of two small vessels constructed from iron – Acra Verde 1 and Arca Verde 2, which was then preceded by the acquisition of larger ships, 500 ton, baptized under the names of the Islands Boa-Vista, Maio and Brava. These vessels assured the transportation of cargo and passengers between the islands. The branch of international transportation was then completed with the purchase of three long-distance ships originating from Denmark and Norway – Santo-Antão and Ilha de Komo, both 2500 ton and the Santiago, 5000 ton. Carlos Albertino Veiga dedicated half a decade of his life exclusively to this mission.
During this time, by invite of the Norwegian State, he was asked to be the Consul General, an office that he still holds to this day. Upon successfully completing this mission, Carlos Albertino Veiga resumed his business activities with a focus on importation, agriculture and livestock. In the mean time he did not stop contributing to the process of the construction of the new sovereignty. Beginning to disagree with the direction of political events, still in the 80’s, with his own convictions, he accepts the challenge set before him of greater political involvement, entering parliament as an MP in the opposition to the government then.
The Liberal Wing which would be formed in Parliament would mark his actions in the face of the defense of the arbitrariness of the regime, in defense of an individual’s rights, concerning himself particularly against the arbitrary prisons and political abuses.
This political experience in Parliament convinced Carlos Albertino Veiga of the impossibility of the regime to regenerate itself from within, such was the lack of respect for the most basic of human rights that, he himself so fought to preserve as a building block of the true rule of law. It is not by coincidence that when Carlos Wanhom Veiga led the Movement for Democracy (MpD), Carlo A. Veiga would naturally be one of the signatories of the petition which would give origin to the new party. He still today holds the Nº 10 membership card to the MpD. After achieving a multiparty insular state, he actively participated in politics, as an MP to the national parliament for the MpD responsible for the two legislations which assured this party’s majority.
Upon the establishment of local power in the country, he structurally reformed the development of the territory, Carlos A Veiga, aware of his importance offered his contribution, becoming one of the first two mandates for the President of the Municipal Parliament of Santa Catarina, his home town. At the end of his journey through the national Parliament he returns full time to his business. It was time to contribute through the business sector for the progress of Cape Verde. His family orientated business, Carlos Veiga Lta, constituted in 1980, is directed towards general commerce and construction materials, including cement and iron.
Aware of the big difficulties in the supply of cement for the country, via the traditional importation of this individually packaged material, the company CVLda decided to bet on a silo project to store locally the bulk imported material. The objective behind this was to assure an uninterrupted supply that the country now demanded and at the same time, reduce the cost through the bulk importation.
This innovative project, became the embodiment of the company Cimentos de Cabo Verde (Cements of Cape Verde), created in 1994, initiated its activity in 1997, constituted at the time one of the country’s most important private investments, valued at around 8 million US Dollars, financed by local banks and the Swedish government. The project also involved a partnership with a Spanish company from the same business sector, subsequently acquired by one of the largest cement producers in the world, Mexico’s CEMEX. Contrary to the negative predictions viewed by many, the project attained and surpassed all expectations, securing a regular supply without lapses to the demand, a factor in guaranteeing the balance of the cost of cement in Cape Verde.
Cimentos de Cabo Verde (Cements of Cape Verde) was then acquired by CIMPOR, Portugal’s largest cement company. The innovative business character of Carlos Albertino Veiga was not limited to cement in Cape Verde. His company was the first to enter the sand dredging market in order to supply the construction sector, at a time when the construction sector was being strangled by a lack of sand and the beaches of Ilha de Santiago were under risk of being totally lost through the disorderly collection of sea sand. The CVLda conceptualized an ingenious system for pumping sand from the dredging ships to land for subsequent storage. Later on, with the ban of dredging in the local seas, CVLda moved to the importation of desert sand, manly from Morocco, thereby securing the regular supply to the market of this essential product for the construction industry. CVLda is the only business in this sector which has the pride of being able to guarantee the regular supply to the market, without lapses and at a fair price. At the present day, CVLda is one of the largest businesses in the country, centered on the production and commerce of construction materials, investment and the promotion of the real estate market.
This is the life path of one who is dedicated to a cause, the cause of Cape Verde.
In politics as in his businesses, Carlos A. Veiga dedicated his life to the service of the development of his country, fighting for the project of society that he most believes in, supported on a framework of values, resulting from experiences of different countries, different regimes, in different historical periods. This is an example of a life, whose legacy is to the service of his people, resulting in a Foundation sustained by the support which was always given to his compatriots.
Esta é a experiência de alguém que dedicou a sua vida ao serviço de Cabo Verde.