America’s hostile response to the Liberation of Goa

While the US was staunchly opposed to the Liberation of Goa, the USSR resolutely backed India on the Goa issue

New Delhi: While opposing Portugal and US led motion on Goa in the UN Security Council, India’s representative had said that the “elimination of the last vestiges of colonialism in India” was an “article of faith” for the Indian people, “Charter or no Charter, security Council or no security Council.”

While paying tribute to the British and US efforts to persuade India to refrain from military action, Portugal dictator Antonio Salazar said that both Powers had “suffered a defeat at the gates of Goa.”

While the US was staunchly opposed to the Liberation of Goa, the USSR resolutely backed India on the Goa issue. As per Keesing’s Record of World Events, President Leonid Brezhnev, who was on a State visit to India at the time of the Goa crisis, said in Bombay on December 18 that the USSR had “complete sympathy for the Indian people’s desire to liberate Goa, Daman, and Diu from Portuguese colonialism.”

“USSR unreserved support for India”

USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev sent a telegram to Jawaharlal Nehru saying that “the resolute actions of the Government of India to do away with outposts of colonialism in its territory were absolutely lawful and justified,” and declaring that the Soviet people “unanimously approve of these actions”.

Similar expressions of unreserved support for India were made by governmental leaders in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Eastern Germany, as per Keesing’s.

The then State Department spokesman Lincoln White said on December 18 that Dean Rusk had informed the Indian Ambassador in Washington, B.K. Nehru that the US “deeply regrets the use of force” by India in her dispute with Portugal. A strong criticism of the Indian action was made by Adlai Stevenson in the UN.

The Portuguese request for a security Council debate was approved by the Council by the bare minimum of seven votes after Dr Loutfi, as current president of the Council, had expressed his own country’s reservations about the Portuguese charges; Zorin of the USSR opposed a debate on the ground that the matter was “exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction” of India and that Goa, Daman, and Diu could not be considered as “other than provisionally under the colonial control of Portugal.”

“UN vote on Goa”

As per Keesing’s, on a vote, seven members supported Portugal’s request for a debate (the US, Great Britain, France, Turkey, Chile, Ecuador, and Nationalist China), two opposed (the Soviet Union and Ceylon), and two abstained (the UAR and Liberia). Dr Loutfi thereupon invited the Portuguese and Indian representatives (Dr Vieira Garin and C.S. Jha) to state their countries’ ease, without a vote.

Jha said that the “elimination of the last vestiges of colonialism in India” was an “article of faith” for the Indian people, “Charter or no Charter, security Council or no security Council.”

Describing Goa, Daman, and Diu as “an inalienable part of India unlawfully occupied by Portugal,” he accused the latter country of having “rudely rejected” all previous Indian attempts for a settlement; asserted that Portugal “would not have been able to take such an arrogant stand on this question but for the support rendered by the NATO countries”; and described as a “legal fiction” the Portuguese contention that her possessions in India were part of metropolitan Portugal.

“Strong opposition of India’s stance by US”

The principal speakers in the ensuing debate were Adlai Stevenson of the US, who strongly criticized India’s resort to force in her dispute with Portugal, and Zorin of the USSR, who defended India’s action, as per Keesing’s records.

Stevenson said:

“Here we are confronted by the shocking news that the Indian Minister of Defence [Krishna Menan], so well known in these halls for his advice on peace and his tireless enjoinders to everyone else to seek the way of compromise, was on the borders of Goa inspecting his troops at the zero hour of invasion.”

“Let us be perfectly clear what is at stake. It is the question of the use of armed force by one State against another — an act clearly forbidden by the Charter. We [the US) have opposed such action in the past by our closest friends as well as by others. We opposed it in Korea in 1950, in Suez and Hungary in 1956, and in the Congo in 1950. We do so again in Goa in 1961…”, Keesing’s records show.

“We realize fully the depths of the differences between India and Portugal concerning the future of Goa. We realize that India maintains that Goa by rights should belong to India. Doubtless India would hold, therefore, that its action is aimed at a just end; But if our Charter means anything, it means that States are obligated to renounce the use of force, to seek a solution of their differences by peaceful means, to utilize the procedures of the UN when other peaceful means have failed”, he added.

“Prime Minister Nehru himself has often said that no right end can be served by a wrong means. The Indian tradition of non-violence has inspired the whole world, but this act of force mocks the faith of India’s frequent declarations of exalted principle. It is a lamentable departure not only from the Charter but from India’s own professions of faith”, Stevenson said.

The US representative said:

“This action is all the more painful to my country because we have in recent weeks made repeated appeals to India to refrain from the use of force. This has included not only a series of diplomatic approaches in Washington and New Delhi but also a personal message from President Kennedy to Prime Minister Nehru on December 13 indicating our earnest hope that India would not resort to force to solve the Goa problem.”

“As a culmination of these efforts, the US Government on December 16 made an appeal to Prime Minister Nehru, both through the US Ambassador in Delhi and through the Indian Ambassador in Washington, to suspend preparations for the use of force in connection with a direct offer of US help in seeking a peaceful solution to the problem”.

Zorin maintained that the Goan question was wholly within India’s domestic jurisdiction and could not be considered by the security Council. If discussion was necessary, however, the subject of discussion should be “the question of the violation by Portugal of the declaration on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples” [i.e. the anti-colonialist resolution adopted at the 15th Assembly session.]

Zorin said as soon, however, as “the question comes up of supporting the liberation from colonial dependence of peoples and territories which constitute an integral part of India, high-falutin pronouncements are immediately made of violations of the UN Charter…”, Keesing’s records show.

After asserting that the US and Great Britain “are, acting in solidarity with their NATO ally — the colonial Power of Portugal,” Zorin expressed the Soviet Union’s “solidarity with the people of India and Goa in their fight for liberation from Portuguese colonial domination.”

In a speech to the Portuguese National Assembly on January 3, 1962, Dr Salazar said that the security Council’s failure to halt a clear case of aggression against a small country, due to the Soviet veto, showed that effective power in the UN had passed to the Communist and AfroAsian countries; the Indian representative’s statement that his country would persist in its policy:

“Charter or no Charter, security Council or no security Council,” constituted such a challenge to the United Nations that it would have been “better to consider it defunct on the spot.”

While he did not yet know whether Portugal would be the first country to leave the UN, she would “surely be among the first”; meanwhile, Portugal would refuse all collaboration with the UN “in everything that is not in our direct interest”, Keesing’s Records said.

“Anglo-Portuguese alliance”

While paying tribute to the British and US efforts to persuade India to refrain from military action, Dr Salazar said that both Powers had “suffered a defeat at the gates of Goa.”

As regards the Anglo-Portuguese alliance, Portugal would re-examine it to see if any “positive content” remained.

In the course of his speech he accused Britain of delaying for a week her reply to Portugal’s request to be allowed the use of certain airfields; “had it not been for this delay,” he said:

“We should certainly have found alternative routes and we could have rushed to India reinforcements in men and material for a sustained defence of the territory.”

Dr Salazar’s allegation that the British Government had delayed overflights by Portuguese aircraft to Goa was denied by the British Foreign Office, Keesing’s records show.



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