Francisco Mendes

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Francisco Mendes, nom de guerre Chico Té (February 7, 1939 – July 7, 1978) was a Guinea-Bissau politician. He was the country's first Prime Minister and held that position from September 24, 1973 until his assassination on July 7, 1978 under suspicious circumstances.

In the early 1960s PAIGC launched an armed struggle against Portuguese imperialism which would last more than a decade. After negotiations between Portugal and PAIGC in early 1974, Portugal granted independence to Guinea-Bissau despite PAIGC having declared unilateral independence nearly a year prior.

The PAIGC-led government was headed by Luís Cabral, half-brother of the PAIGC co-founder Amílcar Cabral whose assassination in Conakry on January 20, 1973 remains a mystery. Francisco Mendes was appointed the country's first Prime Minister and in this role in the newly UN-member, Francisco Mendes was responsible for a series of Socialism-inspired development programs, and a four-year strive toward national reconciliation.

Although the causes behind his death on July 7, 1978 are still disputed, it is mostly accepted that PAIGC was involved in it. A widely accepted theory – though unverifiable as of 2006 – is that dissent among PAIGC leadership may have led to his assassination.

As an African nationalist and a national figure in the struggle for independence, Francisco Mendes has been honoured both in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. In addition to his face being featured in 500 Pesos Guineense, many schools and streets bearing his name can be seen throughout Guinea-Bissau, and Francisco Mendes International Airport in Praia, Cape Verde was named in his honour.

He left four children behind: Osvaldo Mendes, Valentina Mendes, Fanta Luisa da Silva Mendes, and Abel Augusto Mendes.

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