AK-47: 20th century´s weapon #3

 Africa AK-47 Latin America Guns Brazil Guatemala War Kalashnikov Mozambique Drug Dealers Nicaragua

The neocolonialism that was established in Asia and Africa in the beginning of the 20th century, began to crumble after WWII, through revolutions that demanded territorial independence from European countries such as the Netherlands, France and Portugal. But what made the African case so particular and problematic was the fact that the borders established by these European countries were not the same as the ones established by local communities and tribes, who, often times rivals, had to share the same space. Even though this is a rather simplistic explanation - after all, this isn't a History lesson - through it we can understand the consequences of the fights for independance by African countries, added to the hatred that already existed between groups that now demanded, each of them, local power. Add to the above situation large amounts of diamonds, psychotic leaders, a large, out-of-use arsenal left by the ex-USSR and ruthless, profit-seeking gun dealers. And there you have it, a recipe that guarantees AK-47 factories clients that will last them for, at least, another half-century.

Liberia, Angola, Sudan and Mozambique were the African countries that recieved more Avtomat Kalashnikov 1947. They came from factories in Albania, Egypt, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, among others, that supplied developping African countries. That is, they supplied every militia that fought for the government of the country. Rebel leaders armed entire populations, including children, who could easily handle this simple yet deadly rifle. So this gun became so abundant that it was sold, at one point, for US$ 10 or traded for a bunch of bananas. With diamonds in Togo and Guinea, dictator Charles Taylor sent tons of kalashnikovas to Liberia. In 1975, the ten-year war for the liberation of Mozambique was over and the country went through a civil war. By the time the Peace Agreement was signed, in 1994, their national flag was already established: it featured a powerful AK-47 as a symbol for the people and their strugle.

But they still needed to "conquer" South America. This assault rifle could adapt itself to various humidity conditions as well as to muddy terrains. What gun could be better for the Latin militias? The AK-47 reached Nicaragua in the 1970, bought along with local merchandise, cocaine, to collaborate in Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN)'s fight to overthrow, after 40 years of dictatorship, president Anastásio Somoza. The left-wing communist rebels took charge in Manágua - the country's capital - and built a statue of a warrior raising a kalashnikova. In the base of the statue you can read: "In the end, there will only be left workers and peasants". Actually, there were also quite a lot of AK-47 rifles that were then sold to their neighbooring countries, such as Honduras and El Salvador and, afterwards, re-sold to drug dealers and rebels in Peru, Colombia and Brasil, where it is sold at low cost and is considered a basic weapon in the hands of the Red Comand, in Rio de Janeiro or the Capital's First comand, in São Paulo. They're cheerfully sung in local funk and rap parties.

They still reach Latin America legally these days. In 2005, Hugo Chávez bought from Russia 100 000 AKs and has already announced his intentions of building an AK-103 factory in his country, just outside Caracas. In a nutshell, the AK-47 has stepped into the 21st century with enviable health, in spite of all the blood it has shed over the years - it is estimated that it has killed, at least, 7 million people with its 100 million units produced. Its creator isn't doing too bad either, Mikail Kalashnikov is now 88 years old, has a brand of vodka named after him and has published his memoirs a few years ago. He lives a quiet life in a house in the woods in the South Urals, in Russia.

 Africa AK-47 Latin America Guns Brazil Guatemala War Kalashnikov Mozambique Drug Dealers Nicaragua

 Africa AK-47 Latin America Guns Brazil Guatemala War Kalashnikov Mozambique Drug Dealers Nicaragua  Africa AK-47 Latin America Guns Brazil Guatemala War Kalashnikov Mozambique Drug Dealers Nicaragua

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