Structure of Society
The most pervasive influences on the structure of Angolan society in the late 1980s were the Marxist-Leninist policies of the government and increased militarization to counter the UNITA insurgency. Based on the principle that the party, the working class, and the worker-peasant alliance played a leading role in society, Marxist-Leninist policies were applied in the late 1970s to every sector of society and the economy, affecting the lives of urban and rural inhabitants alike. Direct military actions had the greatest effect on those living in the central and southern provinces, causing large displacements of whole groups of people and the creation of a substantial refugee population in Zambia and Zaire. Moreover, thousands of young men and women were conscripted into the Angolan armed forces, while many thousands of older citizens served in militias and civil defense units. In regard to the direct effects of war, press reports in 1988 estimated that since 1975 the insurgency had claimed from 60,000 to 90,000 lives and had orphaned an estimated 10,000 children. The U.S. Committee for Refugees reported that by 1988 about 20,000 Angolans, mostly women and children, had been crippled by mines buried in rural fields and roads.
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