Feb 26 is celebrated as the liberation day in Kuwait, cheered not only by Kuwaitis but also many Goans. In 1990, Saddam Hussein led-Iraq, invaded Kuwait. 25, 000 Goans were left stranded over-night in a war zone. Streets were patrolled by Iraqi soldiers. Many Goans were evacuated and had to return home empty handed.
Why did Goans choose to go to Kuwait?
Kuwait, a country that looks like tiny dot on the world map but, has immense wealth (many big countries will feel shy). It is also a hub for many Goans seeking employment in the gulf.
From the mid- twentieth Century, Kuwait under took large-scale modernization, which resulted in demand being created for workers to come to the country and earn a living. In regards to this many Goans had immigrated to the country for employment. The biggest advantage was that it paid well. Kuwaiti Dinar is the highest valued currency in the world.
Causes leading to the invasion
Iraq had borrowed billions from Kuwait to fight the war with Iran, which ended in a stalemate in 1988. After the war Iraq requested the Kuwaiti loan be wavered, this was rejected by Kuwait, leading to strained relationship between the two countries. This led to the Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on the August 2, 1990 and it soon being over-run by Iraqi forces.
Effects of the invasion
This resulted in the population suffering under the foreign occupation. Many Goans at that time had to either endure the occupation or leave the country (through an evacuation effort launched by India). Many had come home empty handed; putting them in a dire situation as working abroad was their only source of livelihood.
Efforts were launched in Goa to highlight the invasion, the Goa-Solidarity Centre was established and on November 12 a rally was taken out in Panjim city to show support for Kuwait. Soon, international efforts launched what is today known as ‘Gulf War’ and liberated the country on Feb 26, 1991.