President of Angola. Neto served as the first President of Angola from 1975 to 1979, after leading the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) to victory in the war for independence. He was born to a Methodist pastor in Bengo Province, Angola. Neto studied medicine at the universities of Coimbra and Lisbon in Portugal. It was in Portugal where he combined his academic life with political activity and he was arrested in 1951 for his activism. Neto finished his studies after he was released in 1958 and he returned to Angola in 1959. Neto became President of the newly formed revolutionary group MPLA after his return and he was again arrested in 1960. A march for his release turned into the Massacre of Icolo e Bengo in which 30 people were killed and 200 wounded. After this, Neto was sent into exile to Cape Verde, but then the Portuguese government sent him to jail in Lisbon. He was released after international protests and put under house arrest. While under house arrest, he escaped first to Morocco and then Zaire. In 1962, Neto visited the United States to seek support for his war against Portugal, but was turned down. He met Che Guevara in 1965 and a friendship developed with the Cuban government. After the Carnation Revolution took place in Portugal in 1974, three different factions fought for Angolan power, one of which was the MPLA. On November 11, 1975, Angola achieved full independence from Portugal and afterwards Neto's MPLA seized control of the capital Luanda. Neto became the first president of Angola and his government developed relationships with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Eastern Bloc countries. His government was based on a Marxist-Leninist philosophy, but was more socialist than communist. In 1977, an attempted coup by communists was defeated by Neto's government. He passed away in a Moscow hospital while undergoing surgery for cancer shortly before his 57th birthday. He was succeeded by Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who still serves as President of Angola. Neto's birthday is celebrated as National Heroes Day in Angola and is a public holiday.
Bio by: Mr. Badger Hawkeye