I was honored to speak at the 49th annual National Council of Eritrean Americans conference and festival recently held in Tacoma, Washington. Black Agenda Report has always been a staunch defender of the rights of the Eritrean people to live free from U.S. domination. BAR exposes the lies that are told about that nation by the U.S. and their partners in corporate media. The late Glen Ford was especially keen to explain why this country, which is referred to as a “prison camp” and which is described in the most negative and inaccurate ways possible, is in fact a functioning state which overcomes the hardships created by U.S. sanctions to care for its people.
Eritrea is a small nation on the Horn of Africa with a population of only 6 million people. In 1991 it emerged as an independent country after years of war with Ethiopia and is decidedly socialist, which is why the U.S. has remained so hostile to its existence.
The U.S. has waged an unrelenting attack using unilateral coercive measures, commonly known as sanctions, against Eritrea. Eritrea is barred from using the SWIFT financial transactions system, which creates not only financial hardships but which even makes it difficult to send medicines and medical equipment.
The goal of these persecutions is to punish Eritrea for its determination to be socialist and independent of U.S. influence. The only African nations free of entanglements with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) are Eritrea and Zimbabwe. This refusal to go along with the imperialist agenda has placed Eritrea firmly in the crosshairs of the U.S.
Of course the state uses its operatives in corporate media to assist in their destabilization effort. It even uses the name of another demonized country as part of its smear campaign. Eritrea is called the North Korea of Africa, which is a tactic to either erase it from consideration as a nation inhabited by human beings with rights, and to establish it as a pariah to be ignored or perhaps even destroyed as a regime change target.
In my remarks I spoke of the need for independent media such as Black Agenda Report to act as journalists should, being skeptical of official narratives and seeking out information from those who are being attacked. Invariably one finds that the amplified voices are those of de facto agents of the state who work to spread war propaganda whenever they are told to do so.
While Kenya agrees to participate in the impending occupation of Haiti, and nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) act as directed by Washington to sanction and even wage war against Niger, Eritrea is celebrating its independence from foreign control. The U.S. and the rest of what is known as the western world, engage in continued hostility against Eritrea because it insists upon being a fully sovereign nation. Self-determination is the last thing that Washington wants. Domination is always their goal and so the process of trying to crush those countries that refuse to be dominated continues.
The conference and festival were an opportunity for Eritreans in this country to celebrate their homeland, its history, and the culture of the nine ethnic groups who live there. They are portrayed as people who fled state oppression and yet they are quite proud even as they live elsewhere. Of course U.S. destabilization always brings displacement as people in the targeted nation become refugees fleeing the hardships that Washington instigates.
Eritrea has succeeded where others have failed. Washington and its minions are quite serious about exerting control over African nations. When leaders who act on behalf of their people rise up, they are often brought down by concerted effort from the U.S. and its colonizer partners. Such was the fate of Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, and Thomas Sankara to name just a few. Those Africans who succeed in working for and maintaining an independent path should be studied so that their successes can be replicated. Eritrea’s exclusion from Biden’s 2022 summit with African nations was further proof that it is working for the benefit of its people and ultimately for all African people.
Attending the Eritrean American festival was a proud moment, a legacy of Glen Ford’s work and of the connections he forged with that community. Enhancing those ties is a necessity for anyone who claims a Pan-African orientation. The Eritrean people are definitely showing the way for anyone interested in African self-determination.