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Eritrea: 'The Cuba of Africa'

Despite being the most demonized country in Africa, Eritrea is among the leaders of many socio-economic indicators - [Photo Credit: Ambassador Estifanos]

Eritrea: 'The Cuba of Africa'

By T.J. Petrowski

There exists in the Horn of Africa a small nation that few living in the West have heard of. A former Italian colony, Eritrea is only reported on in the mainstream media when the U.S. imposes further sanctions on this small country of six million, or when Hollywood makes a movie about a dictator in a fictitious country that shares its exact borders. But for those journalists living in Eritrea, the country is the "Cuba of Africa."

During the "scramble for Africa", Italy colonized the port of Asseb in modern day Eritrea in 1869, to compete with French and British control of the Red Sea shipping lanes. Britain administered the colony of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland following the defeat of Italy and the Axis powers in World War 2, and a United Nations resolution, backed by the U.S., made Eritrea an autonomous territory of Ethiopia in 1951. When Haile Selassie I, the feudal emperor of Ethiopia, unilaterally revoked Eritrea's autonomous status, separatists led by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) fought a 30 year war of independence.

When Eritrea achieved formal independence in 1993, its infrastructure had been devastated. A third of the population was in exile, agricultural and industrial production was in a state of collapse, and the ruling EPLF had to begin rebuilding the country in a state of ruin. The National Democratic Program outlined socialist development in four pillars: food security, water, health, and education.

Agrarian reforms radically transformed food security. Peasants were allocated small plots of land and provided with more modern tractors to work their farms. But the construction of a micro‑dam irrigation system  had the greatest impact on food security. These micro‑dams broke the age-old dependence on the rains in this arid region of Africa. In 2011, the United Nations Famine Early Warning System predicted millions would starve in capitalist Ethiopia, despite being the birthplace of the Nile River and the Zenawi regime exporting 10,000 tons of rice to Saudi Arabia that year. But the people of Eritrea were able to survive the worst of the drought.

Access to clean drinking water has improved dramatically. In 1990, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 43% of Eritreans had access to safe drinking water; by 2013 that number had risen to 85%, compared to 48% in Ethiopia. The government has supported a variety of methods to provide safe drinking water, including harvesting rainwater through roof collection and solar-powered pumps to extract ground water reserves.

Eritrea's "existing national health policy aims to ensure equity and access by majority population to essential health services at affordable cost, consistent with the Universal Health Coverage principles," the WHO reported. Eritrea is one of only three countries in Africa on target to reach the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. Eight major vaccine-preventable diseases have been eliminated, life expectancy is 66 years, the country is moving towards eliminating malaria, and HIV/AIDS infections in the general population is less than 1%. By comparison, HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. is around 3%, and Eritrea's life expectancy is equivalent to the state of Mississippi, in the richest country in the world. In Ethiopia, hailed as the "African lion" by pundits for its creation of millionaires, the WHO reports: "The main health concerns in Ethiopia include maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS compounded by acute malnutrition and lack of access to clean water and sanitation. The limited number of health institutions, inefficient distribution of medical supplies and disparity between rural and urban areas, due to severe under‑funding of the health sector, make access to healthcare services very difficult."

Adult literacy in Eritrea is 80%. Education is provided free to all students, including university and college, and the government spends 45% of its budget on education.

When it became clear that Eritrea would not adhere to Western neoliberalism, imperialism launched a campaign of demonization and economic sabotage, calling it a "rogue" state, a "dictatorship", and an "international sponsor of terrorism." Ethiopia invaded Eritrea in 1998 with the support of U.S. imperialism. Hundreds of thousands of troops were deadlocked in trenches along an 800 kilometer front, the largest and deadliest conventional war since the Iran‑Iraq War.

Allegedly the war was the consequence of Eritrean territorial expansion into Ethiopia, but this can easily be disproven. Ethiopia unilaterally superimposed its Tigray administrative zone into Eritrea. This change can be seen in maps created by the Ethiopian regime in 1997, compared to those by international organizations. The change was even visible on Ethiopian currency issued in 1997 showing an enlarged map of Ethiopia. A peace agreement was signed in Algeria in December 2000, establishing the Eritrean‑Ethiopian Border Commission (EECB), a UN body tasked with identifying a "final and binding" border between the two countries. In 2002, the EECB released its findings, awarding the controversial village of Badme to Eritrea, infuriating Ethiopia's leaders, who have rejected the ruling. To this date Ethiopia continues to militarily occupy Eritrean territories with U.S. support.

But the war wasn't about a border dispute. In a secret cable published by Wikileaks, Meles Zenawi, the former prime minister, tells Susan Rice, the former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs: "The outbreak of hostilities ... was never about the border dispute in Badme and Zelambessa... It was about economic and political differences". Smaller "border conflicts" also occurred between Eritrea and U.S.‑backed Yemen and Djibouti.

Now the U.S. has imposed crippling sanctions on Eritrea for its alleged support for al‑Shabaab in Somalia. Wikileaks also disproved this claim in its "Ethiopia Files". In a secret cable, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto said, "The role Eritrea plays in Somalia... is probably insignificant." The United Nations monitoring group in Somalia admitted it "has found no evidence to substantiate allegations that Eritrea supplied Al‑Shabaab with arms and ammunition by air in October and November 2011," even though this was used to justify Resolution 2023, imposing sanctions on Eritrea's mining development.

Canadians should be aware of Western imperialism's violent policies, and support the right of all people, whether in Eritrea, Cuba, Venezuela or Korea, to self-determination.

Literacy Rate in Africa by Generation: Eritrea leading East Africa

Story contributed by: Natna
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Eritrea: 'The Cuba of Africa' Reviewed by Admin on 7:46 AM Rating: 5


  1. Literacy can change the world! Photo Credit: Madote

  2. Is he talking about Eritrea that I know? Is he talking about Eritrea that I have visited twice the past 3 years? Is he talking about Eritrea where people in diaspora send food through cargo ship to their families?
    I dont know what the guy have been smoking.

  3. No you have not visited Eritrea! You visited Tigray! Wake up!!!

  4. Cruise,
    I was thinking the same :). This people are from another planet and are day dreaming. But they have now started to fight each other about who is most nationalistic, read the latest article at tesfanews :). The end of their drunk president (Hyena of Nakta) and his followers with identity complex is near to end :)

  5. ንአካ፡ቆማል፡አጋሜ፡ሐዚሉካ፡ስጋብ፡አራት፡ኪሎ፡ቤተመንግስት፡አብጺሂካሎ፡እንበር፡

  6. Will you shut up everyone knows you that you are komal agame sahsah.

  7. What happened to Singapore? lol. Now you want to be like Cuba? ዓቅምክን ምፍላጥ እባ ጀሚርክን:: ሀዚ እውን ግን ኩባ ዋላ እኳ ካብተን ድኻታትን ድሑራትን ሃገራት እንተኾነት ንዓኽን ግን ንሳ እውን ናይ ሕልሚ እንጀራ እያ:: ሕልምኹም ካብ ሲንጋፖር ናብ ኩባ ምልዋጥኩም ግን ፅቡቅ ጅማሮ እዩ:: ወይ ባድመ ዘምዘኣትልኩም መዘዝ!!! ኣብ ጥራሕ መዓኮርካ ፈራዕራዕ ኣብ ጥራሕ ከብድኻ ጠራዕራዕ እቲ ኣይስተ እቲ ኣይብላዕ::

  8. ንህና፡ከባ፡አይበልና፡አጋሜ፡አይበልና፡ሲንጋቦር፡አይበልና፡ንህና፡ዝበልና፡ኤርትራ።

  9. Niska tetsaref. NiHna Tegaru gin etom metahit tsbaH niguho ksadka kHardwo kijimru kelewu kof ilna aynriomn. Metsina kinenagfeka ina. NiHna TraH ina medHinka. NiHna neta zdelekaya netsanet hibnaka ab wukbti mesob gerna. TsibaH ewn niHna TraH ina kab guraden gozomon metaHit kinedHineka.

  10. ኣብ ዓለም እቲ ሙለእ ናፅነቱ ወኒኑ ዝነበረ ብሕታዊ ህዝቢ ኣብ ቅድሚ ግዙኣትን ርጉፃትን ዝነበሩ ኣህዛብ ነብሲ ምትሓት የርኢ እዩ ኢልካ ትኣምን እንተኾይንካ ምሕረት የውርድ:: ከመይ ዲኹም ትሓስቡ ኣንቱም ሰባት?

  11. Shut up agame resah, do you even sleep komal agame. or are you one of this woyane agame komalt cyber warrior, n hanti shim bebhade tebararikum gohaf ttshfu. komalt agame. get a life.

  12. komal agame metaht kebesa what ever your trying. we all hate agame and we will destroy you by your own people time is coming 2015 hnfshfsh katwokum eu. oromo afar gambela sidam amhara kulom khankukum eyom nhna ka gemed knhbom ena.

  13. ገና ክትፅለል ኢኻ ኣንታ ጃጃዊ ጋህታፍ::ብመልሓስካ እንዲኻ ሞይትካ:: ገና ገና ድማ እቲ ሬሳኻ እንጦርጦስ ክኣቱ እዩ:: ዓቅሊ ፅበት እዩ ዘዕብደካ ዘሎ እምበር ንተጋሩ ደኣ ፅንፅይኦም እኳ ኣይትነኽኣሎምን::Not even a second of life for haters!

  14. not even close agame gohaf wodzom lementy. knhankom ena you have no idea whats coming to you. your leaders are going to flee that gohaf tigrai. every one is coming for your heads. to all agmes komal there will be no mercy.

  15. Where have you been nebsi, tefikina imber!
    Welcome back.

  16. Jacob,
    You are amazing brother.
    You finally managed to cross the low IQ level, <55.
    You could not even pretend to have average IQ?
    Learn the history of Cuba, please.

  17. It's funny to read this from the second poorest country in the world.
    But the real fact is, ethiopia would fair much higher if it wasn't for its destitute, hopeless , beggar region called tigrai, We Eritreans call them lementi agames .

  18. Cuba kemana iyom, hanti abay neger, chama nay amerika kedmi 50 amet netsi gomo, itia tefelalyena nesekum chama telehsu ikum, neket lemenu metan..zel alem selemariam's hesret iyu ayte jaekob. Werzey mebal kebret iyu

  19. fave!! Agame Killer...hahahaha.....

  20. Beti'm'rti Denden!!! :)

  21. "Wedi Mai Telamit", you just could not handle it when Eritrea shine for all to see!. You just cannot swallow it when you see the Africans head to Eritrea to learn how to build a nation brick by brick!, Here you are; you just could not handle it. Three articles in one week, all written by foreigners, telling the truth about Eritrea. Here is Eritrea shining and here is Eritreans building a nation for all to see and to write about. Here is you knocking your head against the solid concrete. Go ahead bark like a mad dog or knock your head against the wall. Stay around, for the land of the can do people is shine brighter all to see.

    Read what is being written about Eritrea; and Eritrea is only shine brighter. In case you missed it, here is one of the foreign writers wrote about Eritrean and Eritreans:I quote word for word:

    "I film and photograph, in order to capture the truth, through my lenses.

    "After just a few days, a very clear portrait emerges: Eritrea; the African Cuba – country that stands on its own

    "Eritrea – a proud and determined nation, which fought for a long 30 years for its independence, and in the
    "process, losing hundreds of thousands of its sons and daughters during the struggle.

    "Eritrea – a country with its own egalitarian development model, working relentlessly for the welfare of its

    "Eritrea – a nation unwilling to sacrifice its citizens for the whims of the Empire and its corporations.

    ",Eritrea belongs to its own people."

    The writers continues........and I quote

    "I have worked in 150 countries of the world, and I never encountered a nation like this.

    "My first three days there were confusing. I tried to place Eritrea in a box, somewhere. Later, I just let go and
    "smiled… And enjoyed the ride, so to speak.

    "What a beauty she is! And what strength, courage, and resilience she radiates!

    "As my plane was taking off, for Cairo, at 4 in the morning, I was humming some tune, happily. I was leaving behind
    "a country that I truly could admire.

    "Inside, in my heart, I felt much richer than when I arrived.

    "If this was, for Western capitalism and imperialism, a virus – political and economic, social Ebola – then I was
    "ready to be infected by it, gladly over and over again!"

    Call here the Cuba or the Singapore of Afica, this is Eritrea defined and here is the the picture of Eritrea as painted by others for all to see. Read the above words over and over and then head to your lonely world.

    By the way, the Ethiopian volcano has erupted to consume the the Deki Mai Telamit and there no force stopping this volcano. If I was you, this is the time to pack and run for your life out of Addis Ababa

  22. From sing-a-poor to Cuba (kubaya) ? What happened to warsay ? Of ciurse yikealo is not there ? I hope we will not say next time that we would like to be Ethiopia,

  23. I visited Eritrea but for a minute I thought I was in Tigray. You know why? When baba (Pappa) Issayas enter Eritrea and secured his power, he put the development gear to R (incase you never had a car R means reverse) and drove the country to the same level as Tigray.

  24. Tanx Rara, I have been busy lately. You know how November and December months are. Always something

  25. I am challenging you to sit down and listen to the song linked below and listen to what Eritrea is saying,'

  26. Please ask him where he was when we were raping your women in Teseney.

  27. I wonder why ungrateful Eritrean youth are leaving this heavenly country and flowing to Ethiopia in mass?

  28. ኮዲምኩም፡ኮብ፡አሜሪካ፡ትበልኡ፡እንታይ፡ነፃነት፡ክህልወኩም፡ነፃነት፡እንታይ፡ማለት፡ምኮኑ፡ትፈልጦ???

  29. "I have worked in 150 countries of the world, and I never encountered a nation like this." ! ! !

    ካብ ዝጠቕስካዮ ብምጥቃስ!

    Come sempre! _ _ ✵✵HIDROM ✵

  30. "ሐውካ፡Where is Z cruise ፡ቡቅልት፡ይሽቅጥ፡ኔሩ፡እስካ፡ልዋጭ፡ልዋጭ፡ትብል።ኔርካ፡"


    ሓራምከ ! >>>> ሓቂ ዘዛረበካ ! <<<< ንኡስ ሓወይ መኮንን፣ በሎም ጨልግፎም ደኣ፣ ተካላት ፍጥረት ! !

  31. አባ፡ደሐር፡እዚ፡ንአአቶም፡ፀርፊ፡ይመስሎም፡ግና፡እዚ፡ፀርፊ፡አይኮነን።100%ሐቂዩ።



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