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Cablegate: Anti-U.S. Sentiments Mark Another Eritrean

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DE RUEHAE #0306 1621407
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R 101407Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9725
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ
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UNCLAS ASMARA 000306

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PROP SOCI ER
SUBJECT: ANTI-U.S. SENTIMENTS MARK ANOTHER ERITREAN
LIBERATION DAY

1. (SBU) Summary: As in the past two years, President Isaias
used the May 24 Eritrean Liberation Day festivities to
lambast the U.S. Administration for its policies on the
Eritrean-Ethiopian border and in the Horn of Africa, and to
blame the United States for virtually all economic and
political problems facing the world today. The follow-on
theatrical productions in Asmara and other cities focused
this year on societal themes of teaching the younger
generations of the precedence of duty to country over
personal desires. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Anti-U.S. sentiment once again dominated the
Eritrean May 24 Liberation Day festivities. (Note: The U.S.
Embassy did not receive an invitation this year to attend the
Liberation Day functions; we were the only resident
diplomatic mission not invited. End Note.) In his speech,
President Isaias assumed a belligerent, anti-U.S. tone. As
expected, Isaias lambasted the U.S. position on the
Ethiopian-Eritrean border dispute, noting the "failure of
attempts on the part of the U.S. Administration to hamper the
implementation of the Boundary Commission's ruling." The
President continued his tirade by accusing the United States
of "mass extermination of the human race" under the pretext
of the Global War of Terror, and assigned U.S. responsibity
for trampling democracy, undermining rule of law globally,
world food shortages, global increases in terrorism, and
skyrocketing fuel prices. The second half of Isaias's speech
focused on Eritrean food security, and - surprisingly - he
acknowledged "poor management" for the government's failure
to date to achieve food security. Isaias counseled his
fellow Eritreans against eating white bread, pasta, and other
foods not produced in the country, until food security is
achieved.

3. (SBU) As in prior years, the Eritrean government included
as part of its nationwide festivities amateur theatrical
presentations. In contrast to the strongly anti-U.S. 2007
production (which featured the nations of the world uniting
against, and defeating, the belligerent "super power"), this
year's artistic offering in Asmara had a more societal focus.
The play's theme centered on encouraging the older
generation to properly counsel the younger generation about
the traumas related to living in a war-torn society. Another
Liberation Day theatrical production in the city of Segeneity
followed a more xenophobic theme. The play featured a young
Eritrean soldier who is killed while attempting to flee the
country in order to marry his fiance living abroad. The
play's presumed moral appears two-fold: a reminder to
Eritreans that duty to their country takes precedence over
personal desires, and that attempting to leave Eritrea can
only result in disaster.

4. (SBU) Comment: The "blame America" official speech by
President Isaias has become standard fare for Liberation Day.
Isaias' anti-U.S./Western rhetoric in his direct address to
the Eritrean people nonetheless paled before various public
statements he made to the international press in a spate of
recent interviews, in which he blamed the CIA and UNHCR for
luring away the country's youth and provided dire warnings to
his fellow Eritreans that all that truly awaits them beyond
Eritrea's borders are refugee camps, prostitution, and
hardship. End Comment.
MCMULLEN

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