The 9th General Congress and the End of EFLNA in 1979
Source Eritreans For Liberation In North America (EFLNA
By Mehretab Mehari - Jul 26, 2007
The 9th General Congress of the Eritreans for Liberation in North America and the second congress of the Association of Eritrean Women in North America (AEWNA) between august 19-20 1978 in Washington DC. was held between 14-18 August 1978. Both organizations unanimously condemned the EPLF leaders as “capitulationist leadership” and decided to cut off all relations with it. EFLNA has been a mass organization of the EPLF for two years and AEWNA has been a mass organization for one year (See: Against the capitulationist line of the ‘Leaders’ of the Eritrean Revolution EFLNA New York New York 1978 p.1). It justified its actions by stating that “The stand taken at our congresses is a culmination of year and half internal struggle with the EPLF leaders on major questions of strategy and tactics of the Eritrean revolution. The principal differences between us the EPLF leadership lie: whether to regard the Soviet-led revisionism as our enemy or friend, especially when it is directly confronting our revolution, on the question of peaceful solution and the characterized the Ethiopian military junta.” (See: Against the capitulationist line of the ‘Leaders’ of the Eritrean Revolution EFLNA New York New York 1978 p.1) . The pamphlet presented the fundamental questions as it saw it and its differences with EPLF. First it stated clearly that EFLNA’s role has been “organizing Eritreans in North America, cultivating them in revolutionary theory, exposing the reaction line in the Eritrea struggle, publicizing EPLF, raising material support for the EPLF and participating in the armed struggles and other tasks. However, it saw it as its duty to expose EPLF leadership’s serious errors accusing the EPLF as having departed from “the correct line” and, along with the ELF leadership, had “capitulated to the Soviet led revisions”. They stated that the Soviet revisions had openly declared “counter revolutionary war” against Eritrea, along with Cubans and South Yemenis and the fascist junta in Ethiopia and were waging war to crush the Eritrean revolution. It accused ELF and EPLF as having embraced the Soviets regime as “the strategic ally ”of the Eritrean Revolution and the Ethiopian fascist Junta as an “anti-imperialist force. ….” According to EFLNA, both Fronts have in the most “shameless manner betrayed the national struggle” and “have proclaimed themselves as apologists of the Soviet-led revisions aggression. ..Under the guidance of Soviet revisions, they have renounced the banner of self-reliant protracted people’s war and are waging the white flag of ‘peaceful solution’ Thus, the leadership of the two fronts have become fifth columnists of the service of Soviet-led revisionism in Eritrea” (See: Against the capitulationist line of the ‘Leaders’ of the Eritrean Revolution EFLNA New York New York 1978 p.1
From its inception EFLNA was affiliated with the formerly PLF and which later became EPLF. The sudden turn of event of relationship between EFLNA and EPLF sent shock waves among its members. EFLNA changed from an organization that treated every decision made by the EPLF as correct, principled and revolutionary to suddenly considering it as “counter revolutionary and revisionist” After returning to their respective places of residences, members entered into a personal and collective crisis of loss of direction. The organization they worshiped as faultless was suddenly diminished and tarnished. The connections with EPLF that have given them a sense of having an impact on events in Eritrea was suddenly lost. The cutting off such link sent them into period of personal reckoning and conundrum. Many individuals who committed themselves to the movement confronted uncertainty in their beliefs and convictions. Many had sacrificed their scholarship from some illustrious universities in the US or bright future and had devoted their time and money to the movement. Many of them delayed commitment to having families and children, and professional careers. From the beginning there was so much confusion and disillusionment among members. By 1979 the members could be categorized into four discernible large groups. The first were “loyal” members of EFLNA who held the line of the congress and maintained their beliefs in the actions of dissociating from EPLF. The second group consisted of “loyal” EPLF supporters who questioned the decision to disconnect from EPLF. The third gourp were members of EFLNA who were on the margins of action and decision making and found a new opportunity to become more powerful within the student movement by aligning themselves with the “loyal” EPLF supporters. These two regroup to bring back members to supporting and affiliating with EPLF. The largest majority refocused their energy to their own personal lives including going back to school, pursuing professional careers and getting married and creating own families in the US and most vowed to participate in non-political events concerning Eritrea and Eritreans. There were open conflict and even fist fights between the “loyal” members of EFLNA and the “loyal” followers of EPLF in some US cities. By 1979, with increasing internal squabbles and in fights within the EFLNA, it ceased to exist as a viable organization.