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News ::
14 Aug 2003

By Monica Moorehead
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Aug. 21, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Monica Moorehead

President Charles Taylor of Liberia left office on Aug. 11 to accept
political asylum in Nigeria. On Aug. 13, Bush and the Pentagon announced that 200 Marines will be sent to Liberia, a sign of a deepening U.S. intervention. His vice president, Moses Blah, took over the presidency when he stepped down.

Taylor recorded a 15-minute farewell address to the people of Liberia.
Part of his remarks accused President George W. Bush of forcing him out of office.

"The solution to the problem in Liberia cannot be for the president of
the United States to ask the president of Liberia to leave," Taylor
said. He added, "This is an American war against the republic. ... I can say I am being forced into exile by the world superpower." (New York Times, Aug. 11)

As Taylor was leaving office, Nigerian "peacekeeping" troops under the
auspices of the Economic Community of West African Nations were sent to Liberia, where they were greeted warmly by Liberians wanting peace.

The Liberian people hope that the presence of these troops will help
bring to a close a 14-year civil war that has brought about an
unimaginable loss of life and injury, along with deepening economic and political chaos.

More than 2,000 U.S. Marines on three battleships are stationed right
off the coast of Liberia, a country bordered by Sierra Leone, Ivory
Coast and Guinea in West Africa. A handful of these Marines are
"assisting" the Nigerian troops in coordinating the "peacekeeping"

Taylor led a military rebellion against his late predecessor, Samuel
Doe, in the late 1980s and early 1990s before being elected president in 1993. In 2000, Liber ians United for Reconciliation and Demo cracy was formed to force Taylor out of office. LURD is based in the former French colony of Sierra Leone and some sources charge that LURD receives financial backing from inside the U.S. and Britain.

In the spring of 2003, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) was formed as a split-off group from LURD. MODEL is based in Ivory Coast, which is presently occupied by French colonial troops. According to the PBS Online News Hour website, LURD controls Liberia territory in the north and west while MODEL controls territory in the south and east. Together they control 60 percent of Liberia's land as well as the port of Monrovia.


Those inside and outside of the Bush administration are debating whether these Marines should join the Nigerian troops for both "humanitarian and historical" reasons. Those defending U.S. military intervention say that the U.S. "owes" the Liberian people because of the historical ties between the two countries.

Liberia was officially declared a free state for former slaves in 1847. Its capital, Monrovia, was named after President James Monroe. Liberia's flag, currency and constitution are modeled after the U.S.

The little-known truth is that as far back as 1822, the American
Colonization Society, made up of Southern slave owners and some
abolitionists, secured millions of acres of land very cheaply in

The slave owners within the ACS supported this plan because they felt
threatened by capitalist expansion at the expense of the slavocracy.
They also wanted to deny the future freed slaves their democratic rights to land, education and rights enjoyed by a majority of whites inside the U.S.

In the 1920s, the Firestone Company bought land from the Liberian
government at a measly 6 cents an acre in order to loot the sap from the timber to create rubber. Firestone had pledged to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Liberia in exchange for a $5-million loan taken out by the Liberian government under U.S. pressure. The roads built by Firestone benefited their own infrastructure, not the people of Liberia. The loan officially began the indebtedness of Liberia to the U.S. Firestone became the world's largest rubber plantation owner due to its super-exploitation and plunder of Liberia's resources and its people.

In 2001, following thousands of layoffs, Firestone paid Liberian rubber tappers starvation wages of less than $3 an hour and violently denied these wage slaves the right to unionize.

Despite almost $1 billion in U.S. aid since 1847, Liberia suffers from
85-percent unemployment because of its lack of economic development. The annual average income per person is less than $100. One out of every three Liberian children under the age of five suffers from extreme malnutrition. Cholera, malaria and starvation are at epidemic levels due to lack of food, running water and preventive health care.


While the people of the U.S. and the world support the aspirations of
the Liberian people to bring an end to the terrible civil war, Bush and the Pentagon do not share those aspirations. His administration's
motives lie in supporting the interests of the transnational
corporations and banks who want to continue to profit off the tremendous mineral wealth of Africa--especially untapped oil reserves found in the Gulf of Guinea, in close proximity to Liberia. This is the real reason why the Marines are off the Liberian coast.

Civil wars are not caused by one or two individuals vying for political power--the way Taylor is so crudely portrayed in the imperialist media.

Civil wars are rooted in decades of capitalist economic pillage and
exploitation that has encouraged artificial social divisions, along with real misery and suffering.

This is true for Liberia and throughout much of Africa.

The Liberian people owe billions of dollars to the imperialist banks for a debt not of their making or choosing. It is the banks, along with the U.S. corporations, that should be paying the Liberian people billions of dollars in long overdue reparations to help them achieve economic development and lay the basis for realizing true independence and sovereignty.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
on (at) Unsubscribe wwnews-off (at) Support the
voice of resistance

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