Liberia: America's Closest Ally
Despite the historical links between Liberia and the United States, American into the complex political situation in Liberia today will encourage American teachers for teaching lies not only in its historical relationship with the United States. The United States and Liberia's long, shared history dates back nearly two centuries. recognized the Republic of Liberia in , established diplomatic relations and The new complex is located at Greystone, near the Embassy's existing. Liberia - United States Relations: Shifts And Turning Points . modem Liberian state is integrally the product of a complex African past woven.Reopening of Kaesong Industrial Complex
Under President Kennedy, the U. In exchange for this aid, Liberia offered its land free of rent for U. Under Liberian president William V. Tubman, Liberia voted with the U. This relationship enabled the U.
Trouble foreshadowed The seemingly cozy relationship between the United States and Liberia began to falter under William R. Tolbert, who became president in when Tubman died.
He severed Liberia's ties with Israel during the Yom Kippur War in October that pitted Egypt and Syria against Israel, and he spoke out for recognition for national rights of the Palestinian people.
He also renegotiated a better deal with Firestone and encouraged political and economic freedom.
Liberia - United States Relations: Shifts And Turning Points
The fact that this was the first official visit by an American president to Liberia FDR had made his stop simply to visit U. Doe led 17 young soldiers in a coup in which they assassinated Tolbert, executed many of the Cabinet members, and imprisoned dozens of other government officials.
Despite the violent way in which Doe came to power, the U. Doe was a useful ally for the U.
U.S. Department of State
In the first five years of Doe's rule, the U. In exchange, Doe did close to everything the U. He granted the U. He closed the Libyan mission in Monrovia and reduced the staff of the Soviet Embassy.
He also reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel. Doe's corruption became an embarrassment to the U.
Liberia–United States relations - Wikipedia
Human rights violations were frequent. A portion of U. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Chester Crocker testified before Congress that the election was imperfect but that at least it was a movement toward democracy. He further justified his statement with the claim that, in any case, all African elections were known to be rigged at that time.
As the Cold War ended, U. House and Senate passed resolutions calling for an end to U. Liberians continued to hope that the U. Liberians believed that the U. That same year, Charles Taylor and his rebel forces invaded from the Ivory Coast and set off a bloody and destructive seven-year-long civil war in Liberia.
As fighting between the rebels and the Liberian army intensified, Liberians kept hoping that the United States would step in, remove Doe, and broker a peace agreement. Instead, it limited its involvement to merely evacuating U. A relationship unravels Today the U. But the amount of U.
The Peace Corps program no longer operates in Liberia for political and safety reasons. Under Taylor, the violence and human rights violations have continued. S has accused the Liberian government of contributing to a regional refugee crisis, creating instability in the region, and fueling the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone by providing arms in exchange for diamonds mined under terrible conditions. Liberia, therefore, currently faces a UN-imposed ban on diamond exports, as well as a travel ban on senior Liberian officials and an arms embargo.
To help or not to help In the span of years, the relationship of the United States to Liberia has gone from one of parental nurturing to one of self-interested assistance to one of increasing disengagement. There are many views on whether the U. Some feel that the U. In this view, the U. Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo are examples of places in which the U.
Many of the "Americo-Liberians"-as they came to be called-adopted the role of middlemen in trade with the indigenous peoples of Liberia. Others prospered in such artisan crafts as shipbuilding and barrel making. The principal source of revenue for the Liberian colony was customs duties levied on all imports and exports.
British and other European merchants had been trading with coastal tribes in this region for many years; things changed when they refused to pay the taxes, in effect denying the legitimacy of the ACS, whom they regarded as a group of private Americans without the right to claim sovereignty over Liberia.
This British refusal prompted the severing of ties between the settlers and the ACS, changing Liberia's status in the international community from that of a private venture to that of an independent state.
Liberia declared independence inadopting a new constitution and governmental structure patterned directly after that of the United States. English was declared the official language. The national currency from colonial times to the present has been the U. Even the red-white-and-blue flag of Liberia was patterned after the U. Geography and People Liberia's significance as a topic for teaching lies not only in its historical relationship with the United States, but also in its place within the West African sub-region of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Liberia's distinguishing geographical qualities relate to its relative location and internal characteristics; its ethnic makeup and recent human movement; and its human-environmental relationships.
Liberia is located in the humid tropics along the bulge of West Africa. The landscape consists of plains and lowlands along the coast, with low mountains in the north. As is typical of the tropics, temperatures are high year-round, with distinct wet and dry seasons. During the wet season, which extends from April through November, the coastal areas receive as much as to inches of rain annually. Liberia possesses West Africa's largest tropical rainforest, a source of both rubber and timber.
In addition, its natural resources include iron ore, diamonds, and gold. Liberia is one of Africa's smaller countries. Its area of 38, square miles roughly equals the size of Tennessee or Ohio. Inthe population was 2,, with a population density of 77 people per square mile.
The population was down to 2,, with 44 percent urban dwellers and a density of 55 persons per square mile-this decline reflecting the degree of outmigration caused by internal conflict during the decade. Linguistically, all of these tribes belong to one of three language families-Mande, Kwa, and West Atlantic-within the greater Niger-Congo language group.
The tribes include the Kpelle 21 percentthe Bassa 15 percentthe Kru 10 percentthe Gio 9 percentthe Grebo 9 percentthe Mano 8 percentthe Gola 6 percent the Krahn 5 percentthe Mandingo 4 percentthe Gbandi 4 percentthe Loma 4 percentthe Kissi 3 percentthe Vai 3 percentthe Mende 2 percentand the Bella 1 percent. Liberia shares borders with three countries: Sierra Leone to the west, Cote d'Ivoire to the east, and Guinea to the north.
The civil war that has engulfed Liberia in recent years has forced tens of thousands to flee; in the early s, the outmigration rate was as many as per people.
The influx of Liberian refugees into neighboring countries has strained their resources, resulting in the closing of international borders on several occasions. The human-environmental relationships in modern Liberia are a significant factor in its problems. The combination of a tropical environment and scarcity of productive cropland have contributed to the comparatively low population density previously mentioned.
Additionally, because of the lack of arable land, humans have encroached significantly upon rainforest habitats, an environmental trend that shows no sign of improving. Recent Political and Social Upheaval The political and social disruptions that have engulfed Liberia in recent years have destroyed most of its infrastructure, left thousands dead, sent many more thousands into neighboring countries, and accelerated the rate of decline of the Liberian economy.
Unfortunately, the United States has failed to use its influence to avert what has become a tragedy for millions of Liberians. Prior to the s, Liberia was a relatively peaceful country that had never impeached or violently deposed an elected president. It had a special relationship with the United States, and at the height of the Cold War, remained a staunch supporter of U.
The United States benefitted from this special relationship through both an agreement that created a huge Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia in and the establishment of military landing rights in the country during World War II.
Policy & History
The causes of Liberia's political and social upheavals cannot be explained without considering the historical context. The five percent of Liberians known as Americo-Liberians are descendants of former slaves in the United States. They came from states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, and Kentucky, and they transplanted the culture of these southern states to the new country.
The settlers arrived with a variety of skills acquired in America. They valued education as a symbol of success, and this was reflected in the culture of the new country. School became mandatory for children between the ages of six and sixteen. However, limited teaching resources meant that children of Americo-Liberians had priority over indigenous children.
From untilpolitical, economic, and social control remained in the hands of the Americo-Liberians, who emerged as the ruling elite.
The integration of indigenous Liberians into the political system was not a priority, creating a full-fledged resentment against the Americo-Liberian minority. With the first elections inJoseph Jenkins Roberts birthplace Virginia became the president of Liberia, serving until Neither he nor the next sixteen presidents made any concerted effort to bridge the social, economic, political, and cultural gaps between the settlers and the indigenous people. William Tubman, the eighteenth president, attempted to unify all Liberians under his Unification Policy, which was designed to eliminate any social and political privilege for Americo-Liberians.
Unfortunately, this motto remains in place today. Reform and Riot Tubman's reign of more than a quarter of a century ended in without political and social upheaval. His successor was Laurent Tolbertwho liberalized the political climate with a new guarantee of freedom of speech. President Tolbert initiated reforms to integrate indigenous people into Liberian society and politics.
These reforms did not go far enough to alleviate deep-seated resentments against the minority elite. In Aprilthe price of the staple food rice was increased. The Tolbert government had underestimated the resulting frustration of ethnic groups, which sparked "rice riots" in Monrovia and elsewhere.
Continued rioting weakened the power base of the government and strengthened that of the military. On April 12,a group of indigenous Liberian military officers staged a successful coup d'etat, toppling the government and killing Tolbert and all of his cabinet in the process.
According to the leaders of the coup, the Tolbert government had become notorious for corruption, despotism, and the accumulation of private wealth. Doe was installed as head of state, the first time political power shifted away from the Americo-Liberians to the indigenous people. Many ethnic Liberians regarded the coup as a liberation from the old ruling elite. But after the military take-over, the hopes of Liberians for the fairer distribution of wealth and power quickly diminished in a new era of repression that prohibited any true discourse on the future of the country.
New Repression In andthe Doe government issued decrees making it a crime to criticize the government. Many radicals and intellectuals fled the country, while others were placed in detention. Doe suspended the constitution and declared martial law. These policies were carried out with the aid of a military apparatus filled with Krahn ethnic members.
Many Liberians in the United States, firmly convinced of the appropriateness of the democratic way of life, became involved in the struggle for reform in Liberia, but were reluctant to return home since they would certainly be prime targets for arrest. Inthe arrest of Professor Amos Sawyer led to student demonstrations on the University of Liberia campus in Monrovia.
Soldiers stormed the campus, killing more than 40 students and arresting others. The Doe government dismissed the entire university administration and faculty, and made reappointment contingent upon agreeing not to espouse radical views. The United States government pressured the Doe regime to return Liberia to civilian rule, with the Reagan Administration promising the funding to ensure free and fair elections.
InDoe conceded to U.
On October 15,in a disputed election, Doe emerged as the winner to become a civilian president. Many Liberians felt cheated when the United States supported the election results, in spite of protests from members of the U. Congress who witnessed election irregularities in Monrovia. Doe continued human rights abuses and suppression of ethnic groups other than the Krahns, setting the stage for a coup attempt on November 12, Thomas Qwiwonkpa, an ethnic Gio, led the failed coup.