Friday, March 30, 2007

The Optimistic Hoax




The cited “time of optimism” for the West African Country of Liberia is once again overshadowed by fate’s unsympathetic and unfortunately very cynical sense of humor.

On February 13th, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced that the United States will forgive the $391 million debt Liberia owes it. President Bush also asked congress for more than $200 million in assistance for the fiscal years 2007 and 2008.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman head of state in Africa, was elected in November, 2005. The relief of the total 3.7 billion dollars is Johnson-Sirleaf's top priority. The first lady petitions that most of the country’s debt was acquired during the presidencies of Samuel Doe, and Charles Taylor, including 740 million dollars to the International Monetary fund, 530 million dollars to the World Bank, and 255 million dollars to the African Development Bank. America's forgiveness of the debt seems to be the least that they can do since the Firestone Plantation has occupied 400 acres of Liberian soil for 6 cents an acre since 1926.

But alas Liberia once again sits on the porch step like an illegitimate child that awaits their day at the park with a father that never seems to come. According to the country’s Finance Minister Samuel P. Jackson, “if Liberia is to get relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative, to have its bilateral debts (funds owed to countries) cancelled; the country must first settle outstanding arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the African Development Fund (AfDF)”.

Apparently, Liberia can only be forgiven the 700 million dollar debt owed to the U.S., Germany, and the UK if they agreed to “significant economic and social reforms”. According to Jackson, that would still leave Liberia with outstanding debts of close to 3 billion dollars, most of which were acquired during the country’s war by former (and now either deceased or exiled) presidents.

The reality is devastating. In order for the country to barely stand on their own, they must re-sell their souls for the “significant economic and social reforms” which we all know suggests the further exploits of human and natural resources.

See the link for the full article below:

http://www.theperspective.org/articles/2007/0226200703.html

-Wayetu Moore

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