LIBERIA, on the west coast of Africa, has an area of 43,000 square miles (about the size of Iceland) and a population of 2.4 million. It was founded in 1847 by American philantrophic organisations as a colony for liberated black slaves from the United States.

    Liberia's two main exports are iron ore (which accounts for 70% of export earnings) and rubber -- mainly from the vast US-owned 'Firestone' plantations. According to the late President of Liberia, William Tubman,

    Liberia's capital, Monrovia (population 425,000) is named after James Mon~oe (1758-1831), the fifth President of the United States. Liberia's unit of currency is the US dollar. Although Americano-Liberians comprise only 5% of the population, they have dominated Liberian politics since the foundation of the c6untry in consequence of the country's dependence on United States imperialism.


    American interests in the country include:

    In 1971 William Tubman; who had been President since 1944 as leader of the 'True Whig Party' (which had ruled Liberia since 1870), died, and was succeeded by William Tolbert, previously Vice-President,     Unlike Tubman, however, Tolbert came to stand for     In April 1979 large-scale demonstrations broke out in Monrovia over a proposed increase in price of rice. According to official figures, 41 persons were killed and 548 injured when police fired on demonstrators. Damage was estimated at $40-49 million. Congress granted Tolbert emergency powers for a year and the university -- described by Tolbert as:     -- was closed down.

    By this time Liberia's foreign indebtedness

    In April 1980 it was judged that the time was opportune to put the CIA plans into motion. A military coup, carried out by a 'People's Redemption Council', composed of junior army officers, seized the presidential mansion assassinated Tolbert and his Ministers, and proclaimed the coup leader Master-Sergeant Samuel Doe -- President. Doe     The new regime suspended the Constitution, proclaimed martial law and banned all political parties.     Between April, and December 1980 the US government sent four missions to Liberia ('Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume 28; p. 31,283).     In April 1981 US forces took part in joint manoeuvres with the Liberian armed forces and the US destroyer 'Thorn' visited Monrovia. ('Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume 28; op. 31,283).

    In May 1981 the Libyan 'People's Bureau' in Liberia was ordered to close, and the Soviet Embassy in Monrovia was ordered to reduce its staff from 15 to 6. In July 1985 diplomatic relations were severed with the Soviet Union. (Keesings' Contemportary Archives', Volume 28; p. 31,283).

    In August 1982 Doe paid a two week official visit to the USA during which he had a meeting with President Ronald Reagan. The US government agreed to provide training facilities for the Liberian armed forces, together with military aircraft and $15 million in military credits during 1983.
('Keesing's Contempotary Archives', Volume 29; p. 32,296).

    In September 1982 the International Monetary Fund approved grants to Liberia totalling $88 million. ('Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume,29; p. 32,297).

    In February 1983 Liberia signed an agreement with the USA worth $5 million for an improvement of Roberts International Airport in return for the granting of refuelling facilities for US military, aircraft. ('Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume 29; p. 32,296).

    As a result of     In July 1984 political parties were allowed to reform, subject to registration by the government. The ban on political parties was lifted. By the time elections were held (in October 1985), four parties had been registered:
    Doe's own 'National Democratic Party of Liberia' (NAPL),
    and three opposition parties --
    the Liberia Unification Party,
    the Liberian Action Party and,
    the Unity Party.     In October 1985 elections were held, in which Doe was declared elected President, with 51% of the vote, while Doe's NDPL was declared to have won 22 out of 26 seats in the Senate and 51 out of 64 seats in the House of Representatives... By early November all the opposition parties had denounced the elections for:     while the US Congress had characterised them as     Only 9 representatives of foreign states (including that, of the USA) attended Doe's inauguration.     Although the US government - - and especially the US Congress -- paid lip-service for political reasons to its concern for 'human rights',     and to the fact that     Before the election had been held, however, the Liberian government had committed the gravest 'breach of human rights' imaginable to Washington: it had defaulted on the repayment of its loans

    In June 1985 the International Monetary Fund ruled that Liberia was no longer eligible for IMF credits because of its failure to pay on time arrears of some $52.4 million.

    In November 1985 Doe announced austerity measures, including 25% cut in the salaries of government servants:

    Early in 1986, both Houses of the US Congress passed resolutions urging the Administration to suspend 'aid' to Liberia on the grounds that the 1985 elections had been rigged and that the Doe regime's record on human rights was 'poor'. The Administration, however, rejected Congress demands on the grounds that:     In April 1986 US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker visited Liberia and had talks with both Doe and the opposition party leaders. The latter were arrested in May.

    Although economic 'aid' to Liberia had been suspended under US law because of arrears of debt servicing payments, which by 31 March amounted to $660 thousand, after Crocker's visit it was announced that the USA would give Liberia $42 million in economic 'aid' during 1986. The funds had reportedly been made available in exchange for 'political concessions' from the Liberian government. ('Keesing's Record of World Events', Volume 33; p. 34,979).

    In January 1987 US Secretary of State George Shultz visited Liberia,

    Shultz praised Doe's elections as     and as signifying Doe's     He did, however, express 'serious concern' about a secret arms purchase agreement signed between Liberia and Romania. President Doe had paid an official visit to Romania in October 1986.
('Keesing's Record of World Events', Volume 33; p..,34,979).

    However, the USA continued to finance Liberia during 1987 at a time when most of the country's backers donors had suspended 'aid'. The World Bank, for example, took such action in June 1987 because of the Liberian government's arrears in repayments, resulting, it was alleged, from

    Nevertheless, US 'aid' to Liberia was cut to $36 million in 1987 and to $31 million, in 1988, and the Liberian government was warned that US 'aid' would cease unless payment of $7 million of arrears was received by May 1989.  ('Record of World Events', Volume 35; p. 36,610).

    In  January 1988 a team of 17 US financial experts arrived in Liberia and wree given effective control of the Liberian government's finances:

    However, the American experts found themselves so frustrated by the Doe bureaucracy that their two-year contract was terminated after one year.

    By this time Liberia's foreign debt totalled $1,700 million, with arrears on repayments amounting to $671 million. (Record of World Events', Volume 35; p. 36, 610).

    In May 1984 a former employee of the Liberian government named Charles Taylor was arrested in the United States and charged with misappropriation of $1 million of government funds. However, it was later announced that he had 'escaped from custody' and in December 1989 he appeared in the Ivory Coast in command of a small armed force which he led across the frontier into Liberia. ('Review of World Events',,Volume 30; p, 32,898; Volume 36, p. 37,174).

    By the spring of 1990 Taylor's armed force was some 15,000 strong, had taken the name of the 'National Patriotic Forces of Liberia' (NPFL), had
occupied most of the country and had advanced to the outskirts of Monrovia. ('Le Monde', 1 August 1990; p. 3; 'Review of World Events', Volume 36, p. 37,174; 'The Independent on Sunday', 5 August 1990; p. 14).

    The NPFL is very far from being a disciplined force:     In February 1990 one of Taylor's officers, 'Prince' Johnson,     This aroused Taylor's wrath and a split occurred in the NPLF forces, Johnson breaking'away with a force some 500-1,000 strong. ('Le Monde', 1 August 1990; p. 3).

    Johnson accused Taylor of being:

    and, embarrassed by Taylor's     by July 1990 the US imperialists had come to regard Taylor as as unacceptable as Doe:     and transferred their backing to Johnson:     While Taylor's forces were still camped on a 'Firestone' rubber plantation some 30 miles east of Monrovia, at the end of July Johnson's forces     The three-sided civil war continues at the time of writing.

    Meanwhile, on 29 August, at least 600 civilian refugees, including women and babies, were murdered by Doe government troops in St. Peter's Lutheran church in Monrovia. ('Financial Times', 31 July 1990; p. 22).

    On 2 August 1990 North Sea oil workers began industrial action for union recognition and more adequate safety measures. Shell-declared that 1,000 contract workers who sat in and ignored an ultimatum to return to shore were regarded as having 'dismissed themselves'. ,

    By 4 August Britain's entire North Sea oil industry was on the brink of an all-out unofficial strike. The Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC) said that more than 100 rigs and platforms, involving more than 10,000 maintenance and catering workers, were expected to respond to the call for strike action.


    The Confederation of British Industry stated on 31 July that 10,000 jobs were being shed monthly as a result of falling orders. The National Westminster Bank reported that the failure rate among new companies had risen ,from 50% to 65%. ('Guardian', 1 August 1990; p. 1).
                                * * * * * * * *
    Dr. Bruce Stafford, of the University of Birmingham, reported that nearly a million families are in danger of losing their homes after falling behind with mortgage repayments.
('Daily Mirror', 2 August 1990; p. 1).
                        * * * * * * * *
    According to independent experts, some residents of Camelford in Cornwall who had 20n tonnes of aluminium sulphate released into their water supply two years ago have suffered brain damage and memory loss. ('Guardian', 24 July 1990; p. 1).
                        * * * * * * * *
    In March 1988 Armando Belonia, a prisoner in Wandsworth gaol, died because the prison doctor had wrongly diagnosed and treated his viral pneumonia as a muscular disorder. The prison doctor' later had his name erased from the medical register. But the board A Visitors at Wandsworth Prison, to whom the case had been referred by the Westminster coroner, were denied access to all the patient's medical records. ('Guardian', 25 July 1990; p. 21).
                        * * * * * * * *
    According to a report of the all-party Commmons Environment Committee, swimming off Britain's coast may lead to stomach upsets, skin problems, and ear, nose and throat infections. Britain is currently facing prosecution by the European Community over three of its most polluted beaches, including Blackpool. ('Guardian', 25 July 1990; p. 20).
                        * * * * * * * *

    The National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux reported in July that landlords are demanding deposits averaging E400 from prospective tenants in the private sector. The deposits demanded, which in London can exceed E1,000, are beyond the means of many people on low incomes. In addition to deposits, tenants are usually asked for four weeks' rent in advance, and also a.pon-returnable sum as 'key-money'. ('Guardian', 25 July 1990; p. 3).
                      * * * * * * * *
    The Queen will receive an increase of more than 50% in her civil list money next Janury, when she will receive a payment (which will no longer have to receive parliamentary approval) of Pounds Sterling (PS) 7.9 million a year. Ten other members of the Royal Family will'receive pro rata increases at a cost of PS 2.52 million a year. ('Guardian', 25 July 1990; p. 20).
                        * * * * * * * *
    According to government figures released on 23 July, the number of people living on half the average income soared by more than half to 7.7 million in the two years 1985-87. The proportion of children living in households receiving less than half the average income rose from 14.7% in 1985 to 20.2% in,1987. ('Guardian', 24 July 1990; p. 20).
                        * * * * * * * *

    National Power, the larger of the two private generating companies, announced on 26 July plans.,to shed 5,000 jobs over five years and to shut down more than 10% of its generating capacity. ('Guardian', 27 July 1990; p. 20).
                        * * * * * * * *
New allegations of a cover-up of secret gpovernment 1sweetenerslover the government's sale of the Rover Group to British Aerospace are to be investigated by the Commons Trade and Industry Committee. ('Guardian', 26 July 1990; p. 1). 4
                        * * * * * * * *

    Ion Cioaba, Romanian gypsy representative to the United Nations, complained that in the last few months racist attacks on gypsies had grown to monstrous proportions in Romania. ('Guardian', 29 July 1990; p. 13).
                        * * * * * * * *
    Gorbachev's plan, launched in 1988, to allow peasants to lease land has run into difficulties. One factor is the resentment of state farm workers over the reappearance of kulaks.
('Guardian', 31 July 1990; p. 8).
                        * * * * * * * *
    Hungary's new Land Law provides for the purchase of the land of the cooperative farms by individual menbers of the cooperative. The collectivisation of agriculture in Hungary was economically very succcessful, producing enough grain to feed 15 million people from a population of 10 million and earning one-third of Hungary's hard currency income -- Pounds Sterling 840 million.
    Peter Toth of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives 'wrings his hands' in gloom saying "We must keep in mind modern agricultural practices. The future lies in large farms".
('Observer', 29 July 1990; p. 13).
                        * * * * * * * *
    Romania's Houses of Parliament have adopted plans to offer shares in 80% of state enterprises. However, the only people with enough spare funds to purchase such shares are corrupt ex-officials of the Ceausescu fascist regime or black-marketeers.
    The largest trade union, the Confederation Brotherhood of Trade Unions, expects half a million jobs to disappear from the chemical industry alone when market forces come into play.
    Before the May elections, industrial action by miners, transport workers and air traffic controllers won large wage increases.
    ('Guardian', 27 July 1990; p. 8).
                      * * * * * * * *
    Pentacon, in Dresden, the last big camera manufacturer in Eastern Europe, has been forced by competition from Japan to lay off all but 150 of its 5,700 staff. The former Pentacon staff social club has been leased to a West German firm as a pornography shop.
(Guardian', 27 July 1990; p. 20).
                        * * * * * * * *
    Robert Maxwell has signed agreements to invest Pounds Sterling 30 million in Bulgaria's printing, newspaper, television and tourist industries. He plans to invest in the Slavia football team, to open a foreign trade bank and business centre, and to publish a Yellow Pages business directory.
                        * * * * * * * *
    The first attempt in the Soviet Union to prosecute a leading neo-fascist for anti-semitism failed when the judges were unable to keep order in court. Thousands of Soviet Jews are emigrating because they fear a wave of anti- Semitic pogroms.
('Guardian', 25 July 1990; p. 8).
                        * * * * * * * *

    The new 'freedom' in Eastern Europe has gone hand in hand with a significant deterioration in the social position of women. In past years women in Romania held 33% of the parliamentary seats, now they hold only 3.5%. Similar drops have been recorded in Czechoslovakia (from 29.5% to 6%) and in Hungary (from 20% to 7%).
    The social change has also been reflected in the transformation of woman's image into a sex object. Engaged in a fierce battle for circulation, most newspapers feature nudity. Poland's news stands, in particular. are full of badly printed pornographic material.
    The rise in unemployment has been accompanied by a notable growth in prostitution.
    ('Guardian', 25 July 1990; p. 8).
                        * * * * * * * *
    One of the most financially profitable examples of entrepreneurial suttess in contemporary Poland has been Warsaw's 'Intersex' shop which sells peek-a-boo panties, aphrodisiacs and lifesize inflatable dolls imported from West Germany. ('Guardian', 1 August 1990; p. 8).
                        * * * * * * * *

COMBAT is published by: The Communist League, Ilford, Essex,
The Communist League is a Marxist-Leninist organisation, the aim of which is to build a Marxist-Leninist Party in Britain which will lead the working people to establish a planned socialist society.


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