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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 17:16 GMT
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A Liberian woman walks through a market with a basket on her head

For BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents, Bill Law travelled to the West African country of Liberia as it was attempting to rebuild after years of devastating conflict.

In the immediate post war period, multinationals secured highly profitable deals which critics say will do little to benefit the country.

We asked for your comments on the issues that our programme raised, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.


Bill Laws' excellent report was fantastic and a timely reminder that the actions of our past have had sad and dramatic consequences across the world. As a journalist and writer I am currently researching a book on the three men that transplanted the Hevea rubber tree from its Amazon origins to Asia and Africa and created the rubber plantation industry. From my research I believe these three men never envisaged what would follow from their work. I'd like to thank Bill for his work.
Mark Chillingworth, North Downs, England

Thank you for this superb programme. It told me more about the situation in Liberia than any other programme I have heard or seen. A journalist who can relate to the victims of greed and injustice, and who's not afraid to pose the "difficult" questions to those in authority; and, no doubt, a producer willing to give such a programme their full backing. Bill Law had not shown up on my radar before but I hope and expect to hear more from him.
Bill North

We as citizens and consumers must also put pressure on these companies to behave ethically
Tim Newman, US
Thank you to Bill Law and the BBC for this excellent report on Liberia! Many organisations both in Liberia and around the world are challenging these multinational corporations and working for justice for these workers and their families. For example, a coalition of Liberian and US-based NGOs has formed the Stop Firestone Coalition. While it is important for President Johnson-Sirleaf to chart a path of justice and accountability for Liberia, we as citizens and consumers must also put pressure on these companies to behave ethically and create the mandate for the president to do the right thing.
Tim Newman, Washington, DC, US

Multinationals, in conjunction with corrupt African leaders, are destroying the dignity of African workers. This practice has to be stopped now by a vigilant leader like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Urias McGill, Management Consultant, Georgia, US

Congratulations to Bill Law for the bravery and tenaciousness of his reportage. It is shocking to learn of the natural riches and low population of this country, and yet its ongoing unemployment, illiteracy, etc. Well done for exposing the inconsistencies of some multi-national companies' public aims and practices in reality.
Valerie Emmott, Belgium

I was appalled by the injustice. Is there something we can do to lobby these multinationals and highlight the damage they are doing to the poor and marginalised people in the developing world? I would be happy to have any feedback from other like-minded people.
Maureen Connell, Glasgow

President Johnson must live up to her mandate with the Liberian people
Nduka Tolefe, Hague
Null and void is the answer to the one-sided contracts signed between the irresponsible interim government and the greedy multinationals. President Johnson must live up to her mandate with the Liberian people.
Nduka Tolefe, Hague

It is about time Liberia positioned itself through the Johnson administration to compel these foreign companies to manufacture 75% of the raw material in Liberia while 25% is exported. This will double job creation in the country, and increase revenue for Liberia.
Solo Ricks, Minnesota, US

As an American missionary who lived 10 (not consecutive) years in Liberia (or in neighbouring Ivory Coast during the first part of the war), your article is dead on the nail. As we trained and taught our students, we did our best to win their trust and respect, but not allow them to see us as these huge, profit-sucking companies that just want to give them a stalk of banana in exchange for a pot of gold. We pray that Liberians will do as this teacher in Ricks Institute - not wait for someone else to bring big promises of better days.
Kim Abernathy, Delco NC

I sincerely hope the Liberian government will shake off the shackles of the past
Mick Boyd, Luton
I sincerely hope the Liberian government will shake off the shackles of the past and allow the native Liberians to benefit from their nations natural resources.
Mick Boyd, Luton

I commend the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government for the steps taken to revisit some of the agreements signed. However, I am somewhat apprehensive as to what agreements will be concluded between the Johnson-Sirleaf's government and those foreign companies. Will Liberians continue to perish due to a lack of knowledge, vision, and wisdom? For without those things all Liberians (both rich and poor, educated and illiterate) will ultimately perish.
Eddie Lee, US

Any contract that is deemed unfavourable to the people should be scrutinised by the government. Multinationals cannot come to our land to exploit us for their personal gains. It is time for the African government to wake up and ensure that these multinationals do not exploit us and the terms of the contract are strictly adhered to.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, US

First of all, I would like to commend the government of Liberia for taking the right steps to review those agreements signed by the irresponsible Liberians that led the caretaker government from October 2003 to January 2006. Let it be known that the integrity of the Liberian people is not for sale. Fellow Liberians, it is time to think reasonably and constructively to take our nation to a better future.
Lossenie B Sheriff, Chairman, All Liberian Coalition Party, ALCOP (US Branch)

As in many other places, and at many other times, the multinationals are fiscally rich, but morally bankrupt.
Tony Kerrison, Oxford, UK

This was an excellent exposure of exploitation of Liberia. Congratulations. I have been working in Africa since 1987, with the African Development Bank and the UN. What you have described in only the tip of the poverty iceberg in poor countries.
Nelio de Oliviera, retired economist

When I look at the workers and the conditions in which they live I appreciate my days in refugee camps
name here
I was born in the mining city of Yekepa and I'm a testimony to what responsible agreements can achieve. Back then we lived in a city with all the facilities one can imagine in any modern city but when I look at the workers at Firestone and the conditions in which they live I appreciate my days in refugee camps. And when I look at the condition of the roads linking mining counties like Bong and Nimba to the rest of Liberia, I see irresponsible politicians. And when I see another Liberian government sign a 30 years concession agreement with Firestone, I find a hopeless future - a true banana republic.
Alben Sibley, Monrovia, Liberia

It is a legacy in Liberia that leaders signed agreements with foreign investors to the detriment of the poor masses. Thanks to the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led government and the international community for the vigilant reviews of these operational agreements.
Samuel Saa Sakama, Monrovia

I have heard a lot of rhetoric from President Johnson-Sirleaf about the plantation and dependency mentality of Liberians which is a microcosm of past and present Africa. The onus is now squarely on this president to repudiate these dubious deals.
Mansa Massaquoi, Arizona, US

Liberians in a large majority have been the victim of deals that were signed by people who said they were our leaders. These so-called leaders were only concerned about themselves and their families, not the Liberian people. It is my hope that the Johnson Administration will be able to help the Liberian people to begin to enjoy the full benefits of the resources of their country.
Emmanuel Zangar, Rhode Island, US


The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



Crossing Continents

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SEE ALSO
Liberia's challenge
02 Nov 06 |  Crossing Continents
Liberia's foreign investment challenge
08 Nov 06 |  Crossing Continents
New dawn for Liberia's 'blood forests'
12 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature
Iron ore deal 'bad for Liberia'
03 Oct 06 |  Africa
Firestone in Liberia rubber row
24 May 06 |  Business
Liberia's economic struggle
13 Aug 03 |  Business
Timeline: Liberia
17 Oct 06 |  Country profiles


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