Attention Liberians: Beware of Foreign Investors!

What Keating doesn’t note is that child labor and violations of
internationally recognized labor rights are still rampant on the
Firestone rubber plantation.  Beyond just bad publicity, organizations
in Liberia, the US and around the world are pressuring Firestone to
take responsibility for human rights violations in their rubber
production and have formed the Stop Firestone coalition.

Keating closes his article with some tips for foreign investors in
Liberia.  Number 4 on the list is “Study the recent history of the
country.”  Ironically, in addition to acknowledging a lack of
understanding of the realities and exploitation Firestone workers face,
Keating also botches the current president’s name, calling her “Ellen
Sirleaf-Johnson.”  Conspicuously missing from the list is any mention
of upholding international labor rights and environmental standards.

For an alternate view on foreign investment in Liberia, you can check out yesterday’s edition
of the KPFA radio program Against the Grain featuring an interview with
ILRF’s Tim Newman and Friends of the Earth’s Roxanne Lawson.  Tim and
Roxanne also recently had an article on Firestone published by Foreign
Policy in Focus; go here to check out the story.




re: Attention Liberians: Beware of Foreign Investors!

I would like to respond to the comments about my article that appeared in Resource Investor. First of all, thank you for pointing out the silly error regarding the President's name...that was certainly careless and easily corrected. As to your other points I think that you have to agree on two things: one is that the natural resource sector holds the best promise for jump-starting the Liberian economy, and that the present government is doing everything it can to make sure that abuses don't occur as they have in the past. I do not defend the past actions of Firestone nor do I condone any activity that contravenes international law or labor practices. The point of my article is that Liberia is finally getting some traction; the security situation has improved and the processes of government are starting to work again. I don't think the government needs outsiders telling them how to run their country. I have met several members of the government and I am convinced that they are competent and well intentioned and will put the proper checks and balances into place.If Firestone or any other investor in Liberia breaks the law or fails to deliver on their promises they should of course suffer the consequences according to Liberian laws and any international conventions that govern such activity. But to warn Liberians away from foreign investors at this point in the fragile rebirth is condemning them to a sub-standard of living that no amount of 'humanitarian assistance' is going to remedy. Every great country on the planet developed by exploiting their natural endowment one way or the other. Liberians have to figure out how to make it work for themselves. They seem to be off to a good start...and that was the only point of my article.