Pat Robertson and Liberian Gold

The Perspective

December 6, 2001

When reading the response Pat Robertson sent to The Washington Post regarding his business links with the government of Charles Taylor one can but feel the need to write him and inform him about the conditions of Liberia. It is rather strange that a man of the caliber of Robertson claims that he never heard of the atrocities of the bands of criminals and hoodlums Mr. Taylor unleashed on Liberia in the 1990s. Pictures of Liberian men, women and children flashed across television screens day and night before events in the Gulf took over. May be someone needs to bring him old newsreels from the 1990s. We doubt that Mr. Robertson, who recalls that the American Colonization Society created Liberia, could ever miss such atrocities committed against the "Christian Liberia." Unless of course, those who briefed Mr. Robertson may have told him that Mr. Taylor was a descendant of that "Baptist pastor from Virginia" who was on a mission to avenge the "Christian" victims of the mili! tary takeover of 1980.

Mr. Robertson's letter is full of self-serving innuendos. But when reading through, one can see where the pastor's sympathy lies. He accuses The Washington Post of joining the ranks of those vying for the overthrow of the "duly elected" government of Mr. Taylor and goes on to make the prophecy that the demise of the dictator would create a situation similar to that of Congo after Mobutu. It is interesting that among all the nations in Africa, the only one that Mr. Robertson could use as a reference was the Congo. The Congo, like Liberia is a vastly mineral rich country. The Congo, like Liberia, had a tyrant for leader for decades that became one of the richest men in the world while his country became one of the poorest and ill-managed nations of this planet. Like Mobutu, Charles Taylor makes no difference between his private accounts and public money.

Mr. Robertson was certainly right in making the assertion that "Liberia does not own anything" in Freedom Gold. This is the only time where he may be right. Most Liberians would not believe had he said that Mr. Taylor did not own portion of Freedom Gold. It is a common knowledge in Liberia that Mr. Taylor has interests in every business in Liberia. He gets his share from every gallon of oil sold in Liberia. He has a percentage of every consignment of rice entering the country. He personally signs every major business deals and requires heads of public corporations to bring to him in his living room proceeds from their business transactions. He collects on the mere auto insurance in the country. He receives money paid to Telecom. Every major business in the country has to account to him. He runs timber corporations and other farms in Palala. He mines diamond and gold. Yes, Mr. Pat Robertson, Liberia does not own anything in Freedom Gold but we know Mr. Taylor does. That's his nature. And this is why Liberia is now sliding into the abyss. 

It is hard to take issue with a man who claims that in Liberia today, one can find "freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom of expression and what appears to be a judiciary dedicated to the rule of law." Mr. Robertson has never been to Liberia. He was only briefed by Taylor's point man, the great Senator from Bassa County, the former defense minister of the NPFL, Jucontee Tom Woewiyu.

One could be tempted to laugh at the ignorance at display in Mr. Robertson letter. But he is among those who informs the powers to be in this world and who form opinions through their media. He needs to be encouraged to visit Liberia, not as an associate of Mr. Taylor or a televangelist but as a common citizen and stay a few days in a hotel, travel across the country and talk to the people. 

We would like to refer Mr. Pat Robertson to the pastoral letter of Archbishop Francis of the Catholic Church in Monrovia published this past Sunday in Monrovia. Bishop Francis lives in Monrovia, he is not interested in mining gold and knows the risk he takes by pointing to the ills of the Taylor regime, which include but are not limited to theft of public funds, human rights abuses, impunity for murderers in the government, corruption. These accusations from Bishop Francis are the best responses anyone could give to the charades of Mr. Pat Robertson. We know a man of God when we see one.

By his words, Mr. Robertson does not sound any better than any of the many criminals who rush to crisis-stricken countries like Congo or Angola or Sierra Leone to make a few bucks and run out before the chips fall. In a few months from now, Mr. Robertson could go back to Liberia and pray with any new government, pretending that he never knew anything about the human abuses of the reign of terror of killer Taylor. Can one be any blinder than he who does not want to see?

Somewhere, in the Bible, there is an appropriate quote for this kind of things, but we will let Mr. Pat Robertson find it, and hopefully, he would read it to his buddy Charles G. Taylor.

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