Liberians, U.S. Prefers Dictatorship; Don't Count on its Support

By J. Yanqui Zaza

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 29, 2003

I read Ms. Amy Chua's article in which she asked U.S. officials to encourage the few rich Venezuelans to support the democratically elected government that is serving most Venezuelans. She stated that the few rich Venezuelans that she referred to as "market-dominant minorities," have launched a strike in order to unseat a democratically elected government, headed by someone who is serving the very poor and oppressed majority. She added that this struggle for political and economic power between the few rich and poor Venezuelans is a global phenomenon.

As in the case of Liberia, operatives of local and foreign businesses dominate and control the economic and political affairs of Liberia. A country, despite being independent since 1847, blessed with significant natural mineral resources, with a population of less than 3 million, and an unofficial colony of the America, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Historically, American officials have always designed and supported undemocratic and dictatorial leaders to the benefits of market-dominant minorities, local business owners, and big corporations operating iron ore, rubber, diamond and gold.

It is an open secret that the Taylor government is still in power because U.S. officials and operatives of corporations have not found another lackey to manage this banana republic. U.S. officials have sufficient reasons to bring Taylor and his henchmen to justice. Taylor is associating with terrorists and drug traffickers, destabilizing the West African Region, and violating human rights in Liberia. So, why U.S. wants to oust Hussein of Iraq from power, and not Taylor of Liberia?

Ms. Amy Chua, a professor at Yale, and author of "World on Fire" wrote an article on the Op-Ed page of the 1/7/03 New York Times that "...globalization..." and "...United States foreign policy: the combination of laissez-faire capitalism and free elections create..." paradoxes, mixed results, or inconsistencies, one of which is political and economic instability in developing countries. Laissez-faire capitalism is a philosophy that is laced with a heavy dose of supply-side theory and a general mistrust of government as inefficient and unaccountable.

However, Why, if one may ask, capitalism and free elections continue to contribute toward prosperity in developed countries, but at the same time continue to usher in instability within developing countries, as in Venezuela (World fifth largest oil producer)? Ms Chua, in analyzing the crisis in Venezuela, gave her understanding to this question when she stated that the "market-dominant minorities," with concentrated wealth, do everything to dominate the majority economically and politically.

In addition, foreign investors who deal almost exclusively with "market-dominant minorities," usually provide assistance in sustaining and perpetuating their local business partners. The Pardos' or the indigenous majority in Venezuela elected one of their kinsmen, Hugo Chavez in 1998 in a landslide victory. But the Italian-Venezuelans, who dominate the economy, have instigated a strike to unconstitutionally remove the democratically elected Chavez government from power.

She stated that, "the Chinese in Indonesia, Whites in Zimbabwe and Indians in Kenya...," if I may add to the list, the Lebanese and Americo-Liberians in Liberia, Britons, Indians and Lebanese in Sierra Leone, Tutsi, Portuguese, and French in Rwanda and Burundi, and French, Lebanese and Indians in the Ivory Coast make up the market-dominant minorities in those countries. These market-dominant minorities accumulate wealth with significant help from both foreign and local investors, by way of receiving favorable bank loans, letters of credits, bank overdraft privileges, business connections and information, etc.

These economic entitlements have helped in perpetuating the political and economic dynasty of market-dominant minorities in developing countries without promoting and, or developing democracy. Hence, instability becomes inevitable because the impoverished majority occasionally rise up and seek political power through the ballot box and, or through guns and bullets. The crisis in Liberia, Venezuela, Algeria, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Burundi, Indonesia, etc. can be traced to the economic disparities favoring the market-dominant minorities and against the poor, downtrodden masses.

Not minimizing Ms. Chua's argument, however, the larger question is why do corporations and superpowers prefer such an arrangement, empowering a minority group, which results into a huge economic disparity, thereby undermining democracy?

The answer is, not just profits, but more profits at the expense of humanity. The chief executives of large corporations, the benefactors of market-dominant minorities, due to economic reasons, have little interest in practicing democratic principles within corporations they manage. Unlike a democratically elected government's operations, which require legislative approval and supervision coupled with a legal requirement to provide adequate information of its operations to the public, corporations operate in secrecy. Government, based on the demands of the voters, submits its long-range projection (five-ten year economic plan) and short-range plan (one year estimate of revenue and expenses) to the public. Corporations, on the other hand, submit limited reports (federal tax returns) to the Internal Revenue Service, and to the Security Exchange Commission, a regulatory agency that protects investors who purchase stock on the open market.

Scott B. and Marshall K. Pitman stated in an article - Auditors and Earnings Management- July 2001, CPA Journal, that the idea of operating in secrecy and other compelling economic reasons (i.e., for example, value of the firm, or the wealth of its managers) create the environment for corporations to manage, or lie about, for example, profits. The writers outlined the following reasons why corporations manage profits: 1) to reduce offer to unions during wage negotiations; 2) to increase the selling price of stocks; 3) to get tax exempt privileges; 4) lower interest rates on loans; or 5) to reduce regulatory policies.

Corporations, besides managing legitimate profits for more profits, grab questionable profits by using weak, dictatorial, and corrupt government. Is it not due to the desire of more profits that Nike and other corporations operate in countries where there are weak, or no regulations on child labor, environment, etc? Was it not because of the profits of Shell Oil Company in Nigeria that a human rights activist, Ken Soro Wiwa, was falsely framed and killed without any protest from corporate America? Is it not due to the idea of obtaining more profits that corporations are rushing to invest in China, despite China's human rights violations? Do you remember that France's and U.S. Corporations re-instated the dictatorial and military regime, after a popular movement won free and fair elections in Algeria? Is it not due to business interest that corporate America continues to give U.S. $3 billion dollars to Egypt annually, even though U.S. officials have consistently accused Egypt of violating human rights? Were corporations not doing business with the apartheid regime of South Africa for many years, until the mid 80's? Didn't U.S. officials nod their heads in approval when President Alberto Fujimori of Peru dissolved Parliament, whose members were elected? Didn't U.S. officials also nod their heads in approval when the current leader of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf drove a democratically elected Prime Minister from the Country and seized power? Let's be real, corporate America is not compassionate, neither does it believe in moral values, nor does it care for the cause of humanity.

While patriotic citizens of developing countries continue to listen to corporate America about the lecture on the values of economy and democracy, they should devise workable plans to move toward building the foundations of democracy, as they understand it. As for Liberians, let's use those theories of economy and democracy that benefits our country and abandon those that give more profits to the few and powerful. Most importantly, let's begin to recognize the real enemy of the poor, and not just the lackeys, proxies, despotic and corrupt leaders, or foot soldiers of the privilege few.