... Paradoxically, your staff at the US consulate in Liberia treats ordinary Liberians with so much disrespect, disdain, and imprudence as if we are less human. From cases heard, we can include racism. Some of the reports emanating from your consulate section in Liberia are extremely gross, prejudiced, racist, and blatant violations of minimum human rights which should be nowhere near any US institution.
September 23, 2022
Michael A. McCarthy
U.S Embassy, Liberia
We read a news flash online and confirmed from the US Embassy Kenya website “Interview Waiver for Certain Visa Classes in Kenya: We are pleased to announce interview waivers for visa renewals. If your tourist/business, student or crew visa (B1/B2, F1, F2, J1, J2, M1, M2, or C1/D) is still valid or expired less than four years ago, you may be able to renew your visa without an in-person interview.”
Your Excellency while this is welcoming for our African brothers, it is also disturbing and disheartening for Liberians. Sir, please allow me to express myself as per US First Amendment (free speech) right.
Your Excellency, as you are aware, Liberia had a very booming, highly progressive economy and society before the execution of President Tolbert on April 12, 1980. This event triggered the long list of bad social and political vices we are experiencing in Liberia today.
This is because; Powerful Foreign actors, along with local collaborators executed President Tolbert. Without a proper plan of succession for dethroning President Tolbert, and a lack of full critical analysis of the situation, the executors hastily decided to hand over the country to an ORDINARY MASTER SERGEANT Samuel K. Doe.
As per all tenets of US Democracy, it was anticipated that the US will condemn the execution of President Tolbert, but rather embraced it. Evidently, on August 17, 1982, a red carpet visitation was held for Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe in Washington D.C. by former US President Ronald Reagan.
Over the years, the fallout between Master Sergeant Doe, the US Government, and the unchecked desire to remove Master Sergeant Doe, a series of destructive events occurred. In November of 1985, Charles G. Taylor walked out of the maximum security area of the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in Massachusetts, USA. He disappeared and reappeared in December of 1989 in Butuo, Nimba County, Liberia with NPFL rebel group.
The ensuing years of fighting led to the total destruction and collapse of the FULL ASPECT of the Liberian society. The negative effects of these decisions can never be repaid or recovered by any amount of money or donation. Your Excellency, why am I recalling this?
Sir, please note that the unfavorable conditions the people of Liberia are experiencing today emanated from US actions and involvement in the killing of President Tolbert, the enthroning and dethroning of Master Sergeant Doe, the unleashing and covert initial sponsoring of Charles G. Taylor, etc. I could go on with more specific details but please allow me to add US support for LURD Rebel in particular.
Regrettably, the US had all power to stop LURD, but completely sat back and allowed another round of destruction from another bordering county (Lofa) to Monrovia. Please reflect on the level of lives and properties, destruction, loss of value, brain-drain, setbacks, deaths etc ordinary Liberians experienced from US decisions (April 12, 1980 to 2002). Sir, while we as a people don’t have the power to adjudicate these events, please allow me to go further and list just one (1) of the consequences Liberians are experiencing.
1. Backwardness. The backwardness of society today is the DIRECT result of the US and collaborating local actors’ actions. Today many families are still trying to unravel themselves from some of the shackles and impact of these wars. The poor economy, rampant corruption, poor education, high migration rate, and poverty are all DIRECT results.
A micro experience: Before the 1990 NPFL invasion, I had an uncle (peace be to his ashes) who had three kids and very good employment at Bong Mines. This man traveled to the US more than seven times (I’m told but cannot confirm) that he traveled on a visa-on-arrival policy. Very sadly, as a result of the war, he lost his job, his home got burned by rebels, and along with thousands of Liberians, he became a refugee on the Ivory Coast. Out of frustration, he died from COMMON COLD in 1992 in a refugee camp. His wife later died in 1993 from frustration and a heart attack. Their kids became orphans and jumped into adult life at a very early age. Sir, please imagine the generational damages.
As you can see, US interest and involvement have caused so many losses and destructions to this country above all other African States. EVIDENTLY, if the transition of power in Liberia from President Tolbert to his successor (Anyone but Doe) was democratic, the backwardness experience today would have been non-existence. At the least, if the US, in concert with her national agents (Charles G. Taylor, Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Prince Y. Johnson, Sekou Damiteh Konneh etc) had not invaded this country, most of the backwardness experience today would have been non-existence or minimized. Sir, I could go on.
Your Excellency, while we personally and categorically condemn the performance of the current Liberian government, please allow me as per US First Amendment right to freedom of speech without repercussion to categorically condemn US involvement in all of this.
While we as ordinary citizens don’t have the political and judicial power to demand reparation, we are strongly calling on the US to deal more FAVORABLY with Liberians (especially ordinary citizens) as opposed to any country in Africa. The relaxation of your visa policies that Kenya, Rwanda, etc are enjoying, for ALL historical reasons (good and bad) ordinary Liberians should be the ones benefiting the most.
Paradoxically, your staff at the US consulate in Liberia treats ordinary Liberians with so much disrespect, disdain, and imprudence as if we are less human. From cases heard, we can include racism. Some of the reports emanating from your consulate section in Liberia are extremely gross, prejudiced, racist, and blatant violations of minimum human rights which should be nowhere near any US institution.
We strongly DEMAND that your people treat us decently, as equal humans. Because of the poor performance of the national government, well-meaning ordinary Liberians cannot pay the price.
Good or bad government, your support to the citizenry of this country should be enviable by other African nations, and not the other way around. We should be equated to Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. in an effort to compensate for some of the shared generational damages caused by your involvement in Liberia from (1980 to 2002). With that being said, Sir, we like to recommend the following for US Government's kind consideration.
1. We demand an immediate change in the attitude of your consulate staff toward Liberians. Staff at your consulate section should treat our people with MUTUAL respect, fairly and impartially, without collective prejudice.
2. There should be an immediate change in US visa policies for Liberians, equal to, or above visa policy in Kenya, Rwanda, or any African country. ESPECIALLY for ordinary citizens (non-government actors).
3. Going forward, there should be a total refund of funds to all ordinary (non-diplomat) applicants denied visas. Also, denial of visas to ordinary Liberians should be for major offenses/crimes example (Money laundering, fraud, sanctioned party, etc) and not the petit, blatant and in many cases no-reason denial of our citizens.
4. All Liberians winning your Diversity Visa Lottery program should be AUTOMATICALLY granted a waiver, and given visas without any reference to case number or the like. Only rejection should be for criminal offenses.
As you have condemned, sanctioned, and reprimanded past / present Liberian governments consistently and recommended changes, for example, the IMF program, we the ordinary citizens also challenge you, according to US standards, to judge yourself and see if you do not share responsibility for the poor shape of the Liberian State. We also challenge you to accept our criticism without prejudice, but in the value of the democracy heralded by the US.
In addition, let me also remind you, that during both World War I & II, in support and defense of US interest in Africa, it was Liberia and not Kenya, Rwanda, etc that declared war on Germany in alliance with the US.
Funny but serious, my late granddad explained to me how German destroyers came to Africa to bomb Liberia because of this. In error, they mistook Libya for Liberia and went there. Whether true or not, certainly Liberia stood with the US during both wars. While we have absolutely no power to change your policies, we ask you to kindly think about the impact an invasion will have on the US, Starting from the bordering state of TEXAS to Washington D.C., spanning over fourteen (14) years. Sir, please rethink your policies toward ordinary Liberians and give us the BEST IN AFRICA.
Lastly, In support of the Liberian governance system, and to foster the advancement of Liberia’s social and political landscape, we urge you to please refer to our letter to former US Ambassador Her Excellency Christine Elder dated May 22, 2019. A copy of which I can provide if needed. I can certainly say at the moment, no political party in Liberia has the cocktail of leaders to foster the changes all Liberians and foreign partners need. It will take an extra-constitution effort (Liberians and foreign partners) to equal participation at all levels of the governance system to restore the glory of this country.
You Excellency many thanks for your time and best regards as we keenly watch. Yours respectfully,
Joseph G. Harmon, Jr. (Jonah)
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this commentary are solely of the author and do not necessarily represent that of the Daily Observer newspaper.